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

Ministop’s Ending Adult Magazine Sales Hints at Change for Japanese Convenience Stores

In January 2018, the Ministop convenience store chain stopped sales of adult magazines at all of its outlets across Japan. As pornography in print becomes less popular, it may not be too long before other vendors follow suit.

The Vital Work and Challenging Conditions Faced by Japan’s Court InterpretersTakahata Sachi

When foreigners who do not understand Japanese must appear in a courtroom in Japan, they rely on court interpreters. The need for these professionals and their services is climbing as Japan’s society becomes increasingly international in nature, but the number of people willing to take on this vital work is falling. An experienced court interpreter presents the conditions faced by her colleagues today and the issues that they hope to see addressed.

Hiroshima Researcher Mori Shigeaki Makes First-Ever Visit to AmericaCharles A. Radin /Mugi Hanao

The hibakusha Mori Shigeaki spent more than four decades tracking down the families of 12 US prisoners of war who perished in the 1945 atomic bombing of Hiroshima. This year he made his first trip to the United States, meeting relatives of the victims and praying for peace together with citizens of the allied nation that was once Japan’s enemy.

Japan’s Corporate Backseat DriversMori Kazuo

It has been common in Japan for retired executives to remain at their companies in loosely defined advisory roles. And some continue to exert influence on management. This distinctively Japanese practice is now under critical scrutiny.

Why Are Fewer Young Japanese Studying Abroad?Kobayashi Akira

Many experts have attributed the decline in the number of young Japanese studying abroad to a trend toward introversion. In this article, however, Associate Professor Kobayashi Akira of Meiji University points to more systemic obstacles and calls for an expansion of the definition of foreign study.

The Olympics: Politicized Games That Serve as a Civilizing ForceSatō Takumi

The Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang this year provided a showcase for the recent thaw in relations between the two Koreas. Some complain about politicization of the Olympics, but the games cannot be divorced from politics; what is important is their positive effect as a civilizing force.

The Lingering Effects of Japan’s “Employment Ice Age”Genda Yūji

The cohort of young people who left university and attempted to enter the workforce during the decade-long slump that hit the Japanese economy from the late 1990s are now in their forties—normally the prime working years of a person’s career. But many of these survivors of the “employment ice age” struggled to get a foot on the career ladder immediately after graduation, and still face low pay and dim career prospects today. Stagnant consumption among this demographic has widespread knock-on effects, and is hampering efforts to revitalize the wider economy. The debate about finding a comprehensive solution to this problem needs to start now—before it is too late.

Crown Prince Naruhito: A Profile of Japan’s Next EmperorYamashita Shinji

In less than a year, on May 1, 2019, Crown Prince Naruhito is set to ascend the Chrysanthemum Throne. Former Imperial Household Agency employee Yamashita Shinji gives a profile of Japan’s next emperor.

Japan’s Shrinking Democracy: Proposals for Reviving Local AssembliesKen Victor Leonard Hijino

As Japan’s population ages and shrinks, many of its rural communities are facing a shortage of politicians. In March, government-commissioned experts proposed to diversify the way town and village assemblies are organized. The proposals are a much-needed first step; but reviving democracy at the grass-roots will require many more fundamental changes.

Time to Revise Japan’s Outdated Nationality ActTanno Kiyoto

The nationality law that Japan adopted in the nineteenth century, based on Western models, was progressive by contemporary standards. A new Nationality Act was adopted in 1950, and it has since been amended to provide complete gender equality. But Japan still does not accept dual nationality, which is now commonly allowed by other countries. The provisions should be updated in line with today’s international standards.

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