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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The Carlos Ghosn Saga: What We Can Learn About Japan’s Legal System and Corporate Governance
Aug. 4, 2020 | Register
On Dec. 31, 2019, the Carlos Ghosn saga took a movie-like turn when Nissan’s former CEO arranged to have himself smuggled out of Japan in a musical instrument box. Initially celebrated as a savior and new type manager that showed how Japanese companies could be turned around, Ghosn had begun to ruffle feathers in Japan with his exuberant style as much as his empire-building intentions. Within Nissan, many referred to him as a “dictator”, and he was said to have wielded full control over senior executives and the board of directors. In November 2018, he was pulled out of his private airplane at Haneda airport and held in custody in circumstances that looked harsh in international comparison. The official allegations included under-reporting of earnings and misuse of company assets, although the true depth and breadth of his machinations remain unclear. Join Bruce Aronson and Ulrike Schaede in a conversation of how to make sense of all this – Japan’s legal system, white collar crime, and corporate oversight and governance.

Peak Japan – Is this as good as it gets?
Aug. 11, 2020 | Register
Has Japan peaked, or can it reinvent and relaunch? Over the past two decades, Japan has let a lot of good crises go to waste, argues Brad Glosserman, author of “Peak Japan” and co-author of “The Japan-South Korea Identity Clash". Come zoom with us to learn what he thinks needs to happen for Japan to turn itself around and assume and maintain a leading position in the region and the world.

Past Webinars

Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Change Management in Japan
July 28, 2020
What is the current situation of innovation, entrepreneurship, venture capital and corporate renewal in Japan? Why is it so difficult for large Japanese companies to adjust to technology shifts, and why are companies such as Sony or Panasonic struggling to remain globally competitive? Gen Isayama is one of Japan’s foremost venture capitalist, innovation leader and large company change consultant. He works with many startups as well as large-firm CEOs in Japan and Silicon Valley, and will share his insights of what it takes to manage innovation and change in Japanese companies.

The Politics of Abenomics
July 21, 2020
“Abenomics” – the 10-year economic reform program launched by Prime Minister Shinzō Abe – is typically assessed in economic terms, from the efficacy of quantitative easing to structural reforms. But Abenomics is just as much about political and policy change, as it is bringing about new governance structures, a realignment of power relations within the government, and new policy orientation from security and secrecy to social policy. Join the experts and authors on these issues for a behind-the-scenes look at what Abenomics means for Japanese politics.

Tokyo Olympics Postponed: How Japanese Society Responds
July 14, 2020
Originally scheduled to begin on July 24, 2020, the Tokyo Olympics have been postponed to July 2021. This is a dilemma: The Olympics were supposed to present a brand-new Japan to the world, a leader in sustainability, diversity, inclusion, and a slew of other admirable goals. But almost overnight, Tokyo’s buzz of Olympic logos, countdown clocks and construction hustle have come to an eerie standstill: What now?We joined sociologist Barbara Holthus, editor of Japan Through the Lens of the Tokyo Olympics and Ulrike Schaede in a discussion of how the postponement has affected the various stakeholders in society: athletes with crushed aspirations, para-Olympians with broken dreams, disappointed volunteers, empty-handed ticket holders, devastated inn- and shopkeepers, jubilant anti-Olympic movement participants, among Tokyoites and in the periphery.

Japan’s Energy and Sustainability Policy: The Post-Fukushima / Post-Corona Dilemma
July 7, 2020
Japanese policy makers are in a bind: Japan needs affordable and reliable electric power, yet the country is still struggling to adjust to the end of its nuclear energy program. Today, Japan is a leading global emitter of greenhouse gasses. Its fleet of near-zero carbon electric generators are sitting idle, and renewable energy sources are not harnessed at levels seen elsewhere. Can Japan maintain global competitiveness and decarbonize at the same time? And what new threats and opportunities does the COVID pandemic introduce? We joined two eminent experts on Japanese energy policy to learn more about the current policy discourse and outlook for Japan.

Corporate Governance: How Countries Differ
A Conversation with Peter Gourevitch and Ulrike Schaede
June 30, 2020
Companies have become controversial items. They make, sell, enable, provide, hire and pay. But they are also increasingly accused of many ills: inequality, pollution, climate, medical costs and monopolies. An important way of understanding how companies operate is to look at “corporate governance” — their internal power structure. Who owns it, who directs it, who monitors senior executives? What is the role of large shareholders, and should they even have a say? Important changes have been taking place in Japan, yet Japan’s system continues to be vastly different from the U.S. What do such differences in global corporate governance systems mean, and what can we learn from them?

Culture and Crisis: How Social Norms Explain Differences in COVID-19 Responses around the World
June 23, 2020
“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. We joined 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.

Japanese Religion in Times of Crisis
June 16, 2020
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? We joined 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.

Japan’s Trade Policies in 2020
June 9, 2020
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? We joined a conversation with two of the leading scholars on Japanese trade.

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