Archives | Discuss Japan-Japan Foreign Policy Forum
Discuss Japan > Archives

Archives

Category Archive

No.49

Celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship between Japan and the People’s Republic of China

Introduction To commemorate the year 2018, which marks the 40th anniversary of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship between Japan and the People’s Republic of China, I am tasked with reviewing the last four decades of Japan-China relations. As my field of study is the history of Japanese politics and diplomacy, I am not familiar enough with Chinese affairs or the present situations between the two countries to evaluate them. Nor am I entitled to make comments on the future of Japan-China relations. All I can do is to finish the assigned task. Having said that, I will turn my thoughts toward the future in this essay, giving a general picture of the last four decades and drawing some lessons out of it. I would like to do so in this anniversary year with two specific aims. Firstly, I would like to underline how ... ... [Read more]

No.48

Multilayered Security Cooperation Through the New Type of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance

Half a century has passed since the United Kingdom withdrew from the area east of Suez. The UK, which stands at the major turning point of leaving the European Union, is returning to the east. Japan is developing partnerships with the UK. The new Anglo-Japanese Alliance will make a significant contribution to the stability of the Pacific region. Many British historians say that the modern world is strikingly similar to the time of World War I. In a situation where the great powers have begun to decline, other countries are rising and chaos and uncertainty are spreading all over the world. In Europe, the United Kingdom, which had led the unification of Europe, has decided to leave the European Union (EU). Russia has virtually annexed Crimea, which was part of Ukraine, launched a military intervention into the Middle East for the first time since ... ... [Read more]

No.48

Two years have passed since the Permanent Court of Arbitration released its ruling on the South China Sea: The current conditions in China

On July 12 two years ago, the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) released its ruling on a claim brought by the Philippines against China on the South China Sea disputes between those two countries. The court rejected China’s claims on all thirteen issues taken up by the Philippines. But China refused to recognize the ruling, claiming “non-reception,” “non-participation,” “non-approval” and “non-execution” and maintains that position today, claiming that the ruling is not legally binding. The active maritime policy and oppressive maritime advances of China, which ignore international norms, became particularly noticeable in the 2001 Hainan Island incident, in which a US Navy EP-3 reconnaissance aircraft operating above the waters of the South China Sea collided with a Chinese People’s Liberation Army F-8 fighter. After several skirmishes, in 2009, an unidentified Chinese ship interfered with the USNS Impeccable (T-AGOS-23), an Impeccable-class ocean surveillance ship, which ... ... [Read more]

Read more

No.48

Surviving Tumultuous Times with the Power of History
The Onin War × World War I: Confronting the Chaos in Times without a Hero

Goza Yuichi vs. Hosoya Yuichi Why is the Onin War Important Today? Hosoya Yuichi: I heard that Onin no ran: Sengoku jidai wo unda tairan (The Onin War: The Civil War that Produced the Warring States Period) sold more than 200,000 copies in four months after it was published. Now that books are not selling well, this is a remarkable achievement. Why are so many people paying attention to a book about a war that began 550 years ago that is notorious, but whose cause and results are unclear? What do you think about the readers’ reaction? Goza Yuichi: I might be the most surprised. There are many history buffs in Japan, but I think they basically love tales of heroes, such as Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Tokugawa Ieyasu and Sakamoto Ryoma. When you go to a bookstore, you will see books or magazines ... ... [Read more]

No.46

An Inside View from the Advisory Council on Easing the Burden of the Official Duties and Public Activities of His Majesty the Emperor ― Looking back at seven months that decided the Emperor’s future

In April 2017, the Advisory Council on Easing the Burden of the Official Duties and Public Activities of His Majesty the Emperor (hereafter, Advisory Council) put together its final report and concluded its work. In my role as acting chairman of the Advisory Council I was also its spokesman, so some readers may have seen me at post-meeting press conferences and other events. There was absolutely no precedent for these discussions on Imperial abdication, so it was inevitable that there would be some trial and error involved in seven months of deliberation. Nevertheless, right now I feel that we produced the best report we could. But just what was this Advisory Council that captured the interest of the Japanese people? As our deliberations have now achieved their initial aim, I’d like to explain as much as I can. On 21 April 2017 the Advisory ... ... [Read more]

No.44

Politicians Need to Present Hard-hitting Reforms
―We have had enough of unjustifiable, policy-free elections

At the beginning of the extraordinary session of the Diet at the end of September, Prime Minister Abe Shinzo decided on a dissolution of the lower house, saying that it was a “dissolution to break through national difficulties”; giving as his reasons a change in the use of tax income, and the worsening North Korea situation. Mainly due to the Moritomo/Kake Gakuen issue, Abe’s support rate has been in the doldrums since last spring, and in July the LDP suffered a heavy loss in the Tokyo Assembly elections. So, from the perspective of the opposition, this dissolution was a surprise attack. The previous dissolution in 2014 was also a surprise attack, and the opposition lost heavily, being unable to react effectively. But this time was different. Interestingly, the opposition fought back with their own surprise attack. The Tokyo governor Koike Yuriko set up a ... ... [Read more]

Read more

No.49

Can we learn from history, or do we simply repeat history?—Trump’s trade policy from an economics perspective

When similar events occur In his book Manias, Panics, and Crashes: A History of Financial Crisis, C. P. Kindleberger, the economic historian who analyzed the history of financial crises, adopts quite a gloomy historical perspective on the interactions between economic systems and people. Bubbles occur when mania (hyper-optimism) becomes prevalent in society. However, bubbles will burst at some point, causing panic and, in the end, plunging economic systems into collapse and panic. Have we not been through these processes any number of times in the modern era? Such hyper-optimism suggests a social climate where the prevalent economic behavior is excitable, yet relaxed about reckless borrowing and lending, believing all will be well. The pattern of manias, panics, and crashes applies unchanged to the collapse of the bubble economy in Japan in the late 1980s, the United States at the time of the Lehman Brothers ... ... [Read more]

No.48

Prospects for the RCEP Negotiations: Protecting the Liberal Economic Order

Key Points: Diverse frameworks are competing to lead the regional order RCEP increasingly important due to US withdrawal from the TPP Concerns that Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is inconsistent with the liberal order The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is an initiative targeting aspects of regional economic integration between the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the six countries that already have free trade agreements (FTA) with the ASEAN (Japan, China, Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand). Formally declared open in 2012, the ongoing negotiations aim to establish the rules for eighteen areas including goods, services, investment, rules of origin, intellectual property, competition, and dispute settlement. One of the points in favor of the RCEP is that the members include China and India as well as all ten ASEAN countries. Only four of the ASEAN countries participate in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) ... ... [Read more]

No.48

Prospects for the RCEP Negotiations: Japan and ASEAN Are Key to a Conclusion Within the Year

Key Points: Implementing the RCEP would greatly benefit the global economy. Deter protectionism together with the TPP and the Japan-EU EPA Transitional measures and capacity-building support the negotiation conclusion   On July 1, Tokyo hosted a ministerial meeting of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). This was the first ministerial meeting to be held outside the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). RCEP is a supra-regional economic area (a mega free trade agreement) in East Asia, the center of global economic growth. The sixteen nations participating in the negotiations account for about half of the world’s population (3.4 billion) while the GDP (about USD 20 trillion) and total trade (about USD 10 trillion) account for one third globally. If the agreement is implemented, it will have a substantial and positive impact on both the East Asian and the global economy. Regional cooperation in East ... ... [Read more]

Read more

No.48

Shinkokinshu: An Anthology for Our Times

  Most Japanese newspapers carry a weekly column of waka (poems in 31 syllables) and haiku (poems in 17 syllables) submitted by readers. This journalistic feature indicates to what extent poetry permeates the everyday lives of the Japanese. Similarly, at the beginning of each year the Emperor holds a competition for waka composed on a topic of his choice, and the people of Japan submit their poems. These modern poetic practices have their roots in the long tradition of court waka. Superior poems produced at the Japanese court over the centuries were collected in a series of anthologies compiled by imperial command. One of these, the Shin Kokin Waka Shu (New Collection of Ancient and Modern Poetry, usually abbreviated to Shinkokinshu), is considered by many to represent the summit of the art, and has the unusual distinction of having been edited personally by the ... ... [Read more]

No.48

The World of the Japanese Newspaper Poetry Column

  Newspaper poetry columns called shimbun kadan have given numerous popular poets their start. They publish verse that is erotic and that is cute, that is about love, and that is about everyday life. Just don’t say that only the people who submit poems read them. The poetry in question is tanka, a short form of poetry having 31 (5-7-5-7-7) syllabets which dates from the Meiji period (1868–1912) and differs from the traditional form of poetry called waka as showcased in the eighth-century Man’yoshu and other such poetry anthologies commissioned by the Emperor. Newspaper tanka are the avant-garde   “That’s a funny place for a mole,” so you said. And so it started.” Yagimoto Motomoto, Tokyo   Is the above really a tanka too? Many people these days might say, “Yes. So what?” It uses colloquial speech and quotation marks; and it ignores the ... ... [Read more]

No.42

The “Johnny’s” Entertainers Omnipresent on Japanese TV: Postwar Media and the Postwar Family

Introduction What do Japanese people think of when they hear the name Johnnies? Perhaps pop groups such as SMAP or Arashi that belong to the Johnny & Associates talent agency? Or perhaps the title of specific TV programs or movies? If they are not that interested, perhaps they will be reminded of the words “beautiful young boys” or “scandal”? On the other hand, if they are well-informed about the topic perhaps jargon terms such as “oriki,” “doutan,” or “shinmechu” are second nature? In this way the word “Johnnies” (the casual name given to groups managed by Johnny & Associates) is likely to evoke all sorts of images. But one thing is sure: almost no Japanese person would reply that they hadn’t heard the name. If a person lives within Japanese society and they watch television even just a little, whether they like it or ... ... [Read more]

Read more

No.46

Diversity Opens the Path to Innovation

Introduction I joined IBM Research-Tokyo in 1985 as the only visually impaired researcher at a time when there were very few female researchers at the lab. Since then, I have brought a diversity perspective to my work in accessibility research, one of the fields in Human Computer Interaction (HCI). Aiming to optimize Braille book creation and sharing, I participated in the research and development of digital Braille editing system, Braille dictionary system, and Braille information sharing network system after joining the lab. I could move the research forward because of my visual impairment which allowed me to understand the value of digitizing Braille. Starting in the mid-1990s, I worked on a talking web browser for the Internet. This idea also emerged from the needs of the visually impaired, and since then it has spread in ways I never expected. Today, I am working on ... ... [Read more]

No.44

Prevent Japan from bankruptcy due to the shortage of workers
Hold discussions on coexistence with foreigners
Shortage of workers equal to the period of the bubble economy

Isoyama Tomoyuki, Business Journalist  The effective opening-to-application ratio in March 2017 was 1.45, a high value for the first time in 26 years and 4 months since November 1990. If the present situation continues, Japan may fall into bankruptcy due to the shortage of workers. The time has come when we should seriously consider the role of foreigners as people who support Japanese economic society and local communities.   The Kinosaki Hot Spring is located close to the spot where the Maruyama River flows into the Sea of Japan in Toyooka City, Hyogo Prefecture. The hot spring resort, which is known for the novel Kinosaki ni te by Shiga Naoya, features lines of wooden hot spring inns along the Otani River, which has willow trees lining its banks. The area exudes a unique atmosphere. In the last few years there has been an increase in the number ... ... [Read more]

No.43

Dialogue: Challenge by Tottori, the Least Populous Prefecture in Japan
There is a Right Size for Democracy

Motani Kosuke, Chief Senior Economist, The Japan Research Institute, Ltd. vs Hirai Shinji, Governor, Tottori Prefecture Tottori, a Unique Countryside Motani Kosuke: I read your book, Chiisakutemo Kateru (You Can Win Even if You Are Small). I think this book is like the novel, Shitamachi Roketto (Rockets of an Old Commercial District) by Mr. Ikeido Jun. It’s the story of a young man who grew up in Tokyo and migrated to Tottori. In the story, the protagonist leaves a large company, finds a job at a second-tier company and achieves success as a hired business manager with his strenuous efforts. Hirai Shinji: Thank you, Mr. Motani. I’ve asked you for help in many ways, including a visit to a symposium held in our prefecture and guidance with our prefectural employees, because I really wanted to try what you called the capitalism of the satoyama ... ... [Read more]

Read more

No.

Opinion Poll: Is Japan Tilting to Right?

Intellectuals Concerned About “Tilt to the Right” The survey, to which 282 people including intellectuals and experts responded, asked people in Japan for their opinions on whether Japan is “tilting to the right” as some foreign media have suggested. The ratio of respondents who “feel Japan is ’tilting to the right”‘ as foreign media claim was 23.4%. However, when combining an answer that they do not think so as of now but it is possible later, which was given by 13.1%, nearly 40% of the respondents are concerned about Japan’s drift to the right. Also, 28.4% said Japan is “not tilting to the right but reactions of overseas media over Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s comments and actions are understandable,” suggesting that they think it is inevitable that foreign media look the current situation like... [Read more]

No.9

INFORMATION SECURITY MEASURES UNDER PRESSURE OF REVISION

Photo : Takakura HirokiWhat on earth is happening? Is Japan taking information security measures seriously?” This year, one after another of the networks of public organizations and corporations, including major heavy industries, have been at the receiving end of cyber attacks, resulting in disclosure of important information in some instances. The damage is gradually becoming clear as the investigations move forward, but in most cases, we cannot expect to understand the full particulars. In many of the attacks, the attackers penetrated protected computers that were only accessible to a limited number of people at the companies to steal information. A great variety of information was targeted including... [Read more]

No.8

GREENERY CHANGES CITIES… AND CHANGES HOW WE LIVE

Moderator: This summer, with calls to save energy and reduce electricity consumption, we are seeing the emergence of a movement to use greenery as a way to beat the heat, with “green curtains” becoming the focus of a great deal of attention, for example. Today we are going to hear from two experts about the future of the relationship between cities and greenery. We’ll start by asking your opinions on the current state of the kind of greenery that everyone is familiar with, such as roadside trees. FUJII Eijiro: Unfortunately for the last twenty years or so in Japan, there are more and more trees that have been terribly over-pruned. Even in parks there are a lot of trees that have been pruned unnecessarily. For trees such as Platanus Orientalis (plane trees), for example, if they are in parks then there is no need ... ... [Read more]

Read more