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No.57

How Japan should avoid becoming a loophole for technology leaks to China

Trump signs China trade deal but the underlying economic conflict does not end President Trump signed an initial trade deal with China. As expected, markets seem to have reacted positively to the initial agreement by the two governments. But the tariff fight started by President Trump seems only to be a surface-level conflict between the United States and China. In fact, at a deep level, there has been consistent escalation of the technological power struggle, which is growing more serious within Congress and the Washington policy-making community as a whole. More recently, Washington policymakers have redefined the strategic framework for the US relationship with China from a human rights perspective. The technological power struggle with China has become so deeply entrenched within the Washington policy community that even President Trump cannot make a deal with China easily without listening to them. Therefore, I believe ... ... [Read more]

No.57

Will Fiscal Reconstruction Advance?

Ⅰ. Introduction The Japanese government raised the consumption tax rate to 10% in October 2019. Many people have criticized such tax increases, citing them as a cause of an economic downturn. However, the tax hike resulted from an increase in social security expenses associated with the aging of the Japanese population. Another source of revenue would have been sought or the control of benefits would have been requested if the consumption tax was not picked as a solution. In fact, social security benefits will expand from the current level of 120 trillion yen (the figure for fiscal 2018) to 190 trillion yen in fiscal 2040, according to a trial calculation performed by the Cabinet Office. Such an increase in social security expenses is due to the structural problem in twenty-first-century Japan called aging. It will not be all right when the economy picks up. ... ... [Read more]

No.56

Japan-US Trade Agreement is a “First-Stage” Deal

  While this agreement can be assessed as “a deal where both sides gained benefits,” Japan has already used up the beef and pork card, which means that the “second stage” of the negotiations would likely be more severe.   The Japan-US trade negotiations that started in April 2019 reached an agreement at the Japan-US summit on September 25 and the Japanese and US governments signed the Japan-US Trade Agreement and the Japan-US Digital Trade Agreement on October 7. Because the agreements needed no approval from the Congress of the United States, they went into force on January 1, 2020, after they were approved at the 200th Extraordinary Session of the Diet underway in Japan. Because no new legislative or budgetary measures were needed for the implementation of the agreements in Japan, there are no related bills. The Japan-US Digital Trade Agreement is “TPP-plus” ... ... [Read more]

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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]

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No.57

Failure Analysis of Modern Japanese Population Policy

Population Stagnation and Urbanization even in the Edo Period In contemporary Japan, the total population has begun to decline. Meanwhile, regional maldistribution is becoming more pronounced as population density is increasing in Tokyo and other metropolises and there is population decline in rural areas, making “regional revitalization” a policy challenge. Since 2015, the government has promoted the Comprehensive Strategy for Overcoming Population Decline and Vitalizing Local Economy, which aims to rectify the concentration to Tokyo by creating jobs in the regions, push for support of young people’s employment, marriage, and child-rearing, and support a population of about 100 million by 2060. However, population decline has been a problem many times in the past. From the Kyoho through the Koka eras (eighteenth–mid-nineteenth century) of the Edo period (1603–1868), the population stagnated. This was due to global cooling that resulted in poor crops as well as ... ... [Read more]

No.56

Typhoon Hagibis strikes the Japanese Archipelago: What happened behind the scenes as Japan’s capital narrowly escaped becoming submerged

  Although Typhoon Hagibis (Typhoon 19) caused enormous damage to many parts of Japan in 2019, Tokyo saw no dikes collapse and escaped serious flood damage. We investigated the truth of what occurred behind the scenes during the Japanese capital’s escape from submersion, based on the reports of local government officials and flood control facilities.   In October 2019, Typhoon Hagibis brought record rainfall, mainly to Shizuoka Prefecture, the Kanto and Koshinetsu regions and the Tohoku region. Special heavy rain warnings were issued for a total of 13 prefectures, including Tokyo, with dikes breaking at 140 locations along 71 rivers (as of 6:00 AM on November 8), and many parts of the country were seriously damaged, including flooding. Even in this situation, although the levels of many rivers in Tokyo rose higher than usual, the dikes escaped damage. We investigated the truth of what ... ... [Read more]

No.56

Tokyo sunk: The day when Weathering with You becomes a reality

The Arakawa River overflows its banks, leaving 2.5 million people submerged in water: The residents of the five Koto, or east-of-the-river, cities have no other choice but to evacuate.   Typhoon Hagibis made landfall on Japan’s mainland on October 12, 2019, causing enormous damage for two days. The typhoon left 88 people dead and seven missing nationwide (as of October 26), and a total of 281 rivers overflowed their dikes. More than other events, the overflow of the Tama River shocked many people, who then realized that even the center of Tokyo cannot ignore the danger of floods. The water level of the Tama River began to rise after 6:00 AM on October 12 and overflowed at 10:00 PM. The water level reached waist-deep in a residential area of the Denen-chofu district of Tokyo’s Ota City. From its southwest side, water infiltrated Futako-Tamagawa Station ... ... [Read more]

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No.57

The Path that Dr. Nakamura Left to the Afghans: The Water that Saved 600,000 People   

  Dr. Nakamura Tetsu passed away at the age of 73.   On the morning of December 4th, he lost his life in an attack by an armed militant group while he was on his way to an irrigation work site.   Dr. Nakamura was born in Fukuoka Prefecture in 1946, the year after the end of World War II. From 1984 onwards, he gave his life towards providing medical support to refugees in Pakistan and Afghanistan. He was not only a doctor, however; he also strove to support the people of Afghanistan by digging wells and helping construct irrigation canals, based on his belief that “one irrigation canal will do more good than 100 doctors.” His many years of service were recognized in 2003, when he received the Ramon Magsaysay Award, a commendation known as “Asia’s Nobel Prize.” Ms. Sawachi had long supported ... ... [Read more]

No.57

International Politics and Japanese Diplomacy as Seen from Eurasia: An Approach to “Geopolitical Economics” and “Global Governance”

Introduction: A Multipolarizing World and Flexible Thinking I would like to examine the content of international politics in Eurasia and discuss how Japan should conduct its diplomacy in that context. The structure of the international community has begun to change this century, even before the start of the coronavirus crisis. It differs from both the Cold War Era and the world ten years after the end of the Cold War. First, the world is headed toward “mulipolarization.” I consider the rise of China and the return of Russia as “multipolarization” or, more precisely, as a “unipolar–multipolar concurrent system” (“unipolar” signifies the military prominence of the United States). This is the worldview of “G2” (= United States–China bipolar) and “G0” that was frequently talked about some time ago. It can also be seen as a “power transition” or “power shift.” This has been widely discussed ... ... [Read more]

No.57

A report on having accompanied the Pope during his stay in Japan—The voice of the voiceless

    Pope Francis visited Japan from November 23 to 26, 2019, staying in Japan for four days. This seems a short stay. But for the Pope, this was a long stay in one particular country. I had heard long before that the Pope might visit Japan. 2019 marked a turning point in the relationship between Japan and the Catholic Church in several ways. Beyond that, however, the author also has the feeling that the Pope intended to transform various political tensions across Asia into harmonious relationships. In fact, the Pope stated in a regular press conference held in flight that he hoped to visit China. The Pope’s visit to Japan was the first one in thirty-eight years, the second after Pope John Paul II’s visit in 1981. Only considering that the Pope’s visit to Japan was an event in the context of the ... ... [Read more]

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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]

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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]

No.55

Future Prospects for a New “Rise and Fall of the Great Powers” Can Be Seen From the Viewpoint of Demographics

Prediction for demographics and the course of direction of hegemons Jimbo Ken: Long-term prediction of the future beyond thirty years often fails because the reality encounters too many unknowns. Demographics is believed to be the exception, as its predictability has been relatively high. Let’s begin with this premise. Currently, the global population is about 7.7 billion. According to population projections by the United Nations, the global population is projected to rise sharply to 9.7 billion by 2050. The increase curve will become gentle and gradual beyond 2050, with the global population projected to hit 10.9 billion in 2100. In addition, increased populations are unevenly distributed in South Asia and the Sub-Saharan African region. Conversely, most developed countries will not see their populations increase, but will enter a rapidly aging society. Based on these projections, our long-term strategy often suggests Africa is the “last frontier,” ... ... [Read more]

No.55

Japan and the Republic of Korea Should Return to the 1965 and 1998 Agreements

Sasae Kenichiro, President and Director General of the Japan Institute of International Affairs (JIIA) Interviewer: Tawara Soichiro Looking Back at the Past Agreement and Declaration Tawara Soichiro: Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK) are currently in serious conflict with each other. I therefore wish to direct this question to Mr. Sasae, who served as Director-General of the Asian and Oceania Affairs Bureau and Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA). What do you think of the current Japan-ROK relations and the relationship between Prime Minister Abe Shinzo and President Moon Jae-in? Sasae Kenichiro: As you are aware, there have been a number of twists and turns in Japan-ROK relations. In particular, you need to understand that in the ROK, domestic affairs have an impact on the diplomacy between the two countries. The left-leaning governments of the ROK began ... ... [Read more]

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Blog

Japan’s Economic Outlook for 2020

In this article, I would like to discuss some of the points that are crucial to Japan’s economic outlook for 2020. First, we should examine whether or not the Japanese economy has peaked out. A reference date related to a peak or a bottom in a business cycle is determined by the Economic and Social Research Institute of the Cabinet Office. It usually takes more than a year for them to determine whether a peak or a bottom has actually occurred in a business cycle because their judgments require comprehensive statistical information pertaining to a certain period of time. This suggests that the government research institute may have missed an opportunity to announce a reference date of a business-cycle peak in a more timely manner simply because comprehensive statistical data are not yet available for them to make a judgment. This assumption sounds extremely ... ... [Read more]

Blog

Freedom of Finance and the Debt-laden Economy

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Blog

Avoiding the Thucydides Trap Through Interdependence Between the United States and China

Kojima Akira, Member, Board of Trustees, and Adjunct Professor, National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS); Trustee, Chairman of the World Trade Center Tokyo ... [Read more]

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