Mar 19, 2012

Color GDP growth green

It is often said that the 21st century is the “century of the environment.” This means two things: One is that the environmental problems of this planet, especially climate change and global warming, have become so serious that they are attracting more people’s attention; ...

Feb 27, 2012

Tradeoff in nuclear power

Trade and industry minister Yukio Edano was quoted by a major vernacular paper earlier this year as saying that the government is contemplating changing the policy of promoting nuclear power generation as a national project in which operations are entrusted to private sector electric ...

Jan 23, 2012

More crucial than English

On Nov. 21, 2011, the Government Revitalization Unit (GRU) took up the issue of reform of Japan’s university system. Five themes were presented by GRU members: (1) Is the quality of Japan’s university education deteriorating by global standards even as total revenues and expenditures ...

Dec 19, 2011

Motivation for college study

These days we often hear that there are two signs that the Japanese people, especially youths, have become inward-looking: The number of Japanese students going overseas for study has declined sharply, and far fewer employees in the public and private sectors are willing to ...

Nov 15, 2011

Scientific mind meltdown

In a survey conducted more than 10 years ago, Chikio Hayashi, former director of the Institute of Statistical Mathematics, polled people’s opinions toward the statements of two hypothetical airlines with regard to airplane accidents. Company A: “Our airplanes have never been involved in a ...

Oct 17, 2011

The ethics of compensation

On the evening of Sept. 10, I watched a NHK “Special” television program titled “The Ultimate Choice: Michael Sandel’s global classroom.” The theme of the 75-minute program was who should pick up the bill for reconstructing areas devastated by natural calamities like earthquakes and ...

Sep 20, 2011

End the grad student quotas

Starting in the 1991 academic year (April 1991 through March 1992), a number of leading national universities in Japan underwent major structural changes, led by the Law School at the University of Tokyo. Previously, all university teachers belonged to their respective undergraduate departments and ...

Aug 16, 2011

Too much local sovereignty?

Since the Democratic Party of Japan came to power in September 2009, the word “chiho bunken” (devolution) has been replaced by the new expression “chiiki shuken” (local sovereignty). The government on Nov. 17 that year created the “Local Sovereignty Strategy Council” chaired by the ...

Jul 12, 2011

Advantage of taking notes

In the 2010 university entrance exams in Japan, the number of applicants for economics and business administration programs nationwide fell sharply amid a conspicuous rise in the number of applicants for medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, nursing, jurisprudence and teacher training — where students could most ...

Jun 20, 2011

Living with national universities

In fiscal 2004, the state-run national universities in Japan were given the status of “corporations.” The initial six-year “medium term” after this shift to “national university corporations” ended in fiscal 2009. The current fiscal year is the second year of the second medium term. ...