No.30 - Discuss Japan

Archives : No.30

Feb-Mar 2016

Society, No.30  Mar. 31, 2016

Internationalization at Universities – True or FalseThe Emptiness of “Global HR Development”

YOSHIDA Aya, Professor at the Faculty of Education and Integrated Arts and Sciences, Waseda University

The Advancing “All Japan” Initiative “Global human resources”—It’s now become a household phrase, but it wasn’t until the latter half of the 2000s that this term started to circulate frequently in society. Amidst the advancing flow of Japanese companies relocating their operations abroad, it was originally a phrase that pointed to employees who could work in locations overseas. But gradually, the “development” of these human resources came to be an issue, and attention focused on the “universities” as the place for that to happen. Then, in the blink of an eye, many Japanese universities started to raise the development of these global human resources as their mission. The role played by the Japanese government in this process cannot be overlooked. What started it all off was the Industry-Academia Partnership for Human Resource Development, initiated by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) in ... ... [Read more]

Culture, No.30
Mar. 25, 2016

Delicious DrinksThe Mellow World of Japanese Whisky

TSUCHIYA Mamoru, Whisky writer, representative of the Japan Whisky Research Centre

When did the Japanese relationship with whisky begin? Who was the first Japanese to drink whisky? At one time the theory was that William Adams presented Tokugawa Ieyasu with whisky. Adams was granted permission to stay in Japan by Ieyasu and changed his name to Miura Anjin, but whisky was not known in the early seventeenth century and Adams was English, not Scottish. (Whisky is a distilled drink that originated in Scotland. At the time, England and Scotland were separate countries.) In addition, the term whisky did not appear in the English language until the middle of the eighteenth century, and the English only came to know whisky in the latter half of the nineteenth century during the reign of Queen Victoria. ]]> ... [Read more]

Economy, No.30
Mar. 23, 2016

Is Relocation to Regional Cities the Equivalent of Abandoning Old people in the Mountains to Die?Is the Long-Term Care Insurance System Sustainable? ―There are two issues to solve.

Kato Hisakazu, Professor, School of Political Science and Economics, Meiji University

Launched in April 2000, the Long-Term Care Insurance System is the newest social insurance system in Japan. The hardship faced by people giving family care began to be known widely to the public due to an older, full-length novel by Ariyoshi Sawako, which is titled Koukotsu no Hito (The Twilight Years). Since the late 1980s, the government has been addressing this issue by taking various measures, such as formulating the Gold Plan and the New Gold Plan to promote the establishment of facilities, the provision of welfare services at home, among other measures. However, it was difficult to address the issue fully with the welfare for the aged that was associated with the welfare placement system, or with the medical ]]> ... [Read more]

Society, No.30
Mar. 18, 2016

Japan as a Society Dependent on Convenience StoresIs Survival without Convenience Stores Impossible in the Era of Super-Aging?

Buying goods from foodstuffs to daily necessities at a convenience store close to our home seems a matter of course when we get used to living in an urban area. In reality, however, “people with a shopping handicap” who experience inconveniences in day-to-day shopping are growing in population segments centered on elderly persons. According to the Report by the Study Group on the Role of Distribution Systems in Community Infrastructure put together in 2010 by a research team at the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry, there were about 6 million people with a shopping handicap aged 60 or older across Japan. These persons lived primarily in two areas – rural districts where depopulation has advanced and the outskirts of urban communities where former “new towns” and the like are located. According to Chokorei shakai-niokeru shokuryohin akusesu mondai (The Access Problem in the Super-Aging ... ... [Read more]

Society, No.30
Mar. 17, 2016

Internationalization at Universities – True or FalseIf All Lessons at Japanese Universities Were Conducted in English…– Globalization Viewed Skeptically

The Illusion of Global Human Resources There is currently an atmosphere in and around Japanese universities of innocently agreeing to what is termed the “globalization” of universities. Since even someone as obtuse as myself can manage to sense it, I think that this atmosphere must be totally pervasive. Certainly, if you pay a little attention and take a look around you can see that, in the spaces where discourse on the role of universities takes place, the problem of globalization is being raised repeatedly. Unfortunately, however, you rarely come across an opinion that’s worth listening to. On one hand, when views on globalization are communicated from within a university, in most cases it is either by the people that represent that university, or by those responsible for its globalization. Naturally, there is no way that messages issued by people in these kinds of positions ... ... [Read more]

Diplomacy, No.30
Feb. 15, 2016

Interview:Sowing the Seeds for Making the World Nuclear-FreeFor Passing on and Sharing the Memories of the Atomic Bombing Seventy Years Ago

Kumagai Shinichiro: The coming summer will be the seventieth since the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) held the latest Review Conference from April to May this year according to its interval of five years, but it produced no agreement on the final document. First of all, please tell us about your impression of the Review Conference.
TAUE Tomihisa: The fact that the Review Conference produced no agreement on the final document disappointed me deeply. About 100 citizens from Nagasaki took part in the conference ]]> ... [Read more]

Economy, No.30
Feb. 15, 2016

Google vs. Local Competitors in Japan Any chance for the local competitors to win the AI market?

According to Sano Kyuuichirou, Director, Information Economy Division, Commerce and Information Policy Bureau, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), “We share a critical feeling that Japan will lose its competitive advantage in every industry if no action is taken immediately to address the country’s status of falling behind its foreign counterparts in the field of artificial intelligence.” METI announced an interim report entitled “Changes in the response to the arrival of a data-driven society using CPS” on May 21, 2015. (Please refer to the Figure 2.) CPS stands for Cyber Physical System, meaning a system that analyzes data related to real-world problems with artificial intelligence (AI) technology and sends the analytical results back to the real world. In the field characterized by the theme of a data-driven society using CPS, Google is on its way to becoming a market leader. In this ... ... [Read more]

Economy, No.30
Feb. 15, 2016

Yahoo’s Strategy to Compete with Google in JapanWorld-class competition, A battle that cannot be lost

As the search engine giant, Google has a dominant market presence in Internet advertising by a significant margin. But Google doesn’t have a monopoly in every market. In Asia, in particular, local competitors have a great deal of importance within their own markets: Baidu in China; Naver in South Korea; and Yahoo with a stronghold over Japan. Please take a look at the figure on the lower right, which shows the search engine usage statistics for Japan. According to the statistical survey, Yahoo Japan (in red) has opened up a slight lead over Google (in blue) in terms of market share in Japan. It is true that Yahoo played a significant role in the early days of Internet services when they were first introduced to Japan in around 2000, and the company still maintains a strong brand image among search engine users in the ... ... [Read more]

Science, No.30
Feb. 11, 2016

From the Subaru Telescope to TMT

It has been fifteen years since the Subaru Telescope began operation. It stands as a symbol of the technology on which Japan prides itself. The telescope has been used to observe a wide range of astronomical objets throughout the universe, from the solar system to distant galaxies more than 10 billion light years away, and has produced a multitude of achievements. The Subaru Telescope has made a number of findings about the universe, and at the same time has presented us with many new questions. We have a boundless curiosity to peer into the unknown, and this pure desire to know more has driven us to reach even higher and build a new larger telescope. In this article, we introduce the TMT (Thirty Meter Telescope) that is currently being constructed and some of the new doors to the universe that it will open. TMT ... ... [Read more]