JPRI Japan/Pacific Rim Media Report: March 1, 2011

In This Week’s Report

1. WikiLeaks Reveals Japan to Establish New Spy Agency
2. Japan's Population Actually Grows… Just Barely
3. Japan Undertaking Limited Military Build Up
4. Japanese PM Faces Stiff Test over Economic Policy
5. New Education Policy Prioritizes English-Language Instruction
6. Opinion: Reconsidering “Japan's Lost Decades”

1. WikiLeaks Reveals Japan to Establish New Spy Agency
The Telegraph (Julian Ryall, Tokyo, “Japan creating spy agency for the first time after Second World War,” 21 February 2011) reported that a U.S. government document obtained by WikiLeaks reveals that Japan is taking steps to create a new espionage unit, modeled on MI6 and the CIA. Japan's troubled relations with North Korea and China are motivating factors behind this policy action.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/japan/8338409/Japan-creating-spy-agency-for-first-time-after-Second-World-War.html

2. Japan's Population Actually Grows… Just Barely
Reuters (Shinichi Saoshiro, “Japan growth rate slows to record low,” 26 February 2011) reported on census data revealing “Japan's population grew by 288,000 during the five years to October 2010 to 128.05 million.” These numbers translate into a growth rate of 0.2 percent, which was higher than expected, but nonetheless is “the lowest on record and well below the 1945-1950 postwar peak of 15.3 percent.” This demographic trend points to troubles ahead. “Slowing population growth also means that Japan, already the most indebted industrial nation with public debt double its $5 trillion economy, will find it increasingly difficult to spread its debt burden.”
http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/02/25/us-japan-population-idUSTRE71O1FK20110225

3. Japan Undertaking Limited Military Build Up
The New York Times (Martin Fackler, “With its Eye on China, Japan Builds Up Military,” 28 February 2011) reported on Japanese efforts to gradually raise its military capacities in order to “respond to a more assertive China and a nuclear-armed North Korea — and to take a first, halting step out of the shadow of the United States, its postwar protector, which many Japanese fear may one day no longer have the will or ability to defend Japan.” For now, this “strategic shift” is being undertaken slowly in consideration of Constitutional and fiscal constraints as well as the sensitivities of neighboring countries to a Japanese military build up.
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/01/world/asia/01japan.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&ref=world&src=mv

4. Japanese PM Faces Stiff Test over Economic Policy
BBC News (Roland Buerk, “Naoto Kan in Japanese budget impasse,” 22 February 2011) reported on Japan's mounting public debt and the political obstacles facing Prime Minister Kan as he seeks to promote reforms that would liberalize the Japanese economy. One obstacle is electoral weakness: the ruling Democratic Party of Japan controls the lower house of Parliament, but the opposition LDP controls the upper chamber. Moreover, although Japanese industry leaders support Kan's call for Japan to join discussions about the Trans Pacific Partnership – a proposed free trade zone spanning the Pacific Rim – “Japan's rice farmers, a politically powerful constituency” firmly oppose such a move.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-12540264

5. New Education Policy Prioritizes English-Language Instruction
Japan Times (Takahiro Fukada, “Are schools ready for English,” 26 February 2011) reported that, starting in April, English will be a mandatory subject taught at least once a week to fifth and sixth graders. According to the article, “ TOEFL data for 2004-2005 put Japan next to last in Asia, with an average score of only 191 points – just one point higher than North Korea. Afghanistan exceeded Japan by seven points, while Singapore had the top score at 254.” Teachers are concerned that they have not been provided sufficient training and preparation to successfully implement the new initiative.
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20110226f1.html

6. Opinion: Reconsidering “Japan's Lost Decades”
The Atlantic (Eamonn Fingleton, “The Myth of Japan's ‘Lost Decades',” 26 February 2011) published an op-ed that calls Japan's “Lost Decades” a media-generated “myth.” Discussing various economic indicators such as Japan's current account surplus, the strength of the yen against the dollar, general living standards, and innovation in Japanese manufacturing, the author contends that Japan's economy remains robust and “Japan enjoys broadly as dominant and geopolitically important a position as the United States did in the 1960s.”
http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/02/the-myth-of-japans-lost-decades/71741/


The JPRI Japan-Pacific Rim Media Report is compiled and edited in cooperation with the
Master of Arts in Asia Pacific Studies (MAPS) Program at the University of San Francisco.

Editor: Chiho Sawada

Editorial Associates: Kristine Anthony, Joshua Del Pino, Eric Santiago, Jonathan Schmitt, Dai Sun


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