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

Working with a Powerful ChinaKawashima Shin

In the second part of this exclusive interview, Nippon.com editor Kawashima Shin and former Chief Cabinet Secretary Sengoku Yoshito discuss Xi Jinping’s vision and the outlook for Japan-China relations in the “post-ODA era.”

Trump’s Asia Tour and Japanese DiplomacyKohara Masahiro

The author, a former diplomat, assesses the outcome of President Trump’s recent Asian tour and considers the implications for Japan’s foreign policy, noting the importance of stronger ties between Tokyo and Beijing against the backdrop over uncertainty about the prospects for the North Korean nuclear and missile development programs and the shape of the regional order.

Pivot to Electric: EVs’ Growing Status in the Japanese Auto IndustryYasui Takayuki

The combustible engine has been the heart of the automobile industry since the invention of the car more than 130 years ago. But in the face of environmental concerns, electric vehicles have emerged to challenge this supremacy. Japanese manufacturers like Nissan are maneuvering to lead the ongoing shift toward adopting EV technology.

The Senkaku Crisis in PerspectiveKawashima Shin

In the autumn of 2012, the government of Prime Minister Noda Yoshihiko purchased three of the disputed Senkaku Islands from their private owner, triggering widespread anti-Japan demonstrations in China. Five years later, former Chief Cabinet Secretary Sengoku Yoshito offers an insider’s perspective on the dispute’s escalation and its lasting impact on Japan-China relations. In the first half of a two-part interview, he discusses the 2010 arrest of a Chinese trawler captain following a collision with Japan Coast Guard patrol vessels.

Divorce After Death: More Japanese Widows Cutting Family TiesTangi Mizuho

Increasing numbers of Japanese widows are taking advantage of a procedure by which they can sever ties with their in-laws in a form of "posthumous divorce.” This reflects the fading of traditional views of the family as an institution that women join for life when they marry, along with reluctance to bear the burden of caring for a deceased husband’s aging parents.

“Scholarships” Are Driving Students into DebtIwashige Yoshiharu

Scholarships supported the education of one out of two college students, or 1.8 million students, in fiscal 2013. The scholarship system in Japan has, however, come to embody many contradictions since its assumption that wages rise over time no longer reflects current employment realities. There is a need to overhaul the scholarship system to better respond to today’s needs.

Habu Sachiko: Balancing Work and Family Is Not an Issue for Women Only

Website Nikkei Dual offers a range of information for working parents, including hints for daycare hunting, advice for school entrance exams, quick recipes, and seminars on work-life balance. Nippon.com recently sat down with editor-in-chief Habu Sachiko, who shared the site’s approach to helping people balance their home and work lives.

Tokyo 2020: Building a Positive LegacyNakabushi Tatsuya

Preparations for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics are proceeding apace, though various hurdles remain. Even as Japan strives to complete the advance work, it must also look ahead to the legacy of the games, using them to address existing local problems and to develop human resources for the future.

Kumamoto’s “Baby Post” and the Right to Know One’s ParentsMorimoto Nobuyo

Since the “Stork’s Cradle” baby hatch was established at Jikei Hospital in Kumamoto 10 years ago, 130 children have been left there by parents who felt they could not raise the infants on their own. A journalist who has closely followed the story casts doubt on the claim that the hatch has been a lifesaver for unwanted children and points out that it violates the child’s right to know one’s biological parents.

Buying and Selling by Smartphone: Mercari App Shakes Up Japan’s Consumer SpendingNishida Munechika

Peer-to-peer marketplace app Mercari has enjoyed a meteoric rise since its 2013 launch, reaching a total of 75 million downloads. The company’s valuation has soared to over $1 billion to make it a rare Japanese “unicorn.” The app’s ease of use has been a factor in its success, but has also led to problems with low-quality or shady transactions.

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