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Approaching the Seventieth Anniversary of the End of the WarSven Saaler

What does the New Year have in store for Japan? One major event in 2015 will be the seventieth anniversary of the end of the World War II, the sort of symbolic occasion on which grand statements are expected from government and parliament alike. In 1995, marking 50 years since the end of the war, Prime Minister Murayama Tomiichi made a statement in which he apologized for the country’s past aggr…
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Debate Persists Over WWI BlameSven Saaler

A hundred years have elapsed since the outbreak of World War I. The conflict became a “world war” when Japan declared war on Germany on August 23, 1914, joining Austria-Hungary, Serbia, Russia, Germany, France, and Britain in the fighting. Until the hostilities expanded to the Middle East with the entry of the Ottoman Empire in November 1914, only Japan’s participation gave the war its global di…
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The Problems of Science Management: Riken Is No Isolated CaseSven Saaler

The recent revelations concerning irregularities in papers published by a number of researchers affiliated with the research institute Riken have caused a rare surge of media interest in the state of affairs of science in Japan. In fact, the situation has exposed problems not only in Japan’s scientific establishment, but also in science and research management in general. Media coverage has nar…
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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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No Vision Yet in Sight for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic GamesSven Saaler

The IOC has decided to host the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. In stark contrast to Tokyo’s previous unpopular bid, this time domestic support was strong. With the decision comes a huge responsibility for the organizers toward Japan, the Japanese sports world, Japanese taxpayers, as well as the international community. Before and during the 2020 Olympics, the eyes of the world will be focused on Japan…
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Japan’s Gaffe-prone PoliticiansSven Saaler

Japan’s attitude to its wartime history has been in the spotlight again around the world in the wake of recent comments by Hashimoto Tōru, the controversial mayor of Osaka, and Asō Tarō, the deputy prime minister and finance minister. Shortly after Hashimoto made a series of statements that seemed to downplay the significance of the “comfort women” issue, Asō suggested in a speech that Japan mig…
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Energy Politics in Japan and GermanySven Saaler

The debate about Japan’s future energy policy has intensified in recent months. Germany is often discussed as a possible point of reference for Japan in this context. In October 2012, Ozawa Ichirō of the People’s Life First Party insisted that his party’s objective of phasing out nuclear energy in Japan within ten years by generating an equivalent amount of renewable energy was “not unrealistic,” …
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China’s Rise: Views from Germany and JapanSven Saaler

The resurgence of China on the international stage has caused concern in Europe and East Asia. While Europe, for the time being, is busy with itself, Japan still seems to have enough leisure to engage in—not always fruitful—quarrels with China, as recent developments have demonstrated. Unfortunately, not only diplomatic relations between Japan and China have deteriorated. The people of Japan and …
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Alexander von Humboldt and 150 Years of Diplomatic Relations Between Germany and JapanSven Saaler

The Prussian scientist Alexander von Humboldt (1769–1859) was one of the founders of modern science. He undertook a classification of all living things in an attempt to gain a unified understanding of the world and the universe as a whole. With his magnum opus Kosmos he made a major contribution to the understanding of nature through systematic science. In Germany, his name is preserved, among oth…
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