No.22 - Discuss Japan

Archives : No.22

May-Jul 2014

Discussions, Economy, No.22  Jul. 10, 2014

Discussion on the Future of the Abe Economy:Will there be a Knowledge Industrial Revolution?— In-depth discussion on innovations and the future of Japan

    NONAKA Ikujiro Professor Emeritus at Hitotsubashi University ASAHIOKA Eishun President of the Social Infrastructure Research Center Data unleashing human potential Nonaka Ikujiro: The biggest topic for the Japanese industries this year is the conversion of knowledge into data. For example, behavioral patterns of customers, which were not visible in the past, are made available for analysis and reflected to corporate strategies utilizing so-called “big data” (large volume digital data). Another example is Google’s development of self-driving cars, as well as the acquisition of several robot-related companies at the end of last year; these are also the efforts to convert as much knowledge as possible into the form of data. In this context, it seems the role of knowledge in society is facing a major change.  Asahioka Eishun: As a representative of a private sector think tank, I have been conducting research on ... ... [Read more]

Economy, No.22
Jul. 7, 2014

Choices for the Future —Overcoming depopulation and a hyper-aged society to build a growth and development model originating from Japan—

In May 2014, the Committee for Japan’s Future, a task force under the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy, released an interim report on the discussions that have been held thus far. With the permission of the Cabinet Office, Discuss Japan here presents the main arguments and summary conclusions of the detailed discussions. Introduction If no action is taken against the current situation, an extremely harsh and difficult future will be awaiting us. Nevertheless, if systems, policies and people’s way of thinking are changed rapidly, the future can be changed. The Japanese economy is beginning to get out of a long-standing deflation on the back of Abenomics. We must ensure that the recovering economy will turn into a solid one and result in sustained growth and development. To make sure this happens, it is essential that, while closely monitoring structural changes in our economy ... ... [Read more]

Economy, No.22
Jul. 4, 2014

The Chinese Economic Slowdown — How Does It Affect Japan? Massive debts, rising consumer prices, declining childbirth and an aging society — Days of fearing the “phantom superpower” are over

TSUGAMI Toshiya, Modern China researcher, Tsugami Workshop President

Japan today is threatened by the shadow of its inflating neighbor, China. While some people allege that its being a super economic power growing at a 7% rate or that it will pass the United States in GDP are established facts, a substantial number of commentators argue that the Chinese economy is collapsing and will soon default since it has a 200% debt ratio versus GDP and that the country’s outstanding shadow bank financing has surpassed 60% of the GDP. From an economic standpoint as a close observer of modern China, I have to say that these threat and collapse theories are all illusions, far too extreme. The reality is, China’s growth rate will drop drastically and the economy will not empower itself limitlessly, nor will its GDP surpass that of the United States. In fact, China will be forced to suffer an age ... ... [Read more]

Diplomacy, No.22
Jul. 3, 2014

Promoting Japan-U.S. Cooperation by Making a Proactive Contribution to Peace — Japan’s Foreign and Security Policy after the Japan-U.S. Summit Meeting —

The most important outcome of U.S. President Barack Obama’s recent Asia tour is that the United States and Japan overcame the strains which had been noticeable between them recently, and reaffirmed that they would strengthen their alliance. Not only that, they openly endorsed this through various concrete measures and commitments. While it is true that the president showed some consideration, not wanting to damage relations with China, the United States made clear its intention to keep China’s excessive self-assertion in check, alongside Japan and other countries in the region. It represents a highly significant development. Obama declared that the Senkaku Islands are subject to Article 5 of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, and it is enormously significant that a U.S. president made a statement like this for the first time while China is repeatedly engaging in acts of provocation near the islands. Prime Minister Abe ... ... [Read more]

Diplomacy, No.22
Jul. 3, 2014

Line Between Cooperative Good Neighbor and Uncompromising Foreign Policy: China’s Diplomacy Under the Xi Jinping Administration

Inconsistencies Found in China’s Diplomacy I think people in Japan share the impression that China’s foreign policies have grown more uncompromising under the Xi Jinping administration when compared with the same policies under the Hu Jintao administration. In all likelihood, people in countries neighboring China share this impression. This situation is closely connected to the fact that China is more aggressively engaging in what it calls peripheral diplomacy. China held a roundtable discussion on peripheral diplomatic maneuvering on 24–25 October 2013, and assembled guidelines aimed at making its relations with neighboring countries, particularly economic and business ties, closer. However, as everyone knows, China simultaneously adopts the policy of making absolutely no concessions with regard to sovereignty and security. This inconsistency between the good neighbor basis and sovereignty issues is the very characteristic of China’s diplomacy that is becoming increasingly conspicuous under the Xi administration. ... ... [Read more]

Science, No.22
Jun. 28, 2014

Three Years after the Earthquake and the Nuclear AccidentWhere Energy Policies Will Go from Here — A Conversation about the Basic Energy Plan

[Introductory notes by the Editorial Department of Science Journal Kagaku] The Basic Act on Energy Policy stipulates the formulation of the Basic Energy Plan (a basic plan for energy supply and demand). In formulating the Plan, the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry is asked to listen to the opinions of the Advisory Committee for Natural Resources and Energy, an advisory council for the Agency of Natural Resources and Energy under the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. The Subcommittee on Basic Policies presented Opinions on the Basic Energy Plan (hereinafter referred to as the “Opinions”) to the Advisory Committee for Natural Resources and Energy on December 13, 2013. The secretariat for the Advisory Committee had suddenly submitted the Opinions during a Committee meeting on December 6, 2013. Even though the Opinions were still a proposal, public comments on them were sought from that ... ... [Read more]

Economy, No.22
Jun. 5, 2014

Will Exports, the Japanese Economy’s Cleanup Hitter, Recover?

Finally, the consumption tax rate has been raised. On the morning of April 1, I saw that the prices of newspapers had gone up. Fares for JR trains had been changed, and there were digits other than zero. The minimum fare for a taxi ride in Tokyo had also risen to ¥730. At a family restaurant the menu had changed completely. I ordered eggs benedict since it was unusual to find the dish in a Tokyo restaurant. But the next moment I said to myself, “Ah, this new item on the menu was only to camouflage the price hike.” Tsk, tsk. I had just spent ¥704 on breakfast. Increases in costs are everywhere. Typical for Japan, there was little confusion. So, what will the economy be like? I expect that the consumption tax hike will have adverse effects. Every time I have been asked ... ... [Read more]

Economy, No.22
Jun. 4, 2014

How to View a Trade Deficit and a Current Account Deficit ―Domestic Reforms Necessary for a Structural Change in the Balance of International Payments to Those Found in a Creditor Nation

Will Japan, which has been viewed as a country with huge surpluses, become a nation with twin deficits (budget and current account deficits)? Overseas investors have been asking this question frequently in recent years, in addition to arguments on the same point coming from Japan. Japan’s prominent external surplus received criticism and created pressure on the country to cut the surplus in the 1980s when trade and economic friction between Japan and the United States were at a peak. Measures for expanding domestic demand, which were taken to address the situation, went too far and produced a bubble economy. It is quite the problem to make a correction in the current account surplus or deficit a policy goal by attaching importance to the balance of payments only. This is undoubtedly a lesson learned from that experience. In the author’s view, it is essential for ... ... [Read more]

Diplomacy, No.22
May. 24, 2014

Toward an Asian-Pacific Community

As a recipient of The Japan Foundation Awards (2013)*, Dr. IRIYE Akira delivered a commemorative lecture at the International House of Japan in Tokyo on 28 October 2013. Dr. Iriye argued the possibilities of an Asian-Pacific Community as a body that can help to forge more intimate connections throughout the world. The possibilities of an Asia-Pacific Community Some of you in the audience may be wondering, “why an Asia-Pacific Community now?” The concept of the Asia-Pacific as a region or a community has been discussed for quite some time; “Is there anything new to be said?” you may ask. For people of my generation–I left Japan for the United States exactly 60 years ago, not long after the end of World War II–the term “Asia-Pacific” almost inevitably conjures up images of war and conflict. The tragedy of World War II was immediately followed by ... ... [Read more]

Economy, No.22
May. 18, 2014

The 21st Century Public Policy Institute Research Project Effective Measures to Halt Birthrate Decline -Responding to the declining birthrate and aging society is Japan’s mission in world history -

The future is filled with uncertainty and yet, amid this uncertainty, there is quite a high level of certainty regarding the population outlook. In this sense, the population can be said to represent a “certain future.” Any attempt to forecast the future of Japan’s society and economy through its population raises many serious issues, including “constraints on economic growth,” the “social security crisis” and “regional depopulation,” so much so that these issues can be collectively referred to as the “population crisis.” This population crisis is the “certain crisis” in the certain future. The causes of the certain crisis include the aging of the population and the decrease in the working-age population, but the real root of the problem lies in the declining birthrate. However, currently, despite government efforts to implement measure against birthrate decline, the downward trend continues unhalted. At the moment, the “persistence ... ... [Read more]