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

Seeking an Exit Strategy from the Bank of Japan’s Extreme Monetary EasingKuwabara Minoru

How does the Bank of Japan intend to exit from quantitative and qualitative easing? Having reported on monetary policy over many years, the author anticipates the steps the BOJ is likely to take and examines the risk of monetary policy being affected by fiscal policy, the BOJ’s accountability, and the risk for the depreciation of the yen.
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“Hikikomori”: Social Recluses in the Shadows of an Aging JapanIshikawa Kiyoshi

The phenomenon of hikikomori—long-term social withdrawal—came to the fore as an issue involving young Japanese in the late 1990s. The situation is becoming even more serious as the recluses advance in age.
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Southeast Asian Visitors Pursue the Total Japan ExperienceŌtsuka Tomohiko

Japan is an ever more popular destination for tourists from Southeast Asia. No longer content with Tokyo and Kyoto alone, they are heading further afield and seeking out distinctly Japanese experiences. The travel industry and local authorities should make the most of this trend by working to ensure that all visitors are satisfied.
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Fraud on the Line: Japan’s Persistent Telephone ScamsNishida Kimiaki

“Telephone scams,” in which criminals defraud their marks over the phone, show no sign of abating in Japan. Authorities have fought back against these incidents through public awareness campaigns, but have been matched by crafty perpetrators who quickly adopt new techniques to dupe their victims. Nishida Kimiaki analyzes the psychological factors at play on the victims’ side and looks at what is behind the persistent problem.
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Japan’s Manned Space Development Pressed to Deal with Rapidly Changing AgeTerakado Kazuo

We have reached an age when humankind is attempting various new ventures in space. What will the future of manned space activities look like? A science journalist familiar with space development trends considers the path Japan should take.
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Night Classes Help Foreign Students Adapt to Japanese SchoolsYoshida Norifumi

For many years, night schools provided vital learning opportunities for people who never finished their basic education in the chaos of the postwar years. Today they are meeting a new need as the number of foreign students in Japanese schools increases.
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Panic on the Peninsula: Overreacting to the North Korean “Crisis”Isozaki Atsuhito

The North Korean situation remains volatile, with the secretive regime testing new missiles at unpredictable intervals and showing no signs of abandoning its nuclear weapons program. A dispassionate analysis of the situation in the country, though, shows that Pyongyang has been showing restraint, in its own fashion. Did the global community overreact to developments in April 2017?
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Japan’s Past Strides in Technology: Preserving Key Records for PosterityKamei Osamu

The National Museum of Nature and Science maintains a list of “Essential Historical Materials for Science and Technology,” each year registering important technologies that have had major impacts in the history of science and daily life and should be conveyed to future generations. Here we introduce selected entries that highlight Japan’s achievements as a nation of technology.
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Insights from a Half-Century of Oceanographic ObservationsNakano Toshiya

The Japan Meteorological Agency conducts oceanographic observations using two dedicated research vessels. Since 1967, these ships have annually measured the composition of seawater along the 137º east meridian, starting offshore from Mie Prefecture and continuing to New Guinea. This unique dataset, amassed over the past 50 years, contributes significantly to our understanding of environmental change.
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The Crisis Facing Japanese Scientific ResearchNakano Tōru

In March this year, an editorial in the British journal Nature showed that the pace of scientific research in Japan has slowed considerably over the past decade. Nakano Tōru, a leading stem cell researcher, discusses the challenges facing researchers in Japan and some of the structural weaknesses holding science back.
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