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Since the Democratic Party of Japan came to power in September 2009, the word “chiho bunken” (devolution) has been replaced by the new expression “chiiki shuken” (local sovereignty).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. ...

May 10, 2011

Our choice: profits or safety

As a scholar whose specialty includes energy economics and the environment, I am somewhat puzzled by the relatively small number of social scientists who look into problems concerning energy. Is it because they are afraid of clarifying whether they should be for or against ...

Apr 18, 2011

Crisis cost and opportunity

The most powerful earthquake in the nation’s history struck the northeastern part of Japan on March 11. Even more devastating than the quake itself was the tsunami that followed, as it took more than 20,000 lives and destroyed countless structures. Radioactive leaks continue to ...

Mar 21, 2011

Building a happy society means junking GDP myth

The mass media in Japan have played up the news of China’s gross domestic product exceeding, in U.S. dollar terms, Japan’s to become the second largest economy in the world after the United States. The Chinese figure would be twice as large, far exceeding ...

Feb 21, 2011

Swan dive into the strait dividing economic views

Since last April, I’ve been spending my weekdays in Hikone, a city of Shiga Prefecture located by Lake Biwa. One day, while driving to my university, I was surprised to find four black swans in the outer moat of Hikone Castle. These black swans, ...

Jan 17, 2011

Experts worth listening to

Each of the government’s ministries and agencies has its own deliberative council. Before the fiscal 2001 ministerial reorganization — on April 27, 2000 — the government adopted the basic plan for abolishing and integrating these councils and the like. (The expression “and the like” ...