Identifying Japan’s Biggest Priorities
Japan has been mired in deflation and economic stagnation since the early 1990s owing to delays in the implementation of structural reforms, ballooning public debt, lack of political leadership, and many other factors. On a deeper level, though, the situation Japan finds itself in reflects the country’s relative decline in international standing in the post–Cold War era and fundamental demographic shifts caused by the world’s fastest-graying population and a plummeting birthrate.
Japan’s institutions and rules have not kept pace with these changes and are fast becoming outdated. One alarming consequence of this has been that while Japan’s tax revenues declined by ¥17 trillion over the past two decades, social security expenditures have swollen by ¥18 trillion. This is clearly an unsustainable state of public finances.
Global political dynamics are also now in a state of flux. The Group of Eight countries alone can no longer adequately resolve the world’s biggest issues, which need to be addressed by much broader frameworks, such as the G20 and G44. This makes it all the more imperative for Japan to clearly identify its biggest international priorities and protect its national interests.
For Japan to remain a leading player in the resolution of global-scale issues at a time when the international community is experiencing historic changes, it will need to formulate and advance an effective national strategy, rather than simply adopting symptomatic measures. The Tokyo Foundation thus conducts policy research from three angles—“foreign and security policy,” “economy and social security,” and the “environment and social infrastructure”—enabling us to make a substantial contribution to the identification and implementation of such a strategy.
Policy Research Cycle
Select Issue, Plan Project
The Tokyo Foundation’s policy experts undertake a thorough review of existing policies, analyzing and evaluating their impact and identifying areas that need improvement. Hypotheses are formulated, and estimates are made of their ramifications and impact if and when they are adopted.
SELECT ISSUE >> GATHER INFORMATION >> ANALYZE PROBLEMS AND IDENTIFY KEY ISSUES
Research is conducted after an overall plan for the project is drawn up. Tokyo Foundation research fellows and other policy experts organize workshops, meeting with people responsible for policy implementation to gather and analyze information. The proposals that have been tentatively formulated are tested and refined into those fully capable of addressing real challenges.
Quality management is implemented from multiple angles, with briefing sessions being held as needed during the project for fine-tuning and to ascertain progress.
LAUNCH PROJECT >> FORMULATE DRAFT >> FINE-TUNE PROPOSALS
The conclusions of investigation and research are summarized into policy proposals and research papers while considering such factors as perceived need, likelihood of implementation, potential impact, and optimum timing. Their contents are objectively assessed by fellow researchers and other experts and announced to the public.
SUMMARIZE INTO PROPOSALS AND REPORTS >> CHECK QUALITY
Simply announcing policy proposals and research findings will not lead to their realization. Policymakers will have to actually adopt them if they are to become more than just a printed document. Thus the Tokyo Foundation considers publicity efforts to be part of the policy-development process. In addition to basic communication activities, such as posting articles on our website, our researchers engage directly with policymakers, organize workshops with Diet members and other experts, actively submit opinion pieces to newspapers and magazines, and appear regularly on TV and radio programs. The recommendations are further developed through contact with leading figures in the respective fields.
ANNOUNCE PROPOSALS AND FINDINGS >> CONDUCT PUBLICITY CAMPAIGN