Harano Jōji
  • Harano Jōji 
  • By this author: 12 Latest posted: 2015.06.17
Representative director, Nippon Communications Foundation. Has been a political reporter, Paris correspondent, and assistant managing editor at Jiji Press, a television commentator for TBS, and a member of the Board of Councilors for the Japan Institute of International Affairs. Received the Order of the Star of Italy in 2008.
Yoku Moku Seduces the UAE Sweet Tooth2015.06.17

The United Arab Emirates has become a magnet for Japanese corporate investment in the Middle East and North Africa. Joining the growing community of Japanese trading houses, banks, brokers, and manufacturers in the UAE are several retailers. Two that have built especially prominent presences there are the confectioner Yoku Moku and the bookseller Kinokuniya. The UAE had attracted direct investm…

Dogwoods for Cherries: The Other Sylvan Centennial in the US-Japanese Relationship2015.04.24

Washington DC’s beloved cherry blossoms are a well-known symbol of US-Japanese friendship. Japan’s gift 103 years ago of the trees that stand along the Potomac River is an oft-told tale. Less well known is the US gift of flowering dogwoods to Japan three years later in reciprocation. The gift from the United States whetted Japanese interest in flowering dogwoods, and the trees now beautify sett…

Kōmeitō Turns Fifty: A History of Political Twists and Compromises2014.11.25

The Kōmeitō has spent the last 15 years in partnership with the Liberal Democratic Party. Taking the occasion of the party’s semicentennial, we look back on its checkered history and the challenges it now faces.

The Rich History and Uncertain Future of Bunraku Puppet Theater2014.11.18

The traditional theatrical art of bunraku combines chanting, shamisen music, and puppets for a distinctive aesthetic experience. Despite having experienced surges of popularity, it is now struggling to find an audience. This article surveys the history of bunraku and looks ahead to a new initiative aimed at reviving public interest. Alongside kabuki and nō, the bunraku puppet theater is considere…

Scarecrows Stand Watch over Village on Borrowed Time2014.09.11

At first glance, they look much like people, and the village seems to be full of residents going about their daily business. These particular locals are not people, though, but scarecrows. The mannequins outnumber the village’s 40 or so human residents by more than two to one, and on the surface—with their own distinctive personalities—do create a rather cheerful atmosphere. But in the context of …

Japan Launches Its Own National Security Council2013.12.25

On November 27, 2013, the Diet passed a bill to establish a National Security Council, which will serve as the command center for Japan’s diplomatic and security policies and national strategy. Modeled after the US National Security Council, it is known as the Japanese NSC. Under the leadership of the Kantei (the prime minister’s office), within which it has been set up, the council will engage in…

The Impact of Koizumi’s Call for Zero Nuclear Power2013.12.05

At a press conference held at the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo on November 12, 2013, former Prime Minister Koizumi Jun’ichirō discussed his position on nuclear power. In view of the March 2011 disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, Koizumi said, zero nuclear power can be achieved—if only Prime Minister Abe Shinzō makes the decision. Regarding timing, he said, “We should go …

Learning From the Chōshū Five: A Conference in London Discusses the Past and Future of Japan’s Relations with Great Britain2013.10.15

The year 2013 marks a milestone for relations between Japan and the United Kingdom. As well as being the 400th anniversary of the first official diplomatic exchanges between the two countries, this year is also the 150th anniversary of the Chōshū Five, a celebrated group of samurai intellectuals who traveled to Britain to study and ended up playing a vital role in Japan’s modernization. Today too …

Getting More Young People to Study Abroad—and Companies to Hire Those Who Do2013.09.03

The number of Japanese studying in the United States is continuing to decline. This phenomenon is frequently cited as manifesting the inward-looking tendency of today’s Japan. One organization that has been working actively to reverse this negative trend is the US-Japan Conference on Cultural and Educational Interchange (CULCON). Though the Fulbright Program promoting international student exch…

Relations with Russia: Remembering the Past2013.05.01

Relations between Japan and Russia have been strained of late. Despite close trading ties and geographic proximity, the two countries have never signed a formal peace treaty after World War II, largely because of a long-running territorial dispute over several islands in the Kuril chain north of Hokkaidō (known as the “Northern Territories” in Japan). I recently had an occasion to reflect on the …

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