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

Abdication: The Emperor’s Wish and Prospects for Its RealizationTokoro Isao

It has recently been reported that Emperor Akihito, now 82, wishes to abdicate within the next few years. The government is expected to soon start seriously deliberating this issue with a view to realizing the emperor’s wish.
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Will Japan Move to Amend the Constitution?Takahashi Masamitsu

The ruling coalition’s upper house election victory gives Prime Minister Abe the numbers he needs to initiate a constitutional referendum. Political journalist Takahashi Masamitsu examines the hurdles the administration must clear to achieve a constitutional amendment.
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Is the Unconventional Effective?Namikawa Osamu

Three years have passed since the Bank of Japan instituted monetary easing of a “different dimension” and six months since it adopted a negative interest rate. The BOJ has yet to achieve its inflation target, raising questions about the effectiveness of its monetary policies. The author argues that a negative interest rate is disrupting the real economy and that a comprehensive review of monetary policies is needed.
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Teen Voters and Politics in JapanSatō Shin

This July, in the first national election since the lowering of the voting age, young people seemed to endorse the status quo. But voting is not the only form of political activity. Adult voters should reconsider their own approach to politics.
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Can Laws Control Japan’s Hate Epidemic?Furuya Tsunehira

On May 24, the National Diet finally took action to stem Japan’s rising tide of racism and xenophobia with the nation’s first law targeting hate speech. Furuya Tsunehira assesses the impact and limitations of this legislation and the challenges that remain if Japan is to control the pestilence in advance of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
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President Obama’s Hiroshima Speech: An AssessmentDaniel Sneider

When Barack Obama became the first sitting US president to visit Hiroshima, his speech outlined the threat to humanity of nuclear weapons and the need for humankind to turn its ingenuity to the task of achieving a world free of them. Reactions were largely warm, but as Daniel Sneider writes, the voices of those who found his remarks lacking may serve as a signpost toward a future of deeper reconciliation in the Asia-Pacific.
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A Japanese Perspective on Brexit

Britain’s vote to leave the European Union may have long-term economic repercussions. Ueno Yasunari, a leading Japanese economist, discusses the outlook for the world economy.
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Making Waves: Chinese Response to the South China Sea CaseKōda Yōji

On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled against Chinese actions in the South China Sea. During the previous month, China carried out a number of low-level provocations in the East China Sea in an attempt to distract global attention.
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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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