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No.52
Discussions, No.52, Diplomacy  Jul. 11, 2019

Dialogue: The lessons from Western politics straying out off course ― Welcoming the storms of the international community with a philosophy of inclusion

European politics in confusion Aida Hirotsugu (Hiro Aida): Three years have passed since the 2016 Brexit referendum, in which the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union (EU), closely followed by Donald Trump being elected president of the United States. Turmoil persists in the United Kingdom and the United States, populism is rampant in other European countries, and formerly sound governments based on the ideals of parliamentary democracy have struggled to function. In Italy, the leftist Five Star Movement and the far-right Lega formed a coalition government in 2018, which saw the establishment of an anti-EU administration heavily influenced by populism. In France as well, the Yellow Vest movement broke out in November 2018 and still shows no sign of dying down. Initially, the movement started from demonstrations against the Macron administration’s fuel and car tax hikes. But in the confused state of ... ... [Read more]

No.51
Discussions, No.51, Politics  Mar. 31, 2019

Thirty years of clambering up and slipping back down— A comprehensive look back at the Heisei period

  What kind of period was Heisei (1989–2019) Kitaoka Shinichi: My image of the Heisei period is of a crab at the bottom of a washbowl trying to climb up but then slipping and falling right back down. Heisei began with the bubble bursting in 1991 (Heisei 3) and Japan tried to respond to it in various ways. Although there was political reform and administrative reform, the Asian currency crisis came in ’97, before these trials showed any effect, and it looked like it was all over for Japan. But in 2001, Koizumi Junichiro appeared as Prime Minister, promised to “destroy the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP),” and became hugely popular. Yet the LDP wasn’t particularly destroyed, and it’s hard to say that anything has moved forward. Then in 2008 there was the global financial crisis, and in 2011 the Great East Japan Earthquake and ... ... [Read more]

No.51
Discussions, No.51, Society  Jan. 9, 2019

Future Design

  Discussion between Professor Sakura Osamu and Professor Saijo Tatsuyoshi   There are various matters, such as climate change, energy issues, social security, and government debt, which need to be dealt with using a long-term perspective. At the core of these issues is conflict between the interests of different generations. There is potential for the short-sighted response and decision-making of the present generation to significantly disadvantage future generations. These future generations are not yet born so cannot make their voices heard nor negotiate with the present generation. Yet, it’s not strange at all for the present generation to make decisions according to their own interests. The “market” and other social systems are not necessarily equipped with any function for distributing resources to future generations. In order to create a sustainable society for future generations, humans need to get past their natural short-sightedness, while mechanisms ... ... [Read more]

No.50
Discussions, No.50, Science  Oct. 16, 2018

Issues Concerning the Paris Agreement on Global Warming: Limitations of Negative Emissions Dependence — Make Zero Emissions the Guiding Principle

  < Key Points > It is apparent that the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) submitted by member countries will not be enough to reach the 2 degree target Technologies and feasibility for massive negative emissions are unproven It is effective to accumulate technologies for zero emissions in each sector The Paris Agreement, a new framework of global warming prevention, was adopted at the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which was held in Paris in December 2015. The Parties agreed to keep the average global temperature rise well below 2˚C above pre-industrial levels (the Two-Degree Goal), keeping it in mind to do our best to keep the rise less than 1.5˚C, and realize zero net emissions by balancing anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions with negative emissions in the second half of this century. All countries and ... ... [Read more]

No.48
Discussions, Politics, No.48  Jun. 27, 2018

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.43
Discussions, Diplomacy, No.43  Feb. 13, 2018

Dialogue: Will the Day Come When China and India Coexist as Major Powers?

Horimoto Takenori, Visiting Professor, Gifu Women’s University of Japan Kawashima Shin, Professor, University of Tokyo Kawashima Shin: China is making a range of moves, both large and small, with the National Congress of the Communist Party of China imminent this fall. But we need to keep our eyes on India, in addition to observing how China will change in units of 10 years and 20 years when we think about the future of the world and the future of Asia. Horimoto Takenori: China and India combined are said to have accounted for half of the global GDP in the middle of the 18th century. The same situation is likely to emerge in the second half of the 21st century. To begin with, only two countries in the world, China and India, have populations exceeding 1 billion at the present time. The framework of the ... ... [Read more]

No.43
Discussions, Society, No.43  Jan. 23, 2018

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]

No.42
Discussions, Diplomacy, No.42  Jan. 18, 2018

Dialogue: Abe Commences Double Postwar Settlement at Russo-Japanese Summit Talks Putin Says That National Borders Can Move

Key Points of the Joint Press Conference held on December 16, 2016 The two leaders agreed to commence negotiations for a special system for carrying out joint economic activities on the four Russian-held Northern Islands. The two leaders expressed their shared willingness to conclude a peace treaty and recognized joint economic activities as a step toward its conclusion. Abe expressed the view that the road to the conclusion of a peace treaty covering the Northern Territories issue remains long and difficult. Why the Islands Were Not Discussed Yamauchi: I think many media reported that as usual, no progress was observed on the Northern Territories issue immediately after Russian President Vladimir Putin had talks with Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo. Sato: To state my conclusion first, I think that the latest Russo-Japanese summit produced significant results for both countries. Yamauchi: I agree with you completely. ... ... [Read more]

No.41
Discussions, Science, No.41  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
Discussions, Politics, No.41  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]