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Probing explorations from a Japanese perspective of the nation's politics and economy, international affairs, and other aspects of a changing world.

President Xi’s Second Term: Prospects for Japan-China Relations

In March 2018 Chinese President Xi Jinping started his second five-year term. Xi has established an unusually strong hold on power as China’s supreme leader, and the previous two-term limit on the presidency has been eliminated, meaning that he is eligible to stay at the helm even beyond 2023. In this series we consider the outlook for China’s international behavior and for Japan’s relations with its giant and increasingly assertive neighbor under Xi’s ongoing command.

The Drive to Clear Beijing’s Slums: Will the Authorities’ Strong-Arm Tactics Work?
Chinese Technological Innovation Transforming Sino-Japanese Economic Relations
The Belt and Road Initiative: Responding to Beijing’s Ambitious Endeavor

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Reshaping the Japanese Workplace: Can “Work-Style Reform” Succeed?

As part of its ongoing effort to place the Japanese economy on a sustainable growth trajectory, the government of Prime Minister Abe Shinzō has drawn up a plan for “work-style reform” aimed at limiting overtime, reducing wage disparities, and encouraging more active workforce participation by women and seniors. But what will it really take to wean employers from practices that most of Japanese society takes for granted? In this series, analysts assess the reform plan released at the end of last March and assess the prospects for meaningful change.

Japan’s New Labor Laws and the Need to Shift from a Culture of Excessive Working Hours
Trying Out Teleworking at Nippon.com
Reality Check on Work-Style Reform: Filling In the Big Picture
Work-Life Balance Holds the Key to Japan’s Future
Long Road Ahead for True Labor Reform

The Challenge of Restoring Japan's Fiscal Integrity

Japanese public finances are burdened with persistent deficits and massive debt. This series examines what should be done to put the nation on an even fiscal keel once more.

The Convenient Assumptions Behind Japan’s New Fiscal Strategy
Why Is Japan’s Consumption Tax So Low?
Toward More Sustainable Social Security for Japan

The East Asian Landscape After the Trump-Kim Summit

On June 12, 2018, US President Donald Trump met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore for a first-ever summit between the two nations. Their joint declaration stated North Korea’s commitment to the “complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula” in exchange for security guarantees from the United States. Can this declaration serve as a viable blueprint for lasting stability in East Asia. This series examines the region’s international relations and security environment going forward from the Singapore summit.

Is Complete Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula an Unattainable Goal?
North Korean Denuclearization and US-China Relations

Amending the Constitution

On May 3, Constitution Memorial Day, Prime Minister Abe Shinzō issued a decisive call for constitutional reform, conveying his determination to see a revised Constitution come into force by the year 2020. With the ruling Liberal Democratic Party gearing up to submit a draft to the Diet this coming fall, we examine some of the key issues and assess Abe’s chances of presiding over the first constitutional revision since 1946.

Prime Minister Abe’s Drive to Amend the Constitution: Can He Overcome the Hurdles?
The Anomalous Life of the Japanese Constitution
Beyond Article 9: Broader Considerations for Japanese Constitutional Reform

Boosting Japan’s Regions

As young people from Japan’s regions continue to migrate to big cities, birthrates are declining, the average age increasing, and population dwindling in the areas they leave behind. Prime Minister Abe Shinzō has set regional revival as a key policy area to address, but centralized government initiatives will hardly be enough to keep nonurban communities alive. This series examines some local efforts and considers viable options to ensure a brighter future for those communities.

A Market-Driven Model of Regional Revitalization
Regional Revitalization and the Market: An Interview with Kinoshita Hitoshi
Ama: A Remote Island Community Shows It Can Win the Fight Against Decline
Lessons from Hokkaidō: Coping with Rapid Demographic Change

The Question of Imperial Abdication

The Diet is expected to pass a special one-time law allowing Emperor Akihito to abdicate now that the ruling coalition and opposition parties have reached agreement on the sensitive issue. In this series we look at different aspects of the abdication question, including how lawmakers and other have approached the emperor’s desire to step down and historical paths for succession.

The Historical Background of How Japan Chooses Its Era Names
The Compromise and Contradictions in Emperor Akihito’s Abdication Legislation
Inside the Imperial Abdication Panel: A Legal and Political Balancing Act

What Trump Portends for Japan-US Relations

The election of Donald J. Trump as leader of the world’s most powerful nation has cast a pall of uncertainty over the global community. In this series, experts in various fields look at strategies for Japan and other countries going forward in dealing with a US president who has promised to rewrite the rule book.

How Trump Policies Affect the Japanese Economy
When Trumpism Met the East Asian Wall
1917 Revisited? The International Order in the Trump Era
An Expanding Role for Japan: An Interview with Admiral Dennis Blair
US-China Relations Under the Trump Administration: A View from Tokyo
Trump and the Perils of Protectionism: Averting an Economic Disaster

Rebuilding a Region: Tōhoku Five Years Later

On March 11, 2011, a giant tsunami slammed into the east coast of northern Japan, killing 18,000 and triggering the second-worst nuclear accident in history. Five years and ¥26 trillion yen later, the government's reconstruction plan is nearing the halfway point. We mark the fifth anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake with exclusive reports on the progress of recovery and the daunting obstacles that remain.

Telling the Story of Fukushima
British Expat: “Don’t Forget Ishinomaki!”
Rehousing in Tōhoku: The Two Faces of Reconstruction
The Fukushima Cleanup Will Take Generations

Forging a Path Forward: Japan’s Universities Face Challenging Future

The Japanese government has been setting forth a series of bold reform plans for the nation’s universities, including the selection of Super Global Universities, change to the entrance system, and reorganization of humanities departments. At the same time, Japan’s universities are scrabbling for ways to meet growing challenges, including globalization, transformations in the structures of industry, and the declining birthrate.

Exam Hell and the Crisis in History Education
Global University Rankings: How Are They Measured?
Higher Education Reform: A Tale of Unintended Consequences

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