Re: A news item and subject which I just want to check out (109) October 13, 2023

 At the Rugby World Cup in France, the Japan-Argentina match where Japan aimed for the best eight in two consecutive tournaments was held at 8 p.m. on Sunday, October 8, in Japan time, and I watched the match on TV. The match was truly a sweaty offence and defense in my hands, but the result was that Japan lost 27-39. Japanese team gave it the strength to persist until the end, but if I am forced to say, my impression is that Japanese team was lackluster in some way compared to the match against Samoa and Argentina took the lead from the start to finish. But I suppose that the team had a refreshing feeling that it fought without regrets. And once the match is over, No Side! After all, sports are good.

By the way, the Nobel Prize in Economics was presented to Claudia Goldin at the Harvard University in the United States. It is said that a study that elucidated the factors causing the disparities between men and women has been recognized. At the press conference, it is said that she pointed out “working hours of Japanese women are short”, even though labor participation rate of Japanese women is 81 % in 2021 outperforming the United States 75 %. As its background, I think that the percentage of women working part-time jobs is high ,54 %, and Japanses women take time to raise their children, and there is “an annual income barrier” such as 1.06 million yen and 1.3 million yen.

■■Things that have recently caught my attention:
■Armed conflict between Hamas and Israel:
Hamas, Islamic armed organization, that has been taking actual control of the Palestinian autonomous territory of Gaza made a surprise attack on Israel in the morning on October 7, and it looks like it will develop into a full-scale conflict. This kind of conflict has been repeated since the founding of Israel in 1948, but I feel like only the persons involved can understand their own pain and hatred in the end, even though I listen to various commentators. Their interpretations of legitimacy are completely different and don’t mesh, depending on how far back you go and where you think about history as a starting point. Therefore, I feel like it is very difficult to find out a permanent compromise.
This conflict has also the potential to escalate into a situation involving neighboring Middle Eastern countries including Iran in the future. The crude oil market has already reacted to geopolitical risks and the price is on the rise. Unfortunately, Japan has no power to mediate the resolution of the conflict, and I just hope the first oil shock in October 1973, 50 years ago. will not happen again. The critical weakness in Japan’s safety is that Japan highly depends on Middle Eastern oil, usually around 95 %. Thinking about such energy risk management, increasing the proportion of nuclear power generation may be an inevitable choice in addition to renewable energy, even though a terrible accident at the Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant happened due to the Great East Japan Earthquake in March 2011 and Japan is still suffering from the aftereffects.

■The outlook for the world economy:
According to quarterly economic outlook recently published by IMF, the global real growth rate in 2024 is 2.9 % reflecting the slowdown in China and eurozone. It is a downward revision of 0.1 % from the forecast in July. In addition to this outlook, an attack on Israel by Hamas has happened this time. And in the United States, there is no prospects for the new fiscal year budget due to a crack between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party and the internal conflict of the Republican Party. The United States is trapped in a chaotic political situation that it is unclear what will happen with the support provided to Ukraine.
For these reasons listed above, the outlook for the world situation has become even more unclear. I think that we need to be very cautious about the world economy after next year and Japanese economy where the impact is inevitable.

■Various “indicators in which I am interested” reflecting recent times:
◎The number of bullying incidents is a record high: The number of bullying incidents recognized at elementary and junior high schools and special needs schools nationwide in 2022 was a record high, 682 thousand increased by 10 % compared to the previous year. It is reported that critical situations by bullying was also a record high 923, increased by 217. 10 years have passed since the enforcement of “the Act for the Promotion of Measures to Prevent Bullying”, and the current situation is that the serious damage has not been completely prevented.
◎The number of elementary, junior high, and high school students who are unable to go to school and have problem behaviors is a record high: The number of elementary and junior high school students who are unable to go to school in 2022 was a record high about 299 thousand significantly increased by 22.1 % compared to the previous year. Elementary school students were 105 thousand and junior high school students were 193 thousand. And the number of violent behaviors at elementary, junior high, and high schools was a record high 95,426 increased by 18,985 compared to the previous year. The number was on the rise at all ages and in particular increased by 7.4 times more than 10 years ago at elementary school.
◎The number of suicides is increasing: The number of suicides in 2022 was 21,881 increased for the first time in two years. Men were 14,746 increased by 807 compared to the previous year and women were 7,135 increased by 67 compared to the previous year. “A suicide death rate” per 100 thousand population was 17.5 in total increased by 0.8 points compared to the previous year. The reasons and motives are in the following order, “health issue”, “family issue” and “economic and life issue”.
Incidentally, the number of suicides of elementary, junior high, and high school students was a record high 514 since the start of statistics in 1980. “School issues” are the most common reason and motive, concretely “poor academic performance”, “worry about future” and “discord with schoolmates”. And it seems that many students are struggling with “family relationships” and “discipline and scolding by family”.
◎The number of social withdrawal is 1.46 million: According to the Cabinet Office, the estimated number of social withdrawal aged from 15 to 64 at home was 1.46 million. Social withdrawal is defined as people who rarely talk with anyone outside of family more than six months. Over 20 % of social withdrawal says that the main reason for this is “expansion of corona”.

What I feel from the above social phenomena is that Japan has become rich economically, but has been still in a state of trial and error because only less than 80 years have passed since Japan turned to democracy due to the defeat in war, different from the United States that has nurtured democracy by questioning itself since the founding in October 1776. And high-tech technology has certainly made our life more convenient, but I feel strongly the importance of “human nature” like “warmness” or “kindness” that we lost in return for it. Considering that mechanical conversations and sentences by Chat GPT and so on will control our daily life under the nominal term of increased productivity and efficiency in the future, I feel “that’s enough”. Would it be nostalgia of the generation that lived 80 % of my life in the Showa era?

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