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Our “Silver” Future

Japan’s postwar “economic miracle” from 1954 through 1973 became a model for economic growth that many developing countries around the world sought to emulate. In the latter half of the 1990s, though—after Japan’s asset bubble burst—the country entered a deflationary period that it is still struggling to overcome, with other industrial countries nervously hoping to avoid the same fate. Japan now finds itself at the forefront of a global demographic shift toward falling birthrates and population aging, and the countries confronting similar trends are watching how Japan deals with the challenges. The final installment in this series examines the unprecedented aging of the global population and what the future portends.

The Issue of Hospitality at the Tokyo ParalympicsSakurai Seiichi

After visiting Brazil as the vice-chair of the Japanese national team at the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games, Sakurai Seiichi says that smiles on the faces of local residents were a key to the Games’ success. Will Japan be able to welcome visitors from around the world with the same warm hospitality at the 2020 Games in Tokyo?

The Volunteer Care Network Supporting Rural Thai AreasTakeuchi Yukifumi

The aging of society continues across Asia. Japan leads the trend, but other Asian countries are close behind, just like geese flying in formation. In Southeast Asia, Thailand is aging at a rate exceeded only by Singapore. Takeuchi Yukifumi looks at current care practices in rural Thailand.

Ibasho House: A Communal Place in an Aging Local CommunityTanaka Yasuhiro

Located in Ōfunato, Iwate Prefecture, one of the areas worst affected by the 3/11 disaster, Ibasho House is a place where the elderly contribute to their local community. The aim is to create ways for people to participate in society in a dignified manner, whatever their age.

Japan at the Forefront of Super-Aging Societies

This article, the first in a series by the Sasakawa Peace Foundation’s Issues and Implications of Aging Asian Population Project, looks at the current state of aging in Japan and its efforts, as an “advanced” nation in this field, to tackle the issue.

High Court Decisions Augur Long Road to EqualityMuta Kazue

On December 16 last year, the Supreme Court delivered a ruling on a closely watched case regarding the right of spouses to maintain separate surnames after marriage. The plaintiffs in the case challenged the constitutionality of article 750 of the Civil Code, which requires one of the spouses to adopt the surname of the other. They held that the provision violated the couple’s rights, and also tha…

Shifting the Employment Debate: “Nonregular” Focus Distracts and MisleadsGenda Yūji

Nonregular employment is now said to account for around 40% of all jobs in Japan. There is a huge gulf in conditions between regular employees (seishain) and nonregular employees (hi-seishain). In a bid to eliminate this gulf, Prime Minister Abe Shinzō pledged to bring about “equal pay for equal work” in his January 2016 policy speech. Closing the gap will not be an easy task, however. Companie…

The Future of the Japanese Family: Diversification or Virtualization?Yamada Masahiro

The family as an institution has both a social and a personal function. It can facilitate an economically prosperous lifestyle while at the same time making it possible to live with loved ones and to satisfy one’s needs for affection. Until quite recently, these two functions in most industrial countries were fulfilled through a gender-based division of labor, characterized by a breadwinning husba…

Fighting Population Decline, Japan Aims to Stay at 100 Million

Depopulation continues to be a dire problem facing Japan. In an effort to address the issue, the government in June announced the goal of maintaining the population at 100 million over the next 50 years, as part of broader economic policies. The plan, based on a report presented in May by a government-appointed panel, looks to offset the decline in population by boosting the country’s fertility rate and implementing other measures to stave off Japan’s graying.

The Glow of the Human Touch: Why Shoeshine Stands are Making a ComebackAhmed M. F. Mostafa

The words “street children” don’t conjure up images of Japan for most people, but don’t be fooled into thinking that no link exists. The 1950s, for example, saw big hits for both Akatsuki Teruko with her 1951 song “Tōkyō shūshain bōi” (Tokyo Shoeshine Boy) and Miyagi Mariko with “Gādoshita no kutsumigaki” (The Shoe Polisher Beneath the Tracks) in 1955. A long row of shoeshine stands on a Shibu…

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