Back Number | Discuss Japan-Japan Foreign Policy Forum
Discuss Japan > Back Number

Archives

Category Archives

No.63

Current Status and Challenges of the Japanese Economy

Yoshikawa Hiroshi, President, Rissho University The Current COVID-19 Pandemic The current state of the Japanese economy is at a postwar low point not just in Japan but across the world due to the spread of COVID-19 since early 2020, and this is our biggest problem at present. On top of the normal influenza in winter, the spread of a third wave is feared in Japan. What will happen to the Japanese economy amid that? The second quarter of April through June, 2020 showed -28.1 points (second preliminary estimate), the lowest in the postwar period. This was a dramatic drop even in comparison to the Lehman Shock. A major factor here is the drop in consumption. About 60% of Japan’s GDP of some 500 trillion yen is consumption. At the very heart of the economy lies household and personal consumption. Consumption is stable compared to ... ... [Read more]

No.63

The Whereabouts of Household Financial Assets: The COVID-19 Pandemic Transforms Retirement Plans

Iwaisako Tokuo, Professor, Hitotsubashi University   Key points Both household savings and current account balances are gradually moving into the red The rates of return on assets are not expected to rise after the COVID-19 pandemic Economic policy focuses on measures to improve the productivity of workers   From a macroeconomic perspective, there has been surprisingly little change in the circumstances surrounding Japanese household financial assets in the past quarter-century. To start with, household savings rates dropped sharply at the beginning of twenty-first century. This prompted an outcry among economists about the arrival of the “zero-saving society”, backed by the simulation studies predicting negative household savings and the current account deficit (= negative national savings). But by the mid-2000s, saving rates had stabilized at a low level and the situation has remained nearly unchanged since then.  In economics, annual savings is a flow variable, ... ... [Read more]

No.63

The Path to Overcoming Crisis: Finding Overall Optimum Solutions for a Heap of Challenges

Fujimoto Takahiro, Professor, Graduate School of Economics and Manufacturing Management Research Center, University of Tokyo   Key points Issues include sustainability, digitalization and internationalization The discourse around the decline in the Japanese manufacturing industry and the praise for EVs is superficial The challenges are intertwined in complicated ways and Japanese industry is evolving   What kind of age will the 2020s be in the evolution of industry? The decade began with the global COVID-19 pandemic, the effects of which are certain to be prolonged, but the long-term industrial phenomena include measures to counter global warming, a series of floods and earthquakes, digitalization, US-China friction, and a shrinking real economy at a time of infections. To complicate matters, these issues are interlinked in complex ways. We live in complicated times in the true sense. These issues can be summed up as S for sustainability=crisis, D ... ... [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.63

Dialogue on the Gender Gap Index: Reasons why Japan is currently 121st in the world ― the growing popularity of feminism and the unchangeability of journalism

Hayashi Kaori (Professor, University of Tokyo) and Kojima Keiko (Essayist) Goodbye to “membership system” feminism ― In 2017, the two of you created a group called MeDi, the Media and Diversity Forum, and since then, you have been involved in a wide range of activities, including holding symposiums and publishing. Kojima Keiko: To date, media criticism by townspeople has often been considered unimportant. Women’s voices rarely draw attention. In discussing the whole concept of the media, both academic viewpoints and the actual feelings of the people working in the media are important. However, there are not very many points of contact. Accordingly, MeDi created opportunities for discussion. We feel this has resulted in a greater number of people being interested in issues that surround the media.   Hayashi Kaori: I have been investigating and discussing journalism and media as a researcher. But my results ... ... [Read more]

No.63

From Inbound Tourism to Domestic Tourism and Workations—Can Japanese Tourism Recover?

Azuma Toru, Professor, Rikkyo University The effect of the COVID-19 pandemic Tourism has been dealt a serious blow by the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only has inbound tourism suddenly decreased since COVID-19 infections started growing last February, travel overseas has shrunk because travelers have nowhere to go. What’s more, even within Japan travel demand for tourism, business travel, and vacation trips to hometowns has greatly decreased. It’s a situation of “lost inbound” in which inbound tourism since last April continues to be down more than 99% month-on-month vs. the previous year. Bearing in mind that the amount spent by inbound travelers in 2019 was 4.8 trillion yen, that has mostly gone and the economic loss is extremely large. In particular, areas with a high ratio of expenditure by inbound tourists, such as Osaka (46.2%) and Tokyo at (44.8%) have been very greatly affected compared to ... ... [Read more]

No.63

What Does “Quality” Mean for Tourism

Shimoji Yoshiro, Chairman of the Okinawa Convention & Visitors Bureau (OCVB) Interviewed by Yamada Yuichi, General Manager of the Tourism Research Department, Japan Travel Bureau Foundation on October 7, 2020 Developments in Okinawa tourism from spring to September 2020 Yamada Yuichi: Please tell us about developments in Okinawa tourism over the last few months. Shimoji Yoshiro: There was nothing we could do about the national emergency declaration in April and May, but in June and July when we’d finally started to recover, infection spread in an unexpected place, namely nightlife districts. Okinawa has been susceptible to infectious disease due to our social environment. Historically, we have many children and elderly people who often interact, and this was the case during previous epidemics of new strains of influenza or measles. It is a weakness with no solution and we have gone on with 20 or ... ... [Read more]

Read more

No.63

Abe Shinzo on Japan’s diplomacy during the seven years and eight months he was in office (Part II): Strategic Thinking within the Free and Open Indo-Pacific

One of the key features of Abe Diplomacy is that it always perceived bilateral issues within their strategic constructs. China, South Korea, Russia and the Free and Open Indo-Pacific—surely this is putting into practice ideas that establish the reality of a diplomacy that takes a panoramic perspective of the world map.   Tanaka Akihiko, President of the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS)     Tanaka Akihiko: In the previous issue (Gaiko Vol. 64), we spoke in detail about the creation of the National Security Council (NSC), enacting the Act on the Protection of Specially Designated Secrets and the Legislation for Peace and Security, and dealing with a series of important issues following the inauguration of your second administration, the underlying Japan-US and Japan-China relationships, as well as the issue of historical perceptions. This time, I would first of all like to ask ... ... [Read more]

No.63

Abe Shinzo talks about Japan’s diplomacy during the seven years and eight months he was in office: Reinforcing the Japan-US alliance, the foundation of Japan’s revitalization

The second Abe administration was the longest in modern Japan and Prime Minister Abe Shinzo’s track record on foreign and security policy has earned high marks. What were his thoughts and decisions as he faced an increasingly severe situation in Northeast Asia as Prime Minister? We listen to the former prime minister’s thoughts, with a focus on Japan-US relations and the issue regarding perceptions of history.   Tanaka Akihiko, President of the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS)   Tanaka Akihiko: You were in charge of the longest running government in Japan’s modern history and negotiated with world leaders. What events left a big impression on you?   Abe Shinzo: There have been many… In June 2013, six months after the second administration was inaugurated, the G8 Summit was held in Lough Erne, in the United Kingdom. This was before the 2014 Crimean ... ... [Read more]

No.63

Perspectives of Japan on the World and East Asia in the Time of Corona

Kawashima Shin, Professor, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Tokyo The Problem of Infectious Disease at a Turning Point in the World Order COVID-19, which spread from Wuhan in China, has once again reminded us that human society has long been confronted with infectious disease. Even in modern times, infectious disease remains a challenge to be overcome. Nations and the international community have dealt with the challenge, but by the latter half of the twentieth century, such “memories” may have gradually faded in many developed countries. However, since the start of globalization in the 1990s, emerging nations, which are already dealing with in-country sanitation vulnerabilities, have had outbreaks of unknown disease that have quickly spread outside the country. COVID-19 has raised significant issues for human society. Firstly, international cooperation functioned in case of the Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHF) and other diseases, but ... ... [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.63

Abe Shinzo on Japan’s diplomacy during the seven years and eight months he was in office (Part II): Strategic Thinking within the Free and Open Indo-Pacific

One of the key features of Abe Diplomacy is that it always perceived bilateral issues within their strategic constructs. China, South Korea, Russia and the Free and Open Indo-Pacific—surely this is putting into practice ideas that establish the reality of a diplomacy that takes a panoramic perspective of the world map.   Tanaka Akihiko, President of the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS)     Tanaka Akihiko: In the previous issue (Gaiko Vol. 64), we spoke in detail about the creation of the National Security Council (NSC), enacting the Act on the Protection of Specially Designated Secrets and the Legislation for Peace and Security, and dealing with a series of important issues following the inauguration of your second administration, the underlying Japan-US and Japan-China relationships, as well as the issue of historical perceptions. This time, I would first of all like to ask ... ... [Read more]

No.63

Abe Shinzo talks about Japan’s diplomacy during the seven years and eight months he was in office: Reinforcing the Japan-US alliance, the foundation of Japan’s revitalization

The second Abe administration was the longest in modern Japan and Prime Minister Abe Shinzo’s track record on foreign and security policy has earned high marks. What were his thoughts and decisions as he faced an increasingly severe situation in Northeast Asia as Prime Minister? We listen to the former prime minister’s thoughts, with a focus on Japan-US relations and the issue regarding perceptions of history.   Tanaka Akihiko, President of the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS)   Tanaka Akihiko: You were in charge of the longest running government in Japan’s modern history and negotiated with world leaders. What events left a big impression on you?   Abe Shinzo: There have been many… In June 2013, six months after the second administration was inaugurated, the G8 Summit was held in Lough Erne, in the United Kingdom. This was before the 2014 Crimean ... ... [Read more]

No.63

Dialogue on the Gender Gap Index: Reasons why Japan is currently 121st in the world ― the growing popularity of feminism and the unchangeability of journalism

Hayashi Kaori (Professor, University of Tokyo) and Kojima Keiko (Essayist) Goodbye to “membership system” feminism ― In 2017, the two of you created a group called MeDi, the Media and Diversity Forum, and since then, you have been involved in a wide range of activities, including holding symposiums and publishing. Kojima Keiko: To date, media criticism by townspeople has often been considered unimportant. Women’s voices rarely draw attention. In discussing the whole concept of the media, both academic viewpoints and the actual feelings of the people working in the media are important. However, there are not very many points of contact. Accordingly, MeDi created opportunities for discussion. We feel this has resulted in a greater number of people being interested in issues that surround the media.   Hayashi Kaori: I have been investigating and discussing journalism and media as a researcher. But my results ... ... [Read more]

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]

Blog

Legacy of “Japonisme 2018” (I): Transitioning from International Expositions to Exhibitions of Japanese Culture

Miura Atsushi, Professor, University of Tokyo   I still remember the large cultural event titled “Japonisme 2018,” which was held in France in 2018. That year marked the 160th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and France, the 150th anniversary of the Meiji Restoration, and the 150th birthday of Paul Claudel, the writer and diplomat who contributed to French-Japanese relations. Such a large-scale event themed on Japanese culture was rare in France, although anniversary events are common. It was magnificent that over fifty intriguing projects representing Japanese culture were implemented across France from July 2018 to February 2019, such as fine art, acting, movies, food, literature, dance, manga and anime (Fig. 1).   I was lucky to see four exhibitions related to “Japonisme 2018” when I visited Paris in December 2018. Based on the impression from my visits, I would like ... ... [Read more]

Read more