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Archives : No.39

Apr 2017

No.39 ,Economy  Apr 26, 2017

Views on the Chinese economy:
Dynamism Holds the Key in the Private Sector
―China is Using Incomplete Intellectual Property Protection and Insufficient Laws to its own Advantage

< Key Points > The electronics industry in Shenzhen is a perfect example of active technological innovations There are cases in which pioneering companies changed the system by disregarding regulations Vitality may be lost if the Chinese government strengthens interventions The Chinese economy can be said to have maintained generally favorable conditions since the second half of 2016, under the positive effects of the expansive macroeconomic policies underpinned by the flexible foreign exchange policies. To cite an example, the Produce Price Index (PPI) moved back into the positive range after staying in the negative range for a long time. Under such good conditions, problems on the supply side, which China should address in the mid- and long-terms, tend to attract interest. In this article, I would like to consider the sustainability of the technological innovations on which the future growth of the Chinese economy ... ... [Read more]

No.39 ,Economy
Apr 18, 2017

A New Perspective on Measures for the Declining Birthrate:
Expected fertility rate of 1.8 can be realized
Put all necessary measures into action in eight years

< Key Points > Shortening working hours and reducing university tuition fees are effective. Initiatives to eliminate waiting lists for nursery school enrollment and provide free preschool education should also be pursued. Improvements in labor productivity and childhood poverty rates could also be at-tained. If increasing the fertility rate and birthrate are set as policy goals, a society might be created in which people that do not have children feel pressured. The policy goal of taking measures to address the declining birthrate should be to create an environment in which people who want to give birth to children can do so. The government has set the goal of realizing the expected fertility rate of 1.8 by 2025. This numerical target is based on an estimate of the number of children desired by the child-rearing generations gauged from nationwide surveys in 2010. Because the fertility ... ... [Read more]

No.39 ,Culture
Apr 17, 2017

Haiku: “Sharing Makes Peace”

On 26 January 2017, the representatives of four haiku organizations and local governments held a press conference at the Japan National Press Club in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, and announced that they would launch a Promotion Council on April 24 targeting the designation of haiku on UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Among the presenters were Arima Akito (president of the Haiku International Association), Takaha Shugyo (president of the Association of Haiku Poets), Inahata Teiko (president of the Association of Japanese Classical Haiku), Miyasaka Shizuo (president of the Gendai Haiku Association) and Mayor Okamoto Sakae of Iga, Mie Prefecture, the birthplace of Matsuo Basho. The group has been working on the project since July 2016.   “Haiku is the world’s shortest fixed form of poetry composed of syllables arranged in a five-seven-five pattern. Haiku is a form of literature that expresses human beings ... ... [Read more]

No.39 ,Economy
Apr 17, 2017

Trade: New Partners

Prime Minister Abe continues to stress his commitment to a range of key Free Trade Agreements despite the recent setback of US withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership.   As globalization has accelerated, the importance of the liberalization of trade, not only in goods but also services, has become widely recognized in international society. Discussions about the benefits and risks of globalization are held around the world. Everyone understands that trade negotiations may be difficult, but the expectation in international society is that free trade will inevitably spread as the various difficulties are overcome to form a better trade scheme for the coming era. Nevertheless, on January 23, the United States decided to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations and agreement. The decision startled not only the countries party to the TPP but also promoters of free trade around the world. Soon after the ... ... [Read more]

No.39 ,Economy
Apr 16, 2017

A New Perspective on Measures for the Declining Birthrate:
Provide Better Benefits in Kind Instead of Benefits in Cash ― The imminent challenge of expanding child care services

< Key Points > Create positive effects of female employment on fertility rates Rapid increase in benefits in cash does not directly lead to the reverse trend of fertility rates Other countries that show higher fertility rates shifted to benefits in kind after the 1990s Japan’s total fertility rate (average births per woman during her lifetime) was 1.45 in 2015, which seems to show a tendency toward recovery. Some advanced countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom and France, show fertility rates greater than 1.8. The pressure of the declining birthrate and aging population that currently faces the Japanese economy and society is not seen in other advanced countries as a common phenomenon. Child-rearing support as a measure for the declining birthrate consists of benefits in cash, such as child allowance, and benefits in kind, such as child care services. The scale of ... ... [Read more]

No.39 ,Society
Apr 16, 2017

Visiting the Offices of Large Companies Where the Retirement Age Has Been Extended
― Will the New Way of Working Bring Happiness to Companies and Employees?

It is about a 10-minute drive north from the center of Shizuoka City to the Chiyoda branch of the Gusto chain of family restaurants. The branch faces a main road, but its location is not particularly good. This restaurant has achieved top results among some 3,000 Gusto, Jonathan’s, Aiya and other chain restaurants operated by Skylark Co., Ltd. nationwide, and it has received awards from the company again and again. Mochizuki Isuzu, 63, began working at this family restaurant as a part-timer 36 years ago. Mochizuki has been the manager of this Gusto branch since 2009, when she became a permanent employee of Skylark. “I tell our young staff members to phone me day or night if anything happens, because our store is open around the clock,” says Mochizuki. “They actually call me quite often. I don’t get angry, even if the reason for ... ... [Read more]

No.39 ,Society
Apr 16, 2017

The Men Supporting the Paralympians
―The struggle of the engineers behind the evolution of prosthetics

In June of this year, the 26th Japan Para Athletics Championships took place at Denka Big Swan Stadium in Niigata. Due in part to this being the last major event in qualifying for the Rio Paralympics, the press area was full of media teams wearing photographers bibs. The jumbled rows of camera lenses were pointing at the likes of Yamamoto Atsushi (34), who set a world record of 6.56 m in the men’s long jump in the T-42 class (single above-knee amputation or equivalent), Nakanishi Maya (31), who holds the Japanese and Asian records in the women’s long jump in the T-44 class (single below-knee amputation or equivalent), and Takakuwa Saki (24), who finished seventh in both the women’s T-44 100 and 200 meters at the 2012 London Paralympics. The championships featured a steady stream of athletes with prosthetic limbs who have become well-known ... ... [Read more]

No.39 ,Culture
Apr 15, 2017

David Bowie & Arts:
Bowie and Japan

Bowie first became interested in the culture of the East after he encountered Tibetan Buddhism in the mid-1960s. Even though this was during the peak of the hippie movement, Bowie’s interest in Tibet was not transitory and he continued charity work for Tibet for the rest of his life. Before long, Bowie’s interest in Tibet broadened to Asia in general, and in Japan he was attracted first to stage arts such as kabuki and noh. This was probably not unconnected to Bowie’s involvement with Lindsey Kemp’s mime troupe at the time. Bowie’s interests broadened to clothing, accessories and Japanese culture through chance encounters with Sukita Masayoshi and Yamamoto Kansai. Just three days after arriving on his first trip to Japan in April 1973, Bowie went to the Kabuki-za theater and talked with the actor Bando Tamasaburo. During his US tour that February, he had ... ... [Read more]

No.39 ,Economy
Apr 14, 2017

Bringing The Truth Behind Inflation to the World
― Reading the State of the Global Economy from the Demographics of Japan, China and Singapore

Six years have passed since Defure no shotai (The Truth Behind Deflation) was published. Here, I expand upon the answers offered by the book — which highlighted the importance of population in predicting the future economic outlook — and apply them in analyzing the global economy.   In my book Defure no shotai (The Truth Behind Deflation), which was published in 2010, I pointed out that the root cause of the long-term stagnation in the Japanese economy was the decrease in the population size of the active working generation. The productive working-age population of Japan (those aged between 15 and 64, including foreign residents) peaked in 1995 at around 87 million, and by 2012 had already declined by over 10 million; a decrease of more than 12%. This decrease was accompanied by a decline in the volume of demand for housing, cars, home appliances, ... ... [Read more]

No.39 ,Culture
Apr 13, 2017

David Bowie and his love of Japan:
A Man Who Saw the Future

  I believe that the first time I met David Bowie was in April 1973, when he came to Japan for his first tour here. Bowie was 26, and I had just turned 23. The memory is a little indistinct, but I think he told me that he wanted to see me putting on make-up. He came to my dressing room, sat behind me, and watched me intently as I did my face. The red shading off around my eyes must have seemed unusual to someone from abroad. Actually, around that time other artists from England, including Emerson, Lake & Palmer, also came to see me on stage. And at the time I did wonder why. They came from Britain, a country which places importance on forms and appearances. But, thinking back, as well as recognizing kabuki as a classical form, they must have ... ... [Read more]