No.60 - Discuss Japan

Archives : No.60

Aug-Sept 2020

No.60, Discussions, Society  Sept. 18, 2020

Udo Yumiko’s My Fair Person: What Can Be Seen from the COVID-19 LINE Survey―Miyata Hiroaki, Professor, School of Medicine, Department of Health Policy and Management of Keio University

UDO Yumiko vs Prof. MIYATA Hiroaki   Udo Yumiko: Nice to meet you, Professor Miyata. This is my first time talking online with someone that I’ve never met in person before. Professor Miyata Hiroaki: I’m honored!   Udo: Professor Miyata, you proposed the “Early SNS-Based Monitoring System for the COVID-19 Outbreak in Japan: A Population-Level Observational Study,” gathered massive amounts of health data from many people, and continue with efforts that utilize the next move in COVID-19 measures in cooperation with local governments and the Cluster Response Team of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW). Miyata: Of the approximately 83 million LINE users in Japan, we received responses from about 25 million during the first survey, held from March 31 to April 1. With a response rate of about one-third, it was the second largest survey in Japanese history, excluding the national ... ... [Read more]

No.60, Society
Sept. 11, 2020

The Dividing Lines of Contemporary Japan: Political Correctness in the Social Media Era

Ito Masaaki, Professor, Seikei University   The coronavirus outbreak uncovered various forms of division and conflict in society. Not only political and economic conflicts, but cultural conflicts between people with diverse backgrounds have intensified and “flame wars” over these have been unfolding online more or less daily. Yet those conflicts were not caused by the coronavirus outbreak itself. Rather, it could be said that the coronavirus outbreak has brought to light the various conflicts that had already been formed in Japanese society and lay concealed within. For example, the comedian Okamura Takashi sparked controversy in late April with a remark allegedly discriminating against women that he made on-air during a radio show, and was forced to apologize along with the radio station. This incident caused one of the biggest storms of criticisms at the time and followed a “flame war pattern” that has been ... ... [Read more]

No.60, Society
Sept. 7, 2020

The History of Infectious Disease in Japan: The Answer Is in History — To What Degree Are Protective Hygiene Measures among the Japanese Effective?

Isoda Michifumi, Associate Professor, International Research Center for Japanese Studies   Currently, COVID-19 is spreading so quickly that the situation changes from day to day. This is precisely why we need to step back from the new situation and take a broad view of matters from the perspective of the history of civilization. I have previously consulted ancient documents on infectious diseases in Japan, but this article is based on the writings of my former teacher, the late Hayami Akira (Nihon wo osotta Supein infuruenza; translated as The Influenza Pandemic in Japan, 1918–1920) and the environmental journalist Ishi Hiroyuki (Kansensho no sekaishi [A World History of Infectious Diseases]). Ishi, who is my uncle by marriage, is also an expert on infectious diseases in Africa and elsewhere. New infectious diseases have assailed mankind any number of times. If we consult history, we may learn lessons ... ... [Read more]

No.60, Diplomacy
Sept. 1, 2020

JICA and COVID-19: Tackling Inequalities in Developing Countries

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is implementing a range of infection control support measures against COVID-19 in developing countries. We take a look at some of these measures, with a focus on the policies being implemented to counter the risks and exacerbated disadvantages that women and girls face as a result of the spread of COVID-19. Sawaji Osamu, The Japan Journal   The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is raging across the world. The number of infected rapidly started increasing globally around February 2020, and according to the calculations of the Johns Hopkins University in the United States, there were about 11 million officially confirmed cases and about 530,000 dead in the world as of July 6.     The spread of COVID-19 is dealing serious blows to countries’ societies and economies. Amid this, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is implementing infection control support ... ... [Read more]

No.60, Economy
Aug. 26, 2020

Changing Work Styles: Increased Productivity through Health and Productivity Management

Yamamoto Isamu, Professor, Keio University   Key points Remote work ratio increases with non-routine tasks A company’s COVID-19 measures boost employee loyalty The coronavirus outbreak as an opportunity to reform labor market structure   The spread of COVID-19 has led to rapid work-style changes, such as staggered work hours, remote work, online meetings, closures, and higher risk of unemployment. It is likely becoming a major turning point for changing how work is perceived as well as work styles and human resource management at the workplace. Health and productivity management is garnering attention as a managerial challenge for maintaining and promoting employee health in companies. As it has become clear that corporate work styles, such as whether remote work is implemented or not, affect employees’ risk of infection, it is probable that the need for “health and productivity management that includes COVID-19 measures” will increase ... ... [Read more]

No.60, Society
Aug. 23, 2020

Japan and COVID-19

On June 30 and July 2, Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga Yoshihide stated that, “In a worst case scenario, we may enact another state of emergency.” But even if we avoid that worst case scenario, what will become of the Japanese economy and society? How quickly can Japan address the lagging digitalization in administration, health and education and the national digital divide? Mizuno Tetsu delves into the impact on Japan of the spread of COVID-19.   Mizuno Tetsu, freelance writer   On July 2, it was decided to cancel the Gion Festival, one of many representative Japanese festivals. The Gion Festival’s origins lie in Emperor Kanmu holding a festival in 869 to pray for the frequent disasters and diseases of the time to disappear, and it has decorated Kyoto summers for 1,150 years. Each year, over 400,000 people throng to the yoiyama, the climax of ... ... [Read more]

No.60, Diplomacy
Aug. 21, 2020

Promoting Japan–South Korean Cooperation and Broadening Empathy: Taking as a Clue the Question of a Japanese Diplomat

There is a gap between Japan and South Korea that is emotionally difficult to bridge. Sunobe Ryozo (1918–2006), who served as Ambassador to South Korea forty years ago, has said that the state of Japan–South Korea relations is a “litmus paper” for Japanese growth. At present, having common values and social issues really is a step toward overcoming the “emotional gap” over historical perceptions.   Kobayashi Somei, Associate Professor, Nihon University   Forty years ago, there was a Japanese diplomat who asked what South Korea is to Japanese diplomacy. It was the then Ambassador to South Korea Sunobe Ryozo, who later also served as Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs. In a declassified confidential telegram  titled “Report and Views on Circumstances within the Ministry’s Jurisdiction as well as Policy Proposal” (hereinafter, the “Sunobe Proposal”) to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) in January 1981, Sunobe wrote ... ... [Read more]

No.60, Diplomacy
Aug. 21, 2020

Challenges for Strengthening the Japan-US Alliance: Japanese Role Questions through Japan-US “Integration”

Sixty years have passed since the Japan-US Security Treaty entered into force. The Alliance has transformed as the times have changed. With the rise of China, the alliance is again in a new stage.   Onodera Itsunori, Member of the House of Representatives, Chairperson, Research Commission on National Security of the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan   ―― Sixty years have passed since the Japan-US Security Treaty entered into force. Onodera Itsunori: As an agreement that would become the foundation for the Japan-US Alliance, the basis for Japan’s national security, there is no mistaking that the Japan-US Security Treaty has greatly contributed to the safety and growth of postwar Japan and peace and prosperity for eastern Asia. However, the fact that China has gained not only economic power, but also political and militaristic power since the dawn of the century greatly impacts Japan’s national ... ... [Read more]

No.60, Diplomacy
Aug. 21, 2020

Maritime Security: Japan’s Plans in a Changing World

China’s activities in the East China Sea have increased steadily since 2008 and have intensified still further since the outbreak of COVID-19. The Councilors’ Meeting of the Headquarters for Ocean Policy in Japan has submitted a new set of recommendations to the Prime Minister in response to these and other challenges facing Japan as a maritime nation. Mizuno Tetsu, freelance writer   Since the appearance of COVID-19, the territorial incursions of Chinese government vessels into the waters around the Senkaku Islands, effectively controlled by Japan, have been almost continuous. Over the course of four days from July 2 to 5 this year, Chinese government vessels intruded into Japanese territorial waters for a total of 39 hours, repeatedly entering and withdrawing.     On July 7, Suga Yoshihide, Chief Cabinet Secretary stated, “I’m in no position to comment on the intention behind the activities of ... ... [Read more]

No.60, Economy
Aug. 18, 2020

Structural changes in industries and the reduction of inequality: The world after coronavirus

KOBAYASHI Keiichiro, Faculty Fellow, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI)   Humanity’s struggle with the novel coronavirus disease may turn into a long-drawn-out war. Numerous economic estimates using a model of disease spread (an SIR model) have been published, such as in papers by Professors Andrew Atkeson of UCLA and Martin Eichenbaum of Northwestern University. They say that to minimize the sacrifice of human lives, Europe and the U.S. must continue their current strict lockdowns and restrictions on activity for another eighteen months. Similarly, a year or more of restrictions on activity—even more severe than what is enforced now—would be necessary in Japan. However, once the crisis ends, will the novel coronavirus be eradicated? One can imagine that it will become normal for people to be vigilant with social distancing and mindful of the cleanliness of their hands, in order to prevent ... ... [Read more]

No.60, Economy
Aug. 17, 2020

A Post-Coronavirus World:“Change” Is Not “Beginning” but “Accelerating”:Overcoming Short-Termism

Kojima Akira, Member, Board of Trustees, and Adjunct Professor, National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS); Trustee, President of Center for International Economic Collaboration (CIEC)   The coronavirus outbreak is not transient, it is bringing about major changes to international relations, national economies, corporate business, social systems, and individuals’ ways of life. Because of this, it is thought that the post-coronavirus world will enter a new stage as denoted by the new normal. However, if we view today and the future with a long-term perspective, we will notice that many of the changes that have taken place amid the coronavirus outbreak are not the “beginning” of change but rather an “acceleration” of a new major development that was already occurring before the outbreak. This appears to be especially true in Japan. Of course, there are new changes as well. Yet, there is also an ... ... [Read more]