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No.53

A warning to the Republic of Korea (ROK), which betrayed Japan’s trust: What is the main factor causing the Japan-ROK export control issue to get complicated?

Political calculation and media resonance Japan-ROK relations have become more complicated than necessary over the export control issue. First of all, let me get into the background of this issue. It started from a press release from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) on July 1, titled “Update of METI’s licensing policies and procedures on exports of controlled items to the Republic of Korea (ROK).” The title actually just said, “[the Ministry] will apply updated licensing policies and procedures.” But media reports immediately after the press release gave sensational and stirring headlines saying “Embargo,” “Implementation of export restrictions” and “Countermeasure.” Media reports have just recently changed their language to “Strict implementation of export controls” and “Removal of the ROK from ‘White List.’” But how much time did it take? Some media reports have continued to persistently use the word export restriction, though. What do ... ... [Read more]

No.53

The Centenarian Companies that are Saving Japan―Tsumura, Konoike Transport and Seiren. Why did these companies survive?

Japanese companies continue to face tough battles in the face of waves of globalization and digitalization. In particular, Japan is said to trail the pack in AI-related technology. When Japanese companies are compared to others around the world, a miserable situation is often recorded. Turning our attention to within Japan however, today there are actually 34,394 “historic companies” that were founded 100 or more years ago (according to a 2017 study by Tokyo Shoko Research). Some researchers put the number at over ten thousand — notably more than in other countries around the world. In 2019, famous examples were Nintendo (over 130 years old), Morinaga (over 120 years), Olympus and NGK Insulators (both over 100 years). The oldest company in the world is an Osaka shrine and temple construction firm called Kongo Gumi. It was founded in 578 during the Asuka period. The oldest ... ... [Read more]

No.53

Challenges Facing the Abe Administration after the Upper House Election: Social Security Reforms Should Be a Multi-Partisan Discussion

Key points Economic policy should return to an orthodox type from an emergency type The government should aim to increase worker productivity The opposition parties should also make responsible proposals regarding the consumption tax and pension   The Upper House election is over. The result of the election does not directly place the Abe administration under pressure to make revisions to its economic policy. On this occasion, however, I would like to point out three basic directions required for the economic policy in the years to come based on challenges taken on before the election and discussions held by the political parties during the election. The first direction is to return the experimental and venturous economic policy, enacted in an emergency, to an orthodox policy for normal times. For about thirty years following the burst of the bubble, the Japanese economy faced uncharted challenges ... ... [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.54

Creating a “Future” Society: Iwate Prefecture’s Yahaba Town: creating a revitalization strategy with residents from forty years in the future

Residential participation: benefits and problems ——Please tell us how future design came to be introduced to Yahaba Town in Iwate Prefecture. Yoshioka Ritsuji: In recent years, how to maintain worn out water supply infrastructure has become a significant issue for the whole of Japan. Yahaba Town is no different, so we started a residents participation workshop to first learn about residents’ needs and also to communicate that the town office is aware of the issue. As a result of this, we learned that most residents take safe water for granted and want water charges to be as low as possible. But going into the future, we do not know if today’s water rates can keep providing safe water. So that they’d understand the actual situation we thought we’d expand the scope of the workshop. By the end of that, some residents said they thought ... ... [Read more]

No.53

IT Changes in the Employment Environment for Seniors

Cloud system supports the employment environment for seniors Japan is likely to see the arrival of the 100-year life era. If a person retires at the age of 65, the pension revenue for the remaining thirty-five years would be insufficient. Securing living expenses until the end of life and the employment of seniors are huge issues. In addition, if the experience, knowledge and skills of active and healthy seniors can be put to good use, they can be used as a new driving force in society. Based on this idea, projects for developing and manufacturing self-driving vehicles and robots have been implemented since 2011 with support from the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST). One of those projects is Senior Cloud, our focus. Senior Cloud is a joint project between the University of Tokyo and IBM Japan Ltd, based on information technology for the ... ... [Read more]

No.53

For the realization of the SDGs: The characteristics of the SDGs and the practices of Japanese local governments

The application of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is being promoted in organizational management in a variety of realms. The SDGs are also being focused on as one of the essential parts of the management of local governments and cities, and practical initiatives are being conducted. This paper explains the characteristics of the SDGs and the methods of thinking behind them, introduces practical initiatives carried out by Japanese local governments and presents the points of view expected for future developments. 1. The SDGs applied as common goals Japanese companies and local governments focus on the keywords of the SDGs, and practical initiatives and applications by a wide range of actors are being promoted as common goals pursued globally. For example, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Reports are intended to fulfill accountability for how individual companies regard their relationships with diverse stakeholders in society and what ... ... [Read more]

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No.54

The United Nations and the Constitution of Japan: How Will Japan Support International Peace Cooperation?

Akashi Yasushi, former Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations vs. Hosoya Yuichi, Professor, Keio University Akashi entered the field of power politics after studying at an American university Hosoya Yuichi: I would like to ask Akashi-san [Mr. Akashi], who served as Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General to the former Yugoslavia and SRSG of the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC), about the UN and the Constitution of Japan. I think that you’ve made only a few definite remarks about the Constitution in the past, and I suppose that you’ve avoided making such remarks because of your previous positions in public service. Akashi Yasushi: You may be right. I think that when it comes to the preamble of the Constitution and Article 9, up to now, many Japanese have treated them as if they were something that must not be touched or have spoken ... ... [Read more]

No.53

Development cooperation that respects ownership

Japan is a non-Western country, which has modernized earliest among others, and Japan’s own experiences of modernization serve as a good model of development for developing countries. “Japanese style” development cooperation implemented in Africa can propose a new idea of development. —— In August, the Seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD7) will be held in Yokohama for the first time in three years. Kitaoka Shinichi: The previous TICAD VI (2016) in Nairobi, Kenya, was significant to have it for the first time in Africa. It was also my first time participating in the conference. When I look back on the three years’ progress since then, I feel that more business-minded leaders are advancing their ambitious reforms for the sake of their countries’ development without relying on natural resources and single products. Today, we can find more countries are doing their best, regardless ... ... [Read more]

No.53

G20 Osaka Summit: Progress in “Digital Economy” and “Society 5.0”

Japan hosted the G20 Summit for the first time from 28 to 29 June. Leaders of nineteen countries and the EU along with other invited leaders and heads of international organizations convened in Osaka to discuss a wide range of issues. As the host, Prime Minister of Japan Abe Shinzo put a special emphasis on the Digital Economy and Society 5.0, leading to outcomes which will contribute to economic growth and sustainable development.   In June 1997 the Group of 7 (G7) major industrial democracies met in Denver to discuss the challenges faced in economic, financial and other areas at a time when international financial markets were becoming increasingly global and complex. In July that same year, the Asian Financial Crisis struck, prompting the engagement at the ministerial level of major emerging economies including China, Russia and India. In 1999, at the Finance Ministers ... ... [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.54

Creating a “Future” Society: Iwate Prefecture’s Yahaba Town: creating a revitalization strategy with residents from forty years in the future

Residential participation: benefits and problems ——Please tell us how future design came to be introduced to Yahaba Town in Iwate Prefecture. Yoshioka Ritsuji: In recent years, how to maintain worn out water supply infrastructure has become a significant issue for the whole of Japan. Yahaba Town is no different, so we started a residents participation workshop to first learn about residents’ needs and also to communicate that the town office is aware of the issue. As a result of this, we learned that most residents take safe water for granted and want water charges to be as low as possible. But going into the future, we do not know if today’s water rates can keep providing safe water. So that they’d understand the actual situation we thought we’d expand the scope of the workshop. By the end of that, some residents said they thought ... ... [Read more]

No.54

The United Nations and the Constitution of Japan: How Will Japan Support International Peace Cooperation?

Akashi Yasushi, former Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations vs. Hosoya Yuichi, Professor, Keio University Akashi entered the field of power politics after studying at an American university Hosoya Yuichi: I would like to ask Akashi-san [Mr. Akashi], who served as Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General to the former Yugoslavia and SRSG of the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC), about the UN and the Constitution of Japan. I think that you’ve made only a few definite remarks about the Constitution in the past, and I suppose that you’ve avoided making such remarks because of your previous positions in public service. Akashi Yasushi: You may be right. I think that when it comes to the preamble of the Constitution and Article 9, up to now, many Japanese have treated them as if they were something that must not be touched or have spoken ... ... [Read more]

No.52

Dialogue: The lessons from Western politics straying out off course ― Welcoming the storms of the international community with a philosophy of inclusion

European politics in confusion Aida Hirotsugu (Hiro Aida): Three years have passed since the 2016 Brexit referendum, in which the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union (EU), closely followed by Donald Trump being elected president of the United States. Turmoil persists in the United Kingdom and the United States, populism is rampant in other European countries, and formerly sound governments based on the ideals of parliamentary democracy have struggled to function. In Italy, the leftist Five Star Movement and the far-right Lega formed a coalition government in 2018, which saw the establishment of an anti-EU administration heavily influenced by populism. In France as well, the Yellow Vest movement broke out in November 2018 and still shows no sign of dying down. Initially, the movement started from demonstrations against the Macron administration’s fuel and car tax hikes. But in the confused state of ... ... [Read more]

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