A Whirlwind Trip to Japan

UCLA Luskin graduate students took an intensive study-abroad trip to Japan, where they immersed themselves in the country’s culture and learned about issues such as transportation, sustainability and ecotourism. Sponsored by the Terasaki Foundation, the annual spring break trip included presentations by government officials and travel to parts of Japan that showed off its stunning natural beauty, Public Policy student Michael Jung said. In Hakone, located in a national park known for its mountainous terrain and hot springs, Jung and a group of students interested in ecotourism learned about Japan’s efforts to retain ecological integrity. “I was given the opportunity to tackle issues on the low population of endangered species and the occurrence of natural disasters such as fires in order to promote ecotourism and achieve a sustainable community,” Jung said. The 45 students from Public Policy, Social Welfare and Urban Planning also gained insight into one of the most pressing matters facing Japan as a whole: With an aging population and declining birth rate, the tax base is shrinking, urban centers are in decline, and the nation’s state-of-the-art transportation systems are seeing decreased ridership. The students’ whirlwind trip through multiple cities across Japan allowed them to see the real-world effects of these issues. In seeking solutions to these problems, the students become equipped to take on similar issues back in Los Angeles.

View photos from the trip on Flickr.


Jacoby Comments on Fall of Top Auto Industry Executive

Sanford Jacoby, distinguished professor emeritus of public policy at UCLA Luskin, commented in a front-page New York Times story on Carlos Ghosn, Nissan’s former chairman who was recently arrested in Japan on allegations of financial wrongdoing. The allegations include withholding millions of dollars in income in financial filings for several years, according to the Times report. “Even when a company is a global multinational company, it’s still stamped by its country of origin and the place where it has its headquarters,” said Jacoby, who has studied and written about employment relations in Japan. Jacoby, who also holds appointments in management and history at UCLA, said in Japan more weight is placed “on egalitarian policies of government and pay and other things.”


Jacoby Addresses Japanese Leaders on Sharing Economy

UCLA Luskin’s Sanford M. Jacoby, distinguished research professor of public policy, management and history, spoke recently to leaders of the Japan Federation of Transport Workers Unions.   The federation is a branch of RENGO (Japan’s equivalent of the AFL-CIO) and currently has about 50,000 members — most of whom belong to enterprise unions affiliated with individual companies — said Jacoby, describing the Japanese system. Also attending the Nov. 20, 2017 meeting were several members of the Japanese Diet’s House of Councillors, the equivalent of the U.S. Senate, from the Democratic Party of Japan (Minshintō). Jacoby, an economist by training, spoke about the positive and negative aspects of a sharing economy. The primary focus of the talk was about companies such as Airbnb and Uber, which remain controversial in Japan and in European countries, explained Jacoby, who has studied Uber’s delayed entry into the Japanese market. Although Airbnb was recently legalized there in anticipation of the 2020 Olympics, Uber presents a different problem. Under current Japanese national transportation laws, a service such as Uber is unlawful. “There are contending forces to both legalize it and to prevent its entry into Japan,” said Jacoby, who studies employers, labor market institutions and international political economy. Rather than competing head-on with taxi companies, Uber has begun partnering with them. Jacoby said the situation remains uncertain, but this type of collaboration may be Uber’s future in Japan. — Stan Paul