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No.68

Witnessing a Turning Point for Japanese Diplomacy: The War Against Terror and Japan-US Relations as Seen from the Heart of Political Power

Fukuda Yasuo, former Prime Minister of Japan Interviewed by Tanaka Akihiko, President of the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS)   Tanaka Akihiko: On September 11, 2001, a series of terror attacks occurred in the United States. Subsequently, the world entered the age of “fight against terrors.” It was six months after the Koizumi Administration had been launched. As the then Chief Cabinet Secretary, you were at the heart of that administration, so how did you interpret these events at the time?   Fukuda Yasuo: It was around ten at night when the first report of the terror attacks reached me, amidst a meeting with media representatives. The report was that a plane had hit one of the New York World Trade Center buildings. At first, I thought it was an accident, but just as I left for home, I received news that ... ... [Read more]

No.68

The Southeast Asian Countries’ Strategy for China and New Expectations for Japan

Takagi Yusuke, Associate Professor, National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies   The basic goal of the Southeast Asian countries’ strategy for China is to maintain strategic autonomy and aim for economic prosperity amid the US-China conflict. They cannot ignore the US-China conflict in terms of either supply chains or the security environment. Cooperation with countries outside of Southeast Asia is also essential for both budget and technology reasons if they wish to strengthen their defensive capabilities. In this article, I first give an overview of China’s presence based on a survey [The State of Southeast Asia: 2021 Survey Report] conducted by the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS) in Singapore. Next, I examine how the South China Sea situation, which is one of the reasons for concern about China, was discussed by the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) ... ... [Read more]

No.67

The Biden Administration’s Policy on China: From “Engagement” to “Competition” — US Policy Change

Sahashi Ryo, Associate professor, Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia, University of Tokyo   Not much longer than a half year since its inception, it has already become evident that China is at the core of the Biden administration’s global strategy. Moreover, it is talking about rebuilding US-Europe relations and the international cooperation system, take on the climate crisis, and stop the retreat of global democracy. The Democratic Party’s left wing has called for an exploration of internationalism that does not overemphasize military affairs, while the Biden administration criticizes the diplomacy of the Trump era and stresses the revival of US leadership.  On March 3 in 2021, the Biden administration released “Interim National Security Strategic Guidance” as a provisional version of the “National Security Strategy” (NSS). In the guidance, China is described as the “only competitor,” paying more attention to China than to Russia. ... ... [Read more]

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No.67

Pragmatic Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide’s Legacy and the Most Regrettable Fact

  Nakakita Koji, Professor, Hitotsubashi University Many policies formulated and the biggest “what if” in the history of the Suga administration Former Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide decided not to run in the Presidential election of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in September 2021, bringing the curtain down on more than a year of the Suga government. While the main focus of the Suga administration was the fight against COVID-19, the formulation and implementation of many policies in line with the trends of the times based on popular sentiment is a highly commendable accomplishment of Suga’s government. Such policies include setting decarbonization goals, directing the realization of a digital society, lowering cell phone charges, and expanding national health insurance for fertility treatments. Lagging digitalization in particular was a major issue by anyone’s standards. The fact that Suga was able to set up the Digital Agency ... ... [Read more]

No.66

Continuing to Say to the Government What Needs to be Said

Ever since the novel coronavirus COVID-19 first appeared in Japan, Dr. Omi Shigeru has been leading the battle against this infectious disease. At times he has received criticism such as, “scientists are too forward-leaning with their comments,” and he’s given advice to the government that is painful to hear. We asked Dr. Omi about tribulations so far and prospects for the future. (Interview 20 February with subsequent revision.)   Omi Shigeru, Chairman of the New Coronavirus Infectious Diseases Control Subcommittee Interviewed by Makihara Izuru, Professor, Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology (RCAST), University of Tokyo   Pressing on with a forward-leaning attitude Professor Makihara Izuru: It is now about one year since the first state of emergency declaration was issued (April 7, 2020). Looking back over this period, what are your thoughts?   Dr. Omi Shigeru: When the first state of emergency was ... ... [Read more]

No.66

The Future of Island Areas: Autonomy and Administration in Island Areas

Kuroishi Keita, Research Fellow, Japan Municipal Research Center   Like peninsulas and mountainous areas, islands are not subject of any institutions or policies that make up a framework that is uniform for Japan as a whole. I would like to discuss the future autonomy and administration of island municipalities by dividing them into four types. Introduction Japan, as an “island country,” has more than 6,800 islands, of which about 400 are inhabited. These inhabited islands are sites of “autonomy” that supports the lives of the residents living there. Moreover, to these residents, the municipalities are the closest administrative body. In this paper, I define municipalities with inhabited islands within the relevant geographical area as “island municipalities,” to which I would like to draw attention. The environment surrounding island municipalities today is not necessarily so calm. It goes without saying that the arrival of the ... ... [Read more]

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No.68

The Japan Fair Trade Commission’s Challenges with Apple

  Sugimoto Kazuyuki, former Chairman of the Japan Fair Trade Commission   The Japan Fair Trade Commission (JFTC)’s investigations into Apple Inc. effectively came to a close on September 1, 2021 when Apple announced it would make changes to some global regulations in 2022. Apple submitted an application for changes to regulations that would let users avoid the 15–30% delivery commission for “reader apps” that offer subscriptions for content like books, music, videos, etc., which some media outlets have called an “unusual conciliation.” Currently, all applications (hereinafter “apps”) used by iPhones and other Apple products must be downloaded from the App Store. Until now, application developers had to pay a commission to sell their apps, the so-called “Apple Tax.” In other words, they paid a “protection price” to a “bookmaker.” With the new decision by Apple, developers won’t have to pay the “Apple Tax” ... ... [Read more]

No.67

Climate change and finance: Advantages and disadvantages of mandatory disclosures by companies

Ito Kunio, Professor Emeritus, Hitotsubashi University   Key points Japanese companies rank highly worldwide for number of institutions supporting TCFD Mandatory financial disclosures should avoid disclosure of static information Need to promote corporate behavioral change through dialogue with investors   In response to worsening climate change, the Japanese government has set out its policy of becoming carbon neutral by 2050. I would like to put forward two effective approaches. The first is the disclosure by companies of just the right amount of information – not too much and not too little. The second is the proper evaluation of disclosed information by investment and loan institutions and the provision of ample funds for decarbonization activities and innovation. The Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) is a common framework for driving the world toward climate-related financial disclosures. The Task Force was established in 2015 by ... ... [Read more]

No.67

Climate Change and Finance: For Active Involvement in Decarbonization by Central Banks

Shirai Sayuri, Professor, Keio Universit   Key points Governments should promote measures to develop green finance Governments should support environmental projects by actively issuing green bonds The Bank of Japan should make greater contributions to climate issues through purchasing green corporate bonds and Exchange Traded Funds (ETF)   Green finance that supports improvements in environmental issues has drawn attention in recent years. To limit the global average rise in temperature to 1.5 degrees by the end of this century as compared to pre-industrial levels, a large amount of capital spending and R&D is needed to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to net zero by 2050. According to an estimate by the International Energy Agency (IEA), more than double the current annual global investments (550 trillion JPY) will be needed by 2030 and around the same amount will be needed until 2050. Europe is leading ... ... [Read more]

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No.68

Shake off “COVID self-restraint”! How about a healing stroll around a museum?—With the Scrolls of Frolicking Animals and Humans now on display, here’s our guide to viewing art followed by an enjoyable garden stroll.

  Editor’s note: This article was written in March, before an increase in COVID-19 infections. However, we have obtained permission from the author and the publisher to reproduce this article unchanged now, when the COVID-19 pandemic has subsided again.   Kageyama Yumiko, antique art dealer and writer    In any age, works of art enrich the hearts of those who see them. Right now, as we are worn out by living with COVID self-restraint, a single painting can provide energy and help us forget time spent in sadness. Although some museums and galleries are currently closed due to COVID-19, others have carefully put in place infection control measures such as pre-booking and temperature checks, and are welcoming art fans. What’s more, as long as visitors wear masks and avoid crowded places, they can view art works in freedom. As a collector of paintings by ... ... [Read more]

No.67

Why Are Foreign Celebrities Hooked on Zen?: A monk who has traveled the world as a Zen teacher asks, “What is troubling these privileged people?”

Masuno Shunmyo, Head Priest of Kenkohji Temple   Increasingly, I feel that “Zen” is now an international word like judo and karate. Twelve years ago, I wrote a book in Japanese called Zen, shinpuru seikatsu no susume (Zen, Recommendations for a Simple Life) (Mikasa Shobo). Then in 2019, the major UK publisher Penguin released an English translation called Zen: The Art of Simple Living. There was a huge response and I hear that the Penguin Group has already received requests to translate the book into around 30 languages. Things have happened so quickly that I’m surprised too. What underlies this overseas focus on Zen is increased interest in mental issues. More and more people are now thinking, “Surely living each day with a peaceful heart is the greatest happiness?” Zen means addressing a question for yourself. How can I live so that in my ... ... [Read more]

No.66

Enigmatic Picture Scrolls of Frolicking Animals and Humans

Hashimoto Mari, Vice-chairperson of Eisei Bunko   About a one hour bus journey from Kyoto station, where the mountains that extend across the Tanba Highlands adjoin the Kiyotaki river and form valleys, in an area known for its autumn leaves and beautiful valleys, stands the ancient temple of Kosanji. It is thought to have been built around the 8th century as a Buddhist monastery called the Toganoo, but by the end of the Heian period (794–1185) when it became the branch temple of the Jingoji temple over the mountain, it had so fallen into ruin as to be unrecognizable. Jingoji also fell into ruin and a priest named Mongaku (1139–1203) busied himself with its restoration. Mongaku repaired Toganoo and arranged for it to become an independent temple for the monk who was expected to be his successor, Myoe (1173–1232). In this way, when in ... ... [Read more]

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No.66

How We Deal with Science: The Increasing Role of and Involvement of Ordinary People

Sakura Osamu, Professor, University of Tokyo Key Points Cultivating relationships of trust between politicians and expert groups The shift of science and technology patrons from the state to the private sector How ideas from ordinary people can make up for the limitations of experts The spread of COVID-19 has brought a major issue to the fore: what is the right relationship between political judgment and scientific knowledge, or between politicians and experts? We are often finding the opinions of experts grounded in scientific knowledge to be at odds with the decision-making of politicians. This issue is not limited to Japan; it is causing great confusion around the world, including in European countries. It is also not something that sprung up overnight. In Japan’s case, after the accident at Tokyo Electric Power Company’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant (the “NPP accident”) caused by the Great ... ... [Read more]

No.64

The Perfect Return that Sent the Hayabusa2 Control Room into a Frenzy: The secret to scoring “10,000 points out of a perfect 100” is to predict the difficulties and to be prepared with three options

Tsuda Yuichi, Professor at the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS), the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Interview and text by Yamane Kazuma, nonfiction writer     On a visit to the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) in Sagamihara City, Kanagawa Prefecture on December 18, 2020, Hagiuda Koichi, Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, announced some good news at the press conference. “The capsule brought back by Hayabusa2 contains approximately 5.4 grams of soil samples collected from the asteroid Ryugu. This world-class technology has collected an amount that is fifty times above the target of 0.1 gram.” The first-generation Hayabusa was the first time since the moon landings for humanity to achieve the spectacular feat of bringing back a sample from a celestial body, but that sample was no more than three ... ... [Read more]

No.56

What We Understood through the “Holistic Reenactment Project of the Voyage 30,000 Years Ago” (2016–2019) —A New Frontier of Anthropology and Science from Japan—

The diverse staff that made possible the “reenactment” Kawabata Hiroto The logboat (dug-out canoe) carrying five persons that set out from eastern Taiwan on July 7, 2019 reached Yonaguni Island in Okinawa after 45 hours. I’m so happy everyone in the crew made it there safely. Kaifu Yousuke Thank you. Kawabata I have previously written Wareware wa naze wareware-dake nanoka―Ajia kara kieta tayona ‘Jinrui’ tachi (Lost in Evolution: Exploring Humanity’s Path in Asia) under Dr. Kaifu’s supervision, and am well aware of the general outline of the Holistic Reenactment Project of the Voyage 30,000 Years Ago since I’ve supported the crowdfunding, but could you please explain it briefly to our readers? Kaifu Certainly. First of all, we believe that Homo sapiens, who emerged in Africa, came to the Japanese islands via three routes. That’s the route from Sakhalin to Hokkaido, the route from the Korean peninsula via Tsushima ... ... [Read more]

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No.68

What Tokyo 2020 Was Really For: Host Town Exchanges and “Promoting a Peaceful Society”

Sasao Shinta, Associate Professor, Tokyo Women’s College of Physical Education & Tokyo Women’s Junior College of Physical Education   The Olympic Charter lists “promoting a peaceful society” as its goal. The Host Town Initiative works to achieve that goal by encouraging mutually beneficial exchanges between participant countries and regions and local municipalities. I would like to detail those ideas and their actual implementation, then end by discussing my hopes for the future. Why We Even Have the Olympics This article will review the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games (hereinafter, “Tokyo 2020”) with a focus on host towns, one initiative enacted during Tokyo 2020. What is the purpose of the Olympics? In 2021, with Tokyo 2020 right around the corner, many people in Japan—especially those in Tokyo—undoubtedly thought hard upon this question. I doubt many people knew this before Tokyo 2020, but the goal ... ... [Read more]

No.68

Weaknesses Exposed by COVID-19: Can Japan Recover from the “Digital Defeat”?

Miyata Hiroaki, Professor, Keio University Confusion caused by digitalization delays ―Can you name some issues caused by digitalization delays in COVID-19 measures? Firstly, the operation of COVID-19 measures involves a variety of intertwining elements, so it’s not possible to explain all of it with just digitalization delays. I’d like to talk only about what’s based on facts. I think the first thing many Japanese people felt was strange was the shortage of the face masks. Even with the same volumes in stock, it’s possible that digital management could have kept track of how much is where and distribute it to avoid a situation where those who need it don’t get it. As an example, if they had clearly communicated that “there’s at least one month’s worth for “essential workers and high-risk people with chronic illness and two weeks’ worth for others,” then people would ... ... [Read more]

No.67

The Trends Created by the Self-Cultivation Boom: Self-Improvement in Modern Japan

“The self-cultivation boom in modern Japan was richly varied, ranging from cold-water bathing to meditation, reading, even savings. […] Even though the approaches have changed with the times, self-cultivation emerges out of similar soil and seeds to blossom differently in each age.”   Osawa Ayako, Religious scholar, Research fellow, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science The Roots of Self-Development From day to day, quite a few people harbor the feeling that they want to grow and become a wonderful person. Some people make stoic efforts to turn themselves into the person they want to be, practicing Zen meditation or other behaviors advocated by people they idealize. The thoughts and actions that encourage us to improve ourselves are called self-development. How have these practices and this kind of thinking taken root in Japanese society? The clue is in the idea of shuyo (hereinafter, self-cultivation). ... ... [Read more]

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Blog

“Art and diplomacy. The Japanese Collection of the Château de Fontainebleau (1862–1864)”

MIURA Atsushi, Professor, University of Tokyo   It is not widely known that the Château de Fontainebleau in France has a collection of Japanese art. The existence of the collection was largely unknown to all but a few prior to the “Art History Festival” held in June 2021 and centered on the Château. The “Art History Festival” is a collaborative event organized by the National Institute for Art History and the Château de Fontainebleau under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Culture of France. Offering a diverse program that includes lectures, round tables, movie screenings, and exhibitions, the event has wide-ranging appeal, attracting not only experts and researchers but also artists and the general public. Each year, a theme and a guest country are chosen. The theme of the festival this year, held from June 4 through 6, was “Plaisir” (Pleasure), and the guest ... ... [Read more]

Blog

Legacy of “Japonisme 2018” (II): From a Japanese Art Exhibition to a Manga Exhibition at the British Museum

Miura Atsushi, Professor, University of Tokyo   The gist of my previous blog entry was that, although unknown to what extent the organizers were aware of this, from a historical point of view, the monumental event that was “Japonisme 2018” was an exhibition of Japanese culture that had its roots in the Japan exhibitions at the international expositions of the nineteenth century while also connecting to the national policy of exporting culture in anticipation of a second Japonisme boom. I want now to comment on the actual exhibitions with a focus on the art exhibitions, but it is not that I was able to see all the exhibitions. Because I went to France in the third week of December 2018, I missed “FUKAMI: Une plongée dans l’esthétique japonaise” (Hôtel Salomon de Rothschild), “Jakuchu: Le royaume coloré des êtres vivants” (Petit Palais), “Jomon: Naissance de ... ... [Read more]

Blog

Challenges in the Post-coronavirus World

Kojima Akira, Member, Board of Trustees, and Adjunct Professor, National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS); Trustee, Chairman of the World Trade Center Tokyo   In mid-April, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced a significant downward revision of its growth projection for the world economy in 2020, from the 3.3% it had announced just three months prior, to -3.0%. Nonetheless, the new estimate is based on the assumption that economic activities will normalize after the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak is contained in the latter half of the year. The IMF has even started to use the term “the Great Lockdown.”    Although the quick development of an effective drug is expected, it should be assumed that the coronavirus pandemic may be prolonged or that a second or third wave of the coronavirus outbreak may occur. It is essential to resolutely deal with the current situation ... ... [Read more]

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