Society | Discuss Japan-Japan Foreign Policy Forum - Part 2

Archives : Society

No.41
No.41, Society, Discussions  Sept. 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
No.41, Society  Sept. 11, 2017

Vacant Houses are Undermining Tokyo Reconsider the Relaxation of City Planning Regulation 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.40
No.40, Society  Jun. 19, 2017

Cats and Japanese People

This, they say, is the age of cats. Each year, the number of pet cats in Japan increases and is now approaching 10 million. On the other hand, the number of pets dogs has dropped from a one-time peak of over 13 million to less than 10 million.* As Yamane Akihiro, an assistant professor of animal ecology at Seinan Gakuin University explains: “I think that behind this affection for cats is the way that present-day Japanese society makes people feel trapped. People are controlled by a results-driven system, and companies are restructured. People can’t live their lives freely and as they wish. Perhaps that is why they are so attracted to free-living cats.” Cats are attractive for their suppleness, beauty and distinctive behavior, side-products of their nature as hunters, able to strike down their prey with a single blow. “Their large beautiful eyes evolved ... ... [Read more]

No.40
No.40, Society  Jun. 19, 2017

Natsume Soseki’s Cat

You might say that the blossoming of modern Japanese literature began with Natsume Soseki’s pet cat. During the summer of 1904, a cat wandered into Soseki’s home in Tokyo’s Sendagi district. Although Soseki’s wife Kyoko disliked cats and immediately threw it out numerous times, when she wasn’t looking the cat would come back, curl up on a wooden rice tub, and go to sleep. One day, Soseki finally noticed the cat and said, “Since it keeps coming back, why don’t you let it be?” Having thus received the seal of approval from the master of the house, the cat became the official Soseki pet. Another stroke of luck for the cat was something said by an elderly masseuse who came regularly to visit Soseki’s wife. The old lady stared at the cat, which had stripy black grey fur from head to tail, and muttered ... ... [Read more]

No.39
No.39, Society  Apr. 16, 2017

Visiting the Offices of Large Companies Where the Retirement Age Has Been Extended ― Will the New Way of Working Bring Happiness to Companies and Employees?

It is about a 10-minute drive north from the center of Shizuoka City to the Chiyoda branch of the Gusto chain of family restaurants. The branch faces a main road, but its location is not particularly good. This restaurant has achieved top results among some 3,000 Gusto, Jonathan’s, Aiya and other chain restaurants operated by Skylark Co., Ltd. nationwide, and it has received awards from the company again and again. Mochizuki Isuzu, 63, began working at this family restaurant as a part-timer 36 years ago. Mochizuki has been the manager of this Gusto branch since 2009, when she became a permanent employee of Skylark. “I tell our young staff members to phone me day or night if anything happens, because our store is open around the clock,” says Mochizuki. “They actually call me quite often. I don’t get angry, even if the reason for ... ... [Read more]

No.39
No.39, Society  Apr. 16, 2017

The Men Supporting the Paralympians ―The struggle of the engineers behind the evolution of prosthetics

In June of this year, the 26th Japan Para Athletics Championships took place at Denka Big Swan Stadium in Niigata. Due in part to this being the last major event in qualifying for the Rio Paralympics, the press area was full of media teams wearing photographers bibs. The jumbled rows of camera lenses were pointing at the likes of Yamamoto Atsushi (34), who set a world record of 6.56 m in the men’s long jump in the T-42 class (single above-knee amputation or equivalent), Nakanishi Maya (31), who holds the Japanese and Asian records in the women’s long jump in the T-44 class (single below-knee amputation or equivalent), and Takakuwa Saki (24), who finished seventh in both the women’s T-44 100 and 200 meters at the 2012 London Paralympics. The championships featured a steady stream of athletes with prosthetic limbs who have become well-known ... ... [Read more]

No.37
No.37, Society  Mar. 31, 2017

Time to Think About the Emperor System How to Apply the Traditions of the Imperial Household to Modern Japan ― Analyzing the Implications of the “Emperor as Symbol” Statement

On August 8 last year, the Imperial Household Agency published a video and text on its website titled (in Japanese) “A message from His Majesty the Emperor on the Serving as a Symbol.” In his message, the Emperor implicitly expressed a desire to abdicate and, judging by polls conducted by various media afterwards, he already has the strong support of the majority of the Japanese people to do so. In response to this statement, the Cabinet Office set up a panel of experts to discuss how to reduce the burden of duties on the Emperor and other issues. Its members were decided on September 23 and it commenced work. The origin of calls to pass a one-off special law This current panel of experts has been tasked with freely discussing how the system might deal with a future abdication. At the time of writing, ... ... [Read more]

No.37
No.37, Society  Mar. 29, 2017

What next for social security…?Changing the world of dementia.Changing the world with dementia.Restoring confidence in the system as we head towards a “longterm care society”

Originally set up in 1980, what has the Alzheimer’s Association Japan (AAJ) actually been doing since then? What are its views? And what does it want now? Let us explore those questions as we take a look at the future of social security. Changing the world of dementia The history of AAJ also tells the story of changing the world of dementia. The beginnings of AAJ in Kyoto Towards the end of the 1970s, a group led by Dr. Hayakawa Kazuteru at Horikawa Hospital in Kyoto began to hold get-togethers for the families caring for persons with dementia (PWD). In November 1979, AAJ President Takami Kunio shared his impressions of taking part in those get-togethers for the first time. “There were around 12 families in attendance. One after another, they spoke about the condition of the senile people in their lives, the dedication of ... ... [Read more]

No.36
No.36, Society  Feb. 28, 2017

2016 Kumamoto EarthquakeInterview: Tomorrow’s Temporary Housing

Ban Shigeru, Architect, Representative for the VAN (Voluntary Architects’ Network) NPO, a group of architects engaged in disaster relief activities with an Editorial staff of Kagaku Extending Readiness to All Japan. Repeated Problems. Kagaku: You donated paper tube partition systems to evacuation centers for the Kumamoto earthquake. That was an extension of similar things you have done in the past, wasn’t it? Ban Shigeru: Our work on the paper tube partition system (figure 1) started after the 2004 Chuestu earthquake in Niigata. A large number of systems were installed in North East Japan after the Great East Japan Earthquake, and we also donated systems after the recent Kumamoto earthquake. But our journey to this point was very hard; specifically, officials did not accept our ideas. They said it was because these things had not been done before. In the end, we built 1,800 units ... ... [Read more]

No.35
No.35, Society, Discussions  Oct. 31, 2016

“Abdication” Is Not Easy

HARA Takeshi (HT): I was literally astonished at the news “Emperor Intends to Abdicate.” When the news was aired on NHK at 7pm on July 13, I happened to have the TV on and, as I was watching it dumbfounded, I started receiving phone call after phone call from the press asking for comments.
KAWANISHI Hideya (KH): I can no longer stand to watch TV. (Laughing)
HT: That’s just not possible any more. The reason I was surprised is that Article 2 of the Japanese Constitution states that “The Imperial Throne shall be dynastic,” and Article 4 of the Imperial House Law, which prescribes matters such as the method of succession, states that “Upon the demise of the Emperor, the Imperial Heir shall immediately accede to the Throne.” I have construed this to mean that the government cannot allow abdication. So if abdication is realized, this is a huge change in policy. ... [Read more]