No.34 | Discuss Japan-Japan Foreign Policy Forum

Archives : No.34

Sep-Oct 2016

No.34 ,Politics  Oct 25, 2016

Interpreting the Upper House Elections: Two concerns about maintaining the status quo
― Sustaining social security and Japan’s policy towards China

Tanaka Naoki, President, Center for International Public Policy Studies

The Upper House elections saw a fourth consecutive national election victory for Prime Minister Abe Shinzo. On the domestic front, one of the reasons behind voters’ decision was down to expectations of the Japanese market broadening its horizons, as a result of current economic policy and progress with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement. In particular, domestic restrictions standing in the way of the TPP would have remained unresolved under any administration other than Abe. Another reason why voters chose to retain the current administration was down to fundamental concerns regarding Japan’s involvement in the international community. Amidst growing friction with the likes of China and South Korea, there has inevitably been a degree of reluctance to criticize the government at home. ... [Read more]

No.34 ,Culture
Oct 17, 2016

The Master of Special Effects – The Legacy of Tsuburaya Eiji
― In conversation with Ooka Shinichi, President of Tsuburaya Productions

Explosions crash and bang as Godzilla or another monster destroys the city… Ultraman shoots Spacium Rays to take down another monster… The best thing about watching special effects movies is that they always shock and surprise you. Tsuburaya Eiji was known as the master of special effects, but in what ways is his DNA being kept alive today? We take a look back and share in the recollections of Ooka Shinichi, former cameraman and current President of Tsuburaya Productions.... [Read more]

No.34 ,Politics
Oct 16, 2016

Interpreting the Upper House Elections: Please don’t squander your political capital, Prime Minister!
―Putting growth strategies and fiscal health ahead of constitutional reform

Both the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and Komeito emerged victorious from the Upper House elections. In addition to the decision to delay an increase in consumption tax, voters sided with the Abe administration’s diplomatic and security policies, including related legislation, as well as the government’s economic and social policies. In this article, I would like to take a look at future political issues from the point of view of domestic affairs. By way of a conclusion, I would like to see Prime Minister Abe Shinzo prioritize growth strategies, including deregulation, and fiscal health ahead of constitutional reform. The LDP has restored a single-party majority in both houses for the first time in twenty-seven years. Prime Minister Abe has now won four national elections in succession, thereby establishing an even stronger power base for his administration. Komeito appears to have lost some of its say within the administration. Nonetheless, the LDP... [Read more]

No.34 ,Economy
Oct 15, 2016

Perspective on the Problems of Foreign Labor: Enacting Employment Policies That Encourage Long-Term Residence
― Improvements in Ability Development and Handling are Essential

Key Points : 1. 80% of foreign workers enter the country with different qualifications than a job title. 2. Due to the economic growth of developing countries, the appeal of working in Japan is on the decline. 3. l An employment policy that requires foreign workers to return to their home countries without exception is not necessarily in Japan’s best interest. There have been frequent discussions regarding the acceptance of foreign workers both in governmental offices and among the Diet members. The “Choose the Future” Committee, organized by the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy, has taken a leading role. In the minutes from the first meeting, although utilization of immigrants has become an issue for consideration in light of the declining birthrates in Japan, once discussion turns to acceptance of immigrants, the tone of the discussion declines, and the topic changes to “utilization of the skills of foreign workers” and “accepting foreign labor.”... [Read more]

No.34 ,Society
Oct 07, 2016

Information Triage: Prioritization of The Social Media Society Following Major Disasters
—Three months after the Kumamoto Earthquake

Social media, which has drawn attention as an important information infrastructure at the time of natural disasters, may stop functioning properly. In the Great East Japan Earthquake, the information vacuum created problems, while in the Kumamoto Earthquake, an information explosion occurred, hindering the needed rescue and support work. Information from disaster areas was amplified by users in the Tokyo metropolitan area due to their concerns or goodwill, causing logistical problems and an embarrassing situation with celebrities who provided support. Let us consider the role of disaster reports in the age of an information explosion.... [Read more]

No.34 ,Diplomacy
Oct 07, 2016

Has the Cultural Revolution Become “History” in China?
— Underlying political climate over decades in China

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Cultural Revolution, which began in China in 1966. The Communist Party of China adopted the “Resolution on certain questions in the history of our party since the founding of the People’s Republic of China” at its Sixth Plenary Session of the Eleventh Central Committee in 1981, reviewing the results of the Cultural Revolution as a whole. It may well be said, however, that the evaluation made in the resolution was used by the Chinese leadership as a tool to justify their attempt of putting an end to any further debate regarding the Cultural Revolution. Will the tragedy of the Cultural Revolution repeat itself? In search of answers to this question, in the following article I will discuss the history of the Chinese revolutionary struggle in terms of the country’s underlying political climate.... [Read more]

No.34 ,Diplomacy
Oct 07, 2016

The G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting that led to President Obama visiting Hiroshima
— Increased focus on “looking to the future” from all concerned

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Peace Memorial Park while in Japan for the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Hiroshima. Following a concerted effort from the Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Kishida Fumio, atomic bomb survivors and various other parties, this ultimately led to a visit by President Obama. We take a look at what actually happened.... [Read more]

No.34 ,Culture ,Discussions
Sep 30, 2016

No future for places that fail to attract talent

Cutting a Topknot That Had Been Tied for Twenty-four Years. Meij: You have just had your retirement ceremony and had your topknot cut. Have you gotten used to your new hair style? Nishiiwa: Not yet, because I had a topknot for twenty-four years (laughs). Meij: I’ve read your autobiography (Tatakiage). True to the title, you really are a self-made man. What surprised me most is that you had surgery an astonishing nine times. I don’t know anyone else who’s had so many operations. Nishiiwa: Me neither, other than me. Meij: You won nineteen consecutive tournaments at the three highest ranks below yokozuna. That is amazing. Unlike ozeki, there is no kadoban for these three ranks. So, you will be demoted if you lose many more than you win, or even stay away from the ring for a tournament.... [Read more]

No.34 ,Diplomacy
Sep 29, 2016

Abe’s Tour of Europe Sets the Stage

In an article written before the G7 summit in May and the referendum on membership of the EU in the United Kingdom in June, Professor Endo Ken considers the immediate and potential impact of Prime Minister Abe’s recent meetings with foreign leaders in Europe. Prime Minister Abe Shinzo made a round of calls on European leaders from May 1 to 7 this year. A longer agenda for the visit had been planned, but it had to be shortened due to the earthquakes in Kumamoto from April 14 on. Regardless of the disaster contingency planning and the tight schedule, the Prime Minister had two major reasons for insisting on the round of calls. Firstly, to lay the groundwork for the Ise-Shima Summit (the G7 meeting) slated for May 26 to 27. Phrased like this, it sounds like a routine call, but the actual situation is far... [Read more]

No.34 ,Diplomacy
Sep 29, 2016

Competition and Collaboration with China

The rapid increase in China’s national strength is giving rise to a massive change in the balance of power throughout the Western rim of the Pacific, and these changes are now having a very large impact on regional order. As countries situated in this region and having the world’s second and third largest economies, China and Japan are expected by the international community to bear grave responsibilities with respect to the peace and prosperity of the regional and global order. In recent years, however, China and Japan have been unsuccessful in building the kind of relationship that the international community expects of them. Dialogue between the political leaders of the two countries has been lacking, and the law enforcement agencies of both have been confronting each other in the East China Sea. A Maritime and Aerial Communication Mechanism between China and Japan is desperately needed so that any confrontation... [Read more]

No.34 ,Diplomacy
Sep 29, 2016

Reef Reclamation by China and the Security of Japan and the Asian Region

The current conditions in the South China Sea, an area that has been attracting global attention since last year, can be called a product of China’s underhanded strategies for turning the concentrated international interest in antagonism between Japan and China over the Senkaku Islands to its own advantage. China, which had had no effective military foothold in the southern part of the South China Sea, has attempted to build man-made islands and military bases on the Spratly Islands (hereinafter referred to as the “man-made island preparation”) by reclaiming reefs there, using the situation in the East China Sea as cover. The United States, which must have known about the man-made island preparation, refrained from demanding that China exercise self-control until the beginning of last year. Interpreting this stance as tacit approval by the United States, China accelerated the man-made island preparation, ignoring the opposition... [Read more]

No.34 ,Diplomacy
Sep 29, 2016

Philippines v. China
— Implications of the Arbitral Award

On 12 July 2016, the Arbitral Tribuna l rendered an Arbitral Award in the Philippines v. China case. The Philippines instituted the arbitral proceedings in accordance with Section 2 of Part XV of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in 2013. Despite China’s rejection of the arbitral proceedings, the Arbitral Tribunal, in its Award of 29 October 2015, found that it had jurisdiction over seven of the Philippines’ fifteen submissions, reserving consideration of its jurisdiction over seven others to the merits phase and requesting the Philippines to clarify the last. In its Award of 12 July 2016, the Tribunal found that China’s claim to the South China Sea on the basis of the “nine-dash line” was incompatible with the UNCLOS and that there was no evidence supporting the “historic rights” of China. In accordance with the relevant provisions of the UNCLOS, it decided the status of the maritime features concerned on the basis... [Read more]

No.34 ,Diplomacy
Sep 27, 2016

China’s Next Legal Battle at Sea
China has sent warships into Japanese territorial seas. There is no room for complacency, even after an award on the South China Sea.

Despite being a member of the permanent member of the United Nations (UN) Security Council, China is making no attempt to abide by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. China’s one-sided claims are similarly based on flimsy grounds. If it wants to become a great sea power however, China cannot afford to make enemies. Japan meanwhile needs to focus its full attention on this increasingly fierce legal battle.... [Read more]

No.34 ,Economy
Sep 26, 2016

Where have integrity and modesty gone in the policy decision-making process?
Residual Problems in Japan’s Democratic Government Stemming from The Second Postponement of The Consumption Tax Hike

The grounds for the first postponement of the consumption tax hike in November 2014 and the latest postponement are complete, and each will have an entirely different impact in the future. Nobody welcomes the raising of consumption taxes. While it is true that postponing the hike ensures victory in elections, the loss caused by this action is far too great.... [Read more]

No.34 ,Culture
Sep 26, 2016

Inhabitants of Darkness, Born Out of Human Anxiety
From Edo-Tokyo Museum’s Grand Yōkai Exhibition “From Eery to Endearing: Yōkai in the Arts of Japan”

In Japanese folklore, yokai are specters, ghosts, monsters or apparitions that take on bizarre forms and startle people in their daily lives. The number of pictures and paintings depicting those forms increased dramatically during the Edo period (1603–1867), and yokai became a familiar theme. But paintings depicting the monsters that inhabit the spirit world have been produced since ancient times, and have continued to stimulate people’s imaginations for centuries.   “The Ruined Palace at Sōma,” oban nishiki-e sanmai tsuzuki (large-size multi-colored woodblock print, three prints forming a single composition), Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1844–48), now in a private collection. Exhibition period: 5 July – 28 August 2016 at the Edo-Tokyo Museum (Tokyo) and 10 September – 6 November 2016 at Abeno Harukas Art Museum (Osaka) Yokai can be regarded as manifestations of human fear and anxiety in day-to-day life. Their depictions in Japanese painting began to ... ... [Read more]

No.34 ,Diplomacy
Sep 25, 2016

A Record of Struggle with Modern China

Mikan no Chugoku: Kadai to Shite no Minshuka (Author: Kagami Mitsuyuki; Iwanami Shoten, 2016) is a collection of selected writings published by the author, analyzing decades of China’s modern development from a unique perspective. Frankly, I find the author’s discussions and analyses in this book to be incomplete and he fails to put China’s sociopolitical movements into perspective with regard to the Great Cultural Revolution and the Tiananmen Square protests in light of related empirical studies in later years. Each individual article collected in this anthology largely reflects the critical view of the author at the time of its writing. You can see a clear consistency in the perspectives presented by the author regarding China or Japan. The author’s attitudes towards Modern China seem to be characterized by some particular viewpoints. First, he maintains a critical view regarding materialistic prosperity under a capitalist economy... [Read more]

No.34 ,Culture
Sep 25, 2016

Today’s Sumo Wrestlers Lack Spirit
— Possibility of the advent of Japanese yokozuna

Hakkaku Nobuyoshi: I have settled into the position. The outside directors helped me a lot, and I have undertaken my job by trial and error. As a result, I’m gradually becoming more confident. I have had a hectic time since Kitanoumi, the previous chairman, passed away. I have refrained from drinking for a year. Very recently, I have played the occasional round of golf. The Grand Sumo Tournament is very popular, with every date fully booked. Sumo fans still want a Japanese yokozuna. Personally, I believe that someone is a sumo wrestler as soon as he starts his career, whether he is Japanese or Mongolian. In reality, many sumo fans often tell me that they want a Japanese yokozuna. What do you want young Japanese sumo wrestlers to do to become a yokozuma? I think that many of them have already given up any hope of beating Hakuho or being as strong as him. In a way, they don’t even have a dream. Even if you are not strong enough... [Read more]