Japan Update

The Australia Japan Research Centre and ANU Japan Institute are proud to host the virtual 2020 annual Japan Update conference — Japan's Choices Beyond COVID-19 — from Tuesday 8 September to Thursday 10 September.

This year’s update brings together distinguished experts from Japan and Australia for the latest research and debates on how Japan will navigate the policy challenges of the post-COVID-19 world.

Event Schedule

Tuesday 8 September (5-7pm AEST) (4-6pm JST)

Welcome and introduction

Shiro Armstrong
Director, Australia-Japan Research Centre
The Australian National University

Japan's coronavirus response

How has Japan managed to initially flatten the coronavirus pandemic curve and sustain a low number of deaths without strictly enforced lockdown measures, its densely populated cities and aged population? And why has Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s approval rate fared so poorly given Japan’s success in fighting the pandemic? This panel looks at the health strategy Japan is deploying to contain the second wave of infections and the social and political fallout from the COVID-19 shock to Japan.


Hiromi Murakami

Hiromi Murakami

Hiromi Murakami is a visiting Scholar at Global Health Innovation Policy Program at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS). Prior to joining GRIPS, she was involved in various projects in US-Japanese institutions, including the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), the Health and Policy Institute (HGPI), and Economic Strategy Institute. Her expertise includes state-industrial relations and global health policies. Dr Murakami is also an Adjunct Fellow at the Global Health Policy Center of CSIS. She received PhD in International Relations from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C.


Sota Kato

Sota Kato is Executive Director of The Tokyo Foundation for Policy Research. After earning a law degree from the University of Tokyo, Professor Kato joined the Ministry of International Trade and Industry in 1991. He served as Assistant Director for Aircraft and Defense Industries, Deputy Director for the International Economic Division (MITI) and Senior Fellow at the Research Institute of Economy, Trade, and Industry (RIETI). Dr Kato received an MBA (with honors) from Harvard Business School and PhD in political science from the University of Michigan. He concurrently a Professor at the International University of Japan.


Haruka Sakamoto

Haruka Sakamoto is Assistant Professor at the Department of Health Policy and Management, Keio University. Professor Sakamoto holds a Bachelor of Medicine from Sapporo Medical University (2008), a Master of Public Health from Harvard University (2014) and is now completing her Doctorate in Global Health Policy at The University of Tokyo. She has working experience at the Department of International Cooperation, Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare of Japan, where she was deeply involved in health policy activities. She is also currently working at the Gates Foundation Tokyo Office, and World Health Organization as a consultant.

Chair: Sanjaya Senanayake

Sanjaya Senanayake

Sanjaya Senanayake

Sanjaya Senanayake is an Infectious Diseases Physician in Canberra and an Associate Professor of Medicine at ANU Medical School. He has an interest in epidemiology and infections of public health importance and is a regular commentator on a range of public health issues, including COVID-19. Dr Senanayake completed a Bachelors of Medical Science and Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery at the University of New South Wales (1995), and a Masters of Applied Epidemiology from the ANU (2003-4).

Wednesday 9 September (5-6.30pm AEST) (4-5.30pm JST)

Economic crisis and recovery

This panel will discuss the economic crisis from the coronavirus pandemic and the recovery strategy for Japan. How does COVID-19 change the economic outlook in Japan? Does a relatively high rate of corporate savings in major Japanese firms put them in a better position than their foreign rivals? Will Japan’s large government debt and limited capacity for fiscal expansion constrain the recovery process?

*Co-hosted by the Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis (CAMA), ANU


Sagiri Kitao

Sagiri Kitao

Sagiri Kitao is Professor of Economics at the University of Tokyo. She specialises in macroeconomics with a focus on income taxation, wealth distribution and inequality, demographic transitions and social security reforms. Previously she worked as Assistant Professor at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business, and Senior Economist at the Research Department of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. She holds a BA in political science from Waseda University, MA in public administration in international development from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and a PhD in economics from New York University. In 2016 she was awarded the Nakahara Prize, awarded to Japanese economists under the age of 45 who have gained international recognition for their work.

Toshitaka Sekine

Toshitaka Sekine

Toshitaka Sekine is Professor of Asian Public Policy at Hitotsubashi University. Prior to his current position, Professor Sekine spent 33 years as an economist at the Bank of Japan as well as at the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). He was Director-General of the Research and Statistics Department, namely the Chief Economist, at the Bank of Japan Research and Statistics Department from 2015 to 2019. His research includes inflation dynamics, exchange-rate pass-through, corporate investment and bank lending behaviour. He received a BA from the University of Tokyo and a DPhil from Oxford University.

Chair: Ippei Fujiwara

Ippei Fujiwara

Ippei Fujiwara

Ippei Fujiwara is Professor of Macroeconomics at the Crawford School of Public Policy; Research Associate at the Globalization and Monetary Policy Institute, Federal Bank of Dallas; Japan Director of the Australia-Japan Research Centre; and Deputy Director of the Center for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis. His research interests include international finance, monetary economics and macroeconomics, with recent publications in the Journal of Monetary Economics and the Journal of International Economics. Previously, Ippei worked for 18 years with the Bank of Japan. He received his PhD in Applied Economics from Osaka University, and M.Phil and D.Phil in Economics from Oxford University.

Thursday 10 September (5-7pm AEST) (4-6pm JST)

Foreign policy and security post-coronavirus

This panel will examine how the global COVID-19 pandemic is shaping Japan’s foreign and security policies. How are Sino-Japan relations being impacted by the escalating tensions between Beijing and Washington? What are the implications of America’s fraught pandemic response and the upcoming presidential election for the US-Japan alliance? What role will Japan’s relations with regional middle powers play in the post-pandemic era? And how is the shifting Indo-Pacific landscape shaping Japan’s defence posture?


Tomohiko Satake

Tomohiko Satake

Tomohiko Satake is a Senior Research Fellow at the National Institute for Defense Studies in Tokyo. He was a visiting fellow at the AJRC between 2015 and 2016. His expertise includes alliance politics, Japanese security and Japan's security cooperation with Australia. Dr Satake has published extensively on the US-Japan-Australia trilateral relationship. He holds a BA and MA from Keio University, and PhD in international relations from the Australian National University (2010).


Yoshihide Soeya

Yoshihide Soeya is Professor Emeritus at Keio University, after retiring as Professor of Political Science at the university’s Faculty of Law in March 2020. His expertise includes politics and security in East Asia, and Japanese diplomacy and its external relations. He received a PhD from the University of Michigan in 1987, majoring in world politics. He served as Director of the Institute of East Asia Studies of Keio University for six years until 2013, and as Director of its Center for Contemporary Korean Studies for five years until 2016. Dr Soeya was a Japan Scholar of the Woodrow Wilson Center from 2013 to 2014, and a Korea Foundation Fellow in 2014.

Rikki Kersten

Professor Rikki Kersten

Professor Rikki Kersten is Executive Director of the Asia Research Centre at Murdoch University. Prior to this she served as Interim Pro Vice Chancellor of the College of Arts, Business, Law and Social Sciences at Murdoch, and as Dean of Arts from 2014-2019. Professor Kersten has held teaching and research positions at the Universities of Sydney, Leiden, Keio, Tokyo and the ANU where she was Dean of the College of Asia and the Pacific. Her research interests include Japanese history, politics, security policy and foreign policy. She has recently published ‘Assumptions about Alliances: Australia, Japan and the Liberal International Order’, in M. Heazle and A. O’Neill eds.,China’s Rise and Australia-Japan-US relations (London: Edward Elgar, 2018).

Chair: Lauren Richardson

Lauren Richardson

Lauren Richardson

Lauren Richardson is Director of Studies and Lecturer at the Asia-Pacific College of Diplomacy. Previously she taught Northeast Asian Relations at the University of Edinburgh and Keio University. Her research focuses on the role of non-state actors in shaping diplomatic interactions in Northeast Asia. Dr Richardson holds Master’s degrees in Asian Studies (Monash University) and Political Science (Keio University), and a PhD in International Relations from the ANU. She has been a visiting fellow at the Japan Institute of International Affairs and Keio University, a recipient of the Prime Minister’s Australia-Asia Award (2011), and a participant in the US-Korea NextGen Scholars Program (2015-16).

Closing remarks

Dr Lauren Richardson, ANU

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