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No.24
Discussions, Science, No.24  Jan. 8, 2015

The Truth behind the STAP Cell Case Reality of research institutions, international competition, morality of researchers — Why wasn’t the fraud avoidable?

SAKURA Osamu KATASE Kumiko YASHIRO Yoshimi What Happened, and What Came to Light Sakura Osamu: Obokata Haruko, Unit Leader at RIKEN, announced in late January this year (2014) that she had established a method of producing STAP cells (acronym for Stimulus-Triggered Acquisition of Pluripotency; cells that have the capacity to become any type of cell that forms the body when stimulated), and the media reported it as “the discovery of the century.” But circumstances have changed significantly in a mere two months, and STAP cells are now the subject of numerous doubts. I would first like to ask the two of you about your basic understanding of this case. First, do you think that two Nature papers, principally authored by Obokata, were falsified in a critical manner? And second, should we consider that STAP cells are not yet verified, or are they? Professor Yashiro, ... ... [Read more]

No.23
Discussions, Economy, No.23  Oct. 30, 2014

No Need to Fear a Fall in Population

HATTA Tatsuo – President, Asian Growth Research Institute SAITO Shiro – Executive Research Director at the Japan Center for Economic Research Population decline is beginning to cast a dark shadow across Japanese economy. It is considered to reduce the growth rate threatening the sustainability our social security system. But Hatta Tatsuo, President of the Asian Growth Research Institute, who is also chairman of the Government Working Group to Design National Strategic Economic Zones, has a different view. He says there is no need to fear a fall in population. So what is the basis for that? Saito Shiro, executive research director at the Japan Center for Economic Research, asked him. Population growth and development unrelated Saito: We hear it said a lot that one of the greatest problems facing the Japanese economy is the decreasing birthrate and aging population, and population decline. I also ... ... [Read more]

No.22
Discussions, Economy, No.22  Jul. 10, 2014

Discussion on the Future of the Abe Economy:Will there be a Knowledge Industrial Revolution?— In-depth discussion on innovations and the future of Japan

    NONAKA Ikujiro Professor Emeritus at Hitotsubashi University ASAHIOKA Eishun President of the Social Infrastructure Research Center Data unleashing human potential Nonaka Ikujiro: The biggest topic for the Japanese industries this year is the conversion of knowledge into data. For example, behavioral patterns of customers, which were not visible in the past, are made available for analysis and reflected to corporate strategies utilizing so-called “big data” (large volume digital data). Another example is Google’s development of self-driving cars, as well as the acquisition of several robot-related companies at the end of last year; these are also the efforts to convert as much knowledge as possible into the form of data. In this context, it seems the role of knowledge in society is facing a major change.  Asahioka Eishun: As a representative of a private sector think tank, I have been conducting research on ... ... [Read more]

No.21
Discussions, Society, No.21  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. I mean, Tora-san (main character of the series), ... ... [Read more]

No.20
Discussions, Culture, No.20  Apr. 11, 2014

The First Three-Way Conversation Coinciding with the Thirtieth Anniversary of Studio Ghibli Miya-san, why don’t you make another movie?

Miyazaki Hayao (left), Suzuki Toshio (center) and Takahata Isao Photo by Nicolas Guérin

The release of The Wind Rises, The Tale of Princess Kaguya, and then, Miyazaki Hayao’s announcement of his retirement: 2013 was truly the year of Ghibli. Read about their works and this country in an in-depth conversation that lasted for three hours by two master directors and a famous producer.   Suzuki: This is the first three-way conversation consisting of these members. And this might be the last. [Laughter] The year 2014 marks the thirtieth anniversary of the founding of Ghibli. Last year was a busy one, with the releases of The Wind Rises by Director Miyazaki Hayao, The Tale of The Princess Kaguya by Director Takahata Isao, and in addition, Miya-san [Editor’s note: Miyazaki] announced his retirement. So the aim was to have the three people get together and talk.  [Facing toward the direction of the editing team] Do you have anything you ... ... [Read more]

No.19
Discussions, Politics, No.19  Mar. 25, 2014

A direct proposition to the “long-term” Abe administration Crisis leadership: Nankai Trough, sub-Tokyo earthquake… Voicing the limits to the Self-Defense Forces out loud

ORIKI Ryoichi Former Chief of Staff, Joint Staff

  They cannot do what they did after the Great East Japan Earthquake for all earthquakes. State risks require preparations on the part of autonomies and citizens. ORIKI Ryoichi Former Chief of Staff, Joint Staff Funabashi Yoichi has interviewed a number of people for this magazine (Bungeishunju) on the topic of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant accident and crisis leadership – writer Hando Kazutoshi (June 2013), former Chief of Fukushima No.2 Nuclear Power Plant Masuda Takahiro (August 2013), and Charles Casto of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (October 2013). On this occasion, he meets former Joint Staff’s Chief of Staff Oriki Ryoichi, who was head of the army, naval and air forces at the time as the leader of the Self-Defense Forces’ uniformed personnel, to discuss the role of the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) in this incident and leadership as its former commander. FUNABASHI Yoichi ... ... [Read more]

No.17
Discussions, Culture, No.17  Dec. 1, 2013

Hosoda Mamoru + Azuma Hiroki — Animation for Parents

Azuma (left) and Hosoda. PHOTO: COURTESY OF GENRON CO., LTD.

In 2012, director Hosoda Mamoru scored a big hit with a movie called Wolf Children. Unlike conventional animated movies, it was full of messages aimed at families raising young children. On September 25, while the movie was in theaters, Hosoda’s first child (a son) was born, thrusting the director right into the heart of child raising himself. He met up twice with the genron etc.’s Editor-in-Chief, who himself has a daughter in elementary school, for an in-depth discussion regarding the hidden messages in Wolf Children and the isolating effects of becoming a father. Where does being a parent start? And where does it end? Hosoda Mamoru: I didn’t have children when I was making the movie. Although my wife and I had always wanted to be parents, we just hadn’t been blessed with a child at that point. We started going to the hospital ... ... [Read more]

No.16
Discussions, Diplomacy, No.16  Oct. 8, 2013

Accidental Explosion or Maturity? The Future of China’s Expanding Military Power — Capability and Intentions Analyzed by Former Senior Leaders of the Japan Self-Defense Forces

Koda Yoji Former Commander in Chief, Self-Defense Fleet (Vice Admiral) of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force

Numerical analysis reveals the formidable raw power of the Chinese military  Koda Yoji: Fear and anxiety about China’s People’s Liberation Army has been spreading in Japan as China has rapidly expanded its military spending in recent years, but its real capability is relatively unknown. I am afraid this story is taking on a life of its own. Today I would like to discuss matters related to China’s military power by calmly analyzing it, because if we overestimate or underestimate its power we won’t be able to deal with it properly as a nation.  Yamaguchi Noboru: First, let’s begin by confirming China’s defense budget. According to the Chinese government, China’s defense spending reached $90.2 billion in 2011, an eighteen-fold increase over the past twenty years. China has been regularly doubling its defense budget every five years. This reflects the growth of China’s GDP. Incidentally, the ... ... [Read more]

No.12

PANEL DISCUSSION: Solution to Japan-China Senkaku Problem, Future of Bilateral Relations

Photo : Miyamato Yuji(L), Takahara Akio(C), Akiyama Masahiro(R)

Three experts on Japan-China relations, who have held talks with Chinese intellectuals on various occasions, discussed on Oct. 3 the background to bilateral relations that have soured in the face of the Senkaku Islands issue and ways of resolving the problem. The three agreed that Japan and China still have a long way to go before they can settle the Senkaku issue and now need to work out an agreement to avoid a military clash. They also said that while reasonable and cool-headed attitudes are indispensable... [Read more]

No.11
Discussions, Politics, No.11  May. 31, 2012

WHO IS GROUP 1984?

It was the spring of 1974 when I read the article by Group 1984 for the first time. I was on the Tokaido Shinkansen (bullet train), on my way back to Tokyo from Kansai. The article was titled “Criticism of the Japanese Communist Party’s Platform for the United Democratic Government,” and had been handed to me by Mr. Yamazaki Masakazu, Professor Emeritus at Osaka University. He said that I would find it interesting. I looked to see who the author was. It was co-written by Group 1984. I immediately understood that the group was named after the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four written by George Orwell. This novel is about a dystopian, highly controlled society set in the near future. At the time of its publication, it was also seen as a criticism of socialism as well as of a technostress society. I thought that the ... ... [Read more]