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

Japan’s Archaic Civil Code and the Plight of the UnregisteredNinomiya Shūhei

Japan’s koseki family registry system and anachronistic laws governing familial relations have produced the problem of mukosekisha—unregistered citizens unable to take part in society and exercise their basic rights. The author makes the case for fundamental reform, arguing that Japan’s system is out of step with global norms and its own Constitution.
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Five Years Later: Inflation Target Remains Elusive for BOJ Governor Kuroda HaruhikoWatanabe Tsutomu

Bank of Japan Governor Kuroda Haruhiko set a target of achieving a 2% inflation rate, but five years on, that goal is still elusive. One major factor hindering Japan’s escape from deflation is its companies’ cautious stance on raising prices.
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Five Years at the Bank of Japan: Governor Kuroda’s Policy Achievements and Pending IssuesOkina Kunio

Bank of Japan Governor Kuroda Haruhiko will reach the end of his term in April 2018. The author, a former BOJ official, reviews the BOJ’s monetary policy of a “different dimension” over the last five years and takes a close look at the issues that remain unresolved.
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NTT Docomo Targets 5G GoldMachida Tetsu

The race has begun among the world’s telecommunications companies to be the first to launch a fifth-generation mobile wireless service. Among the contenders is NTT Docomo, Japan’s largest mobile phone operator. The transition to 5G has the potential of changing everything from how people watch sports to the automobile sector.
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Journalists in Toyama Ferret Out Shady Payments to Local Legislators

Investigative reporting by local media organs was instrumental in forcing 14 Toyama municipal assembly members to resign after it was revealed that they had filed falsified expense claims. Nippon.com interviewed the key journalists who covered the scandal—and who hope that citizens will henceforth pay more attention to local government affairs.
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A Financial Crisis Quietly ApproachesKuwabara Minoru

The Financial Services Agency is beginning to take steps to strengthen the stability of the financial system. In the current challenging business environment, banks are unable to anticipate higher earnings from lending activities. The FSA’s actions reflect its concerns that, given the risk of higher interest rates in the future, some financial institutions may not be able to survive.
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Fresh Faces at the Table

With several young table tennis players breaking through on the world stage, Japan is targeting gold at Tokyo 2020. Nippon.com talks to Japan Table Tennis Association Vice President Maehara Masahiro, who changed the way budding players are trained from the youngest ages.
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New Trend in Inbound Tourism: Back to Basics with “Minshuku”Himeda Konatsu

Minshuku around the nation are attracting fewer Japanese customers, but they are popular among non-Japanese tourists, for whom the human connection and the flexibility they offer are major selling points.
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Fiscal 2018 Tax Reforms Aim at Overcoming DeflationMorinobu Shigeki

The ruling coalition’s a tax reform package for fiscal 2018 responds to new work style reforms, bolsters income redistribution, and adds a new tax for travelers.
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Japan’s Hidden Land CrisisYoshihara Shōko

Japan is seeing a steady uptick in abandoned real estate, weighed down by falling land prices, back taxes, and swelling maintenance fees. Such financial burdens are leading more owners to abandon their land claims. Incomplete or outdated ownership titles have also become a serious issue affecting land use, and more properties are becoming stuck in legal limbo when owners die or move away. As Japan’s population ages and declines, there is a growing need to consider new approaches to address this emerging crisis.
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