The Japan Society

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Japan Society Chairman's Blog (24)

Japan Society Chairman's Blog (24)

Freedom of speech is one of those aspects of our modern, thankfully democratic, life that we have come to think of in Britain and Japan as being as natural as sunshine or water, but the merest glance at history tells us that this is far from so.

Japan Society Chairman's Blog (23)

Japan Society Chairman's Blog (23)

Politics is a distinctly unedifying process. The quote usually, perhaps apocryphally, attributed to Otto von Bismarck gets it about right: “laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made”.

Japan Society Chairman's Blog (22)

Japan Society Chairman's Blog (22)

A key text from my long-ago student days was Walter Bagehot’s “The English Constitution” from 1867, in which this great Victorian writer and editor laid down, unofficially but ultimately influentially, some of the fundamental principles by which this country’s unwritten constitution functions.

Japan Society Chairman's Blog (21)

Japan Society Chairman's Blog (21)

Every generation, as they get older, sees things happening among younger people that allows them to conclude that society must have gone mad. For me, in recent years one of those signs has been the growing popularity of tattoos.

Japan Society Chairman's Blog (20)

Japan Society Chairman's Blog (20)

I cannot pretend that these are not turbulent times, when an American president refuses to confirm that there will be a peaceful transfer of power after the US election on 3 November, when in the UK plans emerge to require access permits for trucks entering the county of Kent so as to control post-Brexit congestion [...]

Japan Society Chairman's Blog (19)

Japan Society Chairman's Blog (19)

I have to begin with a confession. In the blog that I wrote on 31 August, perhaps still feeling relaxed thanks to the summer, I said something foolish about Japanese politics. Well, not overly foolish you might say, but something that showed that I had not done all my homework.

Japan Society Chairman's Blog (18)

Japan Society Chairman's Blog (18)

The big news which has caused this blog to break its holiday is the sudden resignation of Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, Shinzo Abe. This wasn’t a total surprise, given that there had been plenty of speculation about two lengthy hospital visits the prime minister had recently made.

The Japan Society Annual General Meeting 2020

The Japan Society Annual General Meeting 2020

Thank you to all the members who attended the Japan Society’s first ‘virtual’ Annual General Meeting; it was lovely to see so many old friends, even if it was only on a screen! A particular pleasure was to be able to welcome members from outside London, and as far afield as continental Europe, Japan and California.

Japan Society Chairman's Blog (17)

Japan Society Chairman's Blog (17)

Historians will tell us that four months is far too short a time for permanent social or behavioural changes to occur, even if the pandemic already feels as if it has lasted forever. But one thing that really is clear is that those months have proven that video communications technologies such as Zoom are mature and easy enough for widespread use.

Japan Society Chairman's Blog (16)

Japan Society Chairman's Blog (16)

Let’s start with some good news, for once. Regular readers will know that I have been especially interested in the pioneering work on a Covid-19 vaccine being done at Oxford University’s Jenner Institute, not out of loyalty to my alma mater but out of a belief that the remarkable speed of their work offers a ray of sunshine in an otherwise gloomy period.