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No.59

Keidanren Chairman’s strategy for overcoming the global crisis: Executives must perceive “change as opportunity”

Nakanishi Hiroaki, Chairman, Keidanren, Executive Chairman, Hitachi, Ltd. No prospect of much-needed international cooperation ―The Japanese government has acknowledged with regard to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic that the global economy is now truly facing the greatest crisis in the postwar period. Nakanishi Hiroaki: The “Keidanren’s Urgent Proposal to counter Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Pandemic,” issued by Keidanren (Japan Business Federation) on March 30, also positioned the COVID-19 pandemic as a “dilemma, which is unprecedented in modern times” and then called for action, including “fiscal measures on a scale equal to or greater than the measures taken in the event of the financial crisis of 2007–2008,” saying “the implementation of additional measures, as well as providing focused support to workers and businesses who are truly in need is essential.” The worst part of it all is not knowing when or how the situation will ... ... [Read more]

No.58

Coronavirus Hits Japanese Economy: An unprecedented composite crisis halting demand, supply and income

Komine Takao, Professor, Taisho University   The economic shock sparked by the COVID-19 coronavirus appears to be unprecedented in terms of its magnitude and the level of difficulty in addressing it. At the time of writing, early April 2020, the crisis is ongoing and the situation is changing from moment to moment. The whole picture is as of yet unknown. The following discusses the challenges that lie ahead of the Japanese economy based on the information that is available so far. An abrupt change in circumstances and a colossal dive The coronavirus crisis has several unique characteristics. The first is the speed of the deterioration of economic conditions. As discussed below, the Japanese economy is facing the impact of multiple negative factors. This totally changed many people’s perception of the economy. For example, the economic view of the Japanese national government stated in the ... ... [Read more]

No.58

Post-Coronavirus World: Companies Should Continue to Disperse Production and Procurement

Todo Yasuyuki, Professor, Waseda University Key points: Bringing manufacturing back to Japan comes with risks Don’t fall behind the expansion of global value chains Build strong ties with mutual help with partners abroad The disorder caused by the spread of COVID-19 continues. Nonetheless, we need to look toward the “Post-Coronavirus world” amid this confusion. This paper is a consideration of what supply chains and value chains Japan ought to build in the world after the coronavirus crisis. Value chains refer to networks of economic activities that generate value, including upstream R&D and design as well as downstream marketing and data analysis, and that exist in addition to the supply chains for materials and components. The Japanese government is already taking action. The spread in China disrupted the procurement of parts, components and materials from China. This is why the government is now going to ... ... [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.59

The President of the Japan Football Association’s battle with the coronavirus, his recovery and the future: I won’t give in to the virus, and neither will football or the Olympics!

Tashima Kohzo, President, Japan Football Association (JFA) and Vice President, Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) A message from someone who has experienced the coronavirus ―During the second half of March, it was announced that you had contracted the new coronavirus, deeply shocking the Japanese public. Tashima Kohzo: Thinking about it now, I probably caught the virus in Europe. During the second half of February, I attended an international meeting in Belfast, UK. That coincided with an important meeting in Amsterdam in the Netherlands to promote our bid for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, in which rival countries would make presentations. We were also given the chance to make a presentation, so canceling was not an option. Looking back, Europe at that time was completely different to the situation now. No one was wearing a mask on the street and people were casually shaking hands ... ... [Read more]

No.59

Building Bodies and Minds That Can Overcome COVID-19: Boosting Immune Strength with “Daily Baths” — Strengthening the Body’s “Lifeline” with Improved Blood Flow

Hayasaka Shinya, Professor, Tokyo City University   For some twenty years, I have conducted medical research on bathing as a lifestyle habit. That experience has taught me one thing with certainty. It is that “Bathing is the best health practice that people in general can do.” It is easy and inexpensive, can be done every day without trouble, and it is very effective. We affectionately call bathtub bathing “ofuro” in Japanese. I suspect Japan is the only country in the world where nearly every house across the country is equipped with such an “amazing health promotion tool.” In fact, the great health effects of bathing have been proven medically. Some examples include increasing immune functions, adjusting autonomic nervous responses, improving blood flow, activating basic metabolism and enzymes in the body, and reducing mental stress. It has an astounding variety of effects. Among them, I ... ... [Read more]

No.59

Hints from the combination of labor economics, Social Sciences of Hope and Social Sciences of Crisis Thinking: Toward ways of working able to respond to abnormality and change

Genda Yuji, Professor, University of Tokyo   Lessons from the 2008 Global Financial Crisis More than anything else, protecting the lives and health of people is necessary to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. There is no room for argument in that regard. Based on this, many people are hoping they can secure employment that brings in the income needed to cover living expenses in the months ahead. In term of employment, the possibility that this new crisis is more serious than the 2008 global financial crisis, defined by the iconic September 2008 bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, is a concern given the rapid shrinkage of economic activities associated with the spread of COVID-19. During the 2008 global financial crisis, 950,000 jobs were lost in Japan in only a year, and the unemployment rate rose to 5.5% in July of 2009, matching the previous record high. ... ... [Read more]

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No.59

In Memoriam: OGATA Sadako – a giant of humanity and international cooperation whom the world loved and respected

Mrs. OGATA Sadako has passed away. Although she lived to a ripe old age, her passing is truly regrettable. She was one of the world’s great leaders, without the slightest need to qualify it with words like “as a woman” or “as a Japanese”. KITAOKA Shinichi, President, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) As a student of Professor OKA Yoshitake Mrs. Ogata completed a doctoral thesis at the University of California, Berkeley, but around that time, she was also mentored by Professor OKA Yoshitake (1902–1990), a specialist in Japanese political and diplomatic history at the Faculty of Law, the University of Tokyo. Professor Oka was also the mentor of my mentor (MITANI Taichiro, Professor Emeritus of the University of Tokyo), so I am one of the students of Professor Oka. Professor Oka’s students, who are active in a variety of fields, had a tradition of ... ... [Read more]

No.59

Three Experts Discuss: Will the China Model Conquer the World? What Will Happen? The Xi Jinping System After COVID-19

Miyamoto Yuji (former Ambassador of Japan to the People’s Republic of China, Chairman of the Miyamoto Institute of Asian Research), Kawashima Shin (Professor, University of Tokyo), and Ako Tomoko (Professor, University of Tokyo) What COVID-19 Has Brought to Light Miyamoto Yuji: COVID-19 has shaken many of the world’s fundamentals, revealing things that hadn’t been visible before. One is US–China relations. For example, the US’s strictest policy against China is decoupling, but COVID-19 has stopped the movement of people, severed supply chains, and had a major negative impact on the US economy, so is it really possible to establish a decoupling relationship with China? Also, until now, the Xi Jinping administration has talked about the “China Dream” to build a country peerless in the world by the mid-century, but isn’t that a dream founded on extremely optimistic predictions? I hope that China can make this experience ... ... [Read more]

No.59

Rapid infectious disease response is needed: Challenges seen from the frontlines of politics

Various challenges such as political leadership, preparation of medical systems, the relationship between the central and local governments, and the requirements of an emergency law on infectious diseases have become apparent as we respond to the unprecedented infectious disease (COVID-19). An expert on global health administration lays out a comprehensive set of issues for the current and future public health emergencies.   Takemi Keizo, member of the House of Councillors   At the time of writing this article, the world was facing the biggest global-health crisis of the twenty-first century due to COVID-19. From the end of 2019 and into 2020, COVID-19 had spread not just within China from Wuhan City in Hubei Province, but also to Japan and the rest of the world, owing to the fact that its initial spread coincided with the Chinese New Year holiday. As Chairperson of the Special ... ... [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.59

Three Experts Discuss: Will the China Model Conquer the World? What Will Happen? The Xi Jinping System After COVID-19

Miyamoto Yuji (former Ambassador of Japan to the People’s Republic of China, Chairman of the Miyamoto Institute of Asian Research), Kawashima Shin (Professor, University of Tokyo), and Ako Tomoko (Professor, University of Tokyo) What COVID-19 Has Brought to Light Miyamoto Yuji: COVID-19 has shaken many of the world’s fundamentals, revealing things that hadn’t been visible before. One is US–China relations. For example, the US’s strictest policy against China is decoupling, but COVID-19 has stopped the movement of people, severed supply chains, and had a major negative impact on the US economy, so is it really possible to establish a decoupling relationship with China? Also, until now, the Xi Jinping administration has talked about the “China Dream” to build a country peerless in the world by the mid-century, but isn’t that a dream founded on extremely optimistic predictions? I hope that China can make this experience ... ... [Read more]

No.58

Special Roundtable: Japanese Foreign Policy in 2020—Let us be a bond for a multilateral international order

How can we make the United States and China, countries with immense national power that at times opt for unilateralism, commit to the international order? Foreign Minister Motegi answers questions on how he intends to guide Japan’s foreign policy in 2020.   Motegi Toshimitsu, Minister for Foreign Affairs vs Tanaka Akihiko, President, National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS)   Tanaka Akihiko: You have served in many important ministerial roles before now, but could you share your thoughts on your time so far as Minister for Foreign Affairs. Foreign Minister Motegi Toshimitsu: It has already been almost four months since September 11, 2019 when I took up my role as Minister for Foreign Affairs. Immediately after becoming Foreign Minister I visited New York to attend the General Assembly of the United Nations, where I attended multi-party meetings on topics such as reforming the UN ... ... [Read more]

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]

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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]

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]

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