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Archives : No.17

December 2013–January 2014

No.17
No.17 ,Culture ,Discussions  Dec 01, 2013

Hosoda Mamoru + Azuma Hiroki — Animation for Parents

Azuma (left) and Hosoda. PHOTO: COURTESY OF GENRON CO., LTD.

In 2012, director Hosoda Mamoru scored a big hit with a movie called Wolf Children. Unlike conventional animated movies, it was full of messages aimed at families raising young children. On September 25, while the movie was in theaters, Hosoda’s first child (a son) was born, thrusting the director right into the heart of child raising himself. He met up twice with the Japan Journal’s Editor-in-Chief, who himself has a daughter in elementary school, for an in-depth discussion regarding the hidden messages in Wolf Children and the isolating effects of becoming a father.... [Read more]

No.17 ,Culture
Dec 01, 2013

Symposium Commemorating the Opening of the Great East Japan Earthquake Archive
Motivation and Effort to Preserve the Records of the Great East Japan Earthquake

A scene from the symposium PHOTO: COURTESY OF The Digital Information Distribution Division, Digital Information Department of the National Diet Library

The National Diet Library officially published the National Diet Library Great East Japan Earthquake Archive (a.k.a. HINAGIKU) on March 7 for the purpose of passing records and lessons learnt from major earthquake disasters to the next generation to be used for projects to restore/recover disaster-hit areas and for future disaster prevention and reduction measures. HINAGIKU is a portal site that cooperates with various institutions and groups within Japan and overseas to collate, store and allow the unitary search and use of audio, video, photographs, web information and other digital data related to the Great East Japan Earthquake, as well as academic research findings from research institutions and related document information.... [Read more]

No.17 ,Politics
Nov 27, 2013

Abe Shinzo’s Security Policy

IWAMA Yoko, Professor of International Relations. National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS)

During Prime Minister Abe Shinzo’s visit to the United States in September 2013, he described his plan to modernize Japan’s security policy, which he says is one of his top priorities. Professor Iwama Yoko, professor at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, an editor of Discuss Japan, and a member of the Abe administration’s Advisory Panel on Reconstruction of the Legal Basis for Security, explains “active pacifism,” a key phrase in Mr. Abe’s speeches, its background, and the historical background of the security policy that Mr. Abe aims to develop. Prime Minister Abe Shinzo gave speeches at the Hudson Institute, the New York Stock Exchange, and the UN General Assembly on September 25 and 26, indicating the Prime Minister’s strong interest in improving his image in the United States. Of these three speeches, his speech at the UN General Assembly in... [Read more]

No.17 ,Economy
Nov 27, 2013

A Government Economist Analyzes Economic Indices
Japan Ranks First in the World in “Per Capita Stock”: Japan’s Strengths and Weaknesses as Indicated by Its “Inclusive Wealth”

Gross domestic product (GDP) is one of the indices that measure a nation’s wealth. As is widely known, Japan’s GDP came in third today, overtaken by China. Japan is no longer in the top tier worldwide in terms of GDP per capita. Meanwhile, in contrast to what is indicated by those economic indices that measure the flow of goods and services like GDP, if you observe “inclusive wealth,” a stock index announced by the United Nations last year, Japan ranks second after the United States, and has the largest amount per capita. This paper will discuss Japan’s strengths and weaknesses while reviewing recent GDP trends, followed by an explanation of the Inclusive Wealth Index. In this section we look at an international comparative analysis of GDP in the World Economic Outlook Database April 2013 (hereinafter referred to as “WEO”) published by the International Monetary Fund... [Read more]

No.17 ,Society
Nov 27, 2013

The Blue Sky Library: Tomita Michio’s Dream of a Disciple Outshining His Teacher

A memorial symposium titled “The Dream of Aozora Bunko: The Future of Copyright and Culture” was held at the Tokyo Bunka Kaikan hall on September 25, 2013, in memory of Tomita Michio, the person who initially proposed Aozora Bunko (hereinafter referred to as the “Blue Sky Library”). This event was sponsored by the Tomita Michio Memorial Event Executive Committee (co-chairpersons: Tomita Akiko and Yamaki Mie of the Blue Sky Library) along with the Blue Sky Library, Voyager Japan, Inc., Movements for the Internet Active Users (MIAU), Creative Commons Japan (a nonprofit corporation commonsphere) and ThinkC (a forum for discussing an extension of the copyright protection period). Niconico’s Internet broadcast service broadcast the symposium proceedings live on the Web. The proceedings are also available as archive videos on niconico’s website. The voice and... [Read more]

No.17 ,Society
Nov 26, 2013

Comments on Current Events 2013
Blue Sky Library and Books that Cannot Rest in Peace

My wish was to allow them to sleep peacefully in their graves.”So said the late Tomita Michio when I interviewed him about electronic books at his house in Yokohama in 1999. I think even people who have never heard of Tomita might be familiar with the website Aozora Bunko, or the Blue Sky Library. Tomita is the Library’s founder. After Tomita left a publisher that specialized in science and technology books and became a freelancer, one of his close editor friends asked him to write a series of original paperbacks. It was a time when personal computing was beginning to emerge. Finding a need to document events in this period of transition to an information-oriented society as contemporary history, Tomita began gathering materials in 1984 and published Pasokon Soseiki (Personal Computer Genesis), his first solely authored book and the first in his series, in the following year... [Read more]

No.17 ,Diplomacy
Nov 25, 2013

Special Feature — Win with Diplomacy! The Art of War for a Country that Cannot Fight
Strategic Ambiguity and a Two-Pronged Approach to China

How would one deal with an irritable neighbor? A former ambassador to China, who was closely in touch with people of China for four years, unlocks the mystery of their thought processes and mentality.China’s economic development has been remarkable. Its nominal GDP was merely a quarter that of Japan in 2000, and yet it overtook Japan in 2010. It achieved a five-fold increase in ten years. The size of China’s economy reached 8.2270 trillion dollars in 2012, leaving Japan’s 5.9640-trillion-yen economy nearly 40 percent behind. Xi Jiping’s Chinese Communist Party has publicly committed to double the 2010 GDP in 2020 in real terms. If the Japanese economy does not grow, the economy will be half that of China’s in 2020. Growth in China’s military expenditures has been exceptional as well. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) estimates... [Read more]

No.17 ,Economy
Nov 25, 2013

Global Companies from Japan

In August 2013, the world’s first medical treatment robot took its first step. The robot is the Robot Suit HAL (Hybrid Assistive Limb), which was developed by CYBERDYNE Inc., a robot venture from the University of Tsukuba. Its smart design with the basic theme of white is captivating. It conforms to the body and supports and enhances physical functions and helps users regain lost functions. HAL was recently granted a CE Mark, a medical device certification. This represents the birth of the world’s first robot capable of treating people. HAL works in the following way. When people try to move their bodies, very weak biosignals escape to the surface of the skin, reflecting that intention to move. HAL captures these signals through its sensors and operates its motors in real time to support the movement of the users’ joints.Professor Sankai Yoshiyuki of the University ... [Read more]

No.17 ,Economy
Nov 25, 2013

Wearable Devices Are On Their Way — What will be the fate of Japanese electronic parts?

Over half of a smartphone’s internal parts are made in Japan. With Chinese and ROKn smartphone makers expanding their share, will Japanese parts maintain their strength?Open it up, and it’s made in Japan – this is something we often find. While Japanese smartphone manufacturers have a very low presence, the ratio of that which is made in Japan rises when it comes to parts. Capable of Internet access, calling and multiple other functions, all in a handheld size, smartphones consist of numerous Japanese electronic parts and materials that are small and provide high-performance quality.The small parts field is one where Japanese manufacturers excel. Multilayer ceramic capacitors (MLCCs) are parts that store electricity and are indispensable to a great many electronic products. They assist power supply and sustain normal operation... [Read more]

No.17 ,Economy
Nov 25, 2013

Manufacturers Are Avoiding Price Competition and Achieving Growth by Creating Value

Japanese manufacturers are currently at a big turning point. In the television industry, known to be their forte, Japanese manufacturers used to have global brands, superior competitiveness, and technological capabilities. However, Sony, Sharp, and Panasonic, all of which had displayed strong competitiveness in this industry with their high-resolution digital TVs, have undergone serious financial crises. All three manufacturers had to remove their top managers. They were also forced to make significant cuts to their workforce. These developments gave rise to the pessimistic view that Japan’s manufacturing-based national development was beginning to decline.However, Japanese manufacturers are maintaining their competitive advantage in global markets and securing high profits in sectors including machine tools and high-quality components and materials... [Read more]

No.17 ,Economy
Nov 25, 2013

Abenomics and Takahashi Policy — Aiming to revitalize the Japanese economy

The Japanese cabinet headed by Abe Shinzo is attracting worldwide attention for its anti-deflationary and economic revitalization package, which is known as “Abenomics.” Behind this attention, there is concern that failure of the package, which includes an unprecedented level of monetary easing, would not only send the Japanese economy into a crisis situation but also affect the growth and stability of the entire global economy. For the time being, it has given people hope through the rise of share prices and the reversal of the excessive appreciation of the yen. An increase in capital investment in the corporate sector suggests a resurgence of entrepreneurship. However, continuation of economic growth beyond this short-term economic recovery will depend on whether or not the government manages to carry out the painful structural reform needed for economic... [Read more]

No.17 ,Economy
Nov 25, 2013

The Opportunity and Risk of “Abenomics” That Has Begun to Push the Japanese Economy Out of Stagnation and Deflation

The Japanese cabinet headed by Abe Shinzo is attracting worldwide attention for its anti-deflationary and economic revitalization package, which is known as “Abenomics.” Behind this attention, there is concern that failure of the package, which includes an unprecedented level of monetary easing, would not only send the Japanese economy into a crisis situation but also affect the growth and stability of the entire global economy. For the time being, it has given people hope through the rise of share prices and the reversal of the excessive appreciation of the yen. An increase in capital investment in the corporate sector suggests a resurgence of entrepreneurship. However, continuation of economic growth beyond this short-term economic recovery will depend on whether or not the government manages to carry out the painful structural reform needed for economic ... [Read more]

No.17 ,Society
Nov 25, 2013

Special Feature — Win with Diplomacy! The Art of War for a Country that Cannot Fight
Successful lobbying and presentation helped bring the Olympics to Tokyo

Behind the success were well-calculated tactics, not to mention impressive speeches by Tokyo bid committee members.Tokyo has been chosen to host the 2020 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games. First of all, I salute this brilliant achievement from the bottom of my heart.The outcome of the vote by International Olympic Committee (IOC) members belied all speculation, as Madrid, which was seen as the favorite candidate city and the one that would closely compete with Tokyo, was quickly eliminated. It looks as if people suddenly felt deflated, because Madrid had been rumored over the preceding several weeks as being quite likely to win European Union support, which would lead to a majority of the IOC members voting for the Spanish city. It is widely speculated that Paris, which is aiming to host the 2024 Games, was reluctant to select its neighbor (Madrid) for 2020 because of its ambitions for the following Olympics. There are briefly three key factors with respect to Tokyo’s bidding success... [Read more]

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