Timely essays by specialists, scholars, and journalists interpreting the latest developments in Japan and around the world.

Japan and the Next US President: Thinking the UnthinkableNakayama Toshihiro

With the US presidential primaries winding down, people around the world are struggling to come to grips with the all-but-certain outcome, particularly that on the Republican side. Nakayama Toshihiro, an expert in US politics and Japan-US relations, reflects on the foreign-policy implications for both countries.
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Two Decades Behind: How to Give Women a Bigger Voice in Japanese PoliticsMiura Mari

Japan has one of the lowest rates of female representation in politics of any country in the world. What are the reasons for Japan’s lack of progress in this area, and what can be done to improve the gender balance in Japanese politics?
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Obama’s Planned Visit to Hiroshima Raises Local Hopes

Barack Obama will soon become the first sitting US president to visit Hiroshima. Citizens of the A-bombed city have been seeking such a visit for decades and hope that it will promote the cause of nuclear disarmament.
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Signs of Progress in Sochi? Abe-Putin Summit Points to Economic Cooperation, Territorial ResolutionSatō Masaru

On May 6, Prime Minister Abe Shinzō met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Russian resort town of Sochi. At a closely watched meeting described by US President Barack Obama as a potential threat to G7 unity, the leaders discussed economic ties and the question of the Russia-occupied Northern Territories. Russian affairs and intelligence specialist Satō Masaru gives his take on the summit and what it could hint at.
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The G7 Summit: Japan’s Opportunity for Global LeadershipHosoya Yuichi

The Group of Seven foreign ministers’ meeting in Hiroshima this past April was a symbolic step toward nuclear disarmament and a milestone in Japanese diplomacy. But can the G7 leaders follow up on that performance with substantive agreements to shore up the global economy and protect the international order? Much will depend on Japan’s leadership, writes Hosoya Yuichi.
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One Look Suits All: Japan, Land of UniformsMitamura Fukiko

Japan is full of people in uniform, both at school and on the job. And then there are those who voluntarily don “pseudo-uniforms,” like the standardized suits of student job hunters. Why does the culture of the uniform have such a strong hold on the Japanese?
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Paving the Way for a Presidential Visit to Hiroshima

Remarks by US Secretary of State John Kerry at the recent G7 foreign ministers’ meeting in Hiroshima have kindled hopes for a historic presidential visit to the site of the world’s first atomic bombing. Miyama Hideaki, a veteran journalist and civic leader living in Hiroshima, talked to us about the meaning of such a visit and his own efforts to help bring it about.
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Between Consenting Adults: Japan’s Incongruous Celebrity Sex ScandalsSechiyama Kaku

In the first few months of 2016, Japan’s weekly scandal sheets blew the lid off the sexual affairs of several well-known figures, forcing them to withdraw from public life. Comparative sociologist Sechiyama Kaku questions this ritual of public shaming for behavior that the law regards as a matter of private discretion.
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The “Inconvenient Truth” Behind Japan’s Toothless MediaOkumura Nobuyuki

Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Takaichi Sanae caused a stir in February with a comment that broadcasters continuing to air politically biased programs may be shut down. Pressure from the Abe administration continues to mount, but the media has been hesitant to fight back.
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Rescuing a Giant: Sharp’s Future in Foxconn’s HandsMori Kazuo

In early April Taiwan’s Foxconn concluded its bid to acquire Sharp, placing the future of the debt-ridden manufacturer firmly in the hands of the group’s chair, Terry Gou. The question going forward is whether the charismatic business leader can right the fortunes of the struggling Japanese company.
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