Archives | Discuss Japan - COVID-19

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What of the United States? Or Japan? New Visions of Leadership under COVID-19: How Will Leaders Engage the Libertarian Youths Sweeping over the World?

Uno Shigeki vs Watanabe Yasushi The True Nature of Leaders Uncovered in Crisis ―What are your views on the success stories and failures of different countries’ leaders in their COVID-19 responses? Uno Shigeki: When it comes to COVID-19 measures, it’s said that the East Asian countries that have taken a micro approach of tracking individual behavior have been more successful that the European countries that have focused on lockdowns. However, the causal link between differences in policy and the infectious spread is complex. It’s true that the exposure of political leaders has surged due to increasing social media contact by staying at home, but it’s still unclear what difference it’s made in terms of preventing infections. Having said that, it’s also not so that it’s the same the world over. As the first stage of focusing solely on preventing the spread of the virus ... ... [Read more]

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The Notes of a Commanding Officer on Site: A Complete 15-Day Record of the Wuhan “Evacuation of Japanese Citizens”: Operating Throughout the Nights, No Time to Be Afraid

Ueno Atsushi, Director-General / Assistant Minister, International Cooperation Bureau, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan (Former Deputy Chief of Mission of Japanese Embassy in China)   Starting in late January, the Japanese government had a total of five chartered airplanes fly to Wuhan City in Hubei Province, China to bring home 828 Japanese citizens living in Hubei Province as well as their families, including Chinese nationals. I was responsible for the “field team” (known as Team A) that assisted in operating flights 1 through 4. This article is a record of those activities. I had been involved in operations to evacuate Japanese citizens from Beijing during the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests and responding to SARS in 2003. It is not that I attract emergencies, but the reality is that these kinds of emergencies can happen anywhere at any time. This is why it is ... ... [Read more]

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JICA and COVID-19: Tackling Inequalities in Developing Countries

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is implementing a range of infection control support measures against COVID-19 in developing countries. We take a look at some of these measures, with a focus on the policies being implemented to counter the risks and exacerbated disadvantages that women and girls face as a result of the spread of COVID-19. Sawaji Osamu, The Japan Journal   The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is raging across the world. The number of infected rapidly started increasing globally around February 2020, and according to the calculations of the Johns Hopkins University in the United States, there were about 11 million officially confirmed cases and about 530,000 dead in the world as of July 6.     The spread of COVID-19 is dealing serious blows to countries’ societies and economies. Amid this, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is implementing infection control support ... ... [Read more]

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Employment policy issues in light of Abenomics: Aims of the policy to raise the minimum wage and negative scenarios

Genda Yuji, Professor, University of Tokyo Context for the increase in the number of workers during the Abe administration In response to the end of the second Abe Shinzo administration, the longest serving cabinet in the history of constitutional government in Japan, newly appointed Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide signaled that he would continue the policies of the previous administration. On August 28, 2020 when then Prime Minister Abe held a press conference to announce his unexpected resignation, he cited the increase in the number of workers as part of his self-assessment of the administration. In actual fact, between 2012, when Abe became prime minister for the second time, and 2019, before the spread of COVID-19, Japan as a whole recorded a substantial increase of 4.44 million workers (Labour Force Survey” by the Statistics Bureau, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications). Previously, the number of ... ... [Read more]

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Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga Yoshihide’s “Plan for the New Administration”: The COVID-19 National Crisis: A Political Vacuum Is Impermissible

Suga Yoshihide, Cabinet Chief Secretary (currently Prime Minister of Japan)   Editor’s note: Following the sudden resignation of Prime Minister Abe, Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga Yoshihide (now prime minister) outlined his “Plan for the New Administration” in this article published in the run-up to the LDP presidential election held to replace Abe.     As Japan is currently facing a national crisis in the fight against COVID-19 and leadership is needed to deal with the challenge of the compatibility between preventing the spread of infections and socio-economic activities, Prime Minister Abe Shinzo suddenly announced his resignation for health reasons. I can only imagine what regret the prime minister must be feeling as he steps down from the great mission of commanding the troops. Right up until Prime Minister Abe announced his resignation, I was saying that “I’m not thinking about running.” The question was ... ... [Read more]

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Challenges Exposed by COVID-19: Forward-Leaning Experts and Recoiling Politics

Makihara Izuru, Professor, Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology (RCAST), University of Tokyo People’s Anger without an Outlet Amid rapidly rising numbers of people infected with coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the declaration of a state of emergency was issued in seven prefectures on April 7 and then applied nationwide on April 16. Yet the infectious spread did not stop and the declaration was extended until May 31 on May 4. The following day, on May 5, I was met with a bizarre sight at a drug store on the outskirts of Tokyo that I happened to visit. The shelves were almost completely empty of face masks, antiseptics, toilet paper, tissue paper, and even soap. In that crowded space, people’s eyes appeared somehow filled with desperation and gone was the carefree atmosphere that usually exists. The declaration of a state of emergency was subsequently lifted ... ... [Read more]

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Corona Crisis and Fiscal Expansion: Continued Debt Refinancing Entails High Risk

Ueda Kazuo, Professor, Kyoritsu Women’s University   Key points A shift to a total rejection of fiscal deficit and government debt Large government debts negatively impact potential growth rate Continuing to refinance entails the risk of heavy losses   Every country’s finances have deteriorated significantly, mainly due to expansionary fiscal policies in response to COVID-19. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the ratio of outstanding debt to GDP in developed countries in 2020 will exceed that immediately following World War II, making it the highest since the late nineteenth century. Currently, governments have no choice but to continue to support their economies through fiscal policy. However, a major challenge is the medium- to long-term reduction of fiscal deficit and government debts, which have ballooned to an unprecedented scale. Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) has become a hot topic in relation to how to address ... ... [Read more]

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Changing Relationship between a Company and an Individual due to the Crisis

Owan Hideo, Faculty Fellow, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI), Professor, Faculty of Political Science and Economics, Waseda University   Much attention has been paid to how the external shock of the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the relationship between companies and workers. The aging of Japan’s traditional employment system has long been an issue, but even before the Corona crisis, large companies had been working on reforming their personnel systems along with their work styles reform efforts. One example of such attempts is the introduction of “job-based” employment by Hitachi, Ltd.[1] Some believe that the COVID-19 crisis will accelerate the trend. In this article I summarize what has changed due to the crises and explore for what changes are likely in the future. Seniority and late promotion have been cited as problems with the Japanese conventional employment model. These two features were ... ... [Read more]

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COVID-19 Pandemic and the Economy: Need Sound Public Finance for Maintaining Social Safety-Net

Nobuhiro Kiyotaki, Professor of Economics, Princeton University   Key points Should corporate bankruptcies increase, credit crunch may follow Postponing retirement is more effective than high inflation for fiscal consolidation Promoting open economy is important for growth after the containment of COVID-19   Following COVID-19 pandemic and government restrictions on social and economic activities, the global economy plunged into the deepest recession of the postwar era and the lives of people have been affected profoundly. This article discusses the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, policy responses and the future direction from a macro-economic perspective. The COVID-19 pandemic makes it difficult to engage in activities that involve social contact and possibility of infection. Consumption, especially services consumption in restaurants, leisure and hospitality, has decreased significantly. Let us look at consumption and employment in the United States by referring to data collected by Professor Raj Chetty of ... ... [Read more]

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