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No.58
No.58, Culture  Jun. 23, 2020

A Fifteen-year-old’s Journey to Becoming a Three-Michelin-Star French Chef — My gratitude toward earlier chefs who built trust in Japanese people’s ability to do good work in France

Kobayashi Kei, Chef and Owner of Restaurant Kei     “I think that my parents first sparked my interest in cooking. My father worked as a Japanese chef and my mother as a Western one. Other families bought and ate ready-made meals but at our house my mother made everything from scratch. So, cooking was always close by.” “With that around me I naturally became fond of cooking and from around the age of 10 I played at making food with my elder brother. Having said that, I didn’t plan to become a professional chef from an early age.”   So says Kobayashi Kei (42), the chef and owner of Restaurant Kei, a Paris eatery that won three stars in the MICHELIN Guide France 2020. The Michelin Guides are published in around thirty countries and use stars to rate restaurants. Kobayashi’s spectacular achievement was ... ... [Read more]

No.58, Economy
Jun. 16, 2020

Coronavirus Hits Japanese Economy: An unprecedented composite crisis halting demand, supply and income

Komine Takao, Professor, Taisho University   The economic shock sparked by the COVID-19 coronavirus appears to be unprecedented in terms of its magnitude and the level of difficulty in addressing it. At the time of writing, early April 2020, the crisis is ongoing and the situation is changing from moment to moment. The whole picture is as of yet unknown. The following discusses the challenges that lie ahead of the Japanese economy based on the information that is available so far. An abrupt change in circumstances and a colossal dive The coronavirus crisis has several unique characteristics. The first is the speed of the deterioration of economic conditions. As discussed below, the Japanese economy is facing the impact of multiple negative factors. This totally changed many people’s perception of the economy. For example, the economic view of the Japanese national government stated in the ... ... [Read more]

No.58, Discussions, Diplomacy
Jun. 12, 2020

Special Roundtable: Japanese Foreign Policy in 2020—Let us be a bond for a multilateral international order

How can we make the United States and China, countries with immense national power that at times opt for unilateralism, commit to the international order? Foreign Minister Motegi answers questions on how he intends to guide Japan’s foreign policy in 2020.   Motegi Toshimitsu, Minister for Foreign Affairs vs Tanaka Akihiko, President, National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS)   Tanaka Akihiko: You have served in many important ministerial roles before now, but could you share your thoughts on your time so far as Minister for Foreign Affairs. Foreign Minister Motegi Toshimitsu: It has already been almost four months since September 11, 2019 when I took up my role as Minister for Foreign Affairs. Immediately after becoming Foreign Minister I visited New York to attend the General Assembly of the United Nations, where I attended multi-party meetings on topics such as reforming the UN ... ... [Read more]

No.58, Economy
Jun. 11, 2020

Post-Coronavirus World: Companies Should Continue to Disperse Production and Procurement

Todo Yasuyuki, Professor, Waseda University Key points: Bringing manufacturing back to Japan comes with risks Don’t fall behind the expansion of global value chains Build strong ties with mutual help with partners abroad The disorder caused by the spread of COVID-19 continues. Nonetheless, we need to look toward the “Post-Coronavirus world” amid this confusion. This paper is a consideration of what supply chains and value chains Japan ought to build in the world after the coronavirus crisis. Value chains refer to networks of economic activities that generate value, including upstream R&D and design as well as downstream marketing and data analysis, and that exist in addition to the supply chains for materials and components. The Japanese government is already taking action. The spread in China disrupted the procurement of parts, components and materials from China. This is why the government is now going to ... ... [Read more]

No.58, Diplomacy
Jun. 8, 2020

Between the “China Dream” and the “Pacific Alliance”: Japanese Strategy in an Age of US–China Rivalry

Shiraishi Takashi, Chancellor, Prefectural University of Kumamoto   US–China rivalry, the “new” Cold War, strategic competition… people have given it many names. Yet it is evident that the intensification of US–China rivalry is bringing considerable changes to the international relations of Asia and the world. How did it turn out like this? What is happening? How is it different from the Cold War? What does it mean for Japan? The Larger Context of World History Let us start by checking a few aspects of the larger context of world history. The first is the rise of emerging countries. Entering the twenty-first century, emerging countries’ share of the world economy has grown while that of developed countries has contracted. Globalization has facilitated significant growth of emerging countries and these emerging countries see the twenty-first century as their time. However, their income per capita is no ... ... [Read more]

No.58, Diplomacy
Jun. 5, 2020

Infectious Disease Response — to see the forest, not just the trees: What differentiated Japan from the Western countries?

Oshitani Hitoshi, Professor, Department of Virology, Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine   ―― COVID-19 (virus is SARS-CoV2) has spread globally and countries around the world are still working to suppress transmissions and treat patients.   Dr. Oshitani Hitoshi: The first report of COVID-19 by the Chinese government was at the end of last year, but it is likely that by late November, there were transmissions spreading in Wuhan City and surround areas of Hubei Province. Spread of COVID-19 in Japan had two major waves so far. The first wave was originated by people with travel history to Wuhan and other places in China. From January to early February, the number of cases from China found in Japan was 11. Of course, there were considered to be more imported cases from China in reality, but it was likely somewhere around several tens to about a ... ... [Read more]

No.58, Diplomacy
May. 20, 2020

Interview: Grand challenges posed to humanity by a viral disease

  Omi Shigeru, Vice Chair, Novel Coronavirus Expert Meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office, interviewed by Takase Fumihito, editor, Gaiko (Diplomacy)   ―― Since the COVID-19 outbreak was first confirmed in China toward the end of January 2020, the disease has been confirmed in many regions across the world. COVID-19 is significantly affecting not only people’s health but also the world economy.   Dr. Omi Shigeru: Health matters were dealt with by highly specialized government offices worldwide, for example, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW) in Japan. Since the SARS outbreak, however, health matters have become an important subject that requires the involvement of offices outside that specialized field, including the Foreign Minister, the Prime Minister and the United Nations Secretary-General.   ―― Dr. Omi served as Regional Director of the Western Pacific Regional Office for the World Health Organization (WHO) for ten years ... ... [Read more]

No.58, Society
Apr. 27, 2020

Mega Sporting Events and Regional Revitalization — Host Town Initiatives and Challenges

The Host Town Initiative of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games uses interaction with participant countries during pre-games training camps for regional revitalization. This article looks back at the experience of the 2002 FIFA World Cup, introduces projects that look past 2020, and investigates what conditions enable these projects to produce results.   [This article first appeared in the January 2020 edition of THE TOSHI MONDAI (Municipal Problems), before the March 24 decision to postpone the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.]   Matsuhashi Takashi, Associate Professor, Faculty of Commerce, Takushoku University 1. Introduction Compared to other mega sporting events that have taken place in Japan, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games (Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics) have one main distinctive feature: an initiative to use the games in regional revitalization around Japan. At present, the most significant project is the Host Town ... ... [Read more]