Strategic cooperation key to Japan’s peaceful future

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and US President Barack Obama shake hands during a summit meeting at the White House in Washington, DC, USA. on 28 April 2015. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Narushige Michishita, GRIPS

Japan’s most important foreign policy goal is to create an environment under which China’s rise will be peaceful and cooperative. In strategic terms, maintaining the balance of power in the region and creating crisis prevention and management mechanisms are the most effective means of achieving this policy goal. Read more…

Dialogue the key to resolving comfort women history wars

People protest against Shinzo Abe and the Japanese government for failing to deliver an apology over the 'comfort women' issue and other war crimes in World War II during his official visit to the US on 1 May 2015. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Mary M. McCarthy, Drake University

On 29 April 2015, Shinzo Abe became the first Japanese prime minister to speak before a joint session of the US Congress. Japan watchers listened closely, hoping to hear a preview of his upcoming statement on the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. Of particular concern is whether the prime minister will take a step back from the historic apologies of the 1995 Murayama Statement and the 1993 Kono Statement. Read more…

Still a way to go for Japanese minorities

Ainu drummers hammer out the sounds of their musical tradition. The Ainu were not officially recognised as an indigenous people until 2008. (Photo by:  Gianfranco Chicco).

Author: Tessa Morris-Suzuki, ANU

In August 2014 Yasuyuki Kaneko, a city councillor for Sapporo, sparked intense controversy by tweeting ‘there are no such people as the Ainu any more, are there? [But] they constantly demand rights they don’t deserve. How can this be reasonable?’ Read more…

Japan’s agricultural reforms watered down but still significant

A newly planted rice field in Japan. The draft bill presented to the Diet on 3 April to reform the Japan agricultural cooperative (JA) organisation is a very much watered-down version of the initial recommendations for JA reform. (Photo: Flickr User, Amir Jina).

Author: Aurelia George Mulgan, UNSW

In his 29 April speech to US Congress, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe proudly referred to his administration’s ‘sweeping reforms to our agricultural cooperatives that have not changed in 60 long years’. Read more…

Where have all Japan’s young people gone?

Children play in the fountains at Odori Park in Sapporo, Japan, 27 April 2015.(Photo: AAP).

Author: Peter Drysdale, East Asia Forum

The remarkable ageing of the populations in most advanced economies is no more evident or precipitate than in Japan. Earlier, Japan’s and other countries’ anti-natal policies encouraged a lowering of birth rates in an attempt to boost the chances of economic advancement. Read more…

Japan’s race against the ageing clock

An elderly Japanese man on his way to cast his vote in 2014. The proportion of people aged 65 years old and over is now more than one-quarter of the total population of Japan — proportionally, the largest in the world. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Atsushi Seike, Keio University

The ageing of Japan’s population is globally unprecedented both in its level and its speed.

The proportion of people aged 65 years old and over is now more than one-quarter of the total population of Japan — proportionally, the largest in the world. Read more…

Why US military bases divide Okinawa and mainland Japan

Protesters gather holding placards reading 'NO to the new base in Henoko!' during a demonstration against the construction of a new US military base in an environmentally sensitive part of the island in Nago city, Okinawa island on 28 April 2015. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Shino Hateruma, Waseda University

Okinawa is trapped in a dilemma regarding US military bases in the prefecture. For the past 70 years, the bases have helped deter external attacks on Japan, including on Okinawa. But with over 25,000 US military personnel in Okinawa, and about 18 per cent of its land area being used by the US military, the presence of the bases endangers the lives and properties of the local people. Read more…