Research Areas & Themes ( 2017 ): Politics / Economics

Agricultural policy

Project Leader
Research Objective Agricultural policies have been one of the factors that have hindered Japanese agriculture from fully developing international competitiveness. There are three underlying causes to this problem: 1) Japan's farm income support policy, which is excessively dependent on price support policy originating from the food control system during World War II; 2) Japan's farmland system, which has focused only on maintaining the small farmers with their own farmland produced through the agrarian reform just after World War II and interfered with scale expansion through farmland liquidity; 3) Japan's agricultural cooperative system supportive of the JA cooperative, which led to the realization of the high price of rice as the most powerful pressure group in postwar Japanese politics and developed through a shift away from farming, as more farmers took on side jobs. Although the direction of reform to address these problems is beginning to be seen, there is much to be done to complete the reform. Some areas, such as the acreage reduction policy, have seen changes for the worse from the viewpoint of agricultural development and food security. We will make robust recommendations on the agricultural policy reform to make the agricultural sector stronger and more competitive in exports. Additionally, we will research measures that would modernize and streamline farm management, increase the international competitiveness of Japan's agricultural sector, and cultivate new export markets for it by supporting movements and trends toward reforming the agricultural structure through the adoption and utilization of information technology, biotechnology, and business management techniques.
Project Overview We will exchange opinions with farmers and farm produce processing/distribution businesses to understand the current situation of agriculture. While being based on economics, we will make recommendations centering on the three pillars of agricultural policy: price support policy, farmland policy, and agricultural cooperative policy.
The project will study the possibility of developing Japan's agriculture by introducing and utilizing information technology, biotechnology, and other advanced technologies, as well as policy frameworks needed for this, while examining similar initiatives in developed countries such as the Netherlands, the US, Australia and New Zealand.

Analysis of problems in Japanese economic policy through agricultural policy and healthcare policy

Project Leader
Research Objective Japan's agricultural and healthcare policies have been implemented by different government agencies, yet they have many similarities, such as those between rice price policy and medical fee policy, between acreage reduction and regulation on the number of hospital beds, and in the prohibition of participation of stock companies. Even in other administrative sectors, the government has helped stakeholders and industries maintain their incomes and interests through price support policies accompanying supply restrictions, such as bid collusion in the construction industry, the convoy system for banks, and the minimum wage system. Moreover, such policies are formulated with more of a zero-sum than a plus-sum mentality. Vested interest groups resist deregulation and trade liberalization because they fear their share of the pie would shrink rather than create growth of the pie itself. Through analysis of policies in different fields, we will clarify problems in Japan's economic policy-making process and examine ways to eliminate them.
Project Overview The project analyzes issues common to Japanese economic policy through interdisciplinary exchanges with researchers in relevant fields.

Forestry policy

Project Leader
Research Objective Two-thirds of Japan's national land is covered with forests. Along with their role in recharging water resources and preventing floods, forests are now attracting attention as sinks for greenhouse gases. However, even though Japan is said to have entered an age of domestic timber, stagnant lumber prices and other factors are causing forestry to decline. For the lack of thinning and other appropriate forestry management practices, forests stop short of fully performing their external economic functions as mentioned above. In addition to analyzing forestry problems from multifaceted angles, we will research the conditions required for regeneration of forestry and the policies needed for providing such conditions.
Project Overview We will exchange opinions with those engaged in forestry, as well as forestry policy makers and researchers, and make policy recommendations based on statistics.

Analysis of global trade negotiations

Project Leader
Research Objective US President Trump said that the US would not participate in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), making the current TPP agreement almost impossible to enter into effect. Nevertheless, the Japanese government is sticking to the basic policy of persuading the US government so that the pact can come into force, and maintains a negative attitude toward the TPP without the US. The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is also attracting greater attention, but it cannot substitute for the TPP in terms of the level of ambition it will provide as a free trade agreement. The new international trade and investment rules and regulations agreed upon through the TPP negotiations are about to be lost. The assessment of the TPP agreement and its effects on agriculture are discussed in the recently published book, “The TPP Makes Japan's Agriculture Strong” (Nikkei Publishing Inc.). This project will analyze the future of international trade issues and make recommendations.
Project Overview The project leader will exchange views with negotiators, thinktank researchers and scholars of international economics and international economic law in Japan and elsewhere, and study and analyze the future of trade negotiations based on the insights gained.

Analysis on Chinese economy

Project Leader
Research Objective The Chinese government places top priority on the implementation of structural reform, and it has set the average annual growth target to 6.5% for the 13th five-year plan period. China is caught in a dilemma: if the government presses ahead with the structural reform, such as reducing overcapacity mainly in heavy industry and excess inventory in real estate, it will increase bankruptcy and unemployment, presumably causing an adverse impact on investments and consumption and thus making the growth target difficult to achieve. The Xi Jinping administration is struggling to keep a balance between these policy targets with an eye toward personnel issues decided on during the party convention scheduled in the autumn of 2017.
With the current Chinese economy remaining stable in both employment and prices, and with the fiscal balance almost achieved, the Chinese economy is unlikely to slow down in the short term. However, if the government is slow to implement the structural reform in this dilemma, adverse effects may surface in a few years, increasing the risk of a prolonged economic slump. This project will analyze the details of the Chinese government's implementation of economic policies from these perspectives and predict the magnitude of the medium- to long-term risk and its impact.
In the meantime, all developed countries except Japan and France have recently increased their foreign direct investment in China based on the prediction that China's domestic market will continue to grow. Japanese companies are likely to follow suit in the near future. The flow of inbound tourism from China to Japan is also expected to continue. The project focuses on these two-way economic exchanges between Japan and China and analyzes their impact on the Japanese economy.
With these issues in mind, we seek to meet the needs of people engaging in policy-making and business management by providing timely and accurate information and ideas on the Chinese economy, foreign policy, and security policy that would help them in making policy or business decisions, and to contribute to building a win-win relationship between Japan and China by fostering mutual understanding and trust.
Project Overview Through periodical visits to China for direct interviews, we will collect accurate and timely information from reliable sources, such as Chinese government officials, scholars, economists, and Japanese business leaders in China. Based on the collected information, we will gain a comprehensive understanding of China's economy, including its macroeconomy, regional economies, industry-specific trends, financial trends, and the progress of the reform of state-owned companies. While factoring in the domestic political developments and Japan-China relations, we will provide a simple description of Japan-China economic relations and the realities of the Chinese economy, which is undergoing a structural reform under the Xi Jinping administration.

Elan Vital for Japan

Project Leader
Project Member(s)  ・   ・ 
Collaborator(s) Schumpeter TAMADA(Professor, Kansei Gakuin University), Michael Cousmano (Sloan Management Review Distinguished Professor, MIT Sloan School of Management), Angela Joo-Hyun Kang (CEO, Global Competitiveness Empowerment Forum (GCEF))
Research Objective This year will be the culmination of our research of the past three years. The project performs microscopic and macroscopic analysis of the Japanese economy. The macroscopic analysis focuses on Japan’s growth strategy and the Japanese-style theory of the social contract. The microscopic analysis focuses on R&D strategies, CSR activities, human resource development, and crisis management in Japanese companies.
Project Overview This project serves as the flagship of the Kurihara Unit activities. The world political and economic trends are growing in complexity as global activities become multifaceted politically, economically, socially and technically, and as the entities concerned become multilayered, involving national governments, supranational agencies, multinational companies, and even global NGOs. Amid this situation, the project study will take approaches that are as easily understandable as possible. Monographs will be released on (1) innovation, (2) CSR, and (3) human resource development.

Assessment and analyses of the long-term strategic trend in East Asia

Project Leader
Project Member(s)  ・   ・ 
Collaborator(s) Visiting Research Fellow Toshiyuki ITO
Research Objective Conduct a comprehensive analyses and assessment of a long-term strategic trend until 2050 in East Asia. Particular focus will be placed on strategic geo-political trend including major power competition between the US and China. The project aims to identify the major strategic trends in East Asia which are to be expected over the long-term, and explore how the international relations in East Asia can be stabilized.
Project Overview Hold a regular study group meeting, approximately once a month to discuss long-term strategic trends in East Asia. The topics to be covered include economy, politics, and societal change, and the focus of the discussion will be on how these elements will influence geopolitical dynamics in East Asia over medium- to long-term. A workshop on the long-term situation of East Asia will be held at the CIGS for discussions based on the results produced in the past year.

China's banking system reform and capital market development

Project Leader
Research Objective This project analyzes and studies whether banks in China can efficiently provide funds needed for economic growth as China's banking sector faces an increasingly difficult environment, including the slowdown in economic growth, adjustment of overcapacity, and progress in financial liberalization. To reduce the concentration of financial risks in the banking sector, China continues efforts to develop capital markets. The project will also examine the progress in this area, identify impediments to market development, and recommend possible improvements.
Project Overview (1) Collect and organize materials and financial statistics published by the Chinese government and financial institutions, analyze the financial standing and profitability trends of financial institutions, and make recommendations that would help China's financial institutions and supervision authorities enhance their financial risk management capacity
(2) Perform assessments concerning the reform of China's major commercial banks in corporate governance
(3) Summarize trends in business expansion by policy banks, as well as Postal Savings Bank after an initial public offering
(4) Identify problems with the bond primary market and make recommendations for improvement
(5) Summarize points to be noted in the liberalization of the interest rate and the relaxation process for the capital transaction regulations, using international comparisons.
By publishing interim reports and working papers in the course of the research, comments from intellectuals will be sought. The project leader will visit markets in China, Hong Kong, Europe and the US as appropriate to exchange views with market participants and researchers and to improve the quality of the research outcome.

The role of fiscal policy in China in its pursuit of a smooth shift to steady economic growth

Project Leader
Research Objective The income redistribution function of public finance is key to achieving the Two Centennial Goals set by the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese government: to build a moderately prosperous society by 2021 (100th anniversary of the party formation) and to build a modern socialist country by 2049 (100th anniversary of the founding of the nation). This project will evaluate the current income redistribution function and examine future challenges.
Project Overview (1) Confirm the division of roles between China's central and local governments mainly in public works, based on "The State Council's guiding opinions on promoting the reform of dividing financial powers and expenditure responsibilities between central and local governments," which was published in August 2016; and analyze the current state of local government debt problems, over which concerns have been rising recently, through collection and organization of relevant statistics
(2) Organize and analyze policies on fiscal measures concerning issues such as the reform of state-owned companies, urbanization, and the aging society, and discuss ways to reform the social security system.
In the course of the project, preceding studies will be reviewed and then the tone of recent arguments in China will be organized carefully. The project leader will actively attend workshops in Japan and abroad to deepen discussion.

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