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In 2014, I decided to launch a blog on current political, cultural, and economic issues in Japan, in conjunction with the Prince Takamado Japan Centre at the University of Alberta. My goal is to create an open space to discuss current and historic issues in Japan. Economically, technologically, scientifically and culturally thriving since the end of World War II, Japan is one of the major actors in Asia. Yet it has been facing a number of challenges in current years. In March 2011, Japan was hit by the strongest earthquake in its history, accompanied by massive waves of tsunami. The disaster at the Tokyo Electric Co.’s nuclear energy plants that followed the tsunami prompted Japan and other nations to discuss, debate, and contemplate a number of issues, including natural calamities, energy supply, company governance, government responses, and internally displaced persons. The decline of population, due to the low birth numbers as opposed to the high number of deaths, also created another challenge, causing labour shortages in some areas. It forced Japanese policy-makers to consider the possibility of opening the country’s doors to immigrants, create the infrastructure and promote a mindset, which would support working married women, and invent and invest in labour-saving technologies. Economically and financially, some problems, including the low interest rate, high national deficit, population drop, and the expansion of the FTA, forced Japan to reconsider its somewhat inward-looking economy. Militarily, the cabinet council decision concluded in July 2014 that the Japanese constitution would not conflict with the right of collective self-defense. This sort of movement might affect the relationship with its neighbouring countries such as Russia, China, and South and North Korea.

Such challenges and problems often help us come up with new ideas through open discussion. Japan is still one of the major international players politically and economically. Its efficiency, politeness, order, and cultural richness are well-known. We thus hope that this blog will contribute to the promotion of interests in Japan.

Contributions from academics, including faculty members, undergraduate, and graduate students, and business and government communities, are always welcome. We are particularly interested in essays that situate Japan in a global / transnational / comparative context, compare Japan and Canada, or focus on Japan-Canada relations. While we encourage open discussion, opinion pieces should be no more than 1500 words, based on reliable sources, balanced, and contain proper citation. Yet these are not formal academic articles but “opinions”. We appreciate submissions in English wherever possible but accept Japanese or French pieces (they will be translated into English). Your essays might be edited. No overly political propaganda, personal or collective slander, and fabricated facts will be accepted.

While this blog is affiliated with the PTJC, University of Alberta, I am solely responsible for its contents. No opinion piece posted here represents the PTJC or the university.

Aya Fujiwara,

Research Associate, PTJC, University of Alberta

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