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

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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Putin Visit a Historic Step Forward for Japan-Russia RelationsSatō Masaru

Prime Minister Abe Shinzō hosted Russian President Vladimir Putin on December 15 and 16 at a summit that saw the two leaders agree to begin talks on joint economic activities in the Northern Territories. Media reports in Japan have generally portrayed the talks as having failed to resolve the bilateral dispute over islands off Hokkaidō, but former diplomat and Russian expert Satō Masaru considers the summit an important step forward for Japan-Russia relations.
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The JOCV Program: Experience of a LifetimeYoshioka Itsuo

Over the past five decades Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers have worked to improve economic and social conditions in developing countries by providing technical support in such fields as education, agriculture, and civil engineering. In 2016 the JOCV program received the Ramon Magsaysay Award, one of Asia’s highest prizes, for its public service and pragmatic approach in facilitating development in communities around the globe. Journalist and former volunteer Yoshioka Itsuo offers an inside look at the program.
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Koizumi Jr.’s Quixotic Quest for Agricultural ReformYamashita Kazuhito

Koizumi Shinjirō, director of the LDP agriculture and forestry division, is pushing for agricultural reform to rectify the high price of supplies and other issues confronting the industry. The scion of a former maverick prime minister faces fierce resistance, however, from the country’s powerful farm lobby.
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Abe Goes to Pearl Harbor: A Trip Prompted by Donald Trump?Teshima Ryūichi

On December 26–27, Prime Minister Abe Shinzō will visit Pearl Harbor, paying his respects at the war memorial with President Barack Obama by his side. Their final summit meeting aims to open a new chapter in a robust bilateral alliance—and making this an urgent task is the appearance in January of the administration of Donald Trump.
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Japan’s Electronics Makers Unveil a Future Shaped by the Internet of ThingsŌkawara Katsuyuki

CEATEC Japan, Asia’s largest IT and electronics trade fair, has shifted its focus to the Internet of Things. The author examines the backdrop to this change and uses the 2016 trade fair as a springboard for analyzing the strategies of Japan’s major electronics firms.
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