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No.56
No.56, Society  Mar. 16, 2020

Tokyo sunk: The day when Weathering with You becomes a reality

The Arakawa River overflows its banks, leaving 2.5 million people submerged in water: The residents of the five Koto, or east-of-the-river, cities have no other choice but to evacuate.   Typhoon Hagibis made landfall on Japan’s mainland on October 12, 2019, causing enormous damage for two days. The typhoon left 88 people dead and seven missing nationwide (as of October 26), and a total of 281 rivers overflowed their dikes. More than other events, the overflow of the Tama River shocked many people, who then realized that even the center of Tokyo cannot ignore the danger of floods. The water level of the Tama River began to rise after 6:00 AM on October 12 and overflowed at 10:00 PM. The water level reached waist-deep in a residential area of the Denen-chofu district of Tokyo’s Ota City. From its southwest side, water infiltrated Futako-Tamagawa Station ... ... [Read more]

No.55
No.55, Society  Feb. 17, 2020

The Value of Co-working and Co-creation: Why Is a Life Cycle Perspective Necessary?

Coexisting with Foreign Workers in Japan The “specified skilled worker” status of residence was established following the enactment of the Act for Partial Amendment of the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act and the Act for Establishment of the Ministry of Justice in April 2019. As of October 2018, there were about 1.46 million foreign workers in Japan, and the number is projected to increase further in the years ahead. Amid this situation, local communities face the challenge of how to deal with the increasing number of foreign workers and their families. In this feature, the authors [Discuss Japan carries the article by Kawamura Chizuko below], introduce the status of residence system, measures for employing foreign workers, local governments making use of the increasing number of foreigners to revitalize their local communities, efforts made by housing complexes more than half of whose inhabitants are ... ... [Read more]

No.55
No.55, Society  Jan. 9, 2020

What is Needed for Konbini to Truly Become a Part of Social Infrastructure

Today, Japan’s convenience stores (konbini) can already be considered a form of so-called social infrastructure. However, in the face of Japan’s current social circumstances, with the decline in population size and the progression of population aging, konbini now find themselves standing at a crossroads, unable to cater to various changes in consumer lifestyles. In this article, we will consider the reasons behind this situation, and explore ways in which konbini can continue to function as a true part of social infrastructure in the future, based on the history of their evolution up until this point. Konbini at a crossroads Until now, konbini have been recognized/acknowledged as a part of Japan’s social infrastructure, as opposed to simply “convenient” stores at which to shop. This is due to the fact that, despite individual stores being small in scale, convenience store chains have provided not only products ... ... [Read more]

No.54
No.54, Discussions, Society  Nov. 13, 2019

Creating a “Future” Society: Iwate Prefecture’s Yahaba Town: creating a revitalization strategy with residents from forty years in the future

Residential participation: benefits and problems ——Please tell us how future design came to be introduced to Yahaba Town in Iwate Prefecture. Yoshioka Ritsuji: In recent years, how to maintain worn out water supply infrastructure has become a significant issue for the whole of Japan. Yahaba Town is no different, so we started a residents participation workshop to first learn about residents’ needs and also to communicate that the town office is aware of the issue. As a result of this, we learned that most residents take safe water for granted and want water charges to be as low as possible. But going into the future, we do not know if today’s water rates can keep providing safe water. So that they’d understand the actual situation we thought we’d expand the scope of the workshop. By the end of that, some residents said they thought ... ... [Read more]

No.53
No.54, Society  Nov. 5, 2019

IT Changes in the Employment Environment for Seniors

Cloud system supports the employment environment for seniors Japan is likely to see the arrival of the 100-year life era. If a person retires at the age of 65, the pension revenue for the remaining thirty-five years would be insufficient. Securing living expenses until the end of life and the employment of seniors are huge issues. In addition, if the experience, knowledge and skills of active and healthy seniors can be put to good use, they can be used as a new driving force in society. Based on this idea, projects for developing and manufacturing self-driving vehicles and robots have been implemented since 2011 with support from the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST). One of those projects is Senior Cloud, our focus. Senior Cloud is a joint project between the University of Tokyo and IBM Japan Ltd, based on information technology for the ... ... [Read more]

No.53
No.53, Society  Oct. 19, 2019

For the realization of the SDGs: The characteristics of the SDGs and the practices of Japanese local governments

The application of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is being promoted in organizational management in a variety of realms. The SDGs are also being focused on as one of the essential parts of the management of local governments and cities, and practical initiatives are being conducted. This paper explains the characteristics of the SDGs and the methods of thinking behind them, introduces practical initiatives carried out by Japanese local governments and presents the points of view expected for future developments. 1. The SDGs applied as common goals Japanese companies and local governments focus on the keywords of the SDGs, and practical initiatives and applications by a wide range of actors are being promoted as common goals pursued globally. For example, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Reports are intended to fulfill accountability for how individual companies regard their relationships with diverse stakeholders in society and what ... ... [Read more]

No.52
No.52, Society  Jul. 22, 2019

The reality of 1 million “middle-aged and elderly hikikomori” ― The aging of hikikomori is a major issue for all of society

  At the end of March, the Cabinet Office announced the results of their first survey of “middle-aged and elderly hikikomori.” They visited a random sample of 5,000 men and women aged 40–64 from all over Japan. As 47 persons (1.45%) out of 3,248 respondents (65.0%) qualified as hikikomori, the estimated number became 613,000 out of the entire population. Of these, 76.6% were men. Divided by age, it was 38.3% in their 40s, 36.2% in their 50s, and 25.5% aged 60–64. About half had been hikikomori for at least five years. Some 29.7% had been hikikomori for more than ten years. Professor Saito at the University of Tsukuba (Social Psychiatry and Mental Health) had worked with issues of school refusal and hikikomori as a psychiatrist for thirty years. He has written a number of titles, starting with Social Hikikomori: The Never-ending Puberty in 1998. ... ... [Read more]

No.52
No.52, Society  Jul. 17, 2019

Ultra-aging Japan’s “issue of the 24th year of Reiwa” ― Department stores and banks will close down and local governments will reduce by half

A new emperor has ascended the Chrysanthemum Throne, marking the beginning of the Reiwa era. The whole of Japan is caught up in the celebratory mood. However, given the situation in which Japanese society currently finds itself, we cannot afford to be in high spirits. In April 2019, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications released population projections as of October 1, 2018. The total population decreased by about 263,000 from the previous year to 126,443,000, a decline for the eighth year in a row. The total population includes foreigners. Because the number of foreigners increased by about 165,000, the Japanese population alone decreased by as many as 430,000. Both the decrease in the population and the rate of decline were the largest ever since the comparable year of 1950. In addition, the population of people aged 70 or older exceeded 20% in comparison ... ... [Read more]

No.51
No.51, Society  Mar. 31, 2019

The True Home of Japan Studies Is Not Japan: Academic rivals are skilled at reading cursive script and transliterating classical Chinese into Japanese

  Who really “owns” Japan studies? In the list of academic fields eligible for Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, no such field as “Japan Studies” exists. If one searches the list for the keyword “regional studies,” there is “East Asia,” “South East Asia,” “South Asia,” “West and Central Asia,” etc., but there is no “Japan.” Although there are research and education organizations with Japan studies in their title (I also conduct joint research with them), I think that they take an extra effort when applying for research funds. It is not my intention in this article to criticize how, within Japan, Japan studies are treated as if they do not exist in that grant scheme. Yet, if it is true that the readers of this article (including specialist researchers) assume that Japan studies are mostly undertaken ... ... [Read more]

No.51
Discussions, No.51, Society  Jan. 9, 2019

Future Design

  Discussion between Professor Sakura Osamu and Professor Saijo Tatsuyoshi   There are various matters, such as climate change, energy issues, social security, and government debt, which need to be dealt with using a long-term perspective. At the core of these issues is conflict between the interests of different generations. There is potential for the short-sighted response and decision-making of the present generation to significantly disadvantage future generations. These future generations are not yet born so cannot make their voices heard nor negotiate with the present generation. Yet, it’s not strange at all for the present generation to make decisions according to their own interests. The “market” and other social systems are not necessarily equipped with any function for distributing resources to future generations. In order to create a sustainable society for future generations, humans need to get past their natural short-sightedness, while mechanisms ... ... [Read more]