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No.68, Society  Dec. 3, 2021

What Tokyo 2020 Was Really For: Host Town Exchanges and “Promoting a Peaceful Society”

Sasao Shinta, Associate Professor, Tokyo Women’s College of Physical Education & Tokyo Women’s Junior College of Physical Education   The Olympic Charter lists “promoting a peaceful society” as its goal. The Host Town Initiative works to achieve that goal by encouraging mutually beneficial exchanges between participant countries and regions and local municipalities. I would like to detail those ideas and their actual implementation, then end by discussing my hopes for the future. Why We Even Have the Olympics This article will review the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games (hereinafter, “Tokyo 2020”) with a focus on host towns, one initiative enacted during Tokyo 2020. What is the purpose of the Olympics? In 2021, with Tokyo 2020 right around the corner, many people in Japan—especially those in Tokyo—undoubtedly thought hard upon this question. I doubt many people knew this before Tokyo 2020, but the goal ... ... [Read more]

No.68, Society  Nov. 23, 2021

Weaknesses Exposed by COVID-19: Can Japan Recover from the “Digital Defeat”?

Miyata Hiroaki, Professor, Keio University Confusion caused by digitalization delays ―Can you name some issues caused by digitalization delays in COVID-19 measures? Firstly, the operation of COVID-19 measures involves a variety of intertwining elements, so it’s not possible to explain all of it with just digitalization delays. I’d like to talk only about what’s based on facts. I think the first thing many Japanese people felt was strange was the shortage of the face masks. Even with the same volumes in stock, it’s possible that digital management could have kept track of how much is where and distribute it to avoid a situation where those who need it don’t get it. As an example, if they had clearly communicated that “there’s at least one month’s worth for “essential workers and high-risk people with chronic illness and two weeks’ worth for others,” then people would ... ... [Read more]

No.67, Society  Nov. 8, 2021

The Trends Created by the Self-Cultivation Boom: Self-Improvement in Modern Japan

“The self-cultivation boom in modern Japan was richly varied, ranging from cold-water bathing to meditation, reading, even savings. […] Even though the approaches have changed with the times, self-cultivation emerges out of similar soil and seeds to blossom differently in each age.”   Osawa Ayako, Religious scholar, Research fellow, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science The Roots of Self-Development From day to day, quite a few people harbor the feeling that they want to grow and become a wonderful person. Some people make stoic efforts to turn themselves into the person they want to be, practicing Zen meditation or other behaviors advocated by people they idealize. The thoughts and actions that encourage us to improve ourselves are called self-development. How have these practices and this kind of thinking taken root in Japanese society? The clue is in the idea of shuyo (hereinafter, self-cultivation). ... ... [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, 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]

No.64, Society  Aug. 1, 2021

The Road to a Difficult Olympics: One way or another, the Games will have to address gender equality themes

Raita Kyoko, Professor of Chukyo University   Editorial team of Chuokoron speak with Professor Raita Kyoko about gender and the Olympics. Professor Raita is a new appointee to the executive board after the resignation of Mori Yoshiro, (former) President of the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (hereinafter, the Organising Committee), following his remark that “board meetings involving many women take a long time.” Backlash against Mori’s Remarks —How do you view the remarks made on February 3?   One of the problematic remarks was “Someone was saying that if we increase the number of women on the board, we need to also make sure that speaking time is restricted to some extent, or a meeting will drag on and it becomes a problem.” It is my understanding that President Mori was referring to hearsay when he made this remark. If ... ... [Read more]

No.63, Discussions, Society  Mar. 25, 2021

Dialogue on the Gender Gap Index: Reasons why Japan is currently 121st in the world ― the growing popularity of feminism and the unchangeability of journalism

Hayashi Kaori (Professor, University of Tokyo) and Kojima Keiko (Essayist) Goodbye to “membership system” feminism ― In 2017, the two of you created a group called MeDi, the Media and Diversity Forum, and since then, you have been involved in a wide range of activities, including holding symposiums and publishing. Kojima Keiko: To date, media criticism by townspeople has often been considered unimportant. Women’s voices rarely draw attention. In discussing the whole concept of the media, both academic viewpoints and the actual feelings of the people working in the media are important. However, there are not very many points of contact. Accordingly, MeDi created opportunities for discussion. We feel this has resulted in a greater number of people being interested in issues that surround the media.   Hayashi Kaori: I have been investigating and discussing journalism and media as a researcher. But my results ... ... [Read more]

No.63, Society  Mar. 25, 2021

From Inbound Tourism to Domestic Tourism and Workations—Can Japanese Tourism Recover?

Azuma Toru, Professor, Rikkyo University The effect of the COVID-19 pandemic Tourism has been dealt a serious blow by the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only has inbound tourism suddenly decreased since COVID-19 infections started growing last February, travel overseas has shrunk because travelers have nowhere to go. What’s more, even within Japan travel demand for tourism, business travel, and vacation trips to hometowns has greatly decreased. It’s a situation of “lost inbound” in which inbound tourism since last April continues to be down more than 99% month-on-month vs. the previous year. Bearing in mind that the amount spent by inbound travelers in 2019 was 4.8 trillion yen, that has mostly gone and the economic loss is extremely large. In particular, areas with a high ratio of expenditure by inbound tourists, such as Osaka (46.2%) and Tokyo at (44.8%) have been very greatly affected compared to ... ... [Read more]

No.63, Discussions, Society  Mar. 2, 2021

What Does “Quality” Mean for Tourism

Shimoji Yoshiro, Chairman of the Okinawa Convention & Visitors Bureau (OCVB) Interviewed by Yamada Yuichi, General Manager of the Tourism Research Department, Japan Travel Bureau Foundation on October 7, 2020 Developments in Okinawa tourism from spring to September 2020 Yamada Yuichi: Please tell us about developments in Okinawa tourism over the last few months. Shimoji Yoshiro: There was nothing we could do about the national emergency declaration in April and May, but in June and July when we’d finally started to recover, infection spread in an unexpected place, namely nightlife districts. Okinawa has been susceptible to infectious disease due to our social environment. Historically, we have many children and elderly people who often interact, and this was the case during previous epidemics of new strains of influenza or measles. It is a weakness with no solution and we have gone on with 20 or ... ... [Read more]