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ENGAGING WORLD LEADERS, GROUNDBREAKING INSIGHTS


The Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) hosts many special events providing students, faculty, alumni, and guests opportunities to hear a wide spectrum of viewpoints on the issues that shape our world. 'The Recap' captures important events across our three campuses.

Please visit regularly for summaries, videos, and photos of our world-class events.

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ENGAGING WORLD LEADERS, GROUNDBREAKING INSIGHTS


The Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) hosts many special events providing students, faculty, alumni, and guests opportunities to hear a wide spectrum of viewpoints on the issues that shape our world. 'The Recap' captures important events across our three campuses.

Please visit regularly for summaries, videos, and photos of our world-class events.

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SAIS China & HNC Graduation Reception


SAIS China & HNC Graduation Reception


December 11, 2018

Students, staff, and faculty gathered to congratulate the 26 students completing their degrees in December who took part in either the Hopkins-Nanjing Center program or the SAIS-Tsinghua Dual Degree program. The event marked the third annual December graduation and the second time students of the two degree programs were recognized together as one group.

The celebration kicked off with opening remarks from Associate Director of China Studies Madelyn Ross followed by Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs Julie Micek, who toasted the students with “Ganbei!” (cheers in Chinese) and mentioned how proud she was of all the graduates. Academic Adviser Brian McEntee also noted that the students should feel a strong sense of accomplishment considering the rigor demanded by their degree.  

As Assistant Director of Student Life Garrett Schlichte read the names of the graduates, they came forward to receive a small gift presented by the HNC Washington Office. In addition to strong comradery, the students also enjoyed Asian cuisine as they celebrated their great achievement at the end of a very busy fall semester.

 December 2018 graduates of the Hopkins-Nanjing Center Certificate/Johns Hopkins SAIS MA program

December 2018 graduates of the Hopkins-Nanjing Center Certificate/Johns Hopkins SAIS MA program

 December 2018 graduates of the SAIS-Tsinghua Dual Degree Program in Global Politics and Economics

December 2018 graduates of the SAIS-Tsinghua Dual Degree Program in Global Politics and Economics

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The Commission on the National Defense Strategy of the United States


The Commission on the National Defense Strategy of the United States


November 28, 2018

Ambassador Eric Edelman, Roger Hertog Distinguished Practitioner-in-Residence at the Philip Merrill Center for Strategic Studies, Johns Hopkins SAIS
Admiral Gary Roughead, USN (Ret.), Robert and Marion Oster Distinguished Military Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University
Moderated by Eliot Cohen, Vice Dean for Education and Academic Affairs & Robert E. Osgood Professor of Strategic Studies

Co-chairs of the Commission on the National Defense Strategy held a discussion at the Washington, DC campus to release its Congressionally-mandated report. The commission was created by the 2017 National Defense Authorization act and consists of security experts from across the political spectrum. The group was tasked with assessing the National Defense Strategy (NDS), which was unveiled in January 2018 at Johns Hopkins SAIS by US Secretary of Defense James Mattis.

The commission’s report warned of potential dire consequences should the United States go to war against either Russia or China. 

Eric Edelman discussed how the report will be used as a second opinion for Congress, essentially becoming a template for the stewardship of the Senate Armed Services Committee. He noted that the commission’s progress on the report was not hindered by one-sided politics. “The deliberations were not just bipartisan, they were nonpartisan,” Edelman said. “This was a group of twelve dedicated Americans concerned about the future of the nation’s security, wrestling with some very difficult problems.”

Gary Roughead mentioned that the commission agrees with the overall NDS and sees it as a good description of the challenges faced both today and in the future. Determining what should be invested in and how to drive an increase in technical production with allies will be challenging, but necessary. If the United States makes the right investments and if the government thinks through how to optimize these investments with innovative concepts, the country’s military capabilities will be enhanced, Roughead said.

One surprising finding of the report indicated that the United States may not be able to prevail against China or Russia in war. Both speakers agreed this marks a big change in US military readiness. Had they read this statement ten years ago, they would not have believed such a finding at that time, they said.

The NDS recognizes that the United States is in an era of great power competition, according to Edelman. Trends have become adverse to the United States because adversaries have been developing technology and capabilities that make it harder for the country to come to the defense of its allies. Edelman noted that if these trends aren’t reversed, there may be difficulty ahead.

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A Conversation with Madeleine K. Albright


A Conversation with Madeleine K. Albright


November 28, 2018

Madeleine K. Albright, Former US Secretary of State and Ambassador to the United Nations
Moderated by Professor John McLaughlin, Distinguished Practitioner-in-Residence at the Philip Merrill Center for Strategic Studies

As part of the Strategic Studies’ Defense Against the Dark Arts series, former US Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright visited students to discuss her experience in the field of national security policy.

After an introduction by Leonardo Balieiro, a second-year student in the Strategic Studies program who helped organize the event, Professor John McLaughlin shared opening remarks about Albright’s professional accomplishments to date.

Albright spoke about her journey to the United States and emigrating as a young girl from Czechoslovakia. She went on to complete her undergraduate studies at Wellesley, where she developed her aspiration to become a journalist and to become fluent in Russian.

Albright shared insights from her path navigating through the State Department, White House, United Nations and Congress. She described her journey as one that resulted from pursuing opportunities without an expected outcome, a reminder to the audience of the endless possibilities that may result from taking a chance. When inquired about how she managed to maintain contact with many of her counterparts after her term, she described the importance of developing personal relationships in the field in order to succeed as a policymaker and policy-doer.

Albright also spoke about her experience balancing personal and work life as a mother of three daughters. She encouraged women in the audience to help each other and lean on one another, noting that there is no single formula to accomplishing a perfect balance.

The floor opened up for a Q&A session beginning with questions about Albright’s challenges working with foreign leaders who were not receptive to collaborating with females.

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Service, Selflessness, and Commitment


A Conversation with Ashraf Ghani, President of Afghanistan

Service, Selflessness, and Commitment


A Conversation with Ashraf Ghani, President of Afghanistan

November 12, 2018

Dr. Ashraf Ghani, President of Afghanistan
Dr. Mohammad Humayon Qayoumi, Afghanistan Minister of Finance and Chief Adviser for President Ghani in Infrastructure, Human Capital, and Technology
Moderated by LTG (Retd.) David W. Barno, Visiting Professor of Strategic Studies and Senior Fellow at the Phillip Merrill Center for Strategic Studies

The Strategic Studies Speaker Series hosted a conversation with the President of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani, via video conference to discuss the challenges of coalition-Afghan security cooperation and the future of the partnership.

Professor David W. Barno began with words of gratitude to commemorate Veterans Day and honor those who served in Afghanistan. Dean Vali Nasr then introduced President Ghani by highlighting his academic and professional background and several important achievements of his administration.

President Ghani discussed Afghanistan’s key challenges and issues on the global stage. He celebrated the growing confidence of Afghan citizens, who, emboldened by their relatively new democratic system, are becoming more vocal about their needs and expectations of the government. He said it is a positive sign that in recent elections, more than four million Afghans voted, risking their lives to act for the greater good.

Ghani spoke about the change in national security and how Afghanistan has taken measures to fill the gap in military presence since U.S. troops handed peacekeeping responsibilities to Afghan forces. He talked about measures Afghanistan has taken to become a more secure state, pointing to its foreign policy and its focus on developing stronger relationships with the U.S. and key allies within NATO. Additionally, he explained his South Asia strategy and Afghanistan’s steps to promoting peace in the region.  

The floor opened up to the audience for a Q&A session with guests spanning from current students to independent Afghani journalists based in the U.S.   

Next, Minister of Finance Mohammad Qayoumi took the stage to share more details on the critical issues mentioned in President Ghani’s speech. Additionally, Qayoumi addressed Afghanistan’s shift toward self-reliance economically and the country’s robust budget plan that was well received by the international community.

Questions from the audience covered topics including the energy sector and security issues concerning the Taliban.

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Identity Politics Inside Out: National Identity Contestation and Foreign Policy in Turkey


Identity Politics Inside Out: National Identity Contestation and Foreign Policy in Turkey


November 8, 2018

Lisel Hintz, Assistant Professor of International Relations and European Studies
Moderated by Kent E. Calder, Vice Dean for Faculty Affairs and International Research Cooperation & Director of the Edwin O. Reischauer Center for East Asian Studies
Comments by Dr. Soner Çağaptay, Beyer Family Fellow and Director of the Turkish Research Program at The Washington Institute

The European and Eurasian Studies (EES) Program and the Faculty Research Forum hosted a seminar with Assistant Professor of International Relations and European Studies Lisel Hintz to discuss her latest book, Identity Politics Inside Out: National Identity Contestation and Foreign Policy in Turkey.

Hintz kicked off the seminar by first showing two photos of Turkish politician Merve Kavakci, one in 1999 where Kavakcl was jeered for wearing a headscarf in the Turkish Parliament and denied her right to take the oath of office, and then another of Kavakcl in 2013, where she was cheered in parliament while wearing her headscarf. The photos intended to exemplify the stark changes that have taken place in Turkish domestic politics. This, together with Turkey’s “puzzling” shifting of foreign policy that happened during the same time is why Hintz explains she chose Turkey as a case to examine the complex relationship between identity politics and foreign policy.

Hintz drew insights from her book that explain the rise of Ottoman Islamism as an understanding of Turkish national identity that challenges a previously dominant Western-oriented, secularist form of Turkishness, which she called Republican Nationalism.

During the discussion, she analyzed how Turkey's Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan used the EU accession process to weaken Republican Nationalist obstacles, mainly the military, which has long deemed itself as the protector of secularism and the judiciary branch which has the power to shut down parties for being unconstitutionally anti-secularism, to their Ottoman Islamist proposal for Turkish identity back home.

Hintz pointed out that the reforms carried out in Turkey are not human rights but civil-military reforms which looked at changing the role of the National Security Council, closing the States Security Courts, reducing the role of the military in politics, changing the configuration of how the judiciary is selected such that the AKP can change the those institutions from inside out. Hintz argued that this approach to identity politics sheds light on otherwise confusing domestic and foreign policy shifts.

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What do the elections mean for American Foreign Policy?


What do the elections mean for American Foreign Policy?


November 7, 2018

Eliot Cohen, Vice Dean for Education and Academic Affairs & Robert E. Osgood Professor of Strategic Studies
Eric Edelman, Roger Hertog Distinguished Practitioner-in-Residence at the Philip Merrill Center for Strategic Studies
Sarah Sewall, Speyer Family Foundation Distinguished Scholar and Professor, Henry A. Kissinger Center for Global Affairs
Charles Stevenson, Acting Associate Director of the American Foreign Policy Program
Moderated by Daniel Serwer, Academic Director of Conflict Management & American Foreign Policy

Experts from Johns Hopkins SAIS joined a discussion to offer insight on the impact of the U.S. 2018 midterm elections on American foreign policy.

Charles Stevenson began by pointing out what he believed were the two big winners in this election, the Republicans in the red states winning more Senate seats and Democrats in suburban areas winning many House seats. Stevenson predicted that the biggest challenge in the 116th Congress will be on domestic, rather than foreign policy issues, as there is a broad consensus across the aisle on being tough on Russia, North Korea, and China, and being supportive to Israel and NATO. However, the two parties have divergence on Iran and the defense budget, he noted.

Sarah Sewall believed the new House could make a difference to the rest of the world. Given that the Trump administration has already damaged the relationship between the U.S. and its allies, she said one good sign of the election is that it delivered a message that the White House’s current approach is not necessarily the way forward and the election put a “brake and freeze” on the “freefall” of America’s commitment to the world leadership, its support for the free trade system, for alliances, and multilateralism.

Eric Edelman saw the election results as proof of the deep division of the nation, citing a sectional difference (which had not emerged since the Civil War) in which the Republicans dominate rural areas while the Democrats win urban and suburban votes. He also reminded the audience not to underestimate the chance of reelection for President Trump, whom he believed to be an adaptive and effective campaigner.

Eliot Cohen said one consequence of the election is that it would become more difficult to implement coherent foreign policies now that each party holds one chamber of Congress. However, he noted that division in the country may be less than people think it is, citing the fact that some red states such as Michigan elected a Democratic governor or that a Republican governor got elected in Massachusetts, traditionally a liberal state favoring Democrats.

Questions from the audiences ranged from how to talk to people with completely different beliefs on foreign policy issues, how to interpret partisan analysis of election results, and whether the voice of progressives will be heard more in the new House of Representatives.

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International Dinner


Johns Hopkins SAIS’ annual celebration of cuisine and culture

International Dinner


Johns Hopkins SAIS’ annual celebration of cuisine and culture

November 10, 2018

The school’s Student Government Association hosted its annual International Dinner, an opportunity for students to showcase food and performances from their diverse cultural backgrounds.

The event commenced with the school’s various culture clubs presenting their best, home cooked dishes. Participating students exhibited on behalf of regions including Asia, Eastern Europe, Africa, North America, and Latin America. To highlight the event’s authenticity, many students dressed in traditional cultural attire and shared detailed descriptions of their various dishes to curious attendees.

The Latin American table served two Mexican carnitas tacos, with tortilla chips, guacamole, and flan as accompaniments. The group adorned their table with a colorful cloth, representing the types of garments often found in Latin American countries. The Taiwanese table provided a variety of meat dishes. Popular food such as Mhoo Gatiem (fried pork with garlic) and Larb Gai (Thai chicken spicy salad) quickly ran out as news spread across the room of its deliciousness. Georgian food comprised of Khachapuri (an egg and cheese toasted bread) and spinach and beet-flavored Pkhali (chopped and minced vegetable-based miniature dessert balls).

The second part of the evening involved several culture clubs performing traditional dances. Near the end of the evening, a student-formed band graced the stage to give a modern, culturally-blended rendition of “Arirang,” a traditional Korean folk song, and “No Woman, No Cry,” a classic Bob Marley reggae song. 

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Walking Blindfolded into the Abyss


Priorities for Brazil's New President

Walking Blindfolded into the Abyss


Priorities for Brazil's New President

October 30, 2018

Monica de Bolle, Director of Latin American Studies and Emerging Markets Specialization, Johns Hopkins SAIS
Peter Hakim, President Emeritus and Senior Fellow, Inter-American Dialogue
Riordan Roett, Professor and Director Emeritus, Latin American Studies, Johns Hopkins SAIS
Matthew Taylor, Professor, American University School of International Service
Clifford Young, Adjunct Professor, Johns Hopkins SAIS
Moderated by Claudia Trevisan, Correspondent for Estadao & Master of International Public Policy Candidate, Johns Hopkins SAIS

The Latin American Studies Program hosted esteemed scholars for an in-depth discussion of the current political, social and economic climate of Brazil in the wake of the recent presidential elections. Their collective expertise provided an opportunity to gain a holistic understanding of Brazil’s current state of affairs.

The event opened with a few remarks by Claudia Trevisan on the new Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, his political views, and the heightened polarization during the election. She introduced some of the country’s most critical problems, namely, its poorly managed public finances, slow economic growth, and a high unemployment rate.

Clifford Young focused on the “hows” and “whys” of Bolsonaro’s rise despite controversial comments Bolsonaro made in the past. He mentioned that the driving factor motivating most Brazilian voters was to eradicate corruption. Bolsonaro’s anti-corruption and anti-crime messaging were effective during the campaign.

Panelists discussed the similarities and differences between Bolsonaro and US President Donald Trump while noting that unlike Brazil, the U.S. is not in an economic crisis.

Riordan Roett called attention to lagging education and productivity rankings that have long hobbled Brazil’s competitiveness. Monica de Bolle called on Bolsonaro to make real and substantial proposals on fixing Brazil’s economic crisis and expressed concern that Bolsonaro’s policy positions threaten to worsen the situation.

The event concluded with questions from the audience covering topics such as Brazil’s foreign policy and relations with the US and other nations.

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Before the Age of Prejudice


A Muslim Woman's National Security Work with Three American Presidents

Before the Age of Prejudice


A Muslim Woman's National Security Work with Three American Presidents

October 25, 2018

Ambassador Shirin Tahir-Kheli, Senior Fellow at the Foreign Policy Institute, Johns Hopkins SAIS
Moderated by Joshua White, Associate Professor of South Asia Studies, Johns Hopkins SAIS

Ambassador Shirin Tahir-Kheli participated in an author discussion moderated by Professor Joshua White on her new memoir, Before the Age of Prejudice: A Muslim Woman’s National Security Work with Three American Presidents.

Tahir-Kheli introduced the book by looking retrospectively on her early childhood memories of being a Muslim in pre-partition India. She reflected that as a Muslim living in a country where the majority of people are Hindus, learning to accept people with different beliefs was central to her upbringing.

Tahir-Kheli emphasized that her story of becoming a US citizen in 1971, going to work for the Secretary of State in 1982, and then being appointed ambassador to the United Nations in 1990 could only happen in the US.  “My story is not easily going to be duplicated” she said, adding that her decision to write this memoir was encouraged by Condoleezza Rice who believes that her extraordinary journey is a testament to the promise and delivery of the American dream in another era.

The book provides insights on working as a Muslim woman for three presidential administrations on American foreign policy and national security. “There are many times when being a Muslim and a woman was tricky but I found that more doors were open than not,” said Tahir-Kheli.

Questions from the audience ranged from where she obtained the inspiration for her book title and how the 9-11 terror attacks changed the equation of American people’s attitudes toward Muslims.

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Reconstruction Starts Here: Building a Better Future for Syrian Refugee Youth


Reconstruction Starts Here: Building a Better Future for Syrian Refugee Youth


October 24, 2018

Lina Sergie Attar, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Karam Foundation
Robert McKenzie, Senior Fellow and Director, Muslim Diaspora Initiative at New America
Moderated by Shamila N. Chaudhary, Fellow at the Johns Hopkins SAIS Foreign Policy Institute

Founder and CEO of Karam Foundation Lina Sergie Attar recently joined the school to share her foundation’s experience on building a better future for Syrian refugee youth.

Attar briefed the audience on how the Karam Houses have been supporting hundreds of Syrian refugee adolescents on gaining world-class critical and creative thinking skills.

She shared inspiring stories of Syrian youths gaining important graphic design skills and conducting case studies to tackle real-world problems. Attar said she feels elated to have witnessed those achievements pay off. Instead of seeing themselves as a burden to society, the participating students feel a sense of accomplishment by being able to provide services to people who need them.

Attar stressed that the future of Syria is not about rebuilding its cities from the ruins of the war, but about the people. “Reconstruction really starts here. We cannot end the war in Syria…but what we can do is to change the future.” said Attar, when talking about her foundation’s ambitious goal of educating 10,000 Syrian future leaders in the next ten years.

Lamenting on the Syrian civil war that has lasted for more than seven years, Attar argued that there are still a lot of refugees who are afraid of returning home because the regime they are running from is still ruling the country. “I wish I could wake up tomorrow and find that there is no reason for the Karam House to exist.” said Attar at the end of her presentation.

Questions from the audience ranged from the social issues of unaccompanied youth, how the foundation’s mission facilitates the connection between refugee youth and local society, and whether Karam Foundation plans to build similar houses in the U.S.

The lecture and discussion was followed by a photography exhibit “The Children of Karam House: Healing and Ambition Among Syrian Refugee Youth in Turkey.” The exhibit is curated by The Big Picture, a forum that explores international affairs through arts and culture at the school’s Foreign Policy Institute.

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Focus on the Story: How Photography Shapes Our Understanding of the Human Condition


Focus on the Story: How Photography Shapes Our Understanding of the Human Condition


October 23, 2018

James Whitlow Delano, Photographer
Tanvi Nagpal, Director of the International Development Program at Johns Hopkins SAIS
Moderated by Shamila N. Chaudhary, Fellow at the Johns Hopkins SAIS Foreign Policy Institute 

SAIS Perspectives, the International Development program’s student-run publication, recently partnered with the Dean’s Forum, the Big Picture initiative and Focus on the Story to host an event at the school about how photography can influence perceptions of poverty and impact policy.

The winner of the 2018 SAIS Perspectives photo contest, Rory O’Connor, discussed his winning photograph, a picture he took during his deployment to Afghanistan in 2017. He retold the story of how the composition of the photo unfolded: the image features a local Afghan man herding his goats around a large armored vehicle. After seeing that O’Connor only had a camera and was not armed, the man put his hand to his heart and made a slight bow in his direction, to which O’Connor returned in kind and snapped a photo.

Award-winning photojournalist James Whitlow Delano presented some of his latest work, photographs that capture the devastating effects of President Duterte’s war on drugs in the Philippines. He presented a number of photos that depict death, violence and the lasting emotional damage to the deceased’s families.  

Following his presentation, Delano joined the school's director of International Development, Tanvi Nagpal, for a discussion about the impact photography and photojournalism can have. Moderated by Foreign Policy Institute Fellow Shamila Chaudhary, the panel addressed the big picture about poverty and the drug war in the Philippines and the efforts of photographers to document the scenes.

The event concluded with questions from the audience about media freedom and the merits of documentary films versus photography essays.

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Reunion Weekend 2018


Classes of 2008, 1993, and 1968 return to campus

Reunion Weekend 2018


Classes of 2008, 1993, and 1968 return to campus

October 19-21, 2018

Around 170 alumni from the classes of 2008, 1993 and 1968 returned to Johns Hopkins SAIS in Washington, DC on October 19-21 to celebrate their milestone reunions, making this year’s celebration the highest attended at the school to date. Adding to a successful weekend, the three classes raised a record-high total through their generous donations to support programs and fellowships across all three campuses.

To kick off the reunion weekend, Dean Vali Nasr joined the alumni in welcoming them to the school, which was later followed by a panel discussion on "The Global Power Structure and America's Place in the World Today" with professors Dan Honig, Jaime Marquez, John McLaughlin, and Mary Sarotte. Moderating the discussion was Jill Craig, ’08.

The day concluded with a 50th medallion presentation to the Class of 1968 and activities that ranged from video histories on the school to campus tours. In addition to bonding with their fellow classmates, the alumni also had the opportunity to connect with current students during the weekly Friday happy hour hosted by the Student Government Association.

The following day, alumni got together for a family brunch and then a discussion on "The Rise and Fall of Peace on Earth," with Professor Emeritus and former Director of the American Foreign Policy Program, Michael Mandelbaum. They also had the chance to hear from professors Charles Doran, Lisel Hintz, and Matthias Matthijs on "Challenges to Democracy in Today's World." The discussion was moderated by NPR Diplomatic Correspondent and Johns Hopkins SAIS alumna Michele Kelemen ’93. To wrap up the celebration, each class joined a class-specific dinner and, on the following day, activities organized by each class reunion committee.

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Japan's New Golden Age


From Economic Recovery to Envy of the World

Japan's New Golden Age


From Economic Recovery to Envy of the World

October 17, 2018

Dr. Jesper Koll, Chief Executive Officer, WisdomTree Investments

Founder and CEO of WisdomTree Investments and long-time Japan strategist/economist Jesper Koll visited the school for a discussion on Japan’s economic growth over the last two decades and the future prospects of its economy.

Koll offered insights on the forces driving Japan’s economic recovery and explained why he felt very optimistic about the country’s future.

He stated that Japan has contributed strongly to growing its economy despite the fact that it lost more financial assets due to the collapse of its bubbled economy than it lost during World War II. He pointed out that a structural—rather than cyclical—virtuous cycle of higher incomes, higher fertility rate and better access to credit is kicking in Japan’s domestic system.

Koll spoke highly of Japan’s strong government, and noted that people often talk about Japan’s deflation by neglecting the fact that it might be prompted by Tokyo’s ruthless efforts to tame inflation. Japan has cut health care and pharmaceutical prices, as well as provider prices for the last eight consecutive years, which lead to higher purchasing power of people, he said.

In regard to Japan’s ever aging population, Koll argued that the demography is a tailwind rather than a headwind. He believes that Japan is in a demographic sweet spot because of the shortage of labor. For the first time in 30 years, full-time employment is rising.

On the international stage, Koll said that Japanese companies’ increasing earnings from overseas and decreasing cross-shareholdings proves that Japan has become more dependent on the rest of the world. However, he noted that while the country’s productivity in manufacturing is strong, the service sector is lagging behind due to low capital intensity.

Questions from the audience ranged from the impact of women’s empowerment, immigration integration, growth engines within an aging society, and how young people’s lack of willingness to become entrepreneurs would affect the potential of the economy.

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