No.31 - Discuss Japan

Archives : No.31

Mar-Apr 2016

Economy, No.31  Jun. 5, 2016

Abenomics is Womenomics

“Creating a society in which all women shine” is one of the defining policies of Abenomics. Thanks to the measures introduced under the policy since the Abe administration’s establishment in December 2012, some one million women have newly entered the labor market and the number of female corporate board members has increased by approximately 30%.   Women’s social advancement is one of the most important challenges facing Japan today. Traditionally Japanese society has held the view that mothers should stay at home and take care of the family’s children rather than continue or seek employment, and even today about 60% of women quit their jobs when they get married or give birth to their first child. Women tend only to return to the labor market once their children have grown up and left home, a tendency revealed in the downward portion of the so-called ... ... [Read more]

Society, No.31
Jun. 4, 2016

Shock of a “Nation of 50 Million People”

The Rebuild Japan Initiative Foundation (RJIF) hosted a symposium in October examining the impact of a declining population on society and businesses. In 2014, the Japan Policy Council, a private think tank, published a simulation showing the disappearance of regional cities by 2040. In “Population Evaporation, a ‘Nation of 50 million People’: Shock in Japan — Special Investigation Commission on Population Issues, Research and Report,” the Rebuild Japan Initiative Foundation (RJIF) took a more in-depth look. RJIF, a private think tank, was established by former Asahi Shimbun Editor-in-Chief Funabashi Yoichi in 2011 to examine the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant from the perspective of the private sector. The report was published in June 2015. It analyzes the progress of demographics affecting the various aspects of the social structure in Japan from the viewpoints of the Tokyo Metropolitan area, lifeline infrastructure and ... ... [Read more]

Economy, No.31
Apr. 24, 2016

Makeup Brushes, Kendama, and Sakata Seed… Products Made-in-Japan and Recognized by the World— Global Hits Offer an Uncompromising Quality

There are products made in Japan that win in the field of global competition, are recognized as international brands, and are praised by consumers around the world. How are hit products from Japan created? And why are they loved by people in other countries? We have visited six companies that are constantly devoted to creating products that make the most of Japan’s good quality.   Juki Corporation is a leading manufacturer of industrial sewing machines and holds a 30% global market share. With sales offices in eighty locations around the world, it began a full-fledged overseas expansion in 1970. “High quality and after-sale services are important since industrial sewing machines are production machinery. This is a weakness of Western companies. We stock other companies’ products and also provide consulting services. If we can establish connections through replacement parts and repair, chances are they’ll buy ... ... [Read more]

Society, No.31
Apr. 19, 2016

Japan as a Society Dependent on Convenience Stores What Attracts Me to Japan’s “Konbini”

Thinking about American Culture from an Outside Perspective I am a cultural anthropologist and my research focuses on convenience stores (konbini) in Japan. When people ask me what I study and I say, “konbini,” I often get odd looks. It is not the kind of topic that people expect an anthropologist to take interest in. But konbini are an engaging place to think about Japan and the dynamics of culture. As research site, they are infinitely fascinating. I was born and raised in a small coastal community in Massachusetts. The convenience stores in my hometown are, as is common in American, really gas stations. Growing up, I wasn’t interested in these stores and they played relatively little role in my day-to-day life. In college, my major was Soviet Studies. From August 1991, I spent my junior year studying Moscow. One thing that initially struck ... ... [Read more]

Society, No.31
Apr. 7, 2016

When Idols Shone BrightlyDevelopment of Japan, the Idol Nation, and the Trajectory of Idols

In 2013, the NHK morning drama Amachan and the TBS drama Hanzawa Naoki both proved hugely popular. People said that the programs symbolized the resurgence of the television drama. The Internet was instrumental in winning both dramas a lot of fans and both stories have proved durable with spin-off programs and events still in the pipeline. Amachan is the story of three generations of girls who want to be idols. Amano Natsu was something of a local idol during the period of rapid economic growth and a fan of Hashi Yukio, one of the very early idols. Amano Haruko moved to Tokyo in the 1980s to try to make it as an idol. Amano Aki ends up in Tokyo after a strange turn of events and tries to make]]> ... [Read more]

Society, No.31
Mar. 24, 2016

New Plan for Reforming the Japanese ArchipelagoPlan for Remodeling a Shuttered Shopping Street

Shuttered shopping streets have become known as a symbol of a declining regional economy. During the period of high growth, these shopping districts were regarded as the centers of the respective cities or towns, where a plethora of lively activities took place. Now, they are seeing customer and visitor numbers gradually fall due to the trends of the times such as the opening of large-scale commercial malls, changes in lifestyles and business customs, and the aging population along with the low birthrate, as well as the burst of the bubble economy. It is not just a local phenomenon that is occurring in some shopping streets, but an ongoing issue that may result in the real decline of municipalities. According to a survey on the actual situations of shopping streets conducted nationwide by the Small and Medium Enterprise Agency in 2012, shopping districts that responded ... ... [Read more]

Society, No.31
Mar. 23, 2016

Symbolic Phenomenon of a Declining Regional Economy of JapanThe Issue of “Shuttered Shopping Streets”

The issue of “shuttered shopping streets” is a symbolic phenomenon of a declining regional economy, one of the greatest challenges for Japan, which is suffering from a shrinking population. It refers to a situation in which a shopping district that had previously been prospering changes into a depopulated area where the shutters are kept pulled down even during the daytime, as the number of closing shops increases due to customer situations or aging shop owners. These towns will become desolate if nothing is done. However, people have started to take on efforts to revitalize them in many parts of Japan. In this volume, No. 30, the significant achievements of such efforts are featured in “New Plan for Reforming the Japanese Archipelago/Plan for Remodeling a Shuttered Shopping Street” by Yamamoto Kazumune, chief producer at Yomiuri Telecasting Corporation. Translated from an original article in Japanese written ... ... [Read more]

Discussions, Society, No.31
Mar. 22, 2016

Is Relocation to Regional Cities the Equivalent of Abandoning Old People in the Mountains to Die?Governor Masuzoe, is it possible to come to grips with the increase in the elderly population?

Masuda: In June, the Japan Policy Council published a strategy for avoiding a crisis in the elderly population in the Tokyo area. In the future, the elderly population in the Tokyo metropolitan area (Tokyo, and Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa Prefectures) is expected to increase rapidly. I must apologize for repeating things that the governor is already well aware of, but the population aged 75 and older is expected to increase by 1.75 million in the next ten years up to 2025. This would hammer the medical and nursing care field. The shortage of facilities for medical and nursing care would assume more serious proportions, but this problem is actually not limited to the Tokyo metropolitan area because any strengthening of the medical ]]> ... [Read more]