Back Number - Discuss Japan
Discuss Japan > Back Number

Archives

Category Archives

No.64

The World Beyond Corona—The World and Japan in Shock from Corona: Accelerating Structural Change and Amplified Uncertainty

Kojima Akira, Member, Board of Trustees, and Adjunct Professor, National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS)   The Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) was detected in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China at the end of December 2019. In January 2020, cases of infections were confirmed in Japan, and the pandemic intensified as the infection spread rapidly around the world. The subsequent Great Lockdown, to quote the International Monetary Fund (IMF), has plunged the global economy into the worst recession since the Great Depression in the 1930s, creating disparities between countries, types of industry, and social classes. In 2020, the growth rate for the global economy slumped to negative 3.3%. The widening disparity has also drawn attention to how economies and societies have started to develop in the shape of a K, i.e., polarizing into areas of growth and expansion, and areas of downturn and decline. The coronavirus ... ... [Read more]

No.64

Super Monetary Easing and the Asset Bubble: Limited disconnect from the real economy

Ito Takatoshi, Professor at Columbia University, Adjunct Professor at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS)   Key points As the economy recovers, the United States moves toward a rise in long-term interest rates Stock price gaps between types of industry suggest market rationality Central bank to communicate carefully with stock markets   One year has passed since the start of restrictions on economic activities in Japan, the United States, and Europe to control the COVID-19 pandemic. The economy has sustained major damage as a result of the declarations of a state of emergency and lockdowns, the unemployment rates have risen and consumption in some sectors remains weak. GDP in both Japan and the United States has dropped by nearly 10% from the most recent peak in the second quarter of 2020. In the near term, the trend is toward a recovery but ... ... [Read more]

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]

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.64

The Road to a Difficult Olympics: One way or another, the Games will have to address gender equality themes

Raita Kyoko, Professor of Chukyo University   Editorial team of Chuokoron speak with Professor Raita Kyoko about gender and the Olympics. Professor Raita is a new appointee to the executive board after the resignation of Mori Yoshiro, (former) President of the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (hereinafter, the Organising Committee), following his remark that “board meetings involving many women take a long time.” Backlash against Mori’s Remarks —How do you view the remarks made on February 3?   One of the problematic remarks was “Someone was saying that if we increase the number of women on the board, we need to also make sure that speaking time is restricted to some extent, or a meeting will drag on and it becomes a problem.” It is my understanding that President Mori was referring to hearsay when he made this remark. If ... ... [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]

Read more

No.64

SDGs Strategy in the Era of COVID-19: A Grand Vision to Overcome the “Crisis of Sustainability” Is Needed

The progress of SDGs has stalled or regressed in the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet if we compare COVID-19 to each of the SDGs, the SDGS become a “compass in times of crisis.” From health to governance, the SDGs are a “mindset” in a world living with COVID-19.   Inaba Masaki, Chair, Japan Civil Society Organization Network on Global Health   In September 2019, the “Sustainable Development Goals Summit” was held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. Concern was expressed that the progress of the SDGs was lagging behind and that if the situation continued, many of the goals would not be achieved by the deadline. The Summit resulted in the adoption of a “political declaration,” setting the next ten years as the “decade of action” to achieving the SDGs. At that time, we still did not know what was to come. We did ... ... [Read more]

No.64

A Turning Point for the Revolution Four Months after the Myanmar Coup: The International Community and Political Turmoil in Myanmar

Nakanishi Yoshihiro, Associate Professor, Kyoto University   The Myanmar military (known as the Tatmadaw) has turned its guns on citizens who oppose the coup d’état. The National Unity Government of Myanmar (NUG), which includes ethnic minorities, has been formed and claims legitimacy over the military, which is expanding its effective rule. The solution is not a choice between two options. It is high time to rethink Japan’s Myanmar policy amid moves to mediate.   Four months have passed since the coup d’état in Myanmar on February 1. The Myanmar military staged the coup to depose the National League for Democracy (NLD) led by Aung San Suu Kyi (hereinafter Suu Kyi). Their tactics were almost perfectly executed to the point of arresting senior government officials, including State Counsellor Suu Kyi, and proclaiming the transfer of sovereign power to the Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Services based ... ... [Read more]

No.64

China’s Robust Ambitions: Conversation on Xi Jinping’s Logic of Expanding Hegemony—Decoding China’s Maritime Strategy and Human Rights Issues

Kawashima Shin, Professor at University of Tokyo and Masuo Chisako T., Associate Professor at Kyushu University COVID-19 Has Changed Chinese Politics Kawashima Shin: Let’s first take a look at the circumstances and challenges that China is facing during the COVID-19 pandemic. China was slow with the first response to COVID-19 infections, but successfully contained them in March and April 2020. Moreover, in parallel with the pandemic response, efforts were also made to thoroughly promote economic recovery and enforce the rule of the Communist Party of China (CPC). With regard to the economy, reforms of the GDP structure are underway centering on domestic demand alongside efforts to build domestic supply chains for state-of-the-art industries through the “dual-circulation strategy” and the Export Control Law, all the while dealing with the decoupling between the United States and China. Moreover, they secured 2.3% economic growth in 2020 and ... ... [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.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.64

China’s Robust Ambitions: Conversation on Xi Jinping’s Logic of Expanding Hegemony—Decoding China’s Maritime Strategy and Human Rights Issues

Kawashima Shin, Professor at University of Tokyo and Masuo Chisako T., Associate Professor at Kyushu University COVID-19 Has Changed Chinese Politics Kawashima Shin: Let’s first take a look at the circumstances and challenges that China is facing during the COVID-19 pandemic. China was slow with the first response to COVID-19 infections, but successfully contained them in March and April 2020. Moreover, in parallel with the pandemic response, efforts were also made to thoroughly promote economic recovery and enforce the rule of the Communist Party of China (CPC). With regard to the economy, reforms of the GDP structure are underway centering on domestic demand alongside efforts to build domestic supply chains for state-of-the-art industries through the “dual-circulation strategy” and the Export Control Law, all the while dealing with the decoupling between the United States and China. Moreover, they secured 2.3% economic growth in 2020 and ... ... [Read more]

No.64

Abe Shinzo on Japan’s diplomacy during the seven years and eight months he was in office (Part IV): The structures, people and language that supported prime ministerial diplomacy.

How the National Security Council functioned as a command tower for diplomacy and defense, crossing silos between ministries and government offices. Revising speeches again and again to deliver Japan’s messages to the hearts of people in partner countries. Abe Shinzo talks about the essentials of diplomacy in a democratic nation, i.e., flexible structures and the public opinion to support them.   Tanaka Akihiko, President of the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS) Recovering national consciousness via politics Tanaka Akihiko: This will be the last in our series of interviews. To begin with, from your first administration you spoke about a “departure from post-war regimes”; so, looking back now, how far do you think you managed to achieve that objective?   Abe Shinzo: The most significant point in question for post-war regimes is the constitution. From the start of my first administration, I wanted ... ... [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