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Past JAPAN ZOOMINAR @ UC San Diego

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Environmental Advocacy in East Asia
This talk drew on some of the highlights from Mary Alice Haddad’s new book, Effective Advocacy: Lessons from East Asia’s Environmentalists (MIT, 2021), which introduces a new model for understanding policymaking and illustrates five of the most effective strategies for environmental advocates.



In memoriam: Ezra Vogel's "Japan as No. 1" and its Impact on U.S.-Japan Business and Research
In this Japan Zoominar @ UC San Diego, hear leading experts review and celebrate Ezra Vogel’s lasting impact on the field of Japan business, economics and beyond.


An Insider’s Introduction to Contemporary Japanese Art
Enjoy a tour through the latest expressions of Japanese art with AJ Kiyoizumi who builds art collections and collectors globally.


Past Zoominars

Follower No More: Japan’s Role in Shaping the Liberal Trading Order

Follower No More: Japan’s Role in Shaping the Liberal Trading Order
June 15, 2021
Over the last decade, Japan has emerged as a major champion of the liberal economic order. The record is impressive: playing a leading role in the creation of mega trade deals, codifying rules for the digital economy, and orchestrating an infrastructure investment push in developing Asia. However, the fracturing of the world economy due to great power competition and resurgent economic nationalism presents new challenges for Tokyo in balancing its economic internationalism with defensive concerns over economic security. What is Japan’s global power position today?



Entrepreneurial Revival In Japan: A False Spring or Real Opportunity?

Entrepreneurial Revival In Japan: A False Spring or Real Opportunity?
June 8, 2021
Reviving Japan’s past entrepreneurship is no impossible dream. Generational and technological changes are already creating a new generation of successful entrepreneurs. So far, these trends lack critical mass and, under “business as usual”, they’ll never reach it. If, however, supportive policies are implemented—another possible dream—reviving entrepreneurship can help rejuvenate the entire economy.



E-Commerce and the Digital Transformation (DX) in Japan

E-Commerce and the Digital Transformation (DX) in Japan
June 1, 2021
Japan is facing multiple challenges as its workforce ages and population declines, compounded by the disruption of the global pandemic. Japan Inc's traditional methods are being forced to change in everything from marketing to work style and administrative processes. COVID-19 has further changed consumer behavior, e-commerce and logistics are upended, and the way in which all businesses from large retailers to small mom-&-pop shops reach their consumers is entering a new paradigm. What are the trends, how big are the changes really, and how far along is Japan in incorporating and embracing the new possibilities offered by the “DX”?



Environmental Advocacy in East Asia

Environmental Advocacy in East Asia
May 25, 2021
East Asia is a region dominated by pro-business governments that are generally hostile to political advocacy, and yet those same governments have become global leaders in environmental policymaking. East Asia’s environmental advocates must be doing something right—What can we learn from them? This talk drew on some of the highlights from Haddad’s new book, Effective Advocacy: Lessons from East Asia’s Environmentalists (MIT, 2021), which introduces a new model for understanding policymaking and illustrates five of the most effective strategies for environmental advocates.



Through a Transnational Lens: Japan and the World

Through a Transnational Lens: Japan and the World
May 18, 2021
What happens to our understanding of the world if we go beyond comparative analysis, and instead examine the connections among nations? This is what transnational (or global) history does. In such a light, key developments in Japan—nation-building, war, authoritarianism, democracy—become more comprehensible, as we analyze not only domestic factors, but also the impact of global ideas and practices that were circulating at the time. Sheldon Garon will introduce this approach, drawing on his global histories of savings-promotion, social policies, and “home fronts” in the world wars.



The Future of Japan after COVID: Vision of the Committee “Choosing the Future 2.0”

The Future of Japan after COVID: Vision of the Committee “Choosing the Future 2.0”
May 11, 2021
In 2014, Prime Minister Abe convened a committee to lay out future visions of Japan in light of a fast ageing and shrinking society. In 2020, this committee was hastily reconvened to incorporate into its vision the various aspects in which COVID-19 is rapidly reshaping peoples’ attitudes about all aspects of life, including work and family, workstyles, productivity and industrial sector change. The purpose was to make sure that Japan will not miss this critical opportunity to realize real reform. The report, version 2.0, is now out, and the chair of the committee will share with us what it entails, and what the government, business, and society can do to realize it.



Coffee Life in Japan

Coffee Life in Japan
May 4, 2021
Coffee shops offer their customers a special place in their urban lives, and offer observers a window on social and cultural norms and realities. Japan’s kissaten have long been unscripted places for an escape from the programs and demands of social roles. Over time they have reflected and served different social, political and personal needs. In the Meiji era, they were a means to emulate London or New York, to be modern which meant then to be Western. During the Taisho era, they became the venues of expression and creativity for feminists, radicals, poets, and artists. The post WWII Showa-style kissaten, now an object of nostalgia for retired people and for young people with a borrowed yearning for the past, was smoky with salarymen, reading fat manga during breaks. During the bubble economy of the 1980s, drinking gold-sprinkled coffee from antique Limoges cups could demonstrate a sense of exuberant luxury, even as students and others inhabited their own less pricey coffee spaces. Today’s very diverse coffee spaces, including the spread of American coffee chains, the high level techno-geek coffee of connoisseurs, the personal café spaces created by young couples, and the persistence of kissaten, jazz and classical music cafes demonstrate the constant and changing interest in these places where, above all, an outstanding cup of coffee can be found.



Hello Kitty: Japanese Cuteness at Home and Abroad

Hello Kitty: Japanese Cuteness at Home and Abroad
April 27, 2021
How do we interpret Hello Kitty's fandom from Tokyo to Honolulu to Los Angeles to Sao Paolo in the wake of pink globalization? This Japan Zoominar looks at "pink globalization" – the spread of goods and images labeled cute (kawaii) from Japan to other parts of the industrial world. “Pink globalization” connects Japan’s overseas market expansion, distribution and marketing of Japanese products, and the rise of Japan's national cool. What have been the larger impacts over time of such rambling cuteness?



Abenomics and the Japanese Economy: A Conversation with Takeo Hoshi

Abenomics and the Japanese Economy: A Conversation with Takeo Hoshi
April 20, 2021
Stagnation, two lost decades, government debt, zombies. And, reform, industrial restructuring, policies to increase Japan’s “financial metabolism”. What is the current state of the Japanese economy, what are the important metrics to assess it properly, and how should we evaluate the successes of the “Abenomics” reform programs? We joined Takeo Hoshi to discuss his two new books, “The Japanese Economy” (with Taka Ito) and “The Political Economy of the Abe Government and Abenomics Reforms” (co-edited with Phillip Lipscy).



Japan’s Policies for the Common Man

Japan’s Policies for the Common Man
April 13, 2021
As the U.S. and other Western democracies grapple with deepening social, economic and political divisions, Japan, by contrast, appears relatively cohesive and stable. But Japan is by no means devoid of cleavages; it, too, has struggled with populations and economic sectors that are at risk of being “left behind,” most notably by industrialization, globalization and demographic change. How have these voices been represented in the political and policy spheres, and at what cost? Patricia Maclachlan, Japan political scientist at UT Austin, joined us in a conversation of how consumers, postal employees, farmers and small businesses have fared in Japan’s rapidly changing political economy.



Japan’s Power and Influence in the Newly Emerging World Order

Japan’s Power and Influence in the Newly Emerging World Order
April 6, 2021
The 1945-2015 geopolitical order has come unglued. The rise of China and the increasing unreliability of the United States have raised serious questions about Japan’s national security and international influence. While attention has focused primarily on Tokyo’s relations with Beijing and the capitals of East and Southeast Asia, there are more fundamental problems around the world that will disproportionately affect Japan’s ability to exert influence abroad. We discussed what these tectonic shifts mean for the future of Japan in the region and around the globe.



Japan and the Pandemic: The Public Health Perspective

Japan and the Pandemic: The Public Health Perspective
March 30, 2021
When COVID-19 first surfaced in Asia in January 2020, Japan made global news with its cruise ship challenge in the port of Yokohama. From hindsight, this was handled fairly well and did not spread. Indeed, for most of 2020 Japan looked like a posterchild of how to handle the pandemic. But in early 2021, the country has been hit harder, many hospitals reached their limits and lockdowns were ordered. Join one of Japan’s leading public health experts to learn about the current situation, what the health officials are planning, and how to weigh Japan’s prospects. Following this talk is a brief info session by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS), San Francisco on fellowship for research in Japan.



Rethinking 1930s Japan after 1/6

Rethinking 1930s Japan after 1/6
March 23, 2021
Witnessing the stress test of democratic institutions in our own time offers a penetrating glimpse into conditions that enabled the rise of Japanese fascism in the 1930s: the fragility of political norms, the vulnerability of institutions to repurposing and hostile take-overs, the Faustian bargains both large and small that chipped away at the guard rails of democracy. Louise Young has written about politics and culture in wartime Japan and the sources of right-wing extremism. Join us for a discussion of the slide into de-facto dictatorship in 1930s Japan and what it tells us about the nature of modern democratic states.



Japan’s Grand Strategy in Outer Space

Japan’s Grand Strategy in Outer Space
March 16, 2021
Japan’s grand strategy in the space domain gives us a new lens with which to view the country’s trajectories in the international system. Its foundational technologies position it to compete and partner across the world. Its legal and policy frameworks now synchronize its commercial and military uses of outer space. Its space diplomacy keeps it abreast of the fluid interests of both collaborators and competitors in the shifting geopolitics today. Join us for a conversation on her latest book projects, where she draws together her research to reflect on how Japan is charting its own course in the space domain and what that means for its allies and rivals in a changing world order.



A Conversation about Japanese Politics and Public Policy with Richard Samuels

A Conversation about Japanese Politics and Public Policy with Richard Samuels
March 9, 2021 
What do the Tohoku Earthquake, Japanese intelligence, technology policy and national security policy, and Japan’s energy and regional policies have in common? Richard Samuels has written about them, as well as the political leadership and institutions that has shaped them. Join us for a conversation of the insights he has gained from this deep and broad research, and what his findings imply for Japan, Japan’s grand strategy, and U.S.-Japan relations today.



Current Trends in Japanese Marketing

Current Trends in Japanese Marketing
March 2, 2021
For decades, Japan’s marketing industry has been dominated by a handful of large firms, spearheaded by Dentsu. Over decades, their handwriting has shaped the most corporate ad campaigns, and their style, process and approach have set customer expectations and become the industry standard. But over the past two decades, great change has set in, opening the doors for independent and foreign competitors. With more open structures and competing ideas, marketing in Japan is thriving. Join two of Tokyo’s top market experts and insiders for a discussion of current trends.



In memoriam: Ezra Vogel's "Japan as No. 1" and its Impact on U.S.-Japan Business and Research

In memoriam: Ezra Vogel's "Japan as No. 1" and its Impact on U.S.-Japan Business and Research
Feb. 23, 2021 
When he wrote “No.1” in the 1970s, the late Ezra Vogel aimed to wake up an America that found itself in a deep slump. Little could anybody have guessed just how much the book would impact the U.S. the research on Japan, as well as reshape Japan’s own aspirations. The catchy title and direct U.S.-Japan comparison opened a new discourse across many academic disciplines and also in the practice of business and management. Join us as we review and celebrate Ezra Vogel’s lasting impact on the field of Japan business, economics and beyond, with a look back at the development of U.S.-Japan relations since the 1970s, as well as Vogel’s important work on China and his 2019 book “Japan-China: Facing History”.



Can Entrepreneurship be Taught? Initiatives to Foster Innovation in the U.S. and Japan

Can Entrepreneurship be Taught? Initiatives to Foster Innovation in the U.S. and Japan
Feb. 9, 2021
Is the ability to ideate, incubate and launch a new company innate, or can it be taught? And, if it can be taught, can it also be nurtured by policy measures? These are hot questions addressed by many different disciplines, from the analysis of business clusters to the psychology of a successful startup person. Meanwhile, central and local governments around the globe are trying to build their own version of a Silicon Valley-type innovation cluster, sometimes copying all aspects, including pitch event styles, VC laws and even coffee-shops and fashion. Japan is one of the global trailblazers in these policy attempts to foster domestic entrepreneurship. This panel discusses Japan’s attempts and successes, from the Edge Program to J-Startup, and then compares it with the experience in Silicon Valley on what it takes to sustain an innovation ecosystem.



10 Years After Fukushima: How to Implement the Global Energy Policy Renewal

10 Years After Fukushima: How to Implement the Global Energy Policy Renewal
Feb. 2, 2021 
It has been 10 years since the Tohoku Earthquake challenged the wisdom of relying on nuclear power to fight off global warming. And, with the beginning of the Biden and Suga administrations, both the U.S. and Japan are embarking on ambitious paths toward decarbonization and a turn to renewable energy. The EU, too, has issued its version of a “green plan”. These plans look impressive as they stand, but can it be done? What have we learned in the 10 years since Fukushima? What have we accomplished? And what will it take to really affect change and get buy-in from energy producers and users and stakeholders? What role do global politics play, and how can global decarbonization be pushed to the next level?



An Insider’s Introduction to Contemporary Japanese Art

An Insider’s Introduction to Contemporary Japanese Art
Jan. 26, 2021
Over the past few years, the highest-priced living female artist in the world has been 91 year-old Yayoi Kusama, known for her polka-dotted pumpkins. Meanwhile, since the early aughts the so-called “Japanese Andy Warhol”, Takashi Murakami, has built a global brand and factory around his famous motifs. And yet, Japanese artists are not usually prominent in Museums of Contemporary Art. What explains the seeming contradiction between the small footprint and the huge impact? How does nationality or heritage play into the global successes of these artists? Enjoy a tour through the latest expressions of Japanese art with AJ Kiyoizumi who builds art collections and collectors globally.



Immigration in East Asia: How Grassroots Efforts Lead to Integration

Immigration in East Asia: How Grassroots Efforts Lead to Integration
Jan. 19, 2021
Until the early 2000s, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan all had restrictive immigration policies and effective social exclusion of immigrants. But since then, their paths have diverged. Whereas Taiwan has remained restrictive, Japan took incremental steps to expand immigrant services at the grassroots level, and South Korea enacted sweeping immigration reforms. What explains these divergent patterns of immigrant incorporation? A deep analysis of the role of civil society actors, including immigrants themselves, reveals how immigrant interests and actors shape public policy. Our conversation will explain the data base and discuss what these different paths mean for the three societies and economies. (Cosponsored by the Korea-Pacific Program.)



Japan Outlook 2021-22 : The Power of Suganomics

Jan. 12, 2021: What will 2021 bring for Japanese politics, business, and society, and for Japan and Asia? Jesper Koll, consistently ranked as one of the top Japan strategists and economists, will assess the new power dynamics, Japan’s economic health, and the factors that will come into play in shaping this year and beyond. What are the signs to watch, the power brokers to follow, and the market signals to pay attention to? What matters for an evaluation of Japan’s competitive strengths today?



Immigration Policies in Japan

Dec. 8, 2020: While immigration to Japan has grown steadily in recent years, Japan is still characterized by a restrictive immigration policies and a political discourse that rejects immigration. Meanwhile, on the ground immigration is definitely happened, as more and more immigrants claim Japan as their home. Join Gracia Liu-Farrer, author of “Immigrant Japan: Mobility and Belonging in and Ethno-nationalist Society”, and Michael Strausz, author of “Help (Not) Wanted: Immigration Politics in Japan”, for a discussion of the political and social forces that shape immigration in Japan, immigrants’ rights and roles in society, and an assessment of Japanese immigration in comparative perspective.



Softbank, NTT, KDDI: Japan's Telecom/IT Companies in the DX

Dec. 1, 2020: Japan’s telecommunication companies and leading IT companies are gearing up to compete in the digital transformation. While the media spotlight is often on Softbank, there is much more going on in Japan in this area than we typically hear about. And in spite of the global scrutiny, few fully understand what Softbank is up to in terms of its long-term strategic vision. Marc Einstein is a preeminent industry analyst of Japan’s IT sector and will lay out the strengths and weaknesses, as well as strategies to compete in the DX, by Japan’s leading IT players.



Japan-China Business Relations after the U.S. Election

Nov. 24, 2020: In spite of tumultuous history and a strained political situation, when it comes to business, Japan and China have so far been in a fairly symbiotic relationship: given their differences in resources, assets, market size, and stage of industrialization, both countries have something the other one dearly needs. But this relationship, too, is highly dynamic, and embedded in the shifting global business developments, including the U.S. decoupling policies. What kind of business ties will China and Japan forge going forward, will their dependencies be upheld even with a reduction in globalization of supply chains, and where do those developments leave the U.S. in Asia? Join political scientists Hiroki Takeuchi (Southern Methodist University) and Victor Shih (UC San Diego) for a discussion of the future of East Asian commerce and business relations.



Japanese Movies: Japonisme and the Birth of Cinema

Nov. 17, 2020: What is the history and evolution of Japanese film? And how does Japanese cinema connect to other film cultures? Join Daisuke Miyao, a leading scholar of cinema in Japan and author of “Japonisme and the Birth of Cinema” (2020) for an introduction to Japanese cinema, and in particular the early connections between French Orientalism and Japanese aesthetics.



JFIT Roundtable: U.S.-Japan Relations after the Election

Nov. 10, 2020: UC San Diego faculty discussed what the outcome of the U.S. election means for U.S.-Japan relations, in terms of politics, business and economy, foreign policy and security, and any potential shifts in the U.S.-Japan military alliance and the power balance in Asia. Panelists each presented three scenarios and bring their crystal balls to offer a glimpse into the future.



Shinzo Abe – The Iconoclast

Oct. 27, 2020: Now that the Abe administration is completed, it is time to assess the global impact of this outstanding Japanese statesman. Meet Tobias Harris, author of the current best-selling biography on Shinzo Abe, to discuss the larger meaning of the Abe Years. What kind of person is Shinzo Abe, how did he come to power, and what explains his remarkable “second take”, after the unsuccessful first Abe administration? How could he so deftly manage the LDP power structures, as well as the bureaucracies? What is the impact of his foreign and security policy shift? Will his various policy direction changes stick, and – last but not the least – what will it take to fill his shoes?



Women in Japan: Similar Challenges, Different Solutions

Oct. 20, 2020: A lot has been made of Womenomics, Abe’s program to improve the work situation for women in Japan. And although many challenges remain, statistically it has worked and Japan is now average in several measures of women workforce participation and advancement. But how does Japan’s workplace reality compare, including also with Europe? Clearly, Japan’s business environment continues to be different from the West, with tighter social norms, more rigid hierarchies, and entrenched habits. Although Japanese women face similar workplace challenges as women everywhere, they have to find different ways to change their work settings and remove obstacles of social expectations and subconscious bias. Join Karen Shire, Director of the Center for Gender Research at UDE in Germany, and Saki Tomita, Manager at TEPCO Ventures in Tokyo, to discuss what is changing, how Japan compares, and what working women in Japan do to “lean in” and change their work environments.



Reluctant Warriors: The Role of Japan and Germany in the International Military Order

Oct. 13, 2020: As the international liberal order is breaking down, calls are getting louder for Japan and Germany to revise their roles and military responsibilities. Thanks to their size and economic importance, these two countries are the most important allies for the U.S. in Asia and Europe, respectively. The U.S. is increasingly frustrated with what it sees as a reluctance to share more of the defense burden, even as both countries still operate under those Constitutions and have strong sub-cultures of "anti-militarism. Join Ellis Krauss, co-author of "Reluctant Warriors: Germany, Japan, and Their U.S. Alliance Dilemma," and Ulrike Schaede for a discussion of what is at stake for the future of global security.



Japan, China, Korea – Shifting Strategic Relations in Turbulent Times

Oct. 6, 2020: The muscle-flexing of China, the rising ambivalence of the U.S. toward its Asian alliances, and ongoing concerns on the Korean Peninsula – where does all this leave Japan in the Asian geopolitical situation? How should one view the evolution of Asia's security architecture and new strategic narratives that incorporate the broader Indo-Pacific region? Join Andrew Yeo, author of “Asia’s Regional Architecture”, for an in-depth discussion.



Japan’s Business Reforms after Abenomics

Sept. 29, 2020: Prime Minister Abe was a great supporter of business reforms – be that by empowering reformers, rewriting rules and laws, or taking more control over bureaucratic appointments. Over the past decade, markets have become more attractive, companies more proactive, and innovation more salient. But will this stay after Abenomics? Join Kazuhiko Toyama, one of the leaders of Japan’s business reinvention processes who was deeply involved in guiding the turnarounds at JAL, Kanebo and many other companies, for a conversation of what’s at stake for the trajectory of Japan’s business organization.



How Japanese Companies Compete Globally

Sept. 22, 2020: The globalization of commerce, the breakout of supply chains across multiple countries, and the need of open innovation have required Japanese companies to change their business mindset. The previous, largely ethnocentric approach of exporting “Made in Japan” goods no longer works, and needs to be carefully blended with more global – aka Western – management approaches of multi-country growth and profitability strategies. How are Japan’s largest companies positioned to compete in this new global setting, and what are the changes needed in general business mindset towards truly global approaches? Listen to long-term Japan business insider David “Chet” Chetwynd and Ulrike Schaede, as they discuss the global visions for Japan’s large businesses.


Japanese Literature After Murakami, In the Midst of COVID-19, and Before What’s Coming Next

Sept. 15, 2020: Japanese literature since Murakami has earned an international reputation for its quirkiness, but what is not read in the English-speaking world can be very different. How have recent catastrophes, both natural and man-made, changed what the Japanese themselves now seek from their writers? Join John Treat, author of “The Rise and Fall of Japanese Literature”, among many others, and Ulrike Schaede for a discussion and overview of contemporary Japanese literature.


Japan’s Geoeconomic Strategy in the Asia-Pacific

Sept. 8, 2020: Japan has a pivotal role to play in the geoeconomic balance of Asia, and thus in 21st century commerce. When Japan’s domestic economy began to transform at the turn of the century, its economic foreign policy strategies also started to shift, away from bilateralism and informal rules toward new approaches of regional institution-building that would assure Japanese leadership. As China and the U.S. wrestle over economic advantage, Japan is positioning, more or less quietly, to orchestrate the newly emerging trade dependencies and agreements in Asia. Saori N. Katada will introduce her new book, "Japan’s New Regional Reality," to show how this new foreign economic policy has been articulated and implemented.


Robotics and the Digital Transformation of Japan

Sept. 1, 2020: Although Japan has long been known for a strength in industrial robotics, system engineering and world-class manufacturing processes, Japanese companies are also often chastised for a lack in end-user software capabilities and easy IT solutions. And now one also often hears that Japan will not be a player in the digital transformation, i.e., big data, AI and the cloud – a market widely assumed to belong to the U.S. and China. But is that really true? Quietly, some Japanese firms are building top-of-the-class competencies in edge computing and digital manufacturing that will form the basis of the so-called “industry 4.0”, as well as the infrastructure requirements of the “internet-of-things”. Hear from Alberto Moel, long-time Japan observer, tech industry analyst and robotics specialist, on how to assess Japan’s strengths and weaknesses in the looming DX.


Ruth Benedict and the Study of Japanese Culture

Aug. 25, 2020: Ruth Benedict, an American anthropologist famous for her work on patterns of culture, keenly observed Japanese behavior during and after World War II, from afar, and in 1946 published "The Chrysanthemum and the Sword." This book re-framed what Americans had construed as “fanatical” behavior during wartime through a cultural prism, and introduced concepts of debt, duty and shame. During the apex of U.S.-Japan trade relations in the 1980s, applications of “culture” to Japan became much more simplistic and overdrawn. In a backlash, rational choice theories won the day. But over the past 20 years, social psychology research has brought new insights into culture as a set of “learned” (not innate) behavioral norms, and how certain choice options and settings affect behavior. To this day, Japanese social institutions, including schools and companies, continue to invest in shaping the “right” behavior. Indeed, this investment in socialization was one of Benedict’s important insights. The rebirth of culture not as a cause or outcome, but an incentive structure, offers new possibilities for research on Japan. Join us for a zoom with Amy Borovoy, cultural anthropologist and East Asian Studies professor at Princeton University.


Japan's "2040 Energy Mix" Policy Program

Aug. 18, 2020: This fall, the Japanese government will begin deliberations for its new “2040 Energy Mix” program. The previous one, which was crafted in 2015 to project energy policies until 2030, foresaw a fairly balanced reliance, of around 24% each, on nuclear energy, renewables, coal and LNG, with only 3% from oil. This did not happen, as Japan remains dependent mostly on LNG (40%) and coal (29%). That said, renewables (16%) are edging up, and a lot of efforts are under way – in the government, the power companies, and private sector research labs – to further these trends and change how much and what kind of energy sources Japan relies on. Reducing emissions and increasing efficiencies in production and transmission are also part of this story. Join us for a discussion of the obstacles and opportunities Japan faces, and what is at stake with this next energy mix policy plan.



Peak Japan – Is this as good as it gets?

Aug. 11, 2020: 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.



The Carlos Ghosn Saga: What We Can Learn About Japan’s Legal System and Corporate Governance

Aug. 4, 2020: 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.



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: A Conversation with Stephan Haggard and Ulrike Schaede

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.



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.