Reforming Japan’s labour market

A crowd forms at the Keio Line’s Chitose-Karasuyama Station in Setagaya Ward, Tokyo, 18 January 2016. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Hiroaki Miyamoto, University of Tokyo

Japan’s labour market situation is improving. The unemployment rate of 3.1 per cent in October 2015 was the lowest for 20 years. And, although improvement has been slow, wage growth has been accelerating. But Japan’s labour market still faces several serious issues. Read more…

Comfort women agreement must engage civil society

Lee Ok Son, 88, a South Korean woman who was forced to work in a Japanese wartime military brothel, speaks at a press conference at the parliament building in Tokyo on 26 January 2016. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Mary M. McCarthy, Drake University

In the aftermath of North Korea’s recent nuclear test, experts quickly attested to its significance for the 28 December agreement between Japan and South Korea on the ‘comfort women’ issue. The nuclear test provides a pressing reason for why the historical legacy issues that have plagued the South Korea–Japan relationship must be resolved and a means to further solidify the burgeoning thaw in those relations. Read more…

Japan is sinking in a sea of money

Snow-covered peak of Mount Fuji is seen through Shinjuku skyscrapers in Tokyo, Japan, 20 January 2016. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Masanaga Kumakura, Komazawa University

According to conventional economic theory, the monetisation of government debt is a recipe for fiscal profligacy and hyperinflation. It should be the last thing any credible central bank turns its hand to. But this is precisely what the Bank of Japan (BOJ) has been doing for the last three years. Read more…

Japan must carefully evaluate China’s strategic intentions

Japan Ground Self-Defense Force's Type-89 armored combat vehicles flare up a smoke screen during an annual live firing exercise at Higashi Fuji range in Gotemba, southwest of Tokyo. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Satoshi Amako, Waseda University

There is no doubt that China is building up its military capabilities. Nor that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe played up the threat of China, which spends three times as much as Japan does on its national defence, as a justification for new security legislation in Japan. But deeper scrutiny of this issue requires a broader perspective on China’s strategic intentions.
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Public divided over ‘comfort women’ agreement

South Korean demonstrators hold up pictures of deceased former ‘comfort women’ during a rally near the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, South Korea, 30 December 2015. (Photo: AAP).

Authors: Trevor Kennedy, UBC, and Misato Nagakawa, RJIF

On 28 December 2015, the foreign ministers of Japan and South Korea surprised the world with the announcement of a deal designed to ‘finally and irreversibly’ conclude the long-standing ‘comfort women’ dispute. Both South Korean President Park Geun-hye and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have championed the agreement, but the deal’s implementation is fraught with difficulty. Read more…

Japan–ROK ‘comfort women’ agreement not so final?

A statue of a girl symbolising the issue of "comfort women" in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Mark Caprio, Rikkyo University

The ‘irreversible’ agreement signed recently by the Japanese and South Korean foreign ministers to bring closure to the ‘comfort women’ issue already shows signs of reversal, even as the ink dries. The logjam centres on the golden ‘comfort women’ statue that has glared outside the Japanese Embassy in Seoul since it was erected by activists in 2011.

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Park Yuha indictment risks hindering ROK–Japan reconciliation

Protesters gather in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul on 13 January 2016 to oppose the Japan-South Korea agreement over the issue of ‘comfort women’. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Kazuhiko Togo, Kyoto Sangyo University

All eyes have been on North Korea since it made the announcement on 6 January that it possesses hydrogen bombs. The possibility of conflict with a nuclear North Korea means that it is more important than ever for Japan and South Korea to find a common position. Read more…