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Asia Unbound

CFR experts give their take on the cutting-edge issues emerging in Asia today.

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Showing posts for "Guest Blogger for Sheila A. Smith"

Glenn Hoetker: Leveraging Japan’s “Old Economy”

by Guest Blogger for Sheila A. Smith
Buildings are silhouetted against the setting sun in front of Mount Fuji in Tokyo December 2, 2009 Buildings are silhouetted against the setting sun in front of Mount Fuji in Tokyo December 2, 2009 (Gary Hershorn/Courtesy Reuters).

This blog post is part of a series entitled Is Japan in Decline?, in which leading experts analyze Japan’s economy, politics, and society and give their assessment of Japan’s future.

Those predicting Japan’s decline overlook one of its greatest resources: its large, established firms and the model that produced them. With the tribulations of Panasonic, Sony, and others in the headlines, this claim may seem to be dubious and to run counter to the many efforts underway to increase the role of start-up firms and entrepreneurs in the Japanese economy. Read more »

Keiko Iizuka: Abe’s Challenge

by Guest Blogger for Sheila A. Smith
Buildings are silhouetted against the setting sun in front of Mount Fuji in Tokyo December 2, 2009 Buildings are silhouetted against the setting sun in front of Mount Fuji in Tokyo December 2, 2009 (Gary Hershorn/Courtesy Reuters).

This blog post is part of a series entitled Is Japan in Decline?, in which leading experts analyze Japan’s economy, politics, and society and give their assessment of Japan’s future.

On December 26, 2012, Japan chose its seventh prime minister in seven years, a new record for the annual turnover in leadership that has plagued the country since Junichiro Koizumi stepped down in 2006. For a second time, Shinzo Abe has stepped up to the plate. A coalition government, comprised of the conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and the New Komei Party, has returned in the wake of over three years of reformist rule by the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ). Read more »

Charles T. McClean: The LDP’s Freshmen

by Guest Blogger for Sheila A. Smith
Hideki Murai (L) from Saitama 1st constituency appears at a rally alongside Liberal Democratic Party president Shinzo Abe (R). Murai, a first-time candidate, won his district with 96,000 votes. November 30, 2012 (Mamoru Watanabe/Courtesy Hideki Murai, Facebook). Hideki Murai (L) from Saitama 1st constituency appears at a rally alongside Liberal Democratic Party president Shinzo Abe (R). Murai, a first-time candidate, won his district with 96,000 votes. November 30, 2012 (Mamoru Watanabe/Courtesy Hideki Murai, Facebook).

Charles T. McClean is a Research Associate for Japan Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

On Sunday, Japan’s citizens went to the polls and elected 294 members of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) to the national parliament.

Of the 294 LDP members, 105 are incumbents, 70 are former lawmakers, and 119 are first-time legislators. These 119 are part of a group of 184 new faces—the largest number of freshmen lawmakers to enter Japan’s Diet since 1949. Read more »

Japan’s Twenty Somethings Speak Out

by Guest Blogger for Sheila A. Smith
Buildings are silhouetted against the setting sun in front of Mount Fuji in Tokyo December 2, 2009 Buildings are silhouetted against the setting sun in front of Mount Fuji in Tokyo December 2, 2009 (Gary Hershorn/Courtesy Reuters).

This blog post is part of a series entitled Is Japan in Decline? Today, by invitation we are featuring two essays by former interns of the Japan program, Miyuki Naiki and Go Katayama, who share their perspectives on Japan’s future.

Choosing Japan’s Future by Miyuki Naiki

Japan today is struggling to keep up with a rapidly globalizing world and has been experiencing a long period of economic stagnation and political gridlock. Having been raised in post-bubble Japan, I became accustomed to hearing about my country’s economic collapse and predictions of a bleak future. I did not feel the negative effects of this decline, however, and so came to the conclusion that this “decline” would be a gradual process rather than a rapid plunge. Read more »

David Boling: What Is Japan’s Clout?

by Guest Blogger for Sheila A. Smith
Buildings are silhouetted against the setting sun in front of Mount Fuji in Tokyo December 2, 2009 Buildings are silhouetted against the setting sun in front of Mount Fuji in Tokyo December 2, 2009 (Gary Hershorn/Courtesy Reuters).

This blog post is part of a series entitled Is Japan in Decline?, in which leading experts analyze Japan’s economy, politics, and society and give their assessment of Japan’s future.

Lady Gaga’s Klout score is 93 out of 100. Many readers of Asia Unbound are probably familiar with Klout. For those who aren’t, Klout is a webpage that measures a person’s social media “clout” and assigns a numerical value to it. One can check one’s Klout score to see whether it has decreased or increased within the last seven days, thirty days, or ninety days.

My Klout score, on the other hand, is merely 49. I was told by a social media expert that a minimum score of 50 is required to be considered an “influencer”. I tried not to take it personally. Read more »

Alexandra Harney: Rural Japan

by Guest Blogger for Sheila A. Smith
Buildings are silhouetted against the setting sun in front of Mount Fuji in Tokyo December 2, 2009 Buildings are silhouetted against the setting sun in front of Mount Fuji in Tokyo December 2, 2009 (Gary Hershorn/Courtesy Reuters).

This blog post is part of a series entitled Is Japan in Decline?, in which leading experts analyze Japan’s economy, politics, and society and give their assessment of Japan’s future.

If there is anywhere in Japan that appears to be in decline today, it is the countryside. Rural areas have been depopulating since the 1950s, when young men, sometimes with their families in tow, migrated to the cities to find work in the urban factories that propelled Japan’s postwar industrialization.

The blows to rural communities kept coming. The relaxation of timber imports in the 1960s hurt towns dependent on forestry. The decision to shift to oil-fired power plants in the early 1970s pummeled coal mining regions. Globalization, the centralization of universities and economic activity in urban centers, particularly Tokyo, and the rise of overseas tourism drew more jobs (and people) out of the countryside. Read more »

Hiroshi Mikitani: The Answer Is in English

by Guest Blogger for Sheila A. Smith
Buildings are silhouetted against the setting sun in front of Mount Fuji in Tokyo December 2, 2009 Buildings are silhouetted against the setting sun in front of Mount Fuji in Tokyo December 2, 2009 (Gary Hershorn/Courtesy Reuters).

This blog post is part of a series entitled Is Japan in Decline?, in which leading experts analyze Japan’s economy, politics, and society and give their assessment of Japan’s future.

“Soon, our company meetings will be conducted in English.” I first started telling my staff this in early 2010, when my idea to make English the official language of Rakuten began to take shape. The initial reaction to my idea was not warm. “There goes Mikitani with some nonsense again.” Many were skeptical. A few even commented that I would forget about the idea in time.

But I didn’t. I remain fully committed to the process I’ve come to call Englishnization—making English the language in which we do business. I do this because I am convinced it is the best thing I can do both for Rakuten and for Japan. Read more »

Akio Takahara: Undervaluing Ourselves

by Guest Blogger for Sheila A. Smith
Buildings are silhouetted against the setting sun in front of Mount Fuji in Tokyo December 2, 2009 Buildings are silhouetted against the setting sun in front of Mount Fuji in Tokyo December 2, 2009 (Gary Hershorn/Courtesy Reuters).

This blog post is part of a series entitled Is Japan in Decline?, in which leading experts analyze Japan’s economy, politics, and society and give their assessment of Japan’s future.

When I was president of the Japan Association for Asian Studies last year, I was approached by the German Association for Asian Studies to hold a joint workshop on contemporary China. This initiative bore fruit as the International Symposium on China’s Role in Asia: Research Approaches in Germany and Japan, which was held at the International House of Japan in Tokyo in July this year. Several German scholars came over and seemed generally impressed by the quality of China studies in Japan, and the German side has recently invited us to their biennial convention to be held next year in Berlin. Read more »

David P. Janes: Japan, Beyond Tomorrow

by Guest Blogger for Sheila A. Smith
Buildings are silhouetted against the setting sun in front of Mount Fuji in Tokyo December 2, 2009 Buildings are silhouetted against the setting sun in front of Mount Fuji in Tokyo December 2, 2009 (Gary Hershorn/Courtesy Reuters).

This blog post is part of a series entitled Is Japan in Decline?, in which leading experts analyze Japan’s economy, politics, and society and give their assessment of Japan’s future.

During a recent visit to Todaiji Temple in Nara with a group of 9/11 survivors from New York City, the Chief Abbot explained to us a Buddhist tenet that perceptions of reality are limited and shaped by position. Perhaps utilizing demographic or economic data, Japan appears to be a country in inevitable decline, withering away to irrelevance. However, for so many Americans, Japan continues to be viewed as a society from which there is much to learn. Within Japan, moreover, there are powerful signs of optimism and growth. Read more »

Yasuchika Hasegawa: Japan’s Untold Potential

by Guest Blogger for Sheila A. Smith
Buildings are silhouetted against the setting sun in front of Mount Fuji in Tokyo December 2, 2009 Buildings are silhouetted against the setting sun in front of Mount Fuji in Tokyo December 2, 2009 (Gary Hershorn/Courtesy Reuters).

This blog post is part of a series entitled Is Japan in Decline?, in which leading experts analyze Japan’s economy, politics, and society and give their assessment of Japan’s future.

I am often asked whether Japan is in decline. The short answer is “yes”—and it has been since the beginning of the Lost Decades in the 1990s due to Japan’s inability to return to the growth after its economic bubble collapsed at the end of the 1980s. However, there are many who tend to respond in an overly negative fashion about the outlook for Japan, as if its days are numbered. The truth is that Japan faces similar issues to many other mature economies, such as an aging population, debt deflation, and the impact of globalization and the flattening of the world. If we assume Japan cannot recover, are we to assume that Europe also cannot recover from its current crisis? This “declinist” view assumes that humans have no capacity for responding to crisis and adapting in innovative ways. Read more »