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No.8
Politics, No.8  Nov. 29, 2011

BEHIND THE SCENES OF OPERATION TOMODACHI

U.S. forces took quick action for relief immediately after the quake Katsumata: Following the unprecedented disaster on March 11, U.S. forces promptly announced their full support and collaborated with the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF). To enable smooth action, BCAT was for the first time ever set up within the Ministry of Defense as well as in disaster-hit Sendai. This organization is essentially BCAT that would be set up in times of an armed attack against Japan or in emergency situations in neighboring regions in order to allow the fluid communication between the militaries of the two countries. It is defined in the Guidelines on U.S.-Japan Defense Cooperation drafted in 1997, but had never before been set up. Based on these guidelines, BCAT was established in response to the disaster. BCAT took a central role in running Operation Tomodachi, which people... [Read more]

No.8
Politics, No.8  Nov. 27, 2011

POLITICIANS, WOULD YOU PLEASE STOP BETRAYING OUR NATIONAL INTERESTS?

The “Quintuple Distress” and its impact on the industrial circle ITOH Motoshige: Since the Great East Japan Earthquake, we have often felt that the government’s actions are slow when it comes to the recovery of the damaged areas and the policy issues that Japan needs to face, and we almost question if they are actually betraying national interests by being too caught up in their own political matters. What are your impressions on the current state of Japanese politics? HASEGAWA Yasuchika: Exactly like you say. As the loss of ruling party control in both houses is almost a given, unless they resolve the problem of the ruling party not even being able to pass a bill on its own, the earthquake recovery and every other policy issue will grind to a halt. Another unfortunate thing that we see happening is that members of the ... ... [Read more]

No.8
Politics, No.8  Nov. 26, 2011

THE NATURE OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF JAPAN AND THE FUTURE OF JAPANESE POLITICS

Introduction The media is unsparing in its view of government by the Democratic Party of Japan. The trials and errors and straying course of day-to-day administration, in particular, seem to rub reporters the wrong way, and as a result, the following is the picture painted two years after the party took power. Prime Minister Hatoyama Yukio destroyed himself by repeating inconsistent statements as demonstrated by the Futenma issue. His replacement, Kan Naoto, started out by abruptly announcing a tax-and-spend policy before suffering a major defeat in the Upper House elections, and after the earthquake disaster, he made a display of abandoning nuclear power... [Read more]

No.8
Politics, No.8  Oct. 5, 2011

U.S.-JAPAN RELATIONS IN CONTEMPORARY WORLD HISTORY

Much is being made of the fact that this year, 2011, is the sixtieth anniversary of the San Francisco peace conference that ended the state of war between Japan and the United States and at the same time established the basic framework for a security alliance between the two nations. We could also note that this year marks the seventieth anniversary of Pearl Harbor and the eightieth anniversary of the Japanese invasion of Manchuria that ultimately led to the U.S.-Japan war. It is also fifty years since 1961 when President John F. Kennedy and Prime Minister Ikeda Hayato declared a “new era” in the two countries’ relationship, and forty years since the “Nixon shocks” of 1971 that seemed to shake the foundation of... [Read more]

No.8
Politics, No.8  Oct. 4, 2011

HOW HAS JAPAN TREATED NUCLEAR POWER?

NAKAMURA Kiichiro (Moderator, Editor-in-Chief Diplomacy [Gaiko]): The accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant on March 11 has greatly impacted Japanese society. No one ever thought this sort of accident would take place. But if we carefully observe it and its consequences, it is clearly insufficient to blame it on shirking or neglect by certain concerned parties. Instead, the manner in which we have dealt with the issues of nuclear power and energy and the lifestyles Japanese society has pursued since World War II are being questioned. Nuclear power shed light on a bright future TAKEDA Toru: In the years not so long after the war, there was a naive optimism that nuclear power, or science and technology in general, would open up a bright future for Japan. I too was strongly affected by Tezuka Osamu’s cartoon... [Read more]

No.8
Politics, No.8  Oct. 1, 2011

ALLIANCE, BASES AND OKINAWA — WHY DOES JAPAN STOP THINKING?

From a social thought perspective The cost of the U.S. military bases in Japan accounts for a large percentage of the cost of the Japan-U.S. alliance. If the essence of the alliance is an asymmetric exchange of manpower and goods, or the exchange of the U.S. armed forces and bases provided by Japan, as Sakamoto Kazuya put it in The Bond of the Japan-U.S. Alliance: The Security Pact and the Search of Mutuality, Okinawa, where more than 70% of the U.S. military bases in Japan are concentrated, provides most of the few things that Japan can provide to the United States. Even if the economic effects of the U.S. bases in Okinawa are added to the... [Read more]

No.7
Politics, No.7  Sept. 29, 2011

IN NEED OF NEW RULES OF THE GAME

Introduction: The rules of the game are lost The current political situation makes us wonder if the rules of the game have been lost. Even after the unprecedented earthquake and tsunami disaster and the nuclear plant accident that can be labeled as a man-made disaster, resulting from previous flawed nuclear and electric power policies, politics and the bureaucracy continue to malfunction. It is appalling that a political consensus cannot be reached. As usual, the politicians are searching for a scapegoat. Many are now acting as if the problems could be resolved by simply dragging the prime minister down. However, the reality goes beyond the issue of a single... [Read more]

No.7
Politics, No.7  Aug. 6, 2011

MIYAGI WILL BE REVIVED WITH ITS OWN RECOVERY DISTRICT PLAN

Why did the government’s Recovery Plan Meetings fall behind? The Great East Japan Earthquake Recovery Plan Meetings were set up under direct orders from Prime Minister Kan Naoto to prompt determined restoration and recovery from this “once in a thousand years” quake and to discuss the nation’s new order. The first meeting was held with the prime minister’s Cabinet in mid-April. The expectation was obviously that the prime minister would offer his basic vision toward recovery, and I, as one of the members representing the disaster-hit areas, had also expected this. Yet he ultimately showed no such vision, almost seeming as if he was... [Read more]

No.7
Politics, No.7  Aug. 3, 2011

TOWARD UNIVERSALLY ACCEPTED AGRICULTURE (PART I): CONSOLIDATE FARMLAND, INTEGRATE WITH RESIDENTIAL LAND

The political situation remains confused, but there must not be any delay to the rebuilding after the Great East Japan Earthquake. With the problems at the nuclear power plant not yet contained and many victims continuing to live in emergency shelters, we should act quickly to secure their livelihoods for now and implement compensation to the victims in order to contain harmful rumors. At the same time, it is important to draw up plans for the future, which will likely require a fundamental review of the concept of the regional economic society. As long as arable land remains dispersed, there will be no progress in terms of efficiency. With regard to agriculture, the government has already made it clear that it is looking at building a food supply base in Tohoku by consolidating farmland in the disaster areas and developing large-scale agriculture. Also, to ... ... [Read more]

No.7
Politics, No.7  Aug. 1, 2011

CREATING A SOLAR BELT IN EAST JAPAN

Cell phone networks collapsedI was shocked by the Great East Japan Earthquake. These days I carry a Geiger counter wherever I go and I was surprised when I went to the Kansai area last week and the device registered double digits like I had seen in Tokyo. Radiation now spreads beyond Tohoku and Kanto to the west as well. One thing that I, as an operator of a cell phone business, was reminded from this earthquake and tsunami is that although cell phones are wireless, stations are wired with optical fiber cables, and when these are broken or power fails, cell phones do not work at all. When we lose electricity and the network is crippled, cell phones are completely out of service. SoftBank phones also lacked sufficient functioning for receiving earthquake early warnings, so I have decided to equip nearly every phone in ... ... [Read more]