No.24 - Discuss Japan

Archives : No.24

Jan-May 2015

Politics, No.24  May. 7, 2015

A Diet Dissolution Solely for Survival Is the Root of All Evil for Japanese Politics Refrain from arrogance, Mr. Abe

Steer policies by looking ten years ahead: I cannot help but regret that such opportune timing was abandoned.   Prime Minister Abe Shinzo held a press conference on the evening of November 18 (2014) and postponed a hike in the consumption tax to 10% by a year and a half, along with asking for a decision by the people and calling for a dissolution of the lower house of parliament.  I was frankly disappointed when I watched this press conference live on television. Although rumors of a dissolution had been circulating since around the end of October, I thought, “there is no way.” I was disappointed because Abe decided to choose a course that I had thought “should in no way happen.”  I had various views about the Abe administration’s individual policies, but also had great expectations for them. This was because his administration ... ... [Read more]

Politics, No.24
May. 7, 2015

Political Scientist Sasaki Takeshi’s Analytical Paper Entitled “Refrain from Arrogance, Mr. Abe: A “Clinical Diagnosis” of the Abenomics Diet Dissolution

Unexpectedly, there have been fewer commentaries on the results of the 47th House of Representatives Election held on 14 December 2014 than on the size of the impact of the Diet dissolution. The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) won 291 seats, including additional endorsements, resulting in losing four seats compared to before the official election announcement. However, Komeito won 35 seats with 4 more seats compared to before the official election announcement. These results show that the ruling coalition government has maintained its seats. The number goes far beyond the absolute stable majority (266 seats) in the House of Representatives and makes up more than two-thirds of all seats. The Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) gained 73 seats and increased its seats from the last drubbing in 2012 (57 seats), but gave the impression that the party was far from being able to come back ... ... [Read more]

Culture, No.24
Apr. 20, 2015

Special Feature: Shared Japanese CultureManga Will Surpass Korin

Recently, I have started reading various books and research papers — whatever I can lay my hands on — relating to the French Revolution. Having said that, it isn’t that I’m actually trying to research the history of the Revolution itself. The thing that I’m interested in is the fact that the manner in which the Revolution is discussed changes with the times. Indeed, the way that the Revolution was talked about during the mid twentieth-century, and the way it has been discussed since the end of the twentieth-century ]]> ... [Read more]

Discussions, Diplomacy, No.24
Mar. 16, 2015

Predictions for 2015 Can the Nation (N) Fill the Gap between Global (G) and Local (L)?

Yoshizaki: It is my impression that 2014 was a dull year without any kind of theme. Even though it was an Olympic year and a World Cup year, there were no cool buzzwords. Compared to 2013 when we had a lot of snappy phrases like “je-je-je” (an expression of excitement) or “baigaeshi” (double revenge), 2014 was a lean year when it seemed that the only words on everyone’s lips were “Dame yo, dame dame” (No, you mustn’t, no, no). I wonder what 2015 will be like. Sakura: My impressions are similar. It was a year when the future seemed uncertain. So far, we have more or less had some idea of what will happen next, ]]> ... [Read more]

Culture, No.24
Feb. 25, 2015

Studio Ghibli on a New Journey After Departure of a Giant — Interview with Yonebayashi Hiromasa (Director, Screenwriter)

Four years from the release Arrietty, Yonebayashi Hiromasa completed his second directorial work, When Marnie Was There. This work comes from a piece of British children’s literature and is a fantasy story of two girls meeting from a twist of fate. The production of the movie had its genesis when Yonebayashi told producer Suzuki Toshio that he wanted to direct a film. “After finishing Arrietty, I reflected back on what I had done. The work on Arrietty had started with Miyazaki Hayao already providing a script and several concept arts. I felt that I really wanted to be involved in writing the script from scratch. There was another thing though: Arrietty is a story ]]> ... [Read more]

Economy, No.24
Feb. 24, 2015

It is not time for local governments to compete with each other. Intensive investment in key base cities nationwide is urgently needed.

In postwar Japan, the spread and expansion of urban areas accelerated due to an explosive population increase. We saw occasional disorderly land development and residential areas grew endlessly. The central and local governments cooperated to develop infrastructure in every corner of the country and to facilitate an equalized distribution of educational, fire-fighting, medical and welfare services across the country. However, we see many vacant houses and spaces everywhere nation-wide today. The deterioration and disuse of water supply pipes, sewage systems, roads and school facilities are on-going. In the future situation in which Japanese society will face financial stringency due to the acceleration of depopulation and population aging, it will be impossible for all local municipal governments across the nation]]> ... [Read more]

Economy, No.24
Jan. 16, 2015

Japan’s Economy after Exit from Deflation* Potential growth rate has fallen close to zero percent due to decline in productivity ― Need for declaration of exit from deflation and strengthening of supply capacity

The CPI is steadily rising as a result of the BOJ’s new phase of monetary easing. Meanwhile, the unexpectedly low GDP growth rate indicates the low level of the potential growth rate of the Japanese economy. The potential growth rate is probably currently close to zero percent. In order to raise this, productivity needs to be increased. Given that the economy has exited deflation and has attained almost full employment, there is no need for additional demand creation. What needs to be done is to strengthen supply capacity and restore fiscal health, and to set a clear guideline that this needs doing before the CPI reaches 2%. End of deflation The “greatest achievement” of the BOJ’s new phase of monetary easing (quantitative and qualitative easing; QQE) in terms of its effect on the Japanese economy is, undoubtedly, that it pushed up prices. The core ... ... [Read more]

Politics, No.24
Jan. 14, 2015

A former admiral who struggled in logistics support in the Afghan Wars speaks out. Right of Collective Self-defense — Politicians don’t understand the real war.

The issue of the right of collective self-defense is complex, however, and the media coverage of the matter is often unrealistic due to an overemphasis on its legal aspects. I assume that this makes it difficult for the general public to understand the pros and cons of exercising this right.The Cabinet of the Japanese government is expected to resolve changes to the nation’s constitutional interpretation in order to permit the exercise of the right of collective self-defense. Until I retired from the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) in 2008 as a commander of a Self-Defense Force fleet, I spent many years carrying ]]> ... [Read more]

Politics, No.24
Jan. 13, 2015

The Expansionism of China and Russia: The Second Coming of Imperialism? The Legitimacy of an International Order is Put to the Test Illusion of imperialism: Some countries chase it, while others fear it

President Vladimir Putin of Russia visited Shanghai on May 20 and 21, 2014. During his visit, Putin had a summit meeting with President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China. The news media distributed photographs of the two leaders firmly shaking hands all around the world. At the summit, the two heads of state declared a full-scale partnership and new-level strategic cooperative ties between Russia and China. After their talk, Putin and Xi issued a joint statement covering points such as their united opposition to attempts to falsify history and disturb the postwar world order, and the Russo-Chinese co-sponsorship of an event in 2015 to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the victory over German]]> ... [Read more]

Discussions, Science, No.24
Jan. 8, 2015

The Truth behind the STAP Cell Case Reality of research institutions, international competition, morality of researchers — Why wasn’t the fraud avoidable?

SAKURA Osamu KATASE Kumiko YASHIRO Yoshimi What Happened, and What Came to Light Sakura Osamu: Obokata Haruko, Unit Leader at RIKEN, announced in late January this year (2014) that she had established a method of producing STAP cells (acronym for Stimulus-Triggered Acquisition of Pluripotency; cells that have the capacity to become any type of cell that forms the body when stimulated), and the media reported it as “the discovery of the century.” But circumstances have changed significantly in a mere two months, and STAP cells are now the subject of numerous doubts. I would first like to ask the two of you about your basic understanding of this case. First, do you think that two Nature papers, principally authored by Obokata, were falsified in a critical manner? And second, should we consider that STAP cells are not yet verified, or are they? Professor Yashiro, ... ... [Read more]

Science, No.24
Jan. 8, 2015

Discussion of the Governance Problems Surrounding STAP Cell Research Papers

In January 2014, a research team led by Obokata Haruko, a research unit leader of the Laboratory for Cellular Reprogramming at RIKEN Center for Development Biology (or CDB) in Kobe, Japan, published two research papers in Nature to the effect that a new technique had been discovered to produce pluriopotent cells by applying an external stress such as immersing the somatic cells of mice in a mild acidic solution. The newly discovered cells are referred to as Stimulus-Triggered Acquisition of Pluripotency (STAP) cells. This groundbreaking technique captured a lot of attention in both the media and the public at large as well as in academic circles because it allows cellular reprogramming only by using an external stressor without introducing external genetic material. In Japan’s scientific community the ratio of women to men is low, and against this backdrop the government and academia have been ... ... [Read more]

Politics, No.24
Jan. 8, 2015

Electorate Plumps for “Curry Rice”

Professor Kamiya Matake analyzes the results of December’s General Election.   The House of Representatives Elections (General Elections) held on December 14 resulted in a landslide victory for the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) led by Prime Minister Abe Shinzo. Since 1996, the House of Representatives in Japan has comprised the combined total of members elected by proportional representation and single member constituencies. In the latest election, the LDP won in 223 of 295 small electoral districts, while obtaining 68 of the 180 seats in proportional representation, which divides the nation into eleven blocks. The LDP acquired 61.26% of all seats, its second highest figure in all seventeen elections held in the past fifty years. Komeito, the LDP’s coalition partner in the Abe Administration, won 35 seats — four more than its pre-election figure of 31. The opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) won 73 ... ... [Read more]

Diplomacy, No.24
Jan. 6, 2015

Abe No Historical Revisionist

Just as I was about to start writing this article, Prime Minister Abe Shinzo dissolved the House of Representatives. The Japanese diet is a bicameral legislature comprising the House of Representatives (Lower House) and House of Councilors (Upper House). While in principal both houses have equal power, greater actual political power rests with the Lower House. This is because the Lower House is granted an advantage over the Upper House in several ways. While the Constitution of Japan (enacted 1947) prescribes that “the prime minister shall be designated from among the members of the diet by a resolution of the diet,” all prime ministers under the Constitution have been chosen from among members of the Lower House. It is also accepted practice for most cabinet members to be appointed from among members of the Lower House. Therefore, an election of the members of the ... ... [Read more]

Politics, No.24
Jan. 6, 2015

Between Tokyo’s 2020 Olympics and 1964 Olympics: Moving Beyond Countercyclical Measures to Create a Sustainable Model

In Japan’s 2014 snap election, seen as a vote of confidence in Abenomics and the Abe Shinzo Administration, the LDP scored a landslide victory, singlehandedly winning a comfortable majority. There are, however, three causes for concern. The first is that Abenomics, said to be “the only way” to fix the economy, and the economic policy debate surrounding it has, somewhere along the line, turned into a “countercyclical policy” debate, and the viewpoint of raising the trend growth rate and potential growth rate and establishing a sustainable model for the new-born Japan has weakened. The second cause for concern is that, while the pessimism of the first term has definitely weakened and optimism about the future is also growing, the viewpoint tends to be too short, going as far as the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. The third worry is that, while the governance problems of ... ... [Read more]