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

Japan Self-Defense Forces Participation in UN Peacekeeping: An Idea Whose Time is PastIsezaki Kenji

Since the early 1990s, the Japanese government has campaigned vigorously to expand participation by the Japanese Self-Defense Forces in UN peacekeeping operations—most recently, the mission in volatile, conflict-torn South Sudan. Yet, changes in the United Nations’ own peacekeeping mandates and rules of engagement have made such participation increasingly problematic under the Japanese Constitution, writes international peace-building veteran Isezaki Kenji. Isezaki urges the government to come to grips with these contradictions and explore other avenues for cooperation.

A Heritage List of Japan’s Industrial CultureKashiwagi Hiroshi

Japan has made many contributions to mechanical engineering over the years. Some of its most successful innovations have been influenced by aspects of Japanese culture, such as miniaturization.

Children’s Cafeterias: Filling the Void for Kids Who Can’t Eat at HomeKanazawa Masumi

A growing number of “children’s cafeterias” across Japan are offering meals at little or no cost to children, mainly from single-parent households, who are not sufficiently fed at home. Kanazawa Masumi, an expert on child welfare, reports on measures that are being taken to tackle the multifaceted problems of child poverty.

Toyota Corolla Celebrates Its Fiftieth BirthdayIkehara Teruo

Now in its fiftieth year of production, the Toyota Corolla has come to symbolize the distinguishing features of Japanese automobiles: affordable, fun to drive, reliable, and durable.

The Imperial Family as Postwar Role ModelYamada Masahiro

Since the late 1950s, when the fairy-tale romance of then Crown Prince Akihito and Shōda Michiko captured the public’s imagination, that much-admired couple—now the emperor and empress—has served as a role model for the postwar Japanese family. Sociologist Yamada Masahiro explores the way the imperial family has molded and embodied Japan’s changing mores, from the Meiji Restoration through the emperor’s recent statement on abdication.

The Fate of Japan’s Alliance with Donald Trump’s AmericaTeshima Ryūichi

The 2016 US presidential election came down to the wire, but ended with Donald Trump picked over Hillary Clinton as the next leader of the United States. The Japan-US alliance has been shaken by Trump’s campaign statements. What must be done now to keep it—and regional affairs—stable and strong?

How the JET Program Changed JapanMenju Toshihiro

The JET Program was launched in 1987 and is now celebrating its thirtieth year. Over the decades, more than 60,000 participants have contributed to Japanese communities through such activities as teaching English and working for local governments. They have also encouraged many Japanese people to think more about other cultures and their own place in the world.

Japan’s “Nursing Murders”Yuhara Etsuko

The overbearing pressures of nursing an elderly family member have been driving an alarming number of caregivers to take the life of those in their care. Welfare expert Yuhara Etsuko analyzes the motives for these tragic crimes and points out that greater support for often socially isolated caregivers is an urgent priority.

A Diversified BOJ Approach to Monetary EasingNamikawa Osamu

In September, the Bank of Japan announced a new framework for monetary easing that also targets the yield curve. The author explains that BOJ Governor Kuroda Haruhiko has shifted from a singular focus on an inflation target to a dual approach, setting the stage for an exit from current monetary policies.

Sixty Years of Antarctic Research: What the Frozen Continent Can Tell Us About the Future of Our PlanetMotoyoshi Yōichi

In 1956, the polar research vessel Sōya set out for Antarctica. In the 60 years since, Japanese researchers in the region have made important contributions to our understanding of the changing global environment. Here, the leader of Japan’s next expedition writes about the special significance of research work in Antarctica for the future of the planet.

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