Is Japan in Decline?

Staff: Sheila A. Smith, Senior Fellow for Japan Studies
November 28, 2012 - Present

Japan is on the cusp of another leadership transition, and while politicians campaign for the Lower House election on December 16, larger questions about Japan's future permeate the global media. The tone outside of Japan is pessimistic, and many are dismissive of this nation's future prospects. Should we reconcile ourselves to Japan's inevitable decline, or are there other ways of considering Japan's current challenges? Sheila A. Smith, senior fellow for Japan studies, has initiated a broad conversation on CFR's Asia Unbound blog in which leading experts analyze Japan's economy, politics, and society and give their assessment of Japan's future.

More Information/Materials


Is Japan in Decline?: A Conversation

By Sheila A. Smith, senior fellow for Japan studies, Council on Foreign Relations

The Declinist Debate is a Diversion

By Gerald L. Curtis, Burgess professor of political science, Columbia University; director, Toyota Research Program, Weatherhead East Asian Institute; senior research fellow, Tokyo Foundation

Japan, the Never Normal

By Jennifer Lind, associate professor of government, Dartmouth College; faculty associate, Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies, Harvard University

Solving the Japanese Paradox

By Kathryn Ibata-Arens, associate professor of political science, DePaul University

Two Improbable Locales for Japanese Optimism

By Matthew Marr, assistant professor of sociology, Florida International University

Japan Leading the West?

By Robert Madsen, senior fellow, Center for International Studies at Massachusetts Institute of Technology; member, executive council, Unison Capital

Japan's Untold Potential

By Yasuchika Hasegawa, chairman, Japan Association of Corporate Executives (Keizai Doyukai); president and chief executive officer, Takeda Pharmaceutical Company, Ltd.

Japan, Beyond Tomorrow

By David P. Janes, director of foundation grants and assistant to the president, United States–Japan Foundation

Undervaluing Ourselves

By Akio Takahara, professor of contemporary Chinese politics, Graduate School of Law and Politics, University of Tokyo

The Answer Is in English

By Hiroshi Mikitani, chairman and chief executive officer, Rakuten, Inc.

Rural Japan

By Alexandra Harney, International Affairs Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations, affiliated with the Research Institute of Economy, Trade, and Industry in Tokyo

What Is Japan's Clout?

By David Boling, deputy executive director, Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation

Japan's Twenty Somethings Speak Out

By Miyuki Naiki, Sophia University, and Go Katayama, New York University

The Conversation on Japan's Decline Concludes

By Sheila A. Smith, senior fellow for Japan studies, Council on Foreign Relations

Abe's Challenge

By Keiko Iizuka, senior political writer, Yomiuri Shimbun

Leveraging Japan's "Old Economy"

By Glenn Hoetker, dean's council distinguished scholar and associate professor of management, W.P. Carey School of Business; affiliate professor, Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law; senior sustainability scholar, Arizona State University

Japan, a Consequential Power

By Jeffrey W. Hornung, associate professor, Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies; adjunct fellow, Office of the Japan Chair, Center for Strategic and International Studies

Japan's Soul Searching

By Toshihiro Nakayama, professor, Aoyama Gakuin University; adjunct fellow, Japan Institute of International Affairs