Probing explorations from a Japanese perspective of the nation's politics and economy, international affairs, and other aspects of a changing world.

Tax and Reform: Dealing with Japan’s Runaway Debt

Japan’s public debt stands at twice GDP. To deal with the financial burden of ballooning social welfare costs, the nation is implementing a two-tiered hike in the consumption tax, but without reform these measures will fall far short of addressing pressures brought on by an aging population. This series consider issues surrounding the new tax rate and looks at issues hindering the nation from getting its finances under control.

The Barriers to Budget Balance in Japan

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The Shifting Landscape of Japanese Religion

The indigenous Shintō faith, the introduction of Buddhism, the influence of Christianity, and the rise of new religions after World War II have all shaped the Japanese religious landscape. Understanding the shifts in Japanese belief is one route to understanding the people and society.

Japanese Religion Comes Full Circle: Millennials in Search of Their Spiritual Roots
The Japanese World View: Three Keys to Understanding
“Kami”: The Evolution of Japan’s Native Gods

International Competitiveness of Universities in a Global Age

As global rankings for universities garner more and more attention, there is a mounting call for universities in Japan to raise the bar on competitiveness. After over twenty years of reform, though, what additional steps do Japanese universities need to take?

The Prospects for Reform in Academic Governance
University of Tokyo Strives to Raise its Global Profile
Japanese University Reforms and the Illusion of International Competitiveness
Globalization and Higher Education Reforms in Japan: The Obstacles to Greater International Competitiveness

Japan and South Korea: Doomed to Mutual Distrust?

Two years have now passed since the last summit meeting between Japan and South Korea in December 2011. In this series of articles, we look at the reasons for the deterioration in bilateral ties and consider ways to get the relationship back on track.

Korean Courts Order Japanese Firms to Compensate Wartime Laborers: Background to the Rulings
Why Can’t Seoul and Tokyo Get Along?
The Strategic US-Japan-Korea Triangle: Emerging Perils and Prospects for Cooperation

Parliamentary Democracy in Japan

With the Liberal Democratic Party’s strong performance in the House of Councillors election in July this year, the political stage seems set for a period of stability that could last up to three years, barring dissolution of the House of Representatives. During the period up to the next general election, to be held no later than December 2016, Prime Minister Abe Shinzō will aim to maintain a solid grip on the tiller. But do Japan’s parliamentary systems pose any threats to this stability?

The Quest for Voting Equality in Japan
Japan in Pursuit of Westminster Democracy
Why Do Japan and Italy Change Prime Ministers So Often?

Yasukuni Shrine and Japan’s War Dead

Yasukuni Shrine was founded in 1869 as a place for the repose of the souls of Japan’s war dead. In recent decades its role as a focus for historical controversy has overshadowed this, though. In this series we examine the debate over the shrine and Japan’s remembrance of the dead.

Yasukuni and the Enshrinement of War Criminals
How Japan Honors Its War Dead: The Coexistence of Complementary Systems
Getting Back to Basics on Yasukuni

The Prospects for Abe’s Growth Strategy

Nearly a year has passed since Abe Shinzō took the reins of power once again. Following his Liberal Democratic Party’s victory in the July 2013 upper house election, his “Abenomics” economic policy appears to have gained increasing public support. But has it shown results? This series examines whether the Abe growth strategy, the so-called third arrow in the Abenomics quiver, will make itself felt.

Reforms as the Key to a Successful Growth Strategy
What Japan’s Farmers Really Need Is Freedom

Japan and Taiwan: Diplomacy Without Diplomats

Japan and Taiwan have had no official diplomatic relations since 1972. Instead, citizens on both sides have taken the lead in building a strong relationship of friendship and trust.

Japanese Artists in Taiwan: A Reciprocal Love Affair
Taiwan’s Complicated Love Affair With Japan
Japan and Taiwan: Officially Strangers, Unofficially Friends
Former Child Workers from Taiwan Preserve the Memory of Their Time in Japan

Studying Japanese

Increasing numbers of people around the world are studying Japanese—some 3.65 million in 2009. What makes them want to study Japanese, and what do they hope to gain from their studies? What are the issues and obstacles they face? We take a look at the state of Japanese language study around the world today.

How I Learned Japanese: The Series of Coincidences that Brought Me to Japan
How I Learned Japanese: The Freedom of the Non-Native Speaker
How I Learned Japanese: Television and “Manga”
How I Learned Japanese: Putting the Language to Actual Use
“Studying Japanese”: Introduction

Abenomics: The First 100 Days

April 4, 2013 marked 100 days since Abe Shinzō’s return to office. With many people hoping that the prime minister’s “Abenomics” policies will succeed in lifting the country out of its deflationary spiral, we look back at the government’s first 100 days in office and consider some of the issues for the years ahead.

Behind South Korea’s Emotional Response to Abenomics
What the TPP Process Means to Japan
Abenomics: Changing the National Mindset

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