No.35 - Discuss Japan

Archives : No.35

Oct 2016

Diplomacy, No.35  Nov. 14, 2016

Shouldn’t Cool Japan Be Changed?

  Cool (smart and stylish) Nippon (Japan) should be pitched throughout the world. Under the slogan of Cool Japan, the movement for the transmission of Japan’s hidden gems to the world has been brisk. From animation, video games, and other pop culture to Japanese cuisine, many foreigners are drawn to Japanese style. Under such circumstances, shouldn’t the method for the transmission of information be changed? Director Watanabe Hirotaka, Institute for International Relations, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, the foremost authority on research in culture and diplomacy, points out what is missing in the current Cool Japan campaign. What Abe Mario symbolizes The main character that enlivened the final scene at the Olympic Games held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, was the Nintendo video game character, Super Mario, played by Prime Minister Abe Shinzo. The unexpected performance surprised the media around the world, which applauded ... ... [Read more]

Culture, No.35
Nov. 7, 2016

Q&A The Origins of Shinto Shrines

Geijutsu Shincho: How and when did the history of Shinto shrines begin? Okada Shoji: Apart from the clay figures used during rituals in the Jomon period and the bronze bells used in rituals during the Yayoi period, the first definite evidence we have for rituals (kami worship) linked to present day Shrine Shinto is from the latter half of the fourth century, i.e. from the mid Kofun period on. Although we have found various traces of rituals, essentially there is nothing like a sacred building (shrine building). It is thought that there was a long period during which the kami were worshipped at iwakura (sacred rocks) and himorogi (branches set up temporarily to receive the kami). The location for these rituals was the boundary between mountain and village, which was also the boundary between the world of kami and the world of men. People ... ... [Read more]

Culture, No.35
Nov. 1, 2016

The Chief Priest of Ise Jingu talks at length about subjects such as the Shikinen Sengu, the Summit, and the succession of the legacies

Why do Japanese people visit Ise? Knowledge created as a result of the Sengu that has been carried out for 1,300 years. We at Ise Jingu recently had the honor of welcoming the leaders of the G7 countries who visited Japan to attend the Ise-Shima Summit. Standing with Prime Minister Abe at the foot of the Ujibashi Bridge at the entrance of Naiku (main sanctuary), I shook hands with each of the leaders and delivered a short speech in English to welcome them. Predictably, when it comes to heads of state, they understand the advantages of showing courtesy based on the concept of “when in Rome, do as the Romans do.” In the main sacred place, the guests proceeded to the Mikakiuchi zone, the inside of the outer Tonotamagaki fence, and paid their respects according to Japanese custom. Prime Minister Abe led the leaders ... ... [Read more]

Discussions, Society, No.35
Oct. 31, 2016

“Abdication” Is Not Easy

HARA Takeshi (HT): I was literally astonished at the news “Emperor Intends to Abdicate.” When the news was aired on NHK at 7pm on July 13, I happened to have the TV on and, as I was watching it dumbfounded, I started receiving phone call after phone call from the press asking for comments.
KAWANISHI Hideya (KH): I can no longer stand to watch TV. (Laughing)
HT: That’s just not possible any more. The reason I was surprised is that Article 2 of the Japanese Constitution states that “The Imperial Throne shall be dynastic,” and Article 4 of the Imperial House Law, which prescribes matters such as the method of succession, states that “Upon the demise of the Emperor, the Imperial Heir shall immediately accede to the Throne.” I have construed this to mean that the government cannot allow abdication. So if abdication is realized, this is a huge change in policy. ]]> ... [Read more]

Society, No.35
Oct. 30, 2016

The Tenno Emperor—A Constant and Time-Honored Symbol

Posterity and the Power of the Monarch It seems absurd, but where do you think the largest monarchy in the world is found today? It is in China. Of course, there is no individual monarch or royal family in China today, but the Chinese Communist Party organization has become a monarchy. The Communist Party in China is one in a repeated line of rising and falling dynasties that can be traced back to ancient times. The party is an extremely ancient form of dynasty with power and authority rolled into one. The monarchies in Europe and Japan do not have any powers, only authority grounded in the respect and affection of the people. The Chinese Communist Party, on the other hand, rules and governs the people by means of both military and financial power. Today, the party also rules in its capacity as an ... ... [Read more]

Diplomacy, No.35
Oct. 28, 2016

Will the Contradictions between the Xi Jinping Administration and Pax Americana Be Resolved? ―The Decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration on the South China Sea and China’s Response

The Permanent Court of Arbitration issued a decision for a case that had been brought by the Republic of Philippines against the People’s Republic of China concerning issues regarding the islands in the South China Sea on July 12, 2016. In the decision, the tribunal basically denied the nine-dash line, on which the People’s Republic of China has based its claim that almost all the islands in the South China Sea are its territories. In addition, in the decision the tribunal judged Taiping Island, whose ground area remains above sea level at high tide and where the Coast Guard Administration of the Republic of China (equivalent to the Japan Coast Guard) has full-time stationed staff and a hospital, to be a rock. The Permanent Court of Arbitration did not attempt to draw a conclusion regarding the territorial issues. The tribunal only made a judgment ... ... [Read more]

Economy, No.35
Oct. 26, 2016

What is needed to counter the falling birthrate? The short cut is to rectify the long working hours ―A solution in the style of the United States/Northern Europe is difficult

  < Key Points > Countries that have brought the falling birthrate under control have transformed the male breadwinner model The cost of childcare presents a challenge to promoting support for work-life balance Active women and improved ways of working for men are one and the same In 2015, the total fertility rate (an estimate of the number of children born to a woman during her lifetime) was 1.46, a recovery of 0.2 points from the lowest ever rate of 1.26 recorded in 2005. Since the birthrate for women aged 25 to 29 is also on the upswing, these trends are likely the result of the recent improvements in the economy and in the work-life balance. However, these numbers fall far short of the figure of 1.8 that the Abe administration has set as the target for 2025. There is also a wide gap ... ... [Read more]

Economy, No.35
Oct. 25, 2016

What is needed to counter the falling birthrate?  Bold funding investments are urgent ―Salaries for nursery school teachers and tuition fee support

< Key Points > Increasing the birthrate is not likely to substantially increase the number of births. The stagnation in the 1990s and 2000s is a failure of historical proportions. Improve student loan payments and the income-pegged repayment model The Population Section at the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare have started to discuss the new population projections. The new population projections will likely be announced in the first half of next year. Population projections are based on the census and carried out at intervals of roughly five years to estimate the population over the next fifty years (one hundred years in case of consultation projections). The results form the basis for pension financing and social security policies, including medical and nursing care, but the socio-economic impact is also significant as the data are consulted for local government policy and for future planning at ... ... [Read more]

Economy, No.35
Oct. 22, 2016

Abenomics at a Watershed ―Proper Approach to Monetary Policy

One of the main topics people have discussed since the start of Prime Minister Abe’s second term in December 2012 is the government’s economic policy, which is commonly referred to as Abenomics. Nearly three and half years have passed since then, and now it seems that the initial form of Abenomics has been driven to take a major change in direction. In this paper, I will discuss Abenomics, focusing primarily on its monetary policy. This particular area has been forced to take a different turn because the limitations of the policy’s stance in the past are now apparent. Abenomics is beginning to lose touch with its goals It is easier to assess Abenomics by dividing it into two periods. The first period runs from the inauguration of the first Cabinet of Prime Minister Abe to March 2014, a period during which the economy remained ... ... [Read more]

Diplomacy, No.35
Oct. 22, 2016

The Spheres in International Politics and Summit Diplomacy

Pursuing a number of independent initiatives, Japanese diplomacy has entered a rare period of productivity in recent years. Despite apparently intensifying turmoil, international politics is actually divided into three spheres. How Japan should react to the situation is the next challenge. A mid the plethora of challenges for the international community, the foundation for Japanese diplomacy is stronger than ever before. This is the situation in the wake of the G7 Summit and the upper house elections. There is strong uncertainty over the future of European unity following Britain’s national referendum on leaving the EU. In Bangladesh, many people, including seven Japanese nationals, have fallen victim to terror. On July 12, an arbitration tribunal under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea completely dismissed the thinking that underpins China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea. China insists the ruling is invalid ... ... [Read more]

Economy, No.35
Oct. 20, 2016

The “Pokémon GO” Bubble: Expectations and Anxiety for

  July 25 (Monday), 7:00 p.m. Even though it’s a weekday night, the view at Kinshi Park in Tokyo’s Sumida Ward is an unusual one. Hundreds of people are gathered here, some of them business people on their way home from the office. Almost everyone has a smartphone in hand, and they’re all wandering around in silence, not saying a word. The game everyone’s playing is “Pokémon GO.” At Kinshi Park, Osaka Park, and Tsuruma Park (in the city of Nagoya), there are large numbers of “Pokestops,” locations where players can acquire items for use in capturing monsters. Kinshi Park in particular has gotten a lot of attention on Twitter as a place where players can catch one of the rare monsters, “Bulbasaur,” and large numbers of Pokémon Trainers (players) have been attracted to the area. Three days earlier, on Friday 22 at 10:30 ... ... [Read more]

Economy, No.35
Oct. 20, 2016

Will Pokémon GO increase investment?

Pokémon GO” is a hot topic. Although there are a number of very interesting ideas for discussion related to this app, this essay will discuss the issue of future investment demand using the game as a starting point. In the past, when game software releases have been the focus of major attention, this has led to major increases in demand for hardware such as game consoles. As a result, capital investment demands for expansion of factories and other infrastructure also increased. However, in the case of apps that run on smartphones, a huge number of people already possess these devices. For this reason, demand for new hardware and the capital investment that goes along with it both barely increase at all. Although there has been a certain amount investment demand during the development stage, app development can be carried out with just a single ... ... [Read more]

Diplomacy, No.35
Oct. 18, 2016

The Japan Coast Guard protects the Senkaku Islands to the last

  The first “career Commandant” of the Japan Coast Guard speaks about the field operation for the guard of territorial waters. Sato Yuji, who is 62 years of age, held office as the Commandant of the Japan Coast Guard for three years until June this year. He attracted public attention for his appointment as the Commandant of the Japan Coast Guard, a post reserved for career officials of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, as the first career commandant. We interviewed the commandant, who knows a great deal about field operations and the reality surrounding Japan’s territorial waters.   On July 12, the Permanent Court of Arbitration concluded that China had “no legal basis” to claim the so-called Nine-Dash Line, whose sovereign rights China claims over almost all waters of the South China Sea. China insists that this international court ruling is ... ... [Read more]

Diplomacy, No.35
Oct. 18, 2016

For the Advancement of Japan’s International Cooperation ―After the Terrorist Attack in Dhaka, Bangladesh

Impacts of the Dhaka Terrorist Attack: On the night of July 1st, a restaurant in Dhaka was attacked, and twenty hostages lost their lives. Of these twenty, seven were Japanese. They were all working on the front lines of international cooperation. In a time when ordinary people are being victimized by terrorism, how can we all consider our own safety? This is an important issue to think seriously about not only for our own sake, but also to ensure that the lives of the victims in this attack were not lost in vain. The terrorist attack in Dhaka was a huge shock for me, and it is a truly heartbreaking incident. The victims this time were consultants dispatched by JICA to conduct a survey of the urban transit system in Bangladesh, and they were hoping to contribute to the country’s development. I am absolutely ... ... [Read more]