No.50 | Discuss Japan-Japan Foreign Policy Forum

Archives : No.50

Oct 2018

No.50
Society, No.50  Nov. 29, 2018

Regeneration after The Damage Caused by The Nuclear Disaster — Reconstruction policies that help victims regain their dignity

Evacuation orders are being lifted, but what is actually happening on the ground? Just the return of evacuees is not enough to rebuild lives. We need reconstruction policies that help individuals regain their dignity. The suffering of the victims of the nuclear disaster Often, disasters can remove their victims’ dignity. These victims lose their lives within the region up to that time, their role as members of society and as workers, their role within their family and its daily life, and many other things they have built up over time. And it is not just individuals who lose their dignity, but regions do so in the same way. Regions might lose that which makes their community have value, such as the richness of nature and daily life, or the brand on which the region prides itself.  In February 2017, the second survey into the ... ... [Read more]

Economy, No.50
Nov. 28, 2018

Moving toward Electric Vehicles Will Cause Dramatic Changes in Oil Consumption: Rising Dependence on the Middle East and Geopolitical Risks

  Oil occupies a central position in the global energy market. In the 2000s (2000 to 2007), global demand for oil grew at an average rate of 1.3 million barrels per day (Mb/d) due to such issues as brisk demand in China. At that time, peak oil theory (theory of an oil supply peak) received wide coverage. Excess liquidity in financial markets caused crude oil prices to soar, resulting in a tight supply and demand balance, which emphasized concern about a supply peak. Policies and lifestyles will continue to change in response to trends in the Reference Scenario in the IEEJ Outlook 2018 prepared by the Institute of Energy Economics, Japan (IEEJ). Accordingly, global oil demand will grow from 90 Mb/d in 2015 to 122 Mb/d in 2050. Demand for oil will decrease by 9 Mb/d in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) ... ... [Read more]

Economy, No.50
Nov. 27, 2018

Points of Discussion Concerning the Strategic Energy Plan: Toward policy measures to take advantage of the market mechanism

The Strategic Energy Plan is based on two major principles. The first principle is that the government sets numerical targets regarding the future energy mix. Under the fifth draft plan, the government would maintain the policy of aiming for a share of around 60% for thermal power and around 20% each for both nuclear power and renewable energy. The second principle is that the government determines policy measures to achieve various policy goals. For example, means of reducing CO2 emissions include the use of renewable energy and nuclear power and the promotion of energy conservation. The new Strategic Energy Plan is expected to indicate numerical targets for emission reduction with respect to each means of reduction. In economics, this policy design approach is known as “optimization by social planners.” Under this approach, the government gathers as much information as possible as a social planner ... ... [Read more]

Economy, No.50
Nov. 16, 2018

What Do Growth Strategies Need?: Sweeping Away Citizens’ Anxiety Regarding the Future

Key Points Growth strategies do not raise corporate and household expectations Younger households suppress their consumption to a greater extent in anticipation of lower lifetime income Working style reforms are essential for increasing expected lifetime income The Abe cabinet has approved the Japanese government’s growth strategies (Future Investment Strategies 2018) and Basic Policies for Economic and Fiscal Management and Reform (big-boned policies). Growth strategies for this year prioritize driverless automatic driving, next-generation healthcare systems and an e-government, among other projects, for realizing Society 5.0. They seek to raise the potential growth rate through technological innovations. The strategies also incorporate various other measures for growth, such as human resources development, working style reforms, regulatory reforms and economic partnerships, as stated in big-boned policies that are growth strategies in a broad sense. This is the sixth year under the growth strategies adopted by the Abe cabinet. ... ... [Read more]

Economy, No.50
Nov. 16, 2018

The BOJ’s Difficult Path Towards an Exit from Current Easing: Impact of ETF holdings on corporate management

Key Points Stock buying by central banks is highly unusual No need to worry that unrealized losses will push BOJ into negative equity One option is for BOJ to simultaneously sell ETFs and buy an equivalent amount of stocks There is much debate surrounding the BOJ’s exit from monetary easing. In particular, market watchers and players alike are keeping an eye on developments in the BOJ’s Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) Purchase Policy. In this article, I would like to examine the impact of the BOJ’s ETF purchases and its exit strategy. The BOJ started buying ETFs as part of the monetary easing policy introduced in December 2010 under Governor Shirakawa Masaaki. ETF purchases were initially intended to reduce Japan’s high market risk premia (additional returns) in the aftermath of the global financial crisis. However, the BOJ made it a rule that the amount of ... ... [Read more]

Science, No.50
Nov. 15, 2018

New Developments in Albatross Conservation—Using biologging to elucidate behavior in the ocean

The albatross is a group of birds at high risk of extinction. The reasons for this are thought to include a decreased survival rate of parent birds due to bycatching during fishing. To date, the research of incidental by-catch risk and the evaluation of the efficiency of by-catch mitigation techniques relied on observations from boats. Data obtained in this way however contains bias. Biologging can be used to collect useful data for albatross conservation, such as an overlap of the distribution of albatross and fishing grounds, the fishing boat following behavior of albatross, and the dynamics of wintering areas. 1.Use of biologging The study of seabird behavior on the ocean has advanced rapidly thanks to biologging: field research techniques to collect information of the location and behavior of individual animals by attaching a small data recording device known as a “data logger.” Some devices ... ... [Read more]

Economy, No.50
Nov. 15, 2018

The BOJ’s Difficult Path Towards an Exit from Current Easing: The BOJ should win the market over and prevent a sharp increase in interest rates

Key Points The Government and the BOJ must prevent national finances from spiraling toward collapse The BOJ cannot reduce JGB purchases to zero through the manipulation of interest rates The BOJ should spell out that it will maintain easing whilst withdrawing from large-scale asset purchases At its Monetary Policy Meeting at the end of July, the Bank of Japan (BOJ) adopted the policy of “strengthening the framework for continuous powerful monetary easing.” While pledging to keep short- and long-term rates low, the central bank said that it would allow long-term yields to move up more than before. Is the BOJ’s true intention to strengthen easing or to move a step closer to an “exit”? Since the 2008 global financial crisis, the central banks of the world’s leading economies have deployed all manner of unconventional monetary policies including large-scale asset purchases, forward guidance and negative ... ... [Read more]

Economy, No.50
Nov. 14, 2018

The BOJ’s Difficult Path Towards an Exit from Current Easing: A difficult balancing act between the merits and demerits of easing

Key Points Concerns over side effects of interest rate manipulation and ETF purchases The new version of Forward guidance is extremely weak The longer price stagnation persists, the stronger the side effects of the measures The BOJ’s monetary policy has entered a difficult phase. Despite the current buoyancy in the economy and the job market in particular, inflation remains low, and there is no prospect of achieving the inflation target. An exit is still a long way off. At the same time, the BOJ is now finally running out of options for additional easing, having already adopted a panoply of easing tools over the past two decades. Thus, BOJ policymakers are absolutely stuck, failing to move in either direction. Worse still, there has been no progress among academics in economic theories on the central bank’s response in the event that achievement of the monetary ... ... [Read more]

Economy, No.50
Nov. 14, 2018

The Harmful Effects of U.S. Trade Restrictions (II): A chain of retaliation and global chaos

The United States is accelerating its restrictions on imports. On March 23, 2018, the Donald Trump administration imposed a 25% tariff on steel imports and a 10% tariff on aluminum imports. On the same day, it announced its policy to slap a 25% tariff on the more than 1,300 imports from China in response to China’s alleged violation of intellectual property rights and mandatory technology transfer. The restrictions on steel and aluminum imports are based on Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act, which claims that the decline in the steel and aluminum industries as a result of increased imports could threaten national security, and thus such imports should be restricted. Initially, it was announced that the restriction would apply to imports from all countries but eventually Canada, Mexico, South Korea, the European Union (EU), Brazil, Australia, and Argentina were temporarily exempted. Steel imports ... ... [Read more]

Science, No.50
Nov. 13, 2018

The Conservation of Endangered Albatross Species

At one time, Short-tailed Albatrosses formed large breeding colonies on Torishima in the Izu Islands and in the Ogasawara Islands, in the Daito Islands, the Senkaku Islands, and other islands near Tai-wan. Due to the collection of feathers, for which there was high foreign demand, from the mid-Meiji period (1868–1912) these albatrosses were overhunted, and in 1949 it was reported that they were extinct. In 1951, however, they were rediscovered when around ten birds were found to have survived on Torishima. Following this, in 1954 Japan established a national Wildlife Protection Area that covered the whole of Torishima (453 ha); in 1958, the short-tailed albatross was designated a national Natural Monument; and in 1962, it was promoted to a Special Natural Monument. Additionally, in 1965 the whole of Torishima was designated a Natural Monument (Natural Protected Area) in its capacity as a breeding site, ... ... [Read more]

Science, No.50
Nov. 12, 2018

The Question of Plutonium Management (II): Protect Energy Choices—It is essential to develop fast breeder reactors (FBR)

Key Points Japanese plutonium is difficult to convert into atomic bombs It is urgently necessary to build a system that makes full use of plutonium as fuel China and Russia are being proactive regarding fast breeder reactors to secure resources There is an activity that involves collecting gold and rare metals from used mobile phones. A variety of metals and semiconductors are used for mobile phones and include a small quantity of toxic substances. They are simply rubbish if they are thrown away as they are. But if you extract gold from them in order to classify them into metals and plastics, you can reduce the quantity of rubbish. This is called urban mining. In Japan, the gold extracted will be utilized for the medals for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020. The fuel that has generated a large quantity of electricity ... ... [Read more]

Politics, No.50
Nov. 5, 2018

A Look Back at the Summing Up on the Special Abdication Law

Speaker of the House of Representatives Oshima Tadamori (72) was first elected in 1983, and has been elected a total eleven consecutive times. He has served as both Minister of Education and Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. He also spent a record 1,430 days as Chairman of the LDP Diet Affairs Committee. More recently, Oshima, with Vice Speaker, President and Vice President of House of Councillors, led a cross-party discussion group of party Diet Affairs Committee Heads set up to devise a bill to address the abdication of his majesty the Emperor. Making ample use of the skills he had honed during his time heading the Diet Affairs Committee, Oshima succeeded in building agreement between ruling and opposition parties. In this article, Oshima looks back at the days leading up to the creation of the bill. In August 2016, his majesty the Emperor ... ... [Read more]

Diplomacy, No.50
Oct. 30, 2018

The new Japonisme: From international cultural exchange to cultural diplomacy — Evaluating the influence of cultural activities on diplomacy

In my previous article I discussed the Japonisme 2018 event, but how should we evaluate this from the perspective of diplomacy? Certainly, it is true that a large-scale showcase of Japanese culture and cultural exchange in France, one of the world’s centers of culture, is a significant result among our cultural PR activities. More people will become interested in Japan through the series of events, and it will definitely be a chance for Japanese culture to permeate even deeper among French people than it has so far. But to what extent can such international cultural exchange activities as these contribute to diplomacy? We commonly speak of “cultural diplomacy,” but just how cultural activities and diplomacy are connected is not actually clear. Joseph Nye coined the phrase “soft power” following the end of the Cold War. He emphasized using attractive culture as a type of ... ... [Read more]

Diplomacy, No.50
Oct. 26, 2018

Asian regional integration and the One Belt One Road Initiative: China and its neighboring economies from the perspective of the global economy[1]

In today’s report, I will speak about not regarding the growth of China as the growth of just a country, but about regarding China as an East Asian emerging economy in the global economy, and about how China’s One Belt One Road Initiative is viewed from that perspective and what issues it entails. I will present my arguments with a focus on three main points. Firstly, I will think about Asian regional integration in the global economy and the mechanisms of its growth in reference to China. Next, I will consider the concepts behind the One Belt One Road Initiative and its relationship with the related countries. Lastly, I will think about the issues facing neighboring countries. This last part appears to lack freshness, but please allow me to mention it.   The growth and regional integration of the East Asian economic bloc First ... ... [Read more]

Economy, No.50
Oct. 25, 2018

Harmful impact of US import restrictions (I) : Contagion to other trade items, retaliation by trade partners, hindering revitalization of domestic industries

Key Points Steel protection a burden on user industries that will end in job losses Excess production capacity of Chinese state-owned enterprises (SOEs) a cause of friction Non-market measures under multilateral rules should be removed Arguing that steel and aluminum imports were harming the national security of the United States by weakening domestic industries, the Trump Administration has raised import tariffs under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. These unilateral import restrictions outside the framework of World Trade Organization (WTO) rules threaten to spark a potential trade war, while protection of steel and aluminum industries from the pressures of international competition risks adversely affecting the economy and jobs. In this article I would like to consider the present status of trade policy and the problems associated with import restrictions in light of the unique nature of the steel and aluminum industries. ... ... [Read more]

Politics, No.50
Oct. 21, 2018

Meiji 150: From Steam to MagLev

Underpinning the modernization of Japanese industry were its railways. Work started on Japan’s railways during the Meiji period (1868–1912), with the help of the British. While playing a supporting role in industrial development, the railways developed chiefly around passenger transport. These days, Japan has started to export railway technology, and is contributing to the development of railways in other countries, including the UK, the birthplace of rail travel. 24.598 billion. That’s the number of people who used railways across Japan in fiscal 2016, accounting for roughly 40% of all rail travel worldwide. With 214 operators covering a total distance of approximately 28,120 kilometers, the Japanese rail network provides support for passengers traveling around metropolitan areas, from major cities out to the suburbs, and between cities. With most of the country’s population concentrated in its cities, that is where there are most rail services, providing ... ... [Read more]

Politics, No.50
Oct. 21, 2018

Meiji 150: The New Age of Inclusion and Pioneering Leadership

2018 marks 150 years since the Meiji Restoration. The Meiji period (1868–1912) was a turbulent time that became a major turning point, signaling the end of samurai rule, and the transition to a modern democracy and industrial modernization. Crucially, it was a time of inclusion and leadership. In October 1867, the Edo feudal government returned power to the imperial court. The Meiji government was established the following year, in January 1868. Pressure had been growing from the 1840s onwards, from western powers coming to Japan with the aim of opening up the country to the rest of the world, and from those looking to put in place a system centered around the imperial court. After a little over 260 years, this brought an end to the feudal government of the Edo period (1603–1867). Things were anything but easy for the Meiji government to start ... ... [Read more]

Politics, No.50
Oct. 19, 2018

Japan 150 years after the Meiji Restoration: Share its experience of development and democratization with the world—Do away with vested interests to get rid of stagnation

Key takeaways The Meiji Restoration brought a democratic revolution in tandem with a hiring revolution State-of-the-art industries, technologies and knowledge in the West were vigorously sought Post-WWII Japan has a successful track record of ODA provision to East Asian countries Fifty years ago, as Japan marked the centenary of the Meiji Restoration, there were not many in the Japanese academic community who evaluated the modernization process highly. A majority of scholars thoroughgoing as the French Revolution and the Russian Revolution. Nowadays, however, there are almost no people who admire the Russian Revolution, while the French Revolution is not evaluated as highly as it used to be. Total destruction would trigger some backlash to the extent that the new rulers would often resort to the severest form of oppression. The death toll from the Meiji Restoration stood at about 30,000. Yet, this figure was two ... ... [Read more]

Economy, No.50
Oct. 16, 2018

Points of Discussion Concerning the Strategic Energy Plan I: The nuclear power replacement strategy

< Key Points > Fifty years from now, no operational nuclear power reactors in Japan Postponements by politicians and bureaucrats have resulted in an absence of nuclear strategy and playmakers Deferred development of less toxic reactors to replace Monju The Basic Energy Plan is revised every four years with the fifth plan about to be approved by Cabinet decision. Based on the Basic Act on Energy Policy enacted in 2002, the Basic Energy Plan indicates the guiding principles for Japan’s medium and long-term energy policy. The first plan was formulated in 2003. Since then, the plan has been revised at intervals of three to four years. The fourth plan was formulated in 2014 as a result of the first reforms in the wake of the accident at the TEPCO Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in 2011.     As a result, the Long-Term Energy Demand and ... ... [Read more]

Science, Discussions, No.50
Oct. 16, 2018

Issues Concerning the Paris Agreement on Global Warming: Limitations of Negative Emissions Dependence — Make Zero Emissions the Guiding Principle

< Key Points > It is apparent that the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) submitted by member countries will not be enough to reach the 2 degree target Technologies and feasibility for massive negative emissions are unproven It is effective to accumulate technologies for zero emissions in each sector The Paris Agreement, a new framework of global warming prevention, was adopted at the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which was held in Paris in December 2015. The Parties agreed to keep the average global temperature rise well below 2˚C above pre-industrial levels (the Two-Degree Goal), keeping it in mind to do our best to keep the rise less than 1.5˚C, and realize zero net emissions by balancing anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions with negative emissions in the second half of this century. All countries and regions ... ... [Read more]

Science, No.50
Oct. 12, 2018

The Question of Plutonium Management: Now is the Time to Establish New International Norms and Standards — Collaborative Management and Disposal of Surplus Materials

< Key Points > Stockpiles of plutonium for non-military purposes have increased globally It is necessary to strengthen the international management guidelines and set an upper limit on stockpiles It is essential to review reprocessing policies to reduce stockpiles On July 17, 2018, the Agreement for Cooperation Between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of Japan Concerning Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy reached its thirty-year expiration and was automatically extended. On the same day, the Strategic Energy Plan was approved at a cabinet meeting and making efforts to reduce the quantity of possessed plutonium was specified for the first time. What is the fundamental issue behind this development? The issue of stockpiles is often considered a mistake in nuclear energy policy. However, it is imperative to regard it as a global security issue. I will explore solutions to this ... ... [Read more]