The Japan Forum webinar series brings together new insights, knowledge and opinions on current events in Japan. Experts from around the globe are invited as speakers and contributors, with the goal to create a vibrant exchange and deepen our understanding of Japan’s role in the world.

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Japan’s Trade Policies in 2020
June 9, 2020 | Register
Ongoing decoupling and new policy measures intended to change the flow of supply chains, as well as global moves toward protectionism, are posing great challenges to global trade. How do we need to reassess and rethink Japan’s role in global trade, and what do these developments mean for Japan’s policy stance toward existing structures such as the WTO, APEC or TPP? Join a conversation with two of the leading scholars on Japanese trade.

Japanese Religion in Times of Crisis
June 16, 2020 | Register
How do practitioners of Shinto, Buddhism and Japan’s various new religions reflect on and offer structure in times of crisis, such as the current pandemic? Join two eminent scholars of Japanese religion for a conversation on the role of religious institutions and individuals, and priests and laity, in providing a sense of cohesion and a social support system in hard times.

Culture and Crisis: How Social Norms Explain Differences in COVID-19 Responses around the World
June 23, 2020 | Register
“Culture” used to be a complicated concept in Japan Studies, but over the past 20 years new research and insights from social psychology have helped us revise our understanding of the role of social norms in structuring patterns of behavior. This has changed research approaches in fields from behavioral economics and political science to international business. Join a conversation with Michele Gelfand, creator of the “tight-loose” framework and author of "Rule Makers, Rule Breakers," on how tight and loose cultures differ, and how these differences translate into how countries cope with COVID-19.

Past Webinars

The Business Reinvention of Japan
June 2, 2020
How has Japanese business responded to the rise of China? In response to the globalization of supply chains, Japanese companies have moved upstream to become providers not of consumer end products, but of critical input parts, components and advanced materials that anchor global supply chains. This has created a new trade symbiosis in Northeast Asia. We joined Professors Stephan Haggard and Ulrike Schaede for a conversation of Ulrike Schaede’s brand-new book on this topic, and what Japan’s emerging “aggregate niche strategy” means for economic recovery in Asia after COVID-19 and the business relations between Korea, China and Japan. Cosponsored with the Korea-Pacific Program.

How to Sustain Entrepreneurship and Innovation under COVID-19
May 26, 2020
As global financial markets plummeted and the world economy went into lockdown, many startup companies and corporate entrepreneurship programs are also facing the threat of falling down a steep cliff. Even if eventually innovative activities will rebound, how can companies weather this storm and prepare for the post-COVID business world? We heard from Japanese corporate CVC in Silicon Valley and initiatives by the Tech Coast Angels in San Diego to support startups and corporate innovative activity today.

COVID-19 in Japan: The Economy
May 19, 2020
In our fourth webinar, we discussed the economic fallout. How can we even assess the economic damage, and what forecasts should we believe? Which parts of Japan’s economy will be hit the hardest, and what are the long-term implications of the likely economic crisis, and Japan’s role in Northeast Asian competition? Can Japan avoid the mass unemployment and corporate bankruptcies that are now befalling the U.S., and if so, what can we learn from any differences in trajectory? Learn from leading economists and practitioners from the field.

Managing the COVID-19 Pandemic: Japan's Mitigation Strategy
May 15, 2020
Consul General of Japan in Los Angeles MUTO Akira discussed initiatives proactively undertaken by the Government of Japan to respond to the spread of the novel coronavirus. Consul General Muto focused on Japan’s measures to contain infection with minimum socio-economic impacts, highlighting the fact that Japan has preferred to start from soft measures without being excessively intrusive. Counter-cluster measures have been working to suppress local outbreaks in the country. The Government of Japan is shifting, however, to harder measures, but not draconian measures nor lockdown, with the understanding of Japanese people. Since the State of Emergency was declared in mid-April, Japan has successfully managed to reduce close contact within the population and has kept deaths and infections per 10,000 people at a significantly low number. 

COVID-19 in Japan: The Changing Workplace and HR Management
May 12, 2020
In our third webinar, we looked at how the orders to work from home is affecting Japanese HR practices, and whether the current situation will bring long-term changes to the way Japanese work. Japan’s traditional work style relies heavily on in-person presence. How are HR practices changing now, including employee assessment and promotion? And, will the crisis further undermine Japan’s system of lifetime employment? Hear from HR managers and senior executives on how Japanese companies are viewing the labor situation.

COVID-19 in Japan: Public Health and Medical Systems
May 5, 2020
How is Japan responding to the COVID crisis? Until late March 2020, Japan reported only few cases and pursued what was called a “cluster buster” strategy, namely to strictly contain clustered outbreaks only. Since then, however, there has been a sharp increase in cases and a state of emergency has been declared. What is the situation of Japan’s health care system now, and what is the public health situation more generally? Are the hospitals ready for this crisis? Are healthcare workers in jeopardy? Listen to Professor Ulrike Schaede and her guests, who are medical doctors and a public health policy expert on how Japan is tackling the health crisis.


  • Takashi Kiyoizumi, MD, PhD, MBA, Executive Manager, Japan Forum for Innovation and Technology, UC San Diego (Moderator)
  • Ryoji Noritake, CEO, Board Member, Health and Global Policy Institute; Consultant, Project HOPE
  • Douglas Ziedonis, MD, MPH, Associate Vice Chancellor for Health Sciences, UC San Diego

COVID-19 in Japan: Politics and Society
April 28, 2020
What is the COVID-19 situation in Japan, and how is Japan responding to the crisis? Throughout February and March 2020, Japan reported so few cases that it was rarely mentioned in the news. Since then, however, there has been a sharp increase, and a special emergency situation has been declared. What is the political situation now, and how are people in Japan assessing the crisis? Get an update from leading Japan professors in political science and public policy on how Japanese politics and society are bracing for crisis.


  • Ulrike Schaede, Professor and Director of the Japan Forum for Innovation and Technology, UC San Diego (Moderator)
  • Mizuho Ohnuma, Taisho University, former Upper House member (LDP, Yamagata Prefecture, 2013-2019), Parliamentary Secretary for Health, Labour and Welfare (2017)
  • Kay Shimizu, Research Professor, University of Pittsburgh Department of Political Science
  • Hisashi Yoshikawa, Project Professor, The University of Tokyo Graduate School of Public Policy