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

JA Group: Cultivating the Appeal of FarmingHiga Masahiro

The agricultural environment is undergoing major changes in Japan, as evidenced by the aging of farm households and by economic partnership agreements that lower the tariffs for imported agricultural products. What responses are Japan Agricultural Cooperatives developing to address these challenges for the farming sector?

Foreign Care Workers in Japan: A Policy Without a VisionHirano Yūko

Japan will lower specific immigration barriers this year to ease a projected shortage of professional care workers for the elderly. A health sociologist draws on extensive research to critique the government’s shortsighted, private-sector-driven approach to the problem, calling for greater efforts to support and export Japan’s advanced system of care work.

The Abdication Question in Japan and Europe: A ComparisonKimizuka Naotaka

On January 23, a government advisory panel published its interim report on the question of the emperor’s possible abdication. The panel seems to be tilting toward a solution that would limit abdication to the present emperor only. But as lifespans increase, it is likely that the present emperor will not be the last to want to retire. Has the time come for a fundamental reform of Japan’s Imperial Household Law? Professor Kimizuka Naotaka looks at how several European monarchies have dealt with the abdication question in recent years.

Victims’ Families Marginalized Under Japan’s Capital Punishment SystemFujii Seiji

Does Japan’s criminal justice system give sufficient consideration to the rights of the families of murder victims? A non-fiction writer who has interviewed numerous family members of murder victims challenges the case for abolishing capital punishment.

Japan Needs a Frank Debate About Capital PunishmentMori Tatsuya

Japan is one of the few developed countries to still have the death penalty. Documentary filmmaker Mori Tatsuya looks at the issue of capital punishment and tries to answer the question of why 80% of the Japanese populace supports judicial executions.

A Mixed Grade for Japan’s New Tax Reform PlanMorinobu Shigeki

The ruling coalition has drawn up a tax reform package for fiscal 2017 that steers clear of eliminating the income tax deduction for homemaker spouses but that improves the tax environment for corporate investment and reorganization.

Japan’s Dilemma of Attracting and Keeping Foreign TalentHimeda Konatsu

Demand for foreign employees is on the rise in Japan, both as a way to boost the country’s international competitiveness and to shore up the workforce as the population grays and birthrate falls. Yet Japanese companies will need to take an honest evaluation of their corporate culture if they hope to fully utilize and retain foreign talent.

The Japanese Economy in 2017: Cause for OptimismTakumori Akiyoshi

What does this year hold in store for the Japanese economy? Takumori Akiyoshi, chief economist at Sumitomo Mitsui Asset Management, explains why government and private-sector economic forecasters believe that a long-awaited upswing is finally at hand.

The “Analects” and the Abacus: The Contemporary Relevance of Shibusawa Eiichi’s Business PhilosophyTanaka Kazuhiro

Shibusawa Eiichi, the “father of Japanese capitalism,” saw morality as an essential part of economic activity and stressed pursuit of the public interest. His ideas are attracting renewed attention in a time of concern over excesses in global capitalism.

The NSX: Honda’s Global SupercarIkehara Teruo

Honda has begun taking orders for the new NSX in Japan for the first time in 10 years. While the original NSX was produced in Japan, this second-generation model is built to order at a specialized manufacturing facility in the United States, the NSX’s largest market. The development and production chiefs are both non-Japanese engineers who carry on the Honda spirit.

Video highlights

New series

  • From our columnists
  • In the news