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No.58
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]

Blog
Diplomacy  Jun. 1, 2020

Building International Cooperation in Infection Control Measures: The Role of Japanese Diplomacy as We Enter the Post-Coronavirus World

Sakabe-Mori Aki, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Tsukuba   People have pointed out the lack of international cooperation in the response to COVID-19, said to be the greatest ordeal of the postwar period. At the General Meeting of the WHO on May 18, 2020, China announced that it would donate the large sum of 2 billion dollars in response to COVID-19, while the United States criticized the WHO for being “pro-Chinese,” thus making the meeting a stage for US–China conflict. At the time of writing this article (June 1, 2020), there is still no clear prospect for international cooperation in infection control measures. In this paper, I consider how Japanese diplomacy can contribute to the building of such international cooperation. The shortage of masks, protective gear, artificial respirators, and other medical supplies is emblematic of how international cooperation is ... ... [Read more]

No.58
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.57
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
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
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]

No.56
No.56, Diplomacy  Feb. 22, 2020

Research on Water by His Majesty the Emperor and International Society

  His vision and action have advanced from researching “water transportation systems during the Middle Ages” to globally addressing “water for happiness, peace, and prosperity.” What are the thoughts of His Majesty the Emperor of Japan, who has served as honorary president of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation, on water?     It was the first summer vacation period of the Reiwa era and the Emperor had navigated a busy schedule before attending to his research. Three months after his enthronement, he had restarted his study of water. I was invited to the Imperial Palace in order to present an academic lecture to the Emperor. And as usual, I was greeted with a gentle smile. The topics of discussion that day were varied: water supply, hygiene, climate change, water and food, energy, even culture and belief. It took well ... ... [Read more]

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
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
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]