No.57 - Discuss Japan

Archives : No.57

No.57, Politics  Apr. 1, 2020

In Memory of Former Prime Minister Nakasone Yasuhiro: My Sworn Friend for More than Sixty Years, a Selfless and Studious Person

Endless affection and respect Mr. Nakasone Yasuhiro (1918–2019) has passed away. I had known him for more than sixty years, and on the day of his demise, I said that his death brought as much shock as when my parents died. I have endless affection and respect for him. Mr. Nakasone was eager to learn and always had policy in mind. Unlike many other politicians, he thought about the policies first, before factional affairs and management. He thought intensely about how to hone and realize these policies. He also listened to what other people said and did not cling to fixed ideas, while strongly believing in his own philosophy. Otherwise, he could not have accomplished so much as a politician. When he was young, he was a fairly right-leaning politician but he transformed. He said of himself, “I am for modified capitalism.” From afar, ... ... [Read more]

No.57, Diplomacy
Mar. 31, 2020

The Path that Dr. Nakamura Left to the Afghans: The Water that Saved 600,000 People   

  Dr. Nakamura Tetsu passed away at the age of 73.   On the morning of December 4th, he lost his life in an attack by an armed militant group while he was on his way to an irrigation work site.   Dr. Nakamura was born in Fukuoka Prefecture in 1946, the year after the end of World War II. From 1984 onwards, he gave his life towards providing medical support to refugees in Pakistan and Afghanistan. He was not only a doctor, however; he also strove to support the people of Afghanistan by digging wells and helping construct irrigation canals, based on his belief that “one irrigation canal will do more good than 100 doctors.” His many years of service were recognized in 2003, when he received the Ramon Magsaysay Award, a commendation known as “Asia’s Nobel Prize.” Ms. Sawachi had long supported ... ... [Read more]

No.57, Diplomacy
Mar. 31, 2020

International Politics and Japanese Diplomacy as Seen from Eurasia: An Approach to “Geopolitical Economics” and “Global Governance”

Introduction: A Multipolarizing World and Flexible Thinking I would like to examine the content of international politics in Eurasia and discuss how Japan should conduct its diplomacy in that context. The structure of the international community has begun to change this century, even before the start of the coronavirus crisis. It differs from both the Cold War Era and the world ten years after the end of the Cold War. First, the world is headed toward “mulipolarization.” I consider the rise of China and the return of Russia as “multipolarization” or, more precisely, as a “unipolar–multipolar concurrent system” (“unipolar” signifies the military prominence of the United States). This is the worldview of “G2” (= United States–China bipolar) and “G0” that was frequently talked about some time ago. It can also be seen as a “power transition” or “power shift.” This has been widely discussed ... ... [Read more]

No.57, Economy
Mar. 31, 2020

How Japan should avoid becoming a loophole for technology leaks to China

Trump signs China trade deal but the underlying economic conflict does not end President Trump signed an initial trade deal with China. As expected, markets seem to have reacted positively to the initial agreement by the two governments. But the tariff fight started by President Trump seems only to be a surface-level conflict between the United States and China. In fact, at a deep level, there has been consistent escalation of the technological power struggle, which is growing more serious within Congress and the Washington policy-making community as a whole. More recently, Washington policymakers have redefined the strategic framework for the US relationship with China from a human rights perspective. The technological power struggle with China has become so deeply entrenched within the Washington policy community that even President Trump cannot make a deal with China easily without listening to them. Therefore, I believe ... ... [Read more]

No.57, Society
Mar. 25, 2020

Failure Analysis of Modern Japanese Population Policy

Population Stagnation and Urbanization even in the Edo Period In contemporary Japan, the total population has begun to decline. Meanwhile, regional maldistribution is becoming more pronounced as population density is increasing in Tokyo and other metropolises and there is population decline in rural areas, making “regional revitalization” a policy challenge. Since 2015, the government has promoted the Comprehensive Strategy for Overcoming Population Decline and Vitalizing Local Economy, which aims to rectify the concentration to Tokyo by creating jobs in the regions, push for support of young people’s employment, marriage, and child-rearing, and support a population of about 100 million by 2060. However, population decline has been a problem many times in the past. From the Kyoho through the Koka eras (eighteenth–mid-nineteenth century) of the Edo period (1603–1868), the population stagnated. This was due to global cooling that resulted in poor crops as well as ... ... [Read more]

No.57, Economy
Mar. 25, 2020

Will Fiscal Reconstruction Advance?

Ⅰ. Introduction The Japanese government raised the consumption tax rate to 10% in October 2019. Many people have criticized such tax increases, citing them as a cause of an economic downturn. However, the tax hike resulted from an increase in social security expenses associated with the aging of the Japanese population. Another source of revenue would have been sought or the control of benefits would have been requested if the consumption tax was not picked as a solution. In fact, social security benefits will expand from the current level of 120 trillion yen (the figure for fiscal 2018) to 190 trillion yen in fiscal 2040, according to a trial calculation performed by the Cabinet Office. Such an increase in social security expenses is due to the structural problem in twenty-first-century Japan called aging. It will not be all right when the economy picks up. ... ... [Read more]

No.57, Culture
Mar. 23, 2020

The National Stadium and Horyu-ji Temple

In the fall of 1964, my father took 10-year-old me to the Yoyogi National Gymnasium, which was the Olympic swimming arena. Overwhelmed by the incredible beauty of the building, I asked who designed it. I was told that it was an architect named Tange Kenzo. That was the first time I learned about the job of an architect, and on that day, I decided that I would become one. Up until that day, I had dreamed of becoming a veterinarian as I was a well-behaved child who loved cats. Together with Taisei Corporation and Azusa Sekkei Co., Ltd., Kengo Kuma & Associates was chosen to supervise the design of the National Stadium (Japan National Stadium), which is to become the main venue for the second Tokyo Olympics, so I thought about what was different between 2020 and 1964. 1964 was at the peak of ... ... [Read more]

No.57, Diplomacy
Mar. 17, 2020

A report on having accompanied the Pope during his stay in Japan—The voice of the voiceless

    Pope Francis visited Japan from November 23 to 26, 2019, staying in Japan for four days. This seems a short stay. But for the Pope, this was a long stay in one particular country. I had heard long before that the Pope might visit Japan. 2019 marked a turning point in the relationship between Japan and the Catholic Church in several ways. Beyond that, however, the author also has the feeling that the Pope intended to transform various political tensions across Asia into harmonious relationships. In fact, the Pope stated in a regular press conference held in flight that he hoped to visit China. The Pope’s visit to Japan was the first one in thirty-eight years, the second after Pope John Paul II’s visit in 1981. Only considering that the Pope’s visit to Japan was an event in the context of the ... ... [Read more]