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Publications in English


The Research and Legislative Reference Bureau (RLRB) prepares research papers on government policy and legal analysis of potential political issues exclusively at the request of the National Diet of Japan. The RLRB also provides English translations of selected materials on Japanese society, economics, legislation, and other issues for the benefit of research analysts in parliamentary libraries throughout the world.

Research Materials in English

FUKASAWA Eiji, “The Essence of Various Phenomena in the Hometown Tax Donation System (PDF: 1.12MB) ,” Research Materials, 2021e-1, Tokyo: Research and Legislative Reference Bureau, National Diet Library, 2021. (Translated from The Reference, No. 818, 2019.3, pp. 53-79.)

Under the “hometown tax donation” system, which applies tax incentives to donations to municipalities other than the place of residence, individual inhabitant tax revenues are being transferred among municipalities. Moreover, each municipality is competing to reduce the actual tax burden of donors by raising the rate of reciprocal gift to donation amount (return rate), thus spurring the transfer of tax revenues among municipalities. The essence of such competition among municipalities using reciprocal gifts (competition for donations in exchange for reciprocal gifts) can be considered as equivalent to competition via tax rate reductions (tax competition) intended to attract a tax base within the region. The independent analysis based on data from 791 cities nationwide confirmed that each municipality is raising its own return rate in response to the increase in the return rate by rival municipalities (municipalities with similar financial strength). In general, tax competition has the side effect of lowering the economic welfare of residents. Therefore, the point in question may be whether national legislation that sets an upper limit of a 30% return rate would be sufficient to stop the competition for donations in exchange for reciprocal gifts.

ENDO Masahiro, “Situation of World Natural Heritage in Japan (PDF: 895KB) ,” Research Materials, 2021e-2, Tokyo: Research and Legislative Reference Bureau, National Diet Library, 2021. (Translated from The Reference, No. 828, 2020.1, pp. 57-81.)

Japan’s World Natural Heritage sites currently inscribed in the World Heritage Convention include Shirakami-Sanchi, Yakushima, Shiretoko, and the Ogasawara Islands. In addition, Amami-Okinawa are currently being nominated as a candidate site. Major issues affecting each region are a decrease in tourists, the impact of deer on the local ecosystem (Shirakami-Sanchi and Yakushima), coexistence with wildlife (Shiretoko), measures against invasive species, and plans for airport construction (Ogasawara Islands). The nomination for Amami-Okinawa, submitted in 2017, was temporarily withdrawn and resubmitted in 2019 after incorporating revisions such as integrating nomination areas that had been divided. Future issues include restrictions on the use of heritage sites, the expansion of ecotourism, and the securing of financial resources for management.

OZAWA Haruki, “Points of Contention Surrounding the Death Penalty (PDF: 569KB) ,” Research Materials, 2021e-3, Tokyo: Research and Legislative Reference Bureau, National Diet Library, 2021. (Translated from ISSUE BRIEF, No. 1013, 2018.9.13.)

Japan’s death penalty system has been the subject of debate both domestically and internationally. In the present debate within Japan, death penalty retentionists have mainly cited factors such as the national sentiment, the deterrence effect, the elimination of possible repeat offenses by violent criminals, the emotions of victims and their families, and the need to maintain the balance between crime and punishment as the grounds of their arguments. On the other hand, Japanese death penalty abolitionists have argued against this form of punishment primarily on the grounds of changes in the global trends, the possibility of misjudgment, the idea of it as a violation of human rights, and the cruel nature of it. In addition, other points of contention besides the pros and cons of the death penalty system themselves have been discussed in recent years, including issues with the method of executing death sentences, the implementation of the death penalty for inmates who have pending retrial requests, the relationship between the death penalty system and the saiban-in (lay judge) system, and the introduction of life imprisonment without parole. International organizations have expressed concerns about Japan’s death penalty system. This article is a summary of the main arguments made by both death penalty retentionists and abolitionists, and it includes an overview of the trends surrounding Japan’s implementation of the death penalty up to August 2018.

TOYODA Toru, "Challenges in and Outlooks on School Work-Style Reform (PDF: 435KB)," Research Materials, 2020e-1, Tokyo: Research and Legislative Reference Bureau, National Diet Library, 2020. (Translated from The Reference, No. 813, 2018.10, pp. 53-74.)

Teachers in public elementary and middle schools in Japan are extremely busy. According to surveys by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, conditions regarding teacher overtime have worsened, compared to their state ten years ago. In a comparison of conditions worldwide based on an OECD survey, teachers in Japan now have the longest working hours of any surveyed nation. In addition to their primary duties in education and instruction, teachers spend many hours on club and extracurricular activities and school administrative tasks. In response to these conditions, deliberations of and proposals for drastic reform have been deemed necessary on the national level, and the Central Council for Education has studied "school work-style reform." The study's "Interim Report" proposes a review of the duties the schools and teaching staff are expected to perform. Inconsistencies between the 1972 Special Wage Act and current conditions, as well as the lack of constraints on long working hours, were cited as major factors in long teacher working hours. Discussions within the Central Council for Education, including a re-examination of the Special Wage Act, are ongoing.

MIWA Kazuhiro and HAYASHI Kaori, "The Current Status of Regulation Regarding Artificial Reproductive Technology in Japan and the Trends in Legal Development (PDF: 493KB)," Research Materials, 2020e-2, Tokyo: Research and Legislative Reference Bureau, National Diet Library, 2020. (Translated from The Reference, No. 815, 2018.12, pp. 37-64.)

The level of Artificial Reproductive Technology in Japan is high, and the country is at the forefront of the industry globally. However, the implementation of Artificial Reproductive Technology is self-regulated as per the guidelines of the Japan Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Nevertheless, given this situation, the need for legal regulation is currently being discussed. Many of the relevant judicial cases concern the determination of the parent-child relationship, and few have decided on the appropriateness of the implementation. Thus far, governmental review conferences and discussions have been carried out at the Science Council of Japan (1998-2008), and these talks have focused especially on the provision of sperm, ovum and surplus embryos, and surrogacy. While political parties have drafted legislative bills over recent years (2014-2016), it is still necessary to consider legislation. In this paper, we compare the guidelines and examination reports of governments, academic societies, and professional organizations, while also discussing recent trends and the perspectives of different political parties.

TANAKA Ayako, "Issues Related to End-of-Life Solar Power Generation Equipment (PDF: 498KB)," Research Materials, 2020e-3, Tokyo: Research and Legislative Reference Bureau, National Diet Library, 2020. (Translated from ISSUE BRIEF, No. 1015, 2018.10.4.)

In recent years, the installation of solar power generation equipment has accelerated rapidly in Japan. Because solar power generation equipment typically has a life span of 20 to 30 years, the amount of solar power generation equipment that has reached the end of its useful life is expected to increase in the future. It is also possible that a large amount of equipment will simultaneously be rendered unusable by large-scale disasters. It is believed that much of the solar power generation equipment that is currently in use will be disposed of in the near future. Concerns over end-of-life solar power generation equipment include the possibilities of illegal dumping, abandonment, and the discharge and spread of toxic substances. Systems for appropriate reuse, recycling, and disposal of this equipment have been sought. This paper outlines potential issues related to the mass disposal of end-of-life solar power generation equipment and summarizes prospective measures to address these issues.

YAMADA Kunio, "Women in Politics and Gender Quotas: Ensuring Diversity in the Political Arena (PDF: 400KB)," Research Materials, 2019e-1, Tokyo: Research and Legislative Reference Bureau, National Diet Library, 2019. (Translated from "Building a Society of Diversity: Interdisciplinary Research Project," Research Materials, 2016-3, 2017, pp. 75-89.)

The participation rate of women in the National Diet of Japan, the country's national parliament, is extremely low when compared to other nations, and it is said that Japan is a long way from catching up to the global average. Furthermore, the participation rate of women in local assemblies is even lower. In other nations, women's participation in national parliaments has nearly doubled during the past two decades. The driving force behind this increase has been the so-called "quota system." Women's political interests tend to revolve around the issues of education, employment, and family; therefore, it is expected that women's political participation can bring views and perspectives that differ from men's into the political arena. In the case of the National Diet of Japan, there has been a debate on a bill that would encourage political parties to take initiative and implement a quota system. Legislation concerning this matter was enacted in May 2018; therefore, it remains to be seen how the political parties will voluntarily engage with and implement this new system. In this paper, the quota system is discussed from the perspective of exercising women's electoral eligibility, including a discussion of global trends.

KOIKE Takuji, "The Geological Disposal of High-Level Radioactive Waste: Based on an Account of the Publication of the Nationwide Map of Scientific Features for Geological Disposal (PDF: 1.69MB)," Research Materials, 2019e-2, Research and Legislative Reference Bureau, National Diet Library, 2019. (Translated from ISSUE BRIEF, No. 976, 2017.9.19.)

The liquid waste generated during the reprocessing of spent fuel from nuclear power generation is solidified and processed into vitrified waste. The present generation, who uses nuclear power to generate electricity, has the responsibility to safely dispose of high-level radioactive waste (such as vitrified waste), which will continue to emit radiation for tens of thousands of years. While Japan aims to make geological disposal-where vitrified waste is buried in geological strata 300 meters deep-a reality, it is not known when this intent may come to fruition. As part of the effort to advance the issue of final disposal, the government of Japan published a Nationwide Map of Scientific Features for Geological Disposal in July 2017. The government plans to use the publication of this document as an opportunity to stimulate interaction and dialogue with its citizens. The intent of this study is to organize future actions, with due consideration of the steps taken thus far concerning the geological disposal of high-level radioactive waste.

KAWANISHI Akihiro, "Hate Speech Regulations in Japan: Surrounding the Hate Speech Elimination Act (PDF: 370KB)," Research Materials, 2019e-3, Research and Legislative Reference Bureau, National Diet Library, 2019. (Translated from The Reference, No. 807, 2018.4, pp. 51-73.)

The Hate Speech Elimination Act was enacted in 2016. Under the framework of the various international human rights treaties to which Japan is a signatory, Japan is obligated to regulate the incitement of discrimination and is required by bodies enforcing these treaties to implement such regulation. There have been cases of litigation concerning hate speech that have resulted in decisions mandating extremely large compensation for damages. Regional public bodies have also responded by enacting bylaws or by refusing to authorize the use of public facilities for gatherings where hate speech will occur. This paper briefly describes the conditions after the enforcement of this law and the remaining challenges on the basis of an overview of the above trends before and after the enactment of the Hate Speech Elimination Act.

SENDA Kazuaki, "Progress and Challenges of Earthquake-Resistant Housing: Examining the Discussions Following the 2016 Kumamoto Earthquake (PDF: 484KB)," Research Materials, 2019e-4, Research and Legislative Reference Bureau, National Diet Library, 2019. (Translated from ISSUE BRIEF, No. 988, 2018.1.9.)

In this paper, we review the progress made by the government in its drive to promote earthquake-resistant housing. We also aim to clarify the issues surrounding earthquake-resistant building codes revealed by the damage caused to residences by the Kumamoto Earthquake that occurred in April 2016. The earthquake-resistant building codes in Japan are based on the Building Standard Law, including the amendments effected in 1981. Some provisions were strengthened in 2000, particularly those regarding residential buildings made of wood (2000 standards). By supporting residents in conducting earthquake-proofing examinations and in bearing retrofitting costs, the government's drive toward making residences earthquake-resistant is clear; however, the results achieved have plateaued at only approximately 82% as of 2013, with the government aiming to raise it to 95% by 2020. In the discussions on the damage caused to residences by the 2016 Kumamoto Earthquake, revising the Building Standard Law was postponed as the current building codes to make residences earthquake-resistant were found effective. A policy to promote earthquake-proofing examinations and retrofitting of residences that do not meet the 2000 standards is being put forward, and further government support is desired.

TSUTSUMI Maki, "Informatization of School Education in Japan: Current State and Challenges (PDF: 356KB)," Research Materials, 2019e-5, Research and Legislative Reference Bureau, National Diet Library, 2019. (Translated from ISSUE BRIEF, No. 989, 2018.1.9.)

With the rapid informatization of society, the introduction of information and communication technology (ICT) has also progressed in the area of school education. This process of informatization has encompassed three dimensions: the advancement of information education, the use of ICT in subject teaching, and the informatization of school administrative work. Programming education will begin under a new course of study for elementary schools, which is due to be implemented fully in the 2020 academic year. Moreover, digital textbooks will be formally introduced, and it is also expected that the informatization of school administrative work will help reduce the burden on teachers. Challenges associated with the informatization of school education have also been identified, including correction of disparities in ICT environments among municipalities and verification of effective ways of utilizing ICT. This paper provides an overview of the current state and challenges surrounding the informatization of school education.

SAKATA Kazuko, "An Introduction to Diversity (PDF: 169KB)," Research Materials, 2018e-1, Research and Legislative Reference Bureau, National Diet Library, 2018. (Translated from "Building a Society of Diversity: Interdisciplinary Research Project," Research Materials, 2016-3, 2017, pp. 1-14.)

The RLRB conducted an Interdisciplinary Research Project in 2016 entitled Building a Society of Diversity. A truly diverse society respects individual differences in nationality, age, religion, ability, gender, or sexual orientation gender. Thus, everyone in such a society would have the opportunity to work actively, to succeed in their chosen role, and to enjoy their life. This paper examines the spread of diversity throughout Japan and the United States and provides an overview of the characteristics, effects, and problems of diversity as well as an outline of each article on the Interdisciplinary Research Project published in 2016, which included articles on social inclusion, diversity policy in Germany, comprehensive anti-discrimination laws in major countries, LGBT, women's participation in politics, protecting the right of persons with disabilities to vote, public transportation, government finances, Japanese corporations, and agriculture and rural communities.

KOBAYASHI Shinichi, "The Physician-Scientist Problem: A Human Resources Crisis in Life Science Research (PDF: 646KB)," Research Materials, 2018e-2, Research and Legislative Reference Bureau, National Diet Library, 2018. (Translated from "Aspects in Life Sciences: Science and Technology Research Project," Research Materials, 2015-3, pp. 65–94.)

The RLRB conducted a Science and Technology Research Project in 2015 entitled Aspects in Life Science. The life sciences are branches of science and technology that involve the study of living organisms. Public interest in the life sciences is high, in large part because of its fundamental relevance to human life and its impact on many facets of our daily lives through technologies such as gene manipulation, genetic modification of crops, regenerative medicine, and drug development. This article examines the challenges faced by life scientists in Japan, including a severe shortage of physician scientists participating in life-science research, and discusses the present system for training doctors and researchers as well as the need to establish new guidelines for scientific training.

YAMADA Toshiyuki, "Consideration about Allowing Abdication in the Enactment Processes of the Present Japanese System (PDF: 229KB)," Research Materials, 2018e-3, Tokyo: Research and Legislative Reference Bureau, National Diet Library, 2018. (Translated from ISSUE BRIEF, No. 958, 2017.4.18.)

This article examines how the adoption of European laws during the Meiji period eventually resulted in failure to provide measures for the abdication of and succession from a living Emperor. It also discusses rules related to abdication in the Imperial Household Law of 1889 and the legislative process that created the Imperial Household Law of 1947.

OMORI Kengo, "Fiscal Cost to Exit Monetary Easing of the Bank of Japan (PDF: 367KB)," Research Materials, 2018e-4, Research and Legislative Reference Bureau, National Diet Library, 2018. (Translated from ISSUE BRIEF, No. 971, 2017.7.27.)

In 2013, the Bank of Japan (BOJ) introduced measures for quantitative and qualitative monetary easing and launched a large-scale asset purchase program, which resulted in a substantial expansion of the BOJ's balance sheet, to the extent that it nearly matches Japan's gross domestic product. This article discusses concerns that periods of money tightening could result in financial deterioration of the BOJ and explores exit strategies designed to achieve financial stability.

YAMAMOTO Kentaro, "Development of Japan's Security Legislation and Public Opinion after World War II (PDF: 432KB)," Research Materials, 2018e-5, Research and Legislative Reference Bureau, National Diet Library, 2018. (Translated from The Reference, No. 783, 2016.4, pp. 57–85.)

Insofar as national security is a major policy issue, it is often the subject of extensive deliberation in the Diet. This article examines shifts in public opinion according to polls conducted by Japanese newspapers during major events related to security policy in postwar Japan, including establishment of the Self-Defense Forces during the early 1950s, revision of the Japan-US Security Treaty in the 1960s, overseas deployment of the SDF in the 1990s and 2000s, the right of collective self-defense in 2015, and the passing of security-related laws in 2015.

KAMAKURA Haruko, "Japan's Public Debt: Facing an Ageing and Shrinking Population (PDF: 425KB)," Research Materials, 2018e-6, Research and Legislative Reference Bureau, National Diet Library, 2018.

Japan's social security expenses have increased significantly due to low economic growth, an expanding budget deficit, and a rapidly aging population. This article provides an overview of fluctuations in the budget deficit and discusses Government initiatives for reducing it, including comprehensive reform of the taxation and social security systems, and was written by analysts from the RLRB's financial affairs research service who provide daily monetary policy analysis to Diet members.

Other publications in English

The following publications are English translations by other institutions of articles originally written in Japanese by RLRB analysts. These reports are available from the websites of other institutions by clicking the links provided below.

Other publications in English

TAKAMINE Yasuyo, "JAPAN (PDF: 1.6MB)," EPTA, Shaping the Future of Mobility: Mobility Pricing in Europe and beyond, 2017.10, pp.39-42.

The RLRB joined the European Parliamentary Technology Assessment (EPTA) as an associate member to enhance its ability to acquire information on science and technology information. When the EPTA conducted research on mobility pricing in its member countries, the RLRB was responsible for writing the report on Japan. (English version available by clicking the above link.) The report examines road price planning by local governments in Japan, which tend to rely on road improvements and other structural measures rather than pricing as a measure to ease traffic congestion.

Research and Legislative Reference Bureau Publications

ISSUE BRIEF (published irregularly)

ISSUE BRIEF is a serial publication of briefing articles on relevant policy topics. Each issue comprises roughly 10 pages of detailed briefs on specific topics.

The Reference (published monthly)

The Reference is the RLRB's monthly research journal, featuring medium- to long-term political and legal analysis of government policy, state affairs, and historical studies as well as comparative studies of Japanese and foreign systems.

Foreign Legislation (published monthly and quarterly)

Foreign Legislation features Japanese translations of foreign laws, explanation of the background to foreign legislation, and concise information on foreign legislative activities. The articles are prepared in response to requests from Diet members for an overview of the legislative practices in major countries. The monthly edition contains briefing articles on legislative activities in other countries, while the quarterly edition contains translations of relevant laws and analysis of legislative resources in foreign countries.

Research Materials (published irregularly)

Research Materials is a monograph series published irregularly with reports on interdisciplinary research, science and technology research projects, and basic information series.

Interdisciplinary research comprises a customized research report of tightly focused political issues from a medium- to long-term perspective and is prepared by NDL analysts in cooperation with independent researchers. Subject matter from recent issues includes the European Union, diversity, the Olympics and Paralympics, and the Great East Japan Earthquake.

Science and technology research projects provide a comprehensive description of advanced science and technology policy issues, while introducing current trends, social implications and their impact on daily life, and future tasks of legislation. Subject matter from recent issues includes autonomous driving technology, artificial intelligence and robotics, trends in work and employment, data-driven society, space policies, and life sciences.

Basic information series provide Diet members with fundamental information on political issues from diverse points of view. Subject matter from recent issues includes rules of procedure of the French National Assembly, value-added taxes in foreign countries, arguments on constitutional review, and the German Civil Code.