No.55 - Discuss Japan

Archives : No.55

No.55, Discussions, Diplomacy  Feb. 19, 2020

Future Prospects for a New “Rise and Fall of the Great Powers” Can Be Seen From the Viewpoint of Demographics

Prediction for demographics and the course of direction of hegemons Jimbo Ken: Long-term prediction of the future beyond thirty years often fails because the reality encounters too many unknowns. Demographics is believed to be the exception, as its predictability has been relatively high. Let’s begin with this premise. Currently, the global population is about 7.7 billion. According to population projections by the United Nations, the global population is projected to rise sharply to 9.7 billion by 2050. The increase curve will become gentle and gradual beyond 2050, with the global population projected to hit 10.9 billion in 2100. In addition, increased populations are unevenly distributed in South Asia and the Sub-Saharan African region. Conversely, most developed countries will not see their populations increase, but will enter a rapidly aging society. Based on these projections, our long-term strategy often suggests Africa is the “last frontier,” ... ... [Read more]

No.55, Diplomacy
Feb. 18, 2020

Europe Is at a Crossroads Thirty Years After the Fall of the Berlin Wall

  President Macron has decided to rapidly move closer to Russia amidst heightening concerns over “America First” Policies. His decision is based on the “great game” being played out, namely US-China competition and increased cooperation between China and Russia.     At the commemoration ceremony of the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 19, 2019, German Chancellor Minister Angela Merkel and other prime ministers of former Eastern European states gathered and laid flowers by the remains of the Wall. Thirty years have passed since the end of the Cold War, so has the world truly overcome the “Cold War” and entered a new age? It is true that that ideological conflict is no longer so pronounced, but we have not overcome the framework of great power antagonism. In the beginning of the twenty-first century, I argued that a schema ... ... [Read more]

No.55, Society
Feb. 17, 2020

The Value of Co-working and Co-creation: Why Is a Life Cycle Perspective Necessary?

Coexisting with Foreign Workers in Japan The “specified skilled worker” status of residence was established following the enactment of the Act for Partial Amendment of the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act and the Act for Establishment of the Ministry of Justice in April 2019. As of October 2018, there were about 1.46 million foreign workers in Japan, and the number is projected to increase further in the years ahead. Amid this situation, local communities face the challenge of how to deal with the increasing number of foreign workers and their families. In this feature, the authors [Discuss Japan carries the article by Kawamura Chizuko below], introduce the status of residence system, measures for employing foreign workers, local governments making use of the increasing number of foreigners to revitalize their local communities, efforts made by housing complexes more than half of whose inhabitants are ... ... [Read more]

No.55, Economy
Feb. 14, 2020

Issues Concerning Social Security for All Generations: A System for Contribution According to Individual Income Levels

Key points: The government outlook is premised on growth, with some uncertainty. Distinguish between risk dispersion and redistribution functions Intensively direct public funds to those in desperate need The consumption tax rate has been raised to 10%, marking the end of the comprehensive reform of social security and taxation systems that started in the mid-2000s. But we face the 2025 problem of the baby boomers reaching the age of 75 and social security reform is now entering a crucial stage. As poverty grows amid slower economic growth and depopulation and population aging begin deepening in earnest, politicians are now expected to reconstruct sustainable social security; that is, to carry out sweeping reforms to facilitate the balance between social security benefits and contributions. The starting point for the fiscal reform debates is the May 2018 paper, “The Projections for the Future of Social Security with ... ... [Read more]

No.55, Economy
Feb. 14, 2020

Japan-US Trade Negotiations on Promise of Trade Liberalization: Results in Better Than Equal Terms

Key points: Virtually sealed off the imposition of additional tariffs on automobiles Digital trade rules to be applied to the Japan-US Trade Agreement in advance Persuade the US to return to the TPP On October 7, the Japan and the US governments signed the Trade Agreement between Japan and the United States of America (Japan-US Trade Agreement) and the Agreement between Japan and the United States of America concerning Digital Trade (Japan-US Digital Trade Agreement). One year since the agreement on the start of negotiations in the Japan-US joint statement announced on September 26, 2018, and half a year since the start of substantive negotiations in April 2019, they have concluded the following. In the Japan-US Trade Agreement, Japan responded to the US demand for the liberalization of agricultural products, including beef, while negotiations will continue on the US’ elimination of tariffs on automobiles ... ... [Read more]

No.55, Economy
Feb. 13, 2020

The Effects and Limits of Monetary Policy: The Need for a New Framework of Macroeconomic Policy

Key points: Decreased expectations for the effects of unconventional monetary easing policy Monetary easing is used as an alternative to appropriate policy measures Wise spending should be emphasized in expanding fiscal policy Up until 2018, a lot of attention was focused on an exit from monetary easing. The situation completely changed in 2019, when the Federal Reserve Board (FRB) lowered interest rates three times starting in August and the European Central Bank (ECB) decided in September on additional monetary easing, including the further lowering of already negative interest rates. Financial markets are caught up in the atmosphere of global monetary easing. Now, however, we are in a different environment than in 2010 to 2012, when unconventional monetary easing policies were implemented all around the world. Quite a few economists and economic analysts have a critical view of the recent monetary easing. First, developed countries ... ... [Read more]

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

Nomura Mansai, Kyogen stage actor; Chief Executive Director, Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games Interviewer: Editorial staff of Gaiko (Diplomacy)   ――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 ... ... [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]