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

The Significance of the Japan-EU Economic Partnership AgreementKimura Fukunari

US President Donald Trump’s administration has announced protectionist trade policies, and trade friction with China is growing acute. The economic partnership agreement that Japan and the European Union signed in July can be viewed as an attempt to push back at the threats to the international trading system.

The Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy: India’s Wary ResponseHorimoto Takenori

The United States has signed on to Japan’s concept of a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” strategy aimed at preserving the international order in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. As the two countries seek to promote this strategy, which is seen as being a response to China’s growing presence, they have drawn Australia and India into quadrilateral security consultations. New Delhi, however, remains somewhat wary in its response to this initiative from Tokyo and Washington.

Japan’s Shinkansen Moving On to the Next GenerationUmehara Jun

Development of the next-generation Shinkansen is proceeding in earnest. East Japan Railway Company has begun developing trial railway cars that will travel at 360 kilometers per hour, the fastest in the world. Central Japan Railway Company has also begun trial runs for a full model change from its current railway cars.

Shopping Bags in the Abyss: Addressing the Deep-Sea Plastic CrisisChiba Sanae

The discovery of plastic refuse in the darkest depths of the ocean illustrates the effects of human activities on even the most remote ecosystems on earth. Biological oceanographer Chiba Sanae describes what is happening thousands of meters under the sea.

Today’s Young Japanese Have A Different Take on Travel AbroadNakamura Tetsu

Young Japanese backpackers traveling the world on a shoestring are probably in the minority today. Low-cost carriers, online travel agencies, and social media have changed how this demographic travels abroad.

More than Just Monsters: The Social Factors Behind Parental Child Abuse in JapanSugiyama Haru

When a five-year-old girl died from parental abuse earlier this year, the heart-rending note she left behind mobilized public sympathy and stirred the government to pass a raft of emergency measures. But if we truly want to get to the root of the problem, we need to understand the social factors that sometimes drive young parents to neglect and abuse their own children.

Japanese Schools Ill-Equipped to Support Immigrants: NPO Offers Lifeline to Isolated StudentsTanaka Iki

The number of immigrant children in Japan is swelling year by year, and many of those children are at risk of isolation and failure as they enter schools that are unequipped to teach Japanese as a second language. The author, who runs a nonprofit support program for such students, calls for active government measures to pave the way for an inclusive multicultural society.

Japan’s Startup Villages 20 Years After Bit ValleyRick Masuzawa

Nearly 20 years ago, in March 1999, Nishikawa Kiyoshi, president of Netage Inc., announced the Bit Valley concept. Nishikawa was a pioneer in creating a community of Internet startups, a community that gave rise to many of Japan’s current Internet companies. The author sits down with Kawabe Kentarō, president of Yahoo Japan Corp., and Hori Shin’ichirō, CEO of YJ Capital Inc., to discuss the changes to and the current situation in the system linking startup entrepreneurs and investors.

The Next “Lehman Shock”Kuwabara Minoru

Ten years ago, in September 2008, the collapse of Lehman Brothers set off a crisis that paralyzed financial markets around the world. What are the chances of a similar panic striking again? We interviewed Watanabe Hiroshi, a veteran expert on international monetary affairs, to hear his views on this and related topics.

Japan Opening Up to ImmigrationSerizawa Kensuke

The Japanese government’s claim that it will not adopt policies encouraging immigration does not reflect reality. The country’s labor shortage means that foreign workers, often on student visas, are filling the gaps in a range of industries.

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