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Archives : No.21

March-April 2014

No.21
No.21 ,Diplomacy  May 24, 2014

Tension Is Rising in the East China Sea. Will Japan be Able to Defend Its Territories?
Dialogue on China’s Dangerous and Unnerving Dream – Japan Needs Strategies from a Geopolitical Viewpoint

Iokibe Makoto Chancellor, Prefectural University of Kumamoto

Senkaku Islands Represent the Beginning of a Long Struggle. China began insisting that the Senkaku Islands were its property after a survey found resources in the seabed around them in 1970. China then established its law on territorial waters and in 1992 declared islands in the South China and East China Seas, including the Senkaku Islands, as its own territories. However, China took an enduring position on real action over this issue, thinking it would be OK to stop short of actually taking action until it became possible. Deng Xiaoping used a famous phrase, tao guang yang hui. It was a teaching that asked people to sufficiently cultivate their abilities, rather than taking the attitude of intimidating others by showing their claws, while their actual ability is insufficient. China’s acts complied with this teaching.... [Read more]

No.21 ,Economy
Apr 21, 2014

Japan’s Response to the TPP in Question: Preventing a Slowdown of World Trade and Investment

URATA Shujiro, Professor, Waseda University / Faculty Fellow, RIETI

The Ministerial Meeting of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, held on February 22-25, 2014 in Singapore, postponed a decision, having given up on reaching a general framework agreement. The failure of negotiations to come to an agreement follows a similar outcome from the Ministerial Meeting in December 2013. Negotiations are expected to continue, but the fact that no date has been set for the next round is among the reasons why the process seems to have stagnated. As it is, the negotiations quite possibly could lose momentum and begin drifting, much like the Doha Round of talks for multilateral trade liberalization under the World Trade Organization (WTO). Behind the abandonment of a general framework agreement were the disputes between developed nations such as the United States and emerging countries such as Malaysia and Vietnam. The disagreements included issues such as the protection of intellectual property rights, preferential treatment for state-owned enterprises, and environmental regulations. The greatest obstacle, however, was the conflict over tariffs between Japan and the United States, who, by far, have the largest economies of the 12 nations involved in the talks.... [Read more]

No.21 ,Economy
Apr 21, 2014

Make the Decision to Abolish Tariffs on Agricultural Products

KIMURA Fukunari Ph.D., Professor, Keio University

Negotiating the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement (TPP) is not an easy task. Negotiations are even more difficult as the TPP now covers countries that have an inexperienced level of freedom and a new exposure to international rulemaking. The density of negotiations is extremely high. Japan, who joined talks later on in the process, participates in a meeting practically every week. The speed of these negotiations is also remarkably faster than those of ordinary free trade agreements (FTA). At present, topics with a large gap among the participating countries are reported to be: Tariffs, the protection of intellectual property rights, competition policies (over preferential treatment of state-owned companies), and the environment. In other areas, negotiations are coming close to an agreement. Given that tariffs, which are the crux of trade negotiations... [Read more]

No.21 ,Society ,Discussions
Apr 13, 2014

The Modern-Day Family Without Tora-san

From Otoko wa Tsurai yo (It’s tough being a man) to his latest Chiisai Ouchi (The little house), movie director Yamada Yoji has continued to portray the Japanese family for more than half a century. What has the Japanese family in the Heisei period lost from Showa? BAISHO Chieko: I heard that with your latest, Chiisai Ouchi (The Little House), it’s already been fifty years since Shitamachi no Taiyo (The Sunshine Girl, 1963), which we worked on together. We’ve come a long way, haven’t we? YAMADA Yoji: The movie Otoko wa Tsurai yo was started in 1969. Baisho: Torajiro Kurenai no Hana, which was the last of the Otoko wa Tsurai yo series was released in 1995, so it lasted twenty-six years. Yamada: Looking back, the Kurumas in that series was a collapsed family. ... [Read more]

No.21 ,Society
Apr 03, 2014

Working to Restore the Scenic View of Onomichi — TOYOTA Masako, Representative Director of the Onomichi Vacant House Restoration Project

Located between the Seto Inland Sea and the mountains, Onomichi in Hiroshima Prefecture is a small city with an approximate population of 150,000. It is a city of slopes and boats. It has narrow streets intricately entangled on slanting land. It is a place where ferry boats sail to and from nearby islands. Its unique taste has grabbed the hearts of remarkable novelists and movie directors and the city has provided the setting for many literary and cinematographic works. This scenic city of Onomichi is now at risk. TOYOTA Masako noticed the change in her hometown when she returned to live there after eight years of working in Osaka.... [Read more]

No.21 ,Society
Apr 03, 2014

Hoping to Save as Many Lives on Mountains as Possible — OHSHIRO Kazue, Diploma in Mountain Medicine

In May 2013, adventurer Miura Yuichiro stood atop the 8,848-meter-high Mt. Everest. Ohshiro Kazue, a medical doctor, had stayed behind at the base camp at an altitude of 5,300 meters. Amid the jubilation after Miura, at eighty, had become the oldest man to climb the mountain in recorded history, she was concerned with the changes in his physical condition. Miura, having removed his oxygen mask at the summit, lost more stamina than expected. When he began to descend, his legs failed him and he could not get enough energy to propel them. “At the sight of his safe return to the base camp, I was afraid that he would break if I hugged him as I usually do to fellow climbers rejoining me on a mountain. He looked so brave in his weakness and so adorable,” Ohshiro recalls. At that moment she became both relaxed and relieved.... [Read more]

No.21 ,Society
Apr 03, 2014

Treasuring This Current Moment with My Family — TAKEKAWA Yoichi, Toy Importer

Toy Store of the Biei Hills stands facing a vast Hokkaido field that is among Japan’s most beautiful scenery is where the. This store is only open until 3 p.m., at which time it turns into a playground open to the local children. This is because Takekawa Yoichi, who moved here in 2010 from Saitama Prefecture, aims not to make money but rather to develop family time amid Mother Nature. The four years it took to get this started were not easy. “When you read stories of people who moved to Hokkaido, you get the impression that they all made the transition so smoothly,” Takekawa reflects. “I’ve often wondered why we had to have it so tough.” ... [Read more]

No.21 ,Society
Mar 27, 2014

The University Outcry – Merits and Demerits of Rankings and Performance Evaluation
University Reform and Far-reaching National Policy

No Global Excellence Without National Competition

Why evaluate academia?  Sustaining the world of knowledge is difficult in any era. As well as pinning high expectations on the benefits of the technologies and new ideas that emerge from universities, the patrons of society are always casting a stern eye over academia. In The Higher Learning in America (1918), Thorstein Veblen commented on this ironic state of affairs, “[…] idle learning has sought shelter in the university as the only establishment in which it could find a domicile, even on sufferance, and so could achieve that footing of consecutive intellectual enterprise running through successive generations of scholars which is above all else indispensable to the advancement of knowledge.” Before growing to require the enormous financial foundation of today, academia maintained strained ties with patrons for its survival and was continually shaken by the evaluations of the external parties that supported its universities. ... ... [Read more]

No.21 ,Society
Mar 27, 2014

The University Outcry – Merits and Demerits of Rankings and Performance Evaluation
Universities losing their ideals to internationalization and the mass-production of academic papers

You Can’t Rank Academics

The pros and cons of converting everything to figures We find ratings and ranks in so many fields these days. Ratings – numerical indices that put things in order – have some kind of quality that stimulates people’s curiosity and arouses competition. When we are shown international rankings or levels such as the per-country rating list of the Olympic gold/silver/bronze medals won, we have the impression that the strength of something has been measured “objectively,” and nationalism of sorts rises in us. Ratings offer us immobile criteria with which to make judgments, which may become the grounds for drafting a policy or a change of politics. But this “ratings fever” tends to create radical competition based on collectivist psychology, making us lose sight of the true purpose of things. Let me offer just two examples from my familiar field of education and research. Late ... ... [Read more]

No.21 ,Society
Mar 26, 2014

The Responsibility of Developing “Global Human Resources”

In 1968, the one hundredth anniversary of the Meiji Restoration, Japan rose to become the world’s second economic superpower after the United States. However, in 2011, the one hundredth anniversary of the Chinese Revolution, it was confirmed that China had overtaken Japan to become the world’s second economic superpower. It is believed that by 2030, Japan’s economy will drop to fifth place in the world rankings. China, on the other hand, while beset by a variety of domestic problems such as wealth disparity, environmental destruction, and the depletion of natural resources, is set to overtake the United States in 2025 to become the world’s number one economic superpower. China also has the potential to surpass the United States when it comes to national defense spending. The fact that Japanese industry and the Abe Cabinet are committed to fostering “global talent”... [Read more]

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