No.65 - Discuss Japan

Archives : No.65

Aug-Sept 2021

No.65, Culture  Sept. 8, 2021

The Origin of Ohtani Shohei’s “Dual Wield” as told by Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters’ Manager Kuriyama Hideki and Scouting Director Ohbuchi Takashi

  Ohtani wears a faint smile when told they want to train him as an athlete who can be both the ace pitcher and the fourth batter. Suzuki Tadahira, writer   Starting in June of 2011, when people were still shocked about the unprecedented earthquake disaster (Great East Japan Earthquake), sports caster Kuriyama Hideki pursued a high school baseball team in the Tohoku coastal area that was damaged in the earthquake disaster. One day, this high school decided to hold a practice game with Hanamaki Higashi High School in Hanamaki City, Iwate Prefecture, a school with a strong team. It was there that Kuriyama saw the plays of athlete Ohtani Shohei for the first time. “I have watched professional baseball forever but the ball angle and speed seen from the stands behind the backstop were truly shocking. I saw his batting after that and ... ... [Read more]

No.65, Diplomacy
Sept. 8, 2021

The world and Japan after COVID-19—Japan should lead the free world with ODA

KITAOKA Shinichi, President, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)   Key points The post-COVID-19 world will inevitably face a further rise of China Japan should contribute to the world through health care and medical support and human resource development Japan should aim to achieve the ODA target in terms of GNI as set in the United Nations   The 2021 Group of Seven (G7) summit took place at Cornwall, England, on June 11-13. High on the G7 agenda were responses to the COVID-19 pandemic and China. It was natural for the leaders of the world’s leading democracies to prioritize discussion on those issues. The novel coronavirus has been inflicting huge damage to the world that is exceeded only by the two world wars and the Great Depression. History shows world-scale crises often bring major structural changes to the world. World War I resulted in the ... ... [Read more]

No.65, Discussions, Diplomacy
Sept. 7, 2021

“Free and Open Indo-Pacific” under the US-China Conflict: For coexistence of strategic competition and economic cooperation

The Suga Yoshihide Cabinet is the successor to the Abe Administration. Even though the US-Japan axis remains unchanged, the diplomatic and security environment around Japan is becoming increasingly severe against a background of structured conflict between the United States and China. The following discussion is a general overview of the diplomatic issues confronting the Suga Cabinet and the possible paths to take. (The discussion was held on November 3, 2020, the date of the US presidential election, and the transcript was finalized on November 17.)   Three-way conversation by Takahara Akio (Professor, University of Tokyo), Nakanishi Hiroshi (Professor, Kyoto University) and Yoshioka Keiko (senior staff writer, Asahi Shimbun)   ― The Suga Cabinet is the successor to the Abe administration, but first, how would you evaluate Abe diplomacy?   Takahara Akio: I think Abe diplomacy is a good example of the significance of a ... ... [Read more]

No.65, Society
Sept. 6, 2021

I don’t want to bother anyone… The voices of the isolated people submerged in the city

Ishida Mitsunori, Professor at Waseda University     The phrase “loneliness and isolation” has often caught my eye since NHK (the Japan Broadcasting Corporation) produced a special edition on the muen shakai (a society where individuals are isolated and have weak links with each other). Ten years have now passed and there is renewed interest in the issue with the Suga Cabinet installing a “minister in charge of loneliness and isolation.”     As soon as attention turns to loneliness and isolation, there emerges, as if in a backlash, a discussion about reexamining the value of loneliness and isolation. In short, a discussion about the need to recognize the value of being alone. Possibly out of consideration for such opinions, the phrase “unwanted loneliness and isolation” has recently come into use, and there is also a tendency to limit the nature of the problem. However, ... ... [Read more]

No.65, Society
Sept. 3, 2021

Migrants in the Era of Remote Work

Sawada Akihiro, Journalist   Since moving from Tokyo to Awaji Island in Hyogo Prefecture because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Sawada Akihiro has painstakingly reported on the realities of the corona migration and of rural life. He has now published his findings in Tokyo wo suteru: korona iju no genjitsu (Leaving Tokyo: the reality of corona migration) (Chuko Shinsho La Clef), a book that engages with the real face of the corona migrants who have left Tokyo. Windsurfing on the Fuji Five Lakes  “Exiting the subway station closest to my home in Tokyo, I couldn’t see the moon.” Ishibashi Minako (pseudonym, 33), PR officer at the IT venture company Thinkings (Chuo Ward, Tokyo), lived in a rented apartment in Chuo Ward, Tokyo. Her rent for the one room apartment with a kitchen (26 m2) was 106,000 yen. After the declaration of a state of emergency ... ... [Read more]

No.65, Economy
Sept. 2, 2021

Economics Knowledge for COVID-19 Measures: Applying Cognitive Bias to Policymaking

Ida Takanori, Professor at the Graduate School of Economics, Kyoto University   Key points The pessimism bias is stronger in Japanese people than in British people People who have pessimism bias understand the need for self-restraint Education needs to target young men and other groups at high risk of infection   More than a year since the outbreak of the pandemic, the COVID-19 catastrophe has still not abated. Coronavirus is not the only thing that has become prevalent. The academic term “behavior change,” used in the behavioral sciences, has unexpectedly come into widespread use. Behavioral economics considers human rationality to be limited and cognition to be subject to biases, placing emphasis on “nudge” as a means of changing behavior for the better. A declaration of a state of emergency issued in some areas on April 7, 2020, asked citizens to refrain from leaving the ... ... [Read more]

No.65, Economy
Sept. 1, 2021

Rewiring Supply Chains Based on Trust in Laws and Institutions under the U.S.-China Confrontation

Tomiura Eiichi, Faculty Fellow and Program Director at the Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI), Professor at the Faculty of Economics, Hitotsubashi University   It is difficult to grasp the whole picture of a cross-border supply chain based on publicly available statistics. However, according to a list of suppliers (e.g., parts manufacturers) disclosed by Apple Inc., for example, the supply chain for the company’s products extends across as many as 30 countries/regions. In addition to “snake”-type supply chains, under which long lines of production processes are located across many countries, there are “spider”-type ones, under which intermediate goods are collected from suppliers in many countries. This classification of supply chains was proposed by Richard Baldwin of the Graduate Institute of International Studies, Geneva, and Anthony Venables of Oxford University in the United Kingdom. Many countries have enjoyed the merits of combining the ... ... [Read more]

No.65, Diplomacy
Aug. 31, 2021

Japan’s Arctic Policy and the Northern Sea Route: Conflict between “Energy Security” and “Freedom of Navigation”

  The Northern Sea Route has had appeal for the international community in recent years. Japan is working with Russia to promote participation in the development of LNG, and hopes are high for its future role as a new international route. At the same time, consensus over navigation regulations is vital to achieve this.   Kaneko Nanae, Researcher, First Research Office of the Special Committees and the Research Committees of House of Councillors   On March 23, 2021, a large container ship ran aground in the Suez Canal, causing a six-day disruption to the international logistics network. While this gave rise around the world to a renewed sense of impending crisis concerning the vulnerability of this choke point, Russia alone spied an opportunity to promote the Northern Sea Route (NSR) as an alternative transportation route. The Arctic Ocean had long been icebound, but global ... ... [Read more]

No.65, Economy
Aug. 30, 2021

The Road to Carbon Neutrality and the Issues of the 6th Strategic Energy Plan

Kikkawa Takeo, Vice President, Professor, Graduate School of International Management, International University of Japan   The confusion caused by the new reduction targets Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide announced a policy of realizing carbon neutrality and reducing Japanese greenhouse gas emissions to a “net zero” by 2050 in his policy speech immediately after his inauguration on October 26, 2020. He also presented the target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 46% by FY2030 compared with FY2013 at the Leaders Summit on Climate, hosted by US President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. on April 22, 2021. This new target of a 46% reduction is a considerable upward adjustment of the previous target. At COP21 (The 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), which adopted the Paris Agreement in 2015, the Japanese government made the international commitment to “reduce greenhouse gas ... ... [Read more]

No.65, Culture
Aug. 28, 2021

“Japanese Anime Is in Decline”: Does “Cool Japan” still have currency?

Furuichi Masako, Associate Professor, Peking University   Is Japanese anime now in decline? Recently, a student I teach at Peking University submitted a graduation thesis containing the phrase “Japanese anime has entered a decline….” I was shocked. On the one hand I thought, “That’s not true.” But part of me had to accept what was written. That’s because over the last few years Japanese subcultures have been losing the kind of influence they once had in China. But why were Japanese subcultures once popular in China? After the Cultural Revolution came to a close, and as China started to reform and open up, the country chose Japan as its model for economic development. The reasons were that Japan had a market economy but was also devising and implementing economic plans, that it was trying to move from the closed-to-the-outside economic system of the pre-war ... ... [Read more]

No.65, Economy
Aug. 26, 2021

Characteristics and Issues of Japan’s Response to COVID-19 — An International Comparison —

Okina Yuri, Executive Vice President, Nippon Institute for Research Advancement (NIRA), Chairperson, The Japan Research Institute, Limited   Abstract In 2020, the world economy was struck by the unprecedented crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic. Japan’s response to the pandemic has been comparatively successful when considered from an international perspective, and has reduced the nation’s mortality rate. At the same time, it must be said that it has also highlighted serious structural issues in Japanese society. Based on an international comparison, the most important issues to be addressed can be seen to include comprehensive review of the system of medical care and the cultivation of readiness for emergency responses. In addition, the important issues from the perspective of ensuring economic security are the enhancement of vaccine development, flexible responses with regard to the various regulations associated with vaccination, and focused and flexible government expenditure with ... ... [Read more]

No.65, Society
Aug. 23, 2021

What Happened Next for “Tokyo University Women” —their experiences of “Tokyo University Men” and the barriers facing them in a male-run society

  It is seventy-five years since women first entered the University of Tokyo. The hidden struggles behind impressive careers. Akiyama Chika, journalist   “I feel like I’ve been driven to this point…” Wearing a satin blouse with a colorful pattern, the woman falters as she speaks, and huge tears trickle down. Her name is Yamaguchi Mayu. One of her jobs is working as a media commentator, but while a student in the University of Tokyo’s (Tokyo University below) Faculty of Law, Yamaguchi passed both the national bar examination and the National Civil Service (Level 1) exam (formerly, National Civil Service Comprehensive Service exam). When she graduated in 2006, she gained top marks in all subjects and was awarded the University of Tokyo President’s Award. After working as a civil servant in the Ministry of Finance, she became a lawyer and worked at a well-known ... ... [Read more]