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No.55
No.55, Society  Jan. 9, 2020

What is Needed for Konbini to Truly Become a Part of Social Infrastructure

Today, Japan’s convenience stores (konbini) can already be considered a form of so-called social infrastructure. However, in the face of Japan’s current social circumstances, with the decline in population size and the progression of population aging, konbini now find themselves standing at a crossroads, unable to cater to various changes in consumer lifestyles. In this article, we will consider the reasons behind this situation, and explore ways in which konbini can continue to function as a true part of social infrastructure in the future, based on the history of their evolution up until this point. Konbini at a crossroads Until now, konbini have been recognized/acknowledged as a part of Japan’s social infrastructure, as opposed to simply “convenient” stores at which to shop. This is due to the fact that, despite individual stores being small in scale, convenience store chains have provided not only products ... ... [Read more]

No.55, Culture
Dec. 27, 2019

“We are locals from around here—from Earth”: Illustrating the spirit of Olympic and Paralympic Games from the eyes of Kyogen

  ――Mansai-san [Mr. Mansai], you have performed around the world. Nomura Mansai: My father[1] put effort into overseas performances from early on, and I started travelling with him when I was an elementary school student. I was 9 years old when I traveled with him for the first time. We went to Hawaii when he became a visiting professor at the University of Hawaii. We performed Igui[2]. Two years later, I played the part of a baby monkey in the play Utsubozaru[3], which was staged in Paris and London. Since then, I have performed in many countries, including the United States, Europe, China, Russia, Australia and Malaysia, because just like my father, I attach importance to overseas performances and cultural exchange. I truly appreciate how widespread Japanese culture has become. ――Was any performance particularly memorable? Mansai: I cannot forget the performances in Moscow and ... ... [Read more]

No.55, Discussions, Diplomacy
Dec. 26, 2019

Japan and the Republic of Korea Should Return to the 1965 and 1998 Agreements

Sasae Kenichiro, President and Director General of the Japan Institute of International Affairs (JIIA) Interviewer: Tawara Soichiro Looking Back at the Past Agreement and Declaration Tawara Soichiro: Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK) are currently in serious conflict with each other. I therefore wish to direct this question to Mr. Sasae, who served as Director-General of the Asian and Oceania Affairs Bureau and Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA). What do you think of the current Japan-ROK relations and the relationship between Prime Minister Abe Shinzo and President Moon Jae-in? Sasae Kenichiro: As you are aware, there have been a number of twists and turns in Japan-ROK relations. In particular, you need to understand that in the ROK, domestic affairs have an impact on the diplomacy between the two countries. The left-leaning governments of the ROK began ... ... [Read more]