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

LDP Rebel Stands Firm on Addressing Vote Disparity

In July 2015, an amendment was passed to the Public Offices Election Act to reform the House of Councillors electoral system, which the Supreme Court has ruled as being in a “state of unconstitutionality” due to vote disparity. The compromise agreement still leaves significant regional disparities in the weight of one vote, however, prompting Waki Masashi to leave the LDP parliamentary group in protest. Nippon.com interviews the reform-minded upper house legislator.
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The Olympic Stadium and the Anatomy of IncompetenceKatō Hideki

Prime Minister Abe Shinzō has finally pulled the plug on a controversial Olympic stadium plan that seemed to epitomize irresponsible government spending, but the uproar is far from over. Katō Hideki, a former Ministry of Finance official and a longtime critic of Japan’s bureaucratic and political culture, analyzes the roots and implications of the stadium fiasco.
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Confronting China’s Island-Building CampaignKōda Yōji

Chinese land reclamation efforts in the South China Sea are turning reefs into islands with ports and runways. As China pushes forward with its attempt to establish unilateral sovereignty over the sea, how should Japan respond in coordination with the United States and countries in the region?
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Young Japanese Firms Quick to Adopt International Accounting StandardsYanagawa Noriyuki

Why are leading Japanese IT firms and other young businesses rushing to adopt IFRS accounting rules? The author examines the reasons behind their decision and describes the international tug-of-war over global accounting standards, which are likely to have wide repercussions.
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Pocky Heads Overseas: Japanese Snack Brands Earning a Global FollowingMitamura Fukiko

So-called “Galapagos” snacks developed to fit local Japanese tastes are now attracting hungry fans worldwide. Manufacturers are finding success abroad by changing flavors and sales promotion strategies to suit national, ethnic, and religious preferences.
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Asian-Americans and Japan’s History IssuesDavid Leheny

Prime Minister Abe Shinzō’s speech to a joint session of Congress during his recent US visit was well received, not least due to his expressions of remorse for World War II with reference to battles in which US soldiers were killed. Lukewarm statements regarding wartime atrocities in Asia, however, could also go beyond regional politics and affect US-Japan relations. Because so many Asian-Americans are among those engaged in Japanese studies, insufficient concern for Asian sentiments risks alienating potential students and diminishing future US interest in Japan.
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Breaking the 10-Second Barrier: Sprinter Kiryū Yoshihide Aims to Make History in the Men’s 100 MetersTamesue Dai

In March 2015, Japanese sprint hopeful Kiryū Yoshihide of Tōyō University clocked an extraordinary—albeit wind-aided—9.87 seconds in the men’s 100 meters. Hopes are high for Kiryū to achieve Japan’s first official sub-10-second record in the near future. In this article Tamesue Dai, two-time IAAF World Championships bronze medalist in the 400-meter hurdles, offers expert insights into Kiryū’s sprinting and career.
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2015 Japan Expo in Paris: Japan Slow to Cash In on Being “Cool”Abe Hiroyuki

The 2015 Japan Expo will be held in Paris from July 2 to 5. The annual event has become a gathering spot for cosplayers and other young fans of Japanese pop culture from around Europe. Despite this intense interest among Europeans, Japan still lacks a proper structure for reaping the financial benefits of the Cool Japan boom.
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Japan Brews Up a Rich Coffee CultureTakai Naoyuki

Finding a “cup of joe” in Japan has never been easier—from the ubiquitous Starbucks to fresh coffee for ¥100 at convenience stores. Here we take a look at recent coffee trends, including some unique mom-and-pop cafés off the beaten track. 
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Kawasaki Youth’s Murder Exposes Japan’s Social and Policy Failings in Coping with ImmigrationSugiyama Haru

The brutal murder of a junior high school student in Kawasaki stunned Japan. As more information came to light about the victim and his alleged assailants, it revealed profound rifts in the fabric of Japanese society. This incident has cast a glaring light on shortcomings in Japan’s capacity for adequately dealing with the issues of single-parent households, poverty, and immigration.
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