No.23 - Discuss Japan

Archives : No.23

Aug-Dec 2014

Science, No.23  Dec. 18, 2014

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]

Science, No.23
Dec. 18, 2014

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]

Politics, No.23
Dec. 18, 2014

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]

Politics, No.23
Nov. 19, 2014

Do Not Forget About National Security by Clinging to the Constitution — Significance of a report submitted by the Advisory Panel on Reconstruction of the legal basis for security

Introduction The first cabinet headed by Prime Minister Abe Shinzo set up the Advisory Panel on Reconstruction of the Legal Basis for Security (hereinafter the “Advisory Panel”) in 2007 with Yanai Shunji, former administrative vice foreign minister and former ambassador to the United States, as its chairman. The Advisory Panel submitted a report to then Prime Minister Fukuda Yasuo in 2008 because his predecessor, Abe, had stepped down from the post during his term of office. Fukuda did not give consideration to the report and chose to shelve it. Returning to administrative power in December 2012, Abe set up the Advisory Panel again in February 2013. The reestablished panel consisted of its original members.[i] I have advanced discussions by the panel as its acting chairman because Chairman Yanai was abroad due to his position as president of the International Tribunal for the Law of ... ... [Read more]

Discussions, Economy, No.23
Oct. 30, 2014

No Need to Fear a Fall in Population

HATTA Tatsuo – President, Asian Growth Research Institute SAITO Shiro – Executive Research Director at the Japan Center for Economic Research Population decline is beginning to cast a dark shadow across Japanese economy. It is considered to reduce the growth rate threatening the sustainability our social security system. But Hatta Tatsuo, President of the Asian Growth Research Institute, who is also chairman of the Government Working Group to Design National Strategic Economic Zones, has a different view. He says there is no need to fear a fall in population. So what is the basis for that? Saito Shiro, executive research director at the Japan Center for Economic Research, asked him. Population growth and development unrelated Saito: We hear it said a lot that one of the greatest problems facing the Japanese economy is the decreasing birthrate and aging population, and population decline. I also ... ... [Read more]

Economy, No.23
Oct. 29, 2014

Foreign Investors Who Became the Largest Stockholders, and Corporate Governance Reform in Japan

The stockholding of Japanese listed companies by foreign investors reached 30.8% at the end of 2014. This figure surpassed the holding ratio of 26.7% by domestic financial institutions, which used to be at the top in terms of holding ratios. Foreign investors became the largest stockholders in the Japan Corporation for the first time in history, replacing Japanese financial institutions that had had an overwhelming influence on corporate management through lending and stockholding under the main bank system. The governance reform of Japanese companies, long discussed, is entering a new phase along with the growing trend of foreign investors, many of whom are “self-assertive stockholders.” Enhancement of Corporate Governance Emphasized in Japan Revitalization Strategy The Abe administration approved the Japan Revitalization Strategy 2014 at a Cabinet meeting in June 2014. This strategy stresses that “it is essential for global corporations in particular to strengthen ... ... [Read more]

Diplomacy, No.23
Sept. 25, 2014

Abe’s Diplomacy Is Bearing Fruit

Prime Minister Abe Shinzo’s high powered visits to forty-seven countries  Prime Minister Abe Shinzo is reported to have visited forty-seven countries as leader of the government over nineteen months. These were multifaceted, strategically important visits. Abe explained Japan’s expanding role in security and promoted Japan’s leading sales products such as nuclear power, high speed trains, and Japanese cuisine. He carried out diplomacy with a global perspective. The world’s way of looking at Japan is now changing.  Two months after the prime minister set out with his present cabinet he started with a visit to Washington. He made a strong presentation of Japan announcing that “Japan Is Back” (the title of his Washington speech). Following this he attended and made speeches at the Davos World Economic Forum, the NATO North Atlantic Council, and the Shangri-La Conference in Singapore. He also attended the opening of the ... ... [Read more]

Diplomacy, No.23
Sept. 25, 2014

A Non-Polarizing World – Continuous Battle with Dialogue and Deterrence

Putin’s Darkest Impulses A “counterattack of geopolitics” is taking place due to Russia’s invasion of Crimea. In November 2013, Viktor Yanukovych, then president of Ukraine, postponed accession to the European Union. Pro-EU citizens who rebelled against the decision rose up and staged armed demonstrations. Unable to control the uprisings, Yanukovych, whose Kiev palace had been occupied by pro-EU demonstrators, fled the capital of Ukraine across the border. The insurgence by pro-EU citizens succeeded, and Yanukovych was immediately dismissed as president.  On March 1, 2014, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an invasion of the Crimean Peninsula in Southern Ukraine in the name of protecting citizens of Russian descent there. Then on March 18, he declared the annexation of Crimea into Russia. U.S. President Barack Obama lashed out at this, saying, “man’s darkest impulses” had not vanished in Europe (speech on March 26).  As long as ... ... [Read more]

Politics, No.23
Sept. 25, 2014

Japanese Public Opinions about the Exercise of the Right of Collective Self-Defense

For many years, the Japanese government has taken the position that as a sovereign state Japan naturally has the right of collective self-defense under international law, but that the Constitution of Japan prohibits the exercise of that right. On July 1, however, Abe Shinzo’s cabinet made the important decision to change this constitutional interpretation. The cabinet decision says that if an armed attack against a foreign country that is in a close relationship with Japan threatens Japan’s security, Japan’s limited exercise of the right of collective self-defense will not violate Article 9 of the Constitution of Japan. A document titled “Cabinet Decision on Development of Seamless Security Legislation to Ensure Japan’s Survival and Protect its People” [] describes the condition for Japan’s exercise of the right of collective self-defense as follows:   . . . not only when an armed attack against Japan occurs ... ... [Read more]

Society, No.23
Sept. 17, 2014

Former Self-Defense Forces Members Volunteering in Mine Clearance Overseas: They see it as, “Work only we can do.” — An international contribution using a developed skill

In May 2002, retired UXO (Unexploded Ordnance) disposal experts from the Ground Self-Defense Force, established a new organization, the Japan Mine Action Service (JMAS). An estimated 100 million mines and UXO are left untreated around the world. JMAS is an NPO formed to dispose of these by giving local specialists skills and information, working alongside them. Why would people who might have been leading a comfortable retirement life with their grandchildren set out for mine areas? What are their real activities? What are they thinking of? Natsume Yukiaki listened to their frank words.     Arakawa Ryuichiro Natsume Yukiaki Not About Risking Your Life Natsume Yukiaki: Specifically, how do you go about removing mines and unexploded bombs? Arakawa Ryuichiro: In Cambodia, we meet up with former soldiers from the time of the old Pol Pot  group, or the Samrin regime. We start off by ... ... [Read more]

Economy, No.23
Aug. 27, 2014

Japan and China: Cold Political Relations, Cooling Economic Ties?

The Japan-China relationship is at its worst ever.” “Bilateral economic ties are no longer warm amid cold political relations.” Expressions like these have characterized Japan-China relations for quite some time now. Against this background, I recently visited China to participate in the Japan-China Think Tank Forum hosted by the Shanghai Institute for International Studies on the topic of “How can we implement a breakthrough to resolve the strained bilateral relations?” Holding a track II meeting like this could be interpreted as an indication that the Chinese government is determined to move the strained bilateral relations forward. The conference was held on May 10th, directly after a series of visits to China paid for by delegations consisting of senior lawmakers of Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). At the same time, Prime Minister Abe Shinzo was visiting Europe, and he directly criticized China’s military expansion at ... ... [Read more]

Economy, No.23
Aug. 26, 2014

The Abenomics Growth Strategy Enters the Implementation Stage

On June 24, 2014, the administration of Abe Shinzo endorsed the “third arrow” growth strategy for Abenomics (the economic policy of the Abe administration) by Cabinet decision. This is a revised version of the growth strategy of one year ago. In addition to incorporating the previously postponed reduction in corporate tax rates, it also gets to grips with regulatory reforms in the so-called “regulatory bedrock” of the agricultural, health and medical fields, which had been thought difficult due to strong resistance by existing groups with vested interests. Markets have reacted favorably, unlike last year when the growth strategy was met with disappointment by investors worldwide and led to a sharp drop in share prices that coincided with the announcement. Immediately after the announcement of the second part of the current growth strategy, even the British magazine The Economist, known for being outspokenly critical, commented ... ... [Read more]