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No.62
No.62, Society  Nov. 16, 2020

We Are Approaching the Limits of Having Only Policies that Preserve Employment!: The Largest Number of People Taking a Leave of Absence Since World War II—What Has Happened in the Labor Market?

Genda Yuji, Professor, University of Tokyo Only a Slight Increase in Unemployment in April When the declaration of a state of emergency was issued for all of Japan due to the spread of COVID-19 in April 2020, the survival of many companies was in jeopardy and the Japanese workplace faced unprecedented difficulties. Job opportunities collapsed and there was concern that we might see workers lose their jobs and struggle to survive. According to the Labor Force Survey by the Statistics Bureau, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, released at the end of May, the number of workers across Japan was reduced by 1.07 million (seasonally adjusted) in just one month from March to April when infections rapidly spread. As a great reduction from the previous month since May 1953 when comparisons can be made, it was second to the 1.13 million workers from January ... ... [Read more]

No.61
No.61, Society  Oct. 27, 2020

Infectious Disease and Civilization in the Twenty-first Century: Invisible Calamities Attack Modernity and the Spirit of Civil Virtue Developed by the Japanese People

Yamazaki Masakazu, Playwright and Critic   Editor’s note: Professor Yamazaki Masakazu passed away on August 19, 2020. This article, written in early May 2020, is published in translation here with the permission of the bereaved family and the original publisher. Going back to a previous time in world history The current spread of COVID-19 can be considered a “historic” event in two senses. Firstly, of course, it is an epoch-making tragedy and turning point in contemporary history, because the epidemic is likely to have a lasting influence on future civilization. Secondly, and of greater significance, the tragedy pours cold water on the hidden arrogance of modern people, and we can imagine it encouraging a return to the human civilization of the past: a time when urban civilization arose. The epoch that we call the “modern age” has had a number of stages—and as humanity ... ... [Read more]

No.61
No.61, Society  Oct. 15, 2020

The Way Forward Is “Shorter, Cheaper, and Closer to Home”: The Tourism Industry Will Recover Even Without Inbound Tourism!

Hoshino Yoshiharu, CEO, Hoshino Resorts   One of the industries most severely hit by the COVID-19 pandemic has been the tourism industry. Some small and medium-sized traditional inns have even gone bankrupt, so what can be done to revive the tourism industry? Bungeishunju asked HoshinoYoshiharu, CEO of Hoshino Resorts, who is the manager of luxury traditional inns and hotels.   The declaration of a state of emergency was lifted and travel across prefectural borders was once again permitted starting on June 19, so people are gradually returning to the tourist attractions. The tourism industry lost a major market in the so-called Golden Week due to the COVID-19 outbreak, so it’s positive that this development started speeding up ahead of the important summer season. It felt like there was a glimmer of hope. The number of reservations for the facilities we run in Japan are ... ... [Read more]

No.61
No.61, Society  Oct. 5, 2020

Three Researchers Entrusted with the Nation’s Fate: Document Novel Coronavirus “Expert Meeting”― Four Months of Struggling Against the People and the Government

Hirono Shinji, nonfiction writer   He has a quick pace. Oshitani Hitoshi (61), Professor at the Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine and the man who has contin ued to work these four months focused on Japan’s COVID-19 measures, is said to have gone mountain climbing 100 days a year while as a student and member of the alpine club, and even today is said to do so 50 days a year. He is a good walker. I finally caught him on May 21 at the Central Government Building No. 8, located diagonally across from the Prime Minister’s Official Residence. Oshitani, who had just come out of the meeting room right after a meeting of the Advisory Committee on the Basic Action Policy that had finished the government’s policy on the lifting of the state of emergency for 42 prefectures, stuck to his position ... ... [Read more]

No.61
No.61, Society  Sept. 30, 2020

“Rebooting Memories”: Creating “Flow” and Inheriting Memories from Colorized Photographs

Niwata Anju and Watanave Hidenori   When visualizing the colors that photographs should have had, the impressions of “freezing” in black-and-white photographs are “rebooted,” and viewers can more easily imagine the events depicted. This bridges the psychological gap between past events and modern daily life, sparking conversations.     The “reality”[i] of past events, such as wars and disasters, are multifaceted, holding the viewpoints of different people. Digital archives, which include different types of accurate materials, are an important basis for conveying these “realities.” However, it has been verified that these digital archives are still not being fully utilized[ii]. To address this issue, we must draw public attention to the value of these archived materials and create motivation for their use. Modern society discovered the value of “flow” creation through appropriate information design and sparking communication, in addition to the “stocked” data itself[iii]. Therefore, ... ... [Read more]

No.61
No.61, Society  Sept. 25, 2020

The History of Infectious Disease in Japan: Origins of the World’s Best Hygiene Awareness — The Mysterious Relationship between the Japanese and the God of Pestilence

Isoda Michifumi, Associate Professor, International Research Center for Japanese Studies   The authority of the Emperor of Japan as well as the rituals at Ise Jingu shrine have their beginnings in infectious disease. Today, people in Japan have a high awareness of hygiene. This advantage has contributed much to overcoming the current wave of COVID-19. How did this amazing public health competency develop among the people of Japan? To consider this question, we need to look back at history. The story starts 1,700 years ago. Emperor Sujin (97–30 BCE) is thought to be the tenth in the imperial line after Emperor Jimmu (660–585 BCE), the first emperor who may actually have existed. This is what Inoue Mitsusada (1917–83), an authority on the ancient history of Japan at the University of Tokyo who compiled the postwar history textbooks, says in Nihon no rekishi 1: Shinwa ... ... [Read more]

No.60
No.60, Discussions, Society  Sept. 18, 2020

Udo Yumiko’s My Fair Person: What Can Be Seen from the COVID-19 LINE Survey―Miyata Hiroaki, Professor, School of Medicine, Department of Health Policy and Management of Keio University

UDO Yumiko vs Prof. MIYATA Hiroaki   Udo Yumiko: Nice to meet you, Professor Miyata. This is my first time talking online with someone that I’ve never met in person before. Professor Miyata Hiroaki: I’m honored!   Udo: Professor Miyata, you proposed the “Early SNS-Based Monitoring System for the COVID-19 Outbreak in Japan: A Population-Level Observational Study,” gathered massive amounts of health data from many people, and continue with efforts that utilize the next move in COVID-19 measures in cooperation with local governments and the Cluster Response Team of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW). Miyata: Of the approximately 83 million LINE users in Japan, we received responses from about 25 million during the first survey, held from March 31 to April 1. With a response rate of about one-third, it was the second largest survey in Japanese history, excluding the national ... ... [Read more]

No.60
No.60, Society  Sept. 11, 2020

The Dividing Lines of Contemporary Japan: Political Correctness in the Social Media Era

Ito Masaaki, Professor, Seikei University   The coronavirus outbreak uncovered various forms of division and conflict in society. Not only political and economic conflicts, but cultural conflicts between people with diverse backgrounds have intensified and “flame wars” over these have been unfolding online more or less daily. Yet those conflicts were not caused by the coronavirus outbreak itself. Rather, it could be said that the coronavirus outbreak has brought to light the various conflicts that had already been formed in Japanese society and lay concealed within. For example, the comedian Okamura Takashi sparked controversy in late April with a remark allegedly discriminating against women that he made on-air during a radio show, and was forced to apologize along with the radio station. This incident caused one of the biggest storms of criticisms at the time and followed a “flame war pattern” that has been ... ... [Read more]

No.60
No.60, Society  Sept. 7, 2020

The History of Infectious Disease in Japan: The Answer Is in History — To What Degree Are Protective Hygiene Measures among the Japanese Effective?

Isoda Michifumi, Associate Professor, International Research Center for Japanese Studies   Currently, COVID-19 is spreading so quickly that the situation changes from day to day. This is precisely why we need to step back from the new situation and take a broad view of matters from the perspective of the history of civilization. I have previously consulted ancient documents on infectious diseases in Japan, but this article is based on the writings of my former teacher, the late Hayami Akira (Nihon wo osotta Supein infuruenza; translated as The Influenza Pandemic in Japan, 1918–1920) and the environmental journalist Ishi Hiroyuki (Kansensho no sekaishi [A World History of Infectious Diseases]). Ishi, who is my uncle by marriage, is also an expert on infectious diseases in Africa and elsewhere. New infectious diseases have assailed mankind any number of times. If we consult history, we may learn lessons ... ... [Read more]

No.60
No.60, Society  Aug. 23, 2020

Japan and COVID-19

On June 30 and July 2, Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga Yoshihide stated that, “In a worst case scenario, we may enact another state of emergency.” But even if we avoid that worst case scenario, what will become of the Japanese economy and society? How quickly can Japan address the lagging digitalization in administration, health and education and the national digital divide? Mizuno Tetsu delves into the impact on Japan of the spread of COVID-19.   Mizuno Tetsu, freelance writer   On July 2, it was decided to cancel the Gion Festival, one of many representative Japanese festivals. The Gion Festival’s origins lie in Emperor Kanmu holding a festival in 869 to pray for the frequent disasters and diseases of the time to disappear, and it has decorated Kyoto summers for 1,150 years. Each year, over 400,000 people throng to the yoiyama, the climax of ... ... [Read more]