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Archives : No.41

Sep-Nov 2017

No.41
No.41 ,Science ,Discussions  Nov 13, 2017

Dialogue: The fundamental bases for the Japanese people
To the fundamental bases for the Japanese people
― The possibility of initiatives for integrating archaeology with anthropology

  Editorial staff: This special feature discusses research on the lives of ancient people beyond the boundaries of study areas, with a focus on the time from the Jomon period to the Kofun (ancient tomb) period. Please tell us what you think of the time from the Jomon period to the Kofun period. Shinoda Kenichi: Genome information shows that the genetic structure of modern-day Japanese was more strongly influenced by the immigrant Yayoi people who came to Japan from Korea and China than by the Jomon people, who constituted the fundamental bases for the Japanese people. It seems that because the people from the Korean and Chinese continents were agricultural people, they had a strong ability to increase the population. Anthropological studies on the Jomon and Yayoi periods have revealed that modern-day Japanese living on the main island of Japan have many genes derived ... ... [Read more]

No.41 ,Politics ,Discussions
Oct 27, 2017

A Long-Lived, Unamended Constitution

As the debate in Japan over constitutional revision becomes heated, two researchers from the University of Tokyo make comparisons with other nations and discuss the unique features of Japan’s constitution and the constitutional revision debate. Kenneth Mori McElwain is an associate professor specializing in comparative political institutions and party politics, while Makihara Izuru is a professor specializing in oral history, political studies, and the study of public administration. Makihara Izuru (MI): I know that you are researching issues connected with the constitution of Japan (COD) and its revision. Please could you first tell us a little about the background to that research. Kenneth Mori McElwain (KM): My original study theme wasn’t constitutional law but comparative political institutions and party politics. Like my parents, I was very interested in politics, and just as I finished high school in 1994 the Japanese electoral system was revised. ... ... [Read more]

No.41 ,Society
Oct 26, 2017

The Topic of Japan Viewed from Oxford

How do people at universities overseas view Japan? What do those universities teach students about Japan? I would like to answer these questions in this special feature of Chuokoron based on my own experiences over the last nine years I spent as a professor at the University of Oxford, one of the oldest and top-ranked universities in the UK. In addition to answering these questions, I would like to examine the problems involved in the topic (that is, what is taught about Japan overseas), which interests people in Japan to the point of urging Discuss Japan editors to come up with a special feature like this. I would like to do so because this second theme brings problems in Japanese society and Japanese education to the forefront. Report on the State of Japanese Studies Overseas Before touching on interest in Japan and research and ... ... [Read more]

No.41 ,Science
Oct 26, 2017

Society and Science on iPS Cells
― Think about the next decade with a focus on the ethical, legal and social issues

In 2006, a research team led by Professor Yamanaka Shinya at Kyoto University reported that it had generated iPS cells in mice. The following year, the team reported that iPS cells could be generated in human beings as well. Ten years have passed since then. What has happened in the ten years following the first generation of iPS cells? This special feature looks at the progress of the research with a focus on the ethical, legal and social issues (ELSI). This paper organizes ELSI in order so that it can be referred to by readers. Introduction Japanese regenerative medicine has seen many changes since a research team led by Professor Yamanaka Shinya at Kyoto University first generated iPS cells. The biggest change is that the world’s first-ever clinical research using iPS cells derived from patients was conducted, and that clinical research using other people’s ... ... [Read more]

No.41 ,Society
Sep 19, 2017

Kagaku-Tsushin
Island Signs: The Sign Language of Miyakubo in Ehime Prefecture

    Yano Uiko Matsuoka Kazumi Yano Uiko, one of this article’s two authors, comes from Miyakubo Town, which is a part of Imabari City in Ehime Prefecture. The town is located on the island of Oshima, which is part of the Shimanami Kaido, a sea route connecting several Seto Inland Sea Islands. This area was notable during the Warring States period, and features the remains of a base that belonged to the Murakami Pirates. It has a thriving fishing industry, and there are many places where you can see rows of boats at their docks. Seafood is also a mainstay of the region’s economy and cuisine. According to the 2010 national census some 2292 people lived in Miyakubo, and of those 18 were deaf. About 30 years ago more than 30 deaf people lived in the town, where Yano is from. All of ... ... [Read more]

No.41 ,Society ,Discussions
Sep 19, 2017

Dialogue: Is Artificial Intelligence Versus Humans Reflected in Shogi as Well as Everyday Life?
AI Raises Again the Question of How Humans Should Live

    Sakai Kuniyoshi Habu Yoshiharu AI Cuts a Path for New Shogi Moves Habu Yoshiharu: AI (artificial intelligence) has been a popular conversation topic over the last few years. I think the long-awaited appearance of AI in visible forms, such as humanoid robots and automated driving, has been a large turning point for this trend. AI has also achieved developments in the world of board games, including chess, shogi and go. Recently, the fields which implement AI have expanded. What was once a fantasy has begun to show potential for successful real world application. People are pinning their hope on such potential for AI. However, they also seem to fear the possibility that AI will surpass them, otherwise known as the singularity. Sakai Kuniyoshi: I’m a scientist who specializes in the language function of the brain. Thinking about AI leads to thoughts about ... ... [Read more]

No.41 ,Society
Sep 11, 2017

Vacant Houses are Undermining Tokyo
Reconsider the Relaxation of City Planning Regulations

Distortions in a “Society with Excessive Residential Supply” Created by the Industry, Government and Private Sector

New Real Estate Loans Are Exceeding Those During the Bubble Economy, Reaching New Record Highs As an city planning researcher hoping to share with as many people as possible the future risk of sustained uncontrolled housing construction in spite of the realities of the decreasing population and rapid growth in the number of vacant houses, the author published a book titled Oiru Ie Kuzureru Machi: Jutaku Kajo Shakai-no Matsuro (Aging Houses and Deteriorating Cities: the fate of a Society with Excessive Residential Supply) as part of Kodansha Ltd.’s Gendai Shinsho series of pocket-size paperbacks in November 2016. In February 2017, the Bank of Japan (BOJ) released data in a timely manner that supported my perspective on the problem that led to the publication of this book. According to the data published by the BOJ, new real estate loans extended by financial institutions in 2016 ... ... [Read more]

No.41 ,Diplomacy
Sep 11, 2017

Japan and the European migrant crisis: Not “someone else’s problem”

The difference between the tone of Japan’s internal debate and the global debate The controversy surrounding President Trump’s anti-immigrant and anti-refugee policies has died down. However, with Trump’s plans to build a wall along the border with Mexico and his ban on travel from seven Muslim countries currently on hold, this does not mean that these policies have gone away. The migrant and refugee crisis is being hotly debated at the international level. Why is Japan’s reaction to the crisis so lacking in momentum?           Whether refugees or economic migrants, both want to live somewhere with a better environment outside their own country because the social and economic conditions in their own country are difficult. People’s “freedom of movement” is a principle of democracy.  If you call this idealism, then that is the end of it, but any country which professes to be an advanced ... ... [Read more]

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