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No.51

Changes to the international system due to the rise of China. From trade wars to a “new Cold War.”

Four characteristics of the Trump administration compared to the 1980s Is this the beginning of a new Cold War? It has now become usual to characterize US-China relations using the term “trade war.” But is the conflict affecting that relationship really limited to trade alone? During the 1980s and 1990s, the United States turned Japan’s trade surplus with the United States into a problem, and trade friction between the two nations intensified. But can we really describe the ongoing US-China trade war as a contemporary version of Japan-US trade friction? Rather, if the current clash between the United States and China is not simply a trade war, and if we were to seek a similar phenomenon, could we not compare it to the Cold War between the Soviet Union and United States? In other words, shouldn’t it be considered the ongoing evolution of a ... ... [Read more]

No.50

The new Japonisme: From international cultural exchange to cultural diplomacy — Evaluating the influence of cultural activities on diplomacy

In my previous article I discussed the Japonisme 2018 event, but how should we evaluate this from the perspective of diplomacy? Certainly, it is true that a large-scale showcase of Japanese culture and cultural exchange in France, one of the world’s centers of culture, is a significant result among our cultural PR activities. More people will become interested in Japan through the series of events, and it will definitely be a chance for Japanese culture to permeate even deeper among French people than it has so far. But to what extent can such international cultural exchange activities as these contribute to diplomacy? We commonly speak of “cultural diplomacy,” but just how cultural activities and diplomacy are connected is not actually clear. Joseph Nye coined the phrase “soft power” following the end of the Cold War. He emphasized using attractive culture as a type of ... ... [Read more]

No.50

Asian regional integration and the One Belt One Road Initiative: China and its neighboring economies from the perspective of the global economy[1]

In today’s report, I will speak about not regarding the growth of China as the growth of just a country, but about regarding China as an East Asian emerging economy in the global economy, and about how China’s One Belt One Road Initiative is viewed from that perspective and what issues it entails. I will present my arguments with a focus on three main points. Firstly, I will think about Asian regional integration in the global economy and the mechanisms of its growth in reference to China. Next, I will consider the concepts behind the One Belt One Road Initiative and its relationship with the related countries. Lastly, I will think about the issues facing neighboring countries. This last part appears to lack freshness, but please allow me to mention it.   The growth and regional integration of the East Asian economic bloc First ... ... [Read more]

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No.50

A Look Back at the Summing Up on the Special Abdication Law

Speaker of the House of Representatives Oshima Tadamori (72) was first elected in 1983, and has been elected a total eleven consecutive times. He has served as both Minister of Education and Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. He also spent a record 1,430 days as Chairman of the LDP Diet Affairs Committee. More recently, Oshima, with Vice Speaker, President and Vice President of House of Councillors, led a cross-party discussion group of party Diet Affairs Committee Heads set up to devise a bill to address the abdication of his majesty the Emperor. Making ample use of the skills he had honed during his time heading the Diet Affairs Committee, Oshima succeeded in building agreement between ruling and opposition parties. In this article, Oshima looks back at the days leading up to the creation of the bill. In August 2016, his majesty the Emperor ... ... [Read more]

No.50

Meiji 150: From Steam to MagLev

Underpinning the modernization of Japanese industry were its railways. Work started on Japan’s railways during the Meiji period (1868–1912), with the help of the British. While playing a supporting role in industrial development, the railways developed chiefly around passenger transport. These days, Japan has started to export railway technology, and is contributing to the development of railways in other countries, including the UK, the birthplace of rail travel. 24.598 billion. That’s the number of people who used railways across Japan in fiscal 2016, accounting for roughly 40% of all rail travel worldwide. With 214 operators covering a total distance of approximately 28,120 kilometers, the Japanese rail network provides support for passengers traveling around metropolitan areas, from major cities out to the suburbs, and between cities. With most of the country’s population concentrated in its cities, that is where there are most rail services, providing ... ... [Read more]

No.50

Meiji 150: The New Age of Inclusion and Pioneering Leadership

2018 marks 150 years since the Meiji Restoration. The Meiji period (1868–1912) was a turbulent time that became a major turning point, signaling the end of samurai rule, and the transition to a modern democracy and industrial modernization. Crucially, it was a time of inclusion and leadership. In October 1867, the Edo feudal government returned power to the imperial court. The Meiji government was established the following year, in January 1868. Pressure had been growing from the 1840s onwards, from western powers coming to Japan with the aim of opening up the country to the rest of the world, and from those looking to put in place a system centered around the imperial court. After a little over 260 years, this brought an end to the feudal government of the Edo period (1603–1867). Things were anything but easy for the Meiji government to start ... ... [Read more]

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No.51

In preparation for the worst-case scenario of a national default: Can the current generations resign themselves to the costs for the future generations?

Prof. Kobayashi KeiichiroGovernments don’t default? The Logic of Infallibility undermines Japan While the realities of the Japanese economy are progressing smoothly, with stocks surging and competition on the employment front becoming overheated, it is widely known that government finances are continuing to worsen. Some may be concerned that if the present situation holds, a national default will occur. Unless confidence in the Japanese economy is lost, chances are slim that a default will occur within ten years. But because government debt will continue to increase if government finances are not reconstructed, a financial collapse is certain to occur someday. That time may be in the next twenty to forty years, a point of time in the long-term future. But the possibility of a national financial failure is a matter that each of us has to consider in our life in the sense that it will occur ... ... [Read more]

No.50

Moving toward Electric Vehicles Will Cause Dramatic Changes in Oil Consumption: Rising Dependence on the Middle East and Geopolitical Risks

  Oil occupies a central position in the global energy market. In the 2000s (2000 to 2007), global demand for oil grew at an average rate of 1.3 million barrels per day (Mb/d) due to such issues as brisk demand in China. At that time, peak oil theory (theory of an oil supply peak) received wide coverage. Excess liquidity in financial markets caused crude oil prices to soar, resulting in a tight supply and demand balance, which emphasized concern about a supply peak. Policies and lifestyles will continue to change in response to trends in the Reference Scenario in the IEEJ Outlook 2018 prepared by the Institute of Energy Economics, Japan (IEEJ). Accordingly, global oil demand will grow from 90 Mb/d in 2015 to 122 Mb/d in 2050. Demand for oil will decrease by 9 Mb/d in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) ... ... [Read more]

No.50

Points of Discussion Concerning the Strategic Energy Plan: Toward policy measures to take advantage of the market mechanism

The Strategic Energy Plan is based on two major principles. The first principle is that the government sets numerical targets regarding the future energy mix. Under the fifth draft plan, the government would maintain the policy of aiming for a share of around 60% for thermal power and around 20% each for both nuclear power and renewable energy. The second principle is that the government determines policy measures to achieve various policy goals. For example, means of reducing CO2 emissions include the use of renewable energy and nuclear power and the promotion of energy conservation. The new Strategic Energy Plan is expected to indicate numerical targets for emission reduction with respect to each means of reduction. In economics, this policy design approach is known as “optimization by social planners.” Under this approach, the government gathers as much information as possible as a social planner ... ... [Read more]

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No.48

Shinkokinshu: An Anthology for Our Times

  Most Japanese newspapers carry a weekly column of waka (poems in 31 syllables) and haiku (poems in 17 syllables) submitted by readers. This journalistic feature indicates to what extent poetry permeates the everyday lives of the Japanese. Similarly, at the beginning of each year the Emperor holds a competition for waka composed on a topic of his choice, and the people of Japan submit their poems. These modern poetic practices have their roots in the long tradition of court waka. Superior poems produced at the Japanese court over the centuries were collected in a series of anthologies compiled by imperial command. One of these, the Shin Kokin Waka Shu (New Collection of Ancient and Modern Poetry, usually abbreviated to Shinkokinshu), is considered by many to represent the summit of the art, and has the unusual distinction of having been edited personally by the ... ... [Read more]

No.48

The World of the Japanese Newspaper Poetry Column

  Newspaper poetry columns called shimbun kadan have given numerous popular poets their start. They publish verse that is erotic and that is cute, that is about love, and that is about everyday life. Just don’t say that only the people who submit poems read them. The poetry in question is tanka, a short form of poetry having 31 (5-7-5-7-7) syllabets which dates from the Meiji period (1868–1912) and differs from the traditional form of poetry called waka as showcased in the eighth-century Man’yoshu and other such poetry anthologies commissioned by the Emperor. Newspaper tanka are the avant-garde   “That’s a funny place for a mole,” so you said. And so it started.” Yagimoto Motomoto, Tokyo   Is the above really a tanka too? Many people these days might say, “Yes. So what?” It uses colloquial speech and quotation marks; and it ignores the ... ... [Read more]

No.42

The “Johnny’s” Entertainers Omnipresent on Japanese TV: Postwar Media and the Postwar Family

Introduction What do Japanese people think of when they hear the name Johnnies? Perhaps pop groups such as SMAP or Arashi that belong to the Johnny & Associates talent agency? Or perhaps the title of specific TV programs or movies? If they are not that interested, perhaps they will be reminded of the words “beautiful young boys” or “scandal”? On the other hand, if they are well-informed about the topic perhaps jargon terms such as “oriki,” “doutan,” or “shinmechu” are second nature? In this way the word “Johnnies” (the casual name given to groups managed by Johnny & Associates) is likely to evoke all sorts of images. But one thing is sure: almost no Japanese person would reply that they hadn’t heard the name. If a person lives within Japanese society and they watch television even just a little, whether they like it or ... ... [Read more]

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No.51

Future Design

Discussion between Professor Sakura Osamu and Professor Saijo Tatsuyoshi   There are various matters, such as climate change, energy issues, social security, and government debt, which need to be dealt with using a long-term perspective. At the core of these issues is conflict between the interests of different generations. There is potential for the short-sighted response and decision-making of the present generation to significantly disadvantage future generations. These future generations are not yet born so cannot make their voices heard nor negotiate with the present generation. Yet, it’s not strange at all for the present generation to make decisions according to their own interests. The “market” and other social systems are not necessarily equipped with any function for distributing resources to future generations. In order to create a sustainable society for future generations, humans need to get past their natural short-sightedness, while mechanisms and ... ... [Read more]

No.50

Regeneration after The Damage Caused by The Nuclear Disaster — Reconstruction policies that help victims regain their dignity

Evacuation orders are being lifted, but what is actually happening on the ground? Just the return of evacuees is not enough to rebuild lives. We need reconstruction policies that help individuals regain their dignity. The suffering of the victims of the nuclear disaster Often, disasters can remove their victims’ dignity. These victims lose their lives within the region up to that time, their role as members of society and as workers, their role within their family and its daily life, and many other things they have built up over time. And it is not just individuals who lose their dignity, but regions do so in the same way. Regions might lose that which makes their community have value, such as the richness of nature and daily life, or the brand on which the region prides itself.  In February 2017, the second survey into the ... ... [Read more]

No.49

The Miracle of Ogal that was Achieved Through Cooperation Between the Public and Private Sectors

   “The most expensive snow disposal yard in Japan” A large empty space in front of a station was reborn into a town that attracts 950,000 visitors annually. It is Shiwa, Iwate Prefecture, which is a 30-minute drive from Morioka. The town has a population of 33,000. The Ogal Project[1], a major project implemented in cooperation between the town government and the private sector, was introduced to the town. It is evaluated nationwide as a money-making infrastructure that does not depend on subsidies. The project was reported as a successful example of local revitalization and attracted a flood of visitors. One of these was Koizumi Shinjiro, a House of Representatives member. At the Diet, Koizumi stressed, “The project is a great local revitalization project that embodies the spirit of local revitalization,” and admired it as “the spirit of ogal.” The word “ogal” is a ... ... [Read more]

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No.50

New Developments in Albatross Conservation—Using biologging to elucidate behavior in the ocean

Watanuki Yutaka, Professor, School of Fisheries Science, Hokkaido UniversityThe albatross is a group of birds at high risk of extinction. The reasons for this are thought to include a decreased survival rate of parent birds due to bycatching during fishing. To date, the research of incidental by-catch risk and the evaluation of the efficiency of by-catch mitigation techniques relied on observations from boats. Data obtained in this way however contains bias. Biologging can be used to collect useful data for albatross conservation, such as an overlap of the distribution of albatross and fishing grounds, the fishing boat following behavior of albatross, and the dynamics of wintering areas. 1.Use of biologging The study of seabird behavior on the ocean has advanced rapidly thanks to biologging: field research techniques to collect information of the location and behavior of individual animals by attaching a small data recording device known as a “data logger.” Some devices ... ... [Read more]

No.50

The Conservation of Endangered Albatross Species

At one time, Short-tailed Albatrosses formed large breeding colonies on Torishima in the Izu Islands and in the Ogasawara Islands, in the Daito Islands, the Senkaku Islands, and other islands near Tai-wan. Due to the collection of feathers, for which there was high foreign demand, from the mid-Meiji period (1868–1912) these albatrosses were overhunted, and in 1949 it was reported that they were extinct. In 1951, however, they were rediscovered when around ten birds were found to have survived on Torishima. Following this, in 1954 Japan established a national Wildlife Protection Area that covered the whole of Torishima (453 ha); in 1958, the short-tailed albatross was designated a national Natural Monument; and in 1962, it was promoted to a Special Natural Monument. Additionally, in 1965 the whole of Torishima was designated a Natural Monument (Natural Protected Area) in its capacity as a breeding site, ... ... [Read more]

No.50

The Question of Plutonium Management (II): Protect Energy Choices—It is essential to develop fast breeder reactors (FBR)

Key Points Japanese plutonium is difficult to convert into atomic bombs It is urgently necessary to build a system that makes full use of plutonium as fuel China and Russia are being proactive regarding fast breeder reactors to secure resources There is an activity that involves collecting gold and rare metals from used mobile phones. A variety of metals and semiconductors are used for mobile phones and include a small quantity of toxic substances. They are simply rubbish if they are thrown away as they are. But if you extract gold from them in order to classify them into metals and plastics, you can reduce the quantity of rubbish. This is called urban mining. In Japan, the gold extracted will be utilized for the medals for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020. The fuel that has generated a large quantity of electricity ... ... [Read more]

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No.

Opinion Poll: Is Japan Tilting to Right?

Intellectuals Concerned About “Tilt to the Right” The survey, to which 282 people including intellectuals and experts responded, asked people in Japan for their opinions on whether Japan is “tilting to the right” as some foreign media have suggested. The ratio of respondents who “feel Japan is ’tilting to the right”‘ as foreign media claim was 23.4%. However, when combining an answer that they do not think so as of now but it is possible later, which was given by 13.1%, nearly 40% of the respondents are concerned about Japan’s drift to the right. Also, 28.4% said Japan is “not tilting to the right but reactions of overseas media over Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s comments and actions are understandable,” suggesting that they think it is inevitable that foreign media look the current situation like... [Read more]

No.9

INFORMATION SECURITY MEASURES UNDER PRESSURE OF REVISION

Photo : Takakura HirokiWhat on earth is happening? Is Japan taking information security measures seriously?” This year, one after another of the networks of public organizations and corporations, including major heavy industries, have been at the receiving end of cyber attacks, resulting in disclosure of important information in some instances. The damage is gradually becoming clear as the investigations move forward, but in most cases, we cannot expect to understand the full particulars. In many of the attacks, the attackers penetrated protected computers that were only accessible to a limited number of people at the companies to steal information. A great variety of information was targeted including... [Read more]

No.8

GREENERY CHANGES CITIES… AND CHANGES HOW WE LIVE

Moderator: This summer, with calls to save energy and reduce electricity consumption, we are seeing the emergence of a movement to use greenery as a way to beat the heat, with “green curtains” becoming the focus of a great deal of attention, for example. Today we are going to hear from two experts about the future of the relationship between cities and greenery. We’ll start by asking your opinions on the current state of the kind of greenery that everyone is familiar with, such as roadside trees. FUJII Eijiro: Unfortunately for the last twenty years or so in Japan, there are more and more trees that have been terribly over-pruned. Even in parks there are a lot of trees that have been pruned unnecessarily. For trees such as Platanus Orientalis (plane trees), for example, if they are in parks then there is no need ... ... [Read more]

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