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

Next Up: The Wearable Era?Tsukamoto Masahiko

Amid the arrival of the Apple Watch and a new Microsoft operating system offering access to “augmented reality,” Japanese firms are envisioning new prospects for wearable electronic devices. A longtime advocate discusses these devices and explains why they may be the next big thing.

Sony Downsizes its AmbitionsTateishi Yasunori

Sony used to be one of the world’s most innovative electronics makers. But over the past decade its fortunes have faded. In a bid to turn things around, the company launched a new three-year plan on February 18. Will the new plan revive Sony, or is it just another step in its steady decline?

Major Makeover for the University Entrance SystemIsoda Fumio

Japan’s university entrance exam system and high school education are on the verge of undergoing a large-scale reform. Factors driving the reform include changes in the university student selection process, wrought by the declining birthrate, and awareness that the current system is not doing enough to prepare students for a global world.

Origami: From Traditional Craft to Technological Frontier

The Japanese word origami has long been part of the global lexicon, and this traditional paper-folding craft is now being applied to new uses in fields ranging from outer space to inside the human body.

After the Tsunami: Rescuing Relics of Rikuzentakata’s History and CultureKumagai Masaru

The city of Rikuzentakata lost almost a tenth of its population to the earthquake and tsunami of March 2011. The city’s lone surviving museum curator tells of the struggle to rescue the cultural properties that are a key part of the city’s identity.

The Futenma Relocation Controversy and Okinawa’s Gubernatorial ElectionMiyagi Taizō

For almost 20 years, administrations in Tokyo have struggled with the issue of relocating the US Marines Futenma air station in Okinawa. The plan to set up a replacement facility in Henoko has run into a new roadblock with the recent election of a governor opposed to the plan. Miyagi Taizō explains the background to this intractable controversy.

The End of Japan’s Sense of SecurityTakeda Tōru

Successive catastrophes in 1995 shocked Japan as the deadliest earthquake in decades was followed by unprecedented sarin gas attacks on the Tokyo subway. Media sociologist Takeda Tōru examines how Japan has lost the sense of security it had during its growth years and suggests the way forward is to consciously build a new system of trust.

Getting Serious About Fiscal Reform: Beyond Smoke and MirrorsOguro Kazumasa

Prime Minister Abe’s commitment to fiscal retrenchment has come under question since his cabinet delayed a planned tax hike and approved the biggest budget in history. While the government claims to have met its interim deficit reduction target, Oguro Kazumasa questions its accounting methods and warns that tough choices are still needed to avert a fiscal meltdown.

The Way Forward for the Democratic Party of Japan under Okada KatsuyaItō Atsuo

Okada Katsuya was elected the new leader of the Democratic Party of Japan in January. He now faces the daunting task of rebuilding the DPJ as a viable alternative to the Liberal Democratic Party. This article looks at what Okada and other party leaders will need to do to accomplish that task.

Taiwanese Voters Say No to Ma Ying-jeouOgasawara Yoshiyuki

In Taiwan’s November 2014 local elections, the ruling party suffered greater-than-expected losses, further weakening the position of President Ma Ying-jeou. Why did the Kuomintang fare so poorly, and what lies ahead for Taiwan and its relations with mainland China?

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