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The National Decline that Lifted AKB48 to the TopMamiya Jun

Two years ago, around the time the Democratic Party of Japan’s brief spell in power was coming to a close, I met with two colleagues—one a noted political scholar and chancellor of a public university, and the other a well-known critic and sociologist. We were discussing plans for a new book, provisionally titled The Collapse of Japanese Politics, to be issued by the publishing house where I was w…
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Timeline for May 2014

Prime Minister Abe Shinzō completes a six-nation tour of Europe, a manga series spurs debate over Fukushima, and Japan enjoys a day of sporting triumph. Review the major news stories of May 2014.
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The Pressures of Change: The Office of Prime Minister in the United Kingdom and JapanTakayasu Kensuke

Although Japan and the United Kingdom both use a parliamentary system, the position of the prime minister differs significantly. As the role of the Japanese prime minister becomes increasingly important, political scientist Takayasu Kensuke looks at the weaknesses of the present system through a comparison with the situation in the United Kingdom.
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Eurasian Diplomacy in Japan, 1997–2001Tōgō Kazuhiko

With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the rise of China in the 1990s, Japan’s leaders recognized the need for a more independent foreign policy adapted to the realities of the post–Cold War era. “Eurasian diplomacy” played a crucial role in this transition, as related by a former top Foreign Ministry official closely involved in the policy’s development and implementation under three successive LDP prime ministers.
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Masuzoe Yōichi: Tokyo’s Next Governor

On February 9, 2014, Tokyo voters trudged to the polls through deep snow. There they elected Masuzoe Yōichi, a former member of the House of Councillors who served several terms as minister of health, labor, and welfare, to be the metropolis’s next governor. Backed by the Liberal Democratic Party and New Kōmeitō, Masuzoe handily beat his main opponents in the contest: Hosokawa Morihiro, a former …
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Is Japan Drifting Toward Isolation?Sven Saaler

Almost a decade ago, Newsweek International featured a story titled “A Very Lonely Japan,” and the cover of the magazine provocatively proclaimed that the issue would explain “Why Japan Has No Friends.” Although somewhat over-generalizing, the article did have a point regarding Japan’s growing diplomatic isolation as a result of Prime Minister Koizumi Jun’ichirō’s controversial visits to Yasukun…
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China’s Rise in a Shifting World Economy: Divergence Between the East Asian and Global ViewsShiraishi Takashi

Happy New Year from Nippon.com. We look forward to your readership over the year to come. As we start 2014, I would like to write about some major long-term developments, namely, the ongoing shift in the world economy and the rise of China. First I would ask you to look at the table below, which presents the changing shares of some major countries and groups of countries in the world economy fr…
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Tokyo Governor Inose Resigns: Brought Down by Money Scandal

On December 19, 2013, Tokyo Governor Inose Naoki presented his letter of resignation to the president of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly, bringing his term in office to a close just a year after his election in December 2012—making him the shortest-lived governor in postwar Tokyo’s history. Inose is embroiled in an election-financing scandal involving a ¥50 million loan from Tokushūkai, a major h…
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China—Shadow or Torch for Asia?Ogoura Kazuo

Recently, China‘s economic and military buildup has prompted much use of the terms “threat” and “deterrence” in the international community. Neighbouring countries in Asia, in particular, fear Chinese potential expansionism or its self-righteousness, characteristic of great powers. However, an important point tends to be overlooked: that China herself, having lived with the burden of invasion and …
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China’s Summit Diplomacy and the Geopolitics of the “Indo-Pacific” RegionShiraishi Takashi

October was a busy month for top-level diplomacy in Asia. Bali was the site of the October 7–8 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit and of the October 8 meeting of leaders from the countries participating in the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations. These APEC and TPP meetings were followed by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit in Brunei (October 9–10), which was accompanied…
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