Back Number - Discuss Japan
Discuss Japan > Back Number

Archives

Category Archives

No.66

Solar and Wind Power Generation with a Lowered Cost Compared to Thermal Power Generation: The Impacts of 46% Decarbonization—Why Has Japan Missed the Mark?

Maeda Yudai, Executive Editor-in-Chief of EnergyShift The Skyrocketing Greenhouse Gas Reduction Target The global wave of “decarbonization” has already descended upon Japan, and this has led to a great change in that direction. On April 22–23, the Leaders Summit on Climate hosted by the United States was held online after President Biden called for the summit, and there, Prime Minister Suga declared that Japan aims to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 46% in fiscal year 2030 from its fiscal year 2013 levels. The original goal was for a 26% reduction, so this number was close to double the original goal. FY 2013 levels are used as reference for these reduction goals, and Japan is already progressing well with energy conservation compared to the rest of the world. I get the sense that energy conservation is quite strict among the population, and industry may ... ... [Read more]

No.66

Protect Workers rather than Zombie Firms: How Do We Rejuvenate the Economy?

Takeo Hoshi, Professor, University of Tokyo   Key points Staying afloat with support despite no hope for performance recovery Hurting the profitability of healthy firms and the economy as a whole Urgent need for policy shift to protect employment rather than firms   When the main character Barbara and her brother visit their father’s grave in the cemetery, an unknown man approaches them with clumsy steps from afar. This is the first scene where a zombie appears in the Night of the Living Dead (1968), which is credited with inventing the zombie movie genre. There are firms that perform badly and have little hope of recovery but that are kept afloat with support from creditors and the government, negatively affecting other firms and stagnating the economy. Likening this to zombie movies, Ricardo J. Caballero, Professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Anil K. Kashyap, ... ... [Read more]

No.65

Economics Knowledge for COVID-19 Measures: Applying Cognitive Bias to Policymaking

Ida Takanori, Professor at the Graduate School of Economics, Kyoto University   Key points The pessimism bias is stronger in Japanese people than in British people People who have pessimism bias understand the need for self-restraint Education needs to target young men and other groups at high risk of infection   More than a year since the outbreak of the pandemic, the COVID-19 catastrophe has still not abated. Coronavirus is not the only thing that has become prevalent. The academic term “behavior change,” used in the behavioral sciences, has unexpectedly come into widespread use. Behavioral economics considers human rationality to be limited and cognition to be subject to biases, placing emphasis on “nudge” as a means of changing behavior for the better. A declaration of a state of emergency issued in some areas on April 7, 2020, asked citizens to refrain from leaving the ... ... [Read more]

Read more

No.51

Can Japanese Diplomacy Talk about Universality?—Rebuilding public diplomacy strategy

Amidst the flux of the liberal international order, Japan’s public diplomacy, which relies solely on its cultural uniqueness, is inadequate. The author proposes new principles for an age where the diplomatic sphere is expanding from negotiation tactics to agenda setting and norm setting. In the fall of 2017 when there was a succession of major events—the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China and US President Donald Trump’s visit to China—I visited Peking University and had an opportunity to exchange opinions with many experts and specialists. What impressed me in particular was that the Chinese side emphasized the negative aspect of democracy and used it in justification of the Communist Party’s monopoly on power. The Chinese experts and specialists said the following: Democracy could just consider short-term profits like companies operating under a capitalist system. The only interest of politicians and political ... ... [Read more]

No.51

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

The True Home of Japan Studies Is Not Japan: Academic rivals are skilled at reading cursive script and transliterating classical Chinese into Japanese

  Who really “owns” Japan studies? In the list of academic fields eligible for Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, no such field as “Japan Studies” exists. If one searches the list for the keyword “regional studies,” there is “East Asia,” “South East Asia,” “South Asia,” “West and Central Asia,” etc., but there is no “Japan.” Although there are research and education organizations with Japan studies in their title (I also conduct joint research with them), I think that they take an extra effort when applying for research funds. It is not my intention in this article to criticize how, within Japan, Japan studies are treated as if they do not exist in that grant scheme. Yet, if it is true that the readers of this article (including specialist researchers) assume that Japan studies are mostly undertaken ... ... [Read more]

Read more

No.65

I don’t want to bother anyone… The voices of the isolated people submerged in the city

Ishida Mitsunori, Professor at Waseda University     The phrase “loneliness and isolation” has often caught my eye since NHK (the Japan Broadcasting Corporation) produced a special edition on the muen shakai (a society where individuals are isolated and have weak links with each other). Ten years have now passed and there is renewed interest in the issue with the Suga Cabinet installing a “minister in charge of loneliness and isolation.”     As soon as attention turns to loneliness and isolation, there emerges, as if in a backlash, a discussion about reexamining the value of loneliness and isolation. In short, a discussion about the need to recognize the value of being alone. Possibly out of consideration for such opinions, the phrase “unwanted loneliness and isolation” has recently come into use, and there is also a tendency to limit the nature of the problem. However, ... ... [Read more]

No.65

Migrants in the Era of Remote Work

Sawada Akihiro, Journalist   Since moving from Tokyo to Awaji Island in Hyogo Prefecture because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Sawada Akihiro has painstakingly reported on the realities of the corona migration and of rural life. He has now published his findings in Tokyo wo suteru: korona iju no genjitsu (Leaving Tokyo: the reality of corona migration) (Chuko Shinsho La Clef), a book that engages with the real face of the corona migrants who have left Tokyo. Windsurfing on the Fuji Five Lakes  “Exiting the subway station closest to my home in Tokyo, I couldn’t see the moon.” Ishibashi Minako (pseudonym, 33), PR officer at the IT venture company Thinkings (Chuo Ward, Tokyo), lived in a rented apartment in Chuo Ward, Tokyo. Her rent for the one room apartment with a kitchen (26 m2) was 106,000 yen. After the declaration of a state of emergency ... ... [Read more]

No.65

What Happened Next for “Tokyo University Women” —their experiences of “Tokyo University Men” and the barriers facing them in a male-run society

  It is seventy-five years since women first entered the University of Tokyo. The hidden struggles behind impressive careers. Akiyama Chika, journalist   “I feel like I’ve been driven to this point…” Wearing a satin blouse with a colorful pattern, the woman falters as she speaks, and huge tears trickle down. Her name is Yamaguchi Mayu. One of her jobs is working as a media commentator, but while a student in the University of Tokyo’s (Tokyo University below) Faculty of Law, Yamaguchi passed both the national bar examination and the National Civil Service (Level 1) exam (formerly, National Civil Service Comprehensive Service exam). When she graduated in 2006, she gained top marks in all subjects and was awarded the University of Tokyo President’s Award. After working as a civil servant in the Ministry of Finance, she became a lawyer and worked at a well-known ... ... [Read more]

Read more

No.67

Toward New Solidarity in Global Health: Universal Health Coverage and Reform at the WHO

As COVID-19 infections spread across the world, the question of how vulnerable health and medical systems in developing countries will weather the crisis is an urgent issue. We track new approaches and the progress of a health diplomacy based on Universal Health Coverage. (The interview was held on January 6, 2021 and the transcript was finalized on January 19.)   Dr. Ezoe Satoshi, Director, Global Health Policy Division, International Cooperation Bureau, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Interview by Nakamura Kiichiro, editor-in-chief, Gaiko (Diplomacy)   ——Dr. Ezoe, until August 2020 you were mainly overseeing global health at the Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations in New York. Dr. Ezoe Satoshi: In January 2020, we had reports from Wuhan in China of an outbreak of infection. By February, the spread of infection on the Diamond Princess was widely reported in Japan, but in New York ... ... [Read more]

No.67

The Urgent Need to Establish “Strategic Autonomy” and “Strategic Indispensability”—economic security strategy for a digital transformation society

Amari Akira, Member of the House of Representatives Interviewed by Tanaka Akihiko, President of the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS)     Tanaka Akihiko: As Chairperson of the Strategic Headquarters on the Creation of a New International Order, Policy Research Council of the Liberal Democratic Party you put together two proposals: “Towards ‘Formulating Economic Security Strategy’” (December 2020) and “Interim report: Basic Policy for Economic and Fiscal Management and Structural Reform 2021” (May 2021).   Amari Akira: Economic statecraft, to put it bluntly, is forcing the other party to accept one’s demands using economic means… and such a thing has been used repeatedly throughout history all over the world. For example, following a 2010 incident in the sea off the Senkaku Islands, China effectively halted exports of rare earth materials to Japan. There are also people who criticize the United States for ... ... [Read more]

No.66

Modern Economic Security: Definition and Arguments

“Economic security” has emerged as a key aspect of national strategy to ensure the safety of citizens and preserve the value of the nation. But the complete domestication of strategically important industries is not realistic. Being accepted as an essential part of global supply chains on the technical side is important.   Suzuki Kazuto, Professor, University of Tokyo   Economic security is a concept that continues to be a pivotal part of modern economic and industrial policies. It is even reflected in the government’s “Growth Strategy” and “Basic Policy on Economic and Fiscal Management and Structural Reform 2021 (the 2021 Basic Policy),” in response to the proposal “Towards ‘Formulating Economic Security Strategy” prepared by the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)’s Strategic Headquarters on the Creation of a New International Order and unveiled in December 2020. In each of these documents, economic security is defined in ... ... [Read more]

Read more

No.23

Feature Article on Scientific Advice: Paradigm Shift in Scientific Advice Responsible Innovation, Post-Normal Science, and Ecosystemic Approach

Growing expectations and skepticism about “scientific advice” “Scientific advice,” which provides the government, corporations and individuals with useful technical information, knowledge and judgments on the policy issues related to science and technology, such as “risk” issues in food safety, emerging infectious diseases, climate change, earthquakes, nuclear power and cyber security, and as promotion of science, technology and innovation, is expected to play an increasingly vital role in contemporary society. Scientific advice in Japan has hitherto been undertaken by various deliberative bodies and organizations, including councils and committees attached to government ministries and agencies, regulatory bodies such as the Food Safety Commission, and, regarding comprehensive policies for the promotion and regulation of science, technology and innovation, the Cabinet Office’s Council for Science, Technology and Innovation (CSTI) and academic organizations such as the Science Council of Japan (SCJ). In addition, since the Great East Japan Earthquake ... ... [Read more]

No.23

Feature Article on Scientific Advice: Between Science and Administration The Politics of Scientific Advice

(1) Is It Reactionism?  Members of the Subcommittee that deliberated on the draft of the Basic Energy Plan were replaced following a government changeover. In a blatant selection of personnel, the LDP almost exclusively appointed new experts who advocate maintaining or promoting nuclear power generation. The Agency of Natural Resources and Energy has already sent officials to an LDP working group meeting for explaining the draft of the Basic Energy Plan, wherein LDP-affiliated Diet members raised questions about the draft, which positions nuclear power as an important base power source and spells out steady promotion of the nuclear fuel cycle.The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident on 11 March 2011 has been taken as an opportunity to question the ideal form of giving scientific and expert advice to administrative authorities. A variety of criticism has been heard and many proposals made concerning this question, ... ... [Read more]

No.23

The Choice of Collective Self-Defense—Getting Out of the Galapagos Security Perspective Winning a Mandate in the House of Representatives Election — We Will Continue to Consult with New Komeito

Ishiba Shigeru, Liberal Democratic Party Secretary-General (currently, Minister in charge of Overcoming Population Decline and Vitalizing Local Economy in Japan, Minister of State for the National Strategic Special Zones) Japan Cannot Operate Only with a Right to Individual Self-Defense The use of the right to collective self-defense has long been discussed in the context of Japan’s national security. Why do you think Japan should shift its defense policy and decide to endorse the use of the right to collective self-defense now? Ishiba Shigeru: The biggest reason is that the security situation surrounding the post-Cold War Asia-Pacific region is very unstable. The balance of power between the United States and the former Soviet Union was stable during the Cold War. In that situation, the seeds of conflict, such as religion, race, territory and political structure, did not surface. We see China rising and increasing its ... ... [Read more]

Read more

No.67

The Urgent Need to Establish “Strategic Autonomy” and “Strategic Indispensability”—economic security strategy for a digital transformation society

Amari Akira, Member of the House of Representatives Interviewed by Tanaka Akihiko, President of the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS)     Tanaka Akihiko: As Chairperson of the Strategic Headquarters on the Creation of a New International Order, Policy Research Council of the Liberal Democratic Party you put together two proposals: “Towards ‘Formulating Economic Security Strategy’” (December 2020) and “Interim report: Basic Policy for Economic and Fiscal Management and Structural Reform 2021” (May 2021).   Amari Akira: Economic statecraft, to put it bluntly, is forcing the other party to accept one’s demands using economic means… and such a thing has been used repeatedly throughout history all over the world. For example, following a 2010 incident in the sea off the Senkaku Islands, China effectively halted exports of rare earth materials to Japan. There are also people who criticize the United States for ... ... [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

Roundtable talk: How to Face the “Invisible Threat”: Thinking about the International Order of Norms, Technology, and Institutions

Parallel with the COVID-19 pandemic, the world is facing a variety of challenges. Will the Biden administration be able to regain the “normative power” of the United States? What is the problem with the emergence of Chinese companies in telecommunications space? Of importance here should be that we calmly interpret the actuality of these “threats” as well as the revival and restoration of liberal society itself.   Oba Mie (Professor at Kanagawa University), Kohno Kenji (Chief Commentator at NHK), Suzuki Kazuto (Professor at University of Tokyo), moderated by Hosoya Yuichi (Professor at Keio University)     Hosoya Yuichi: This is a roundtable talk to get an outlook on 2021, but we have to start with a dark topic. Right at the beginning of the year on January 6, Trump supporters invaded the United States Capitol and occupied it temporarily, leading to five deaths.   ... ... [Read more]

Read more

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]

Read more