About Miyakodayori

Miyakodayori was a bimonthly Asian economic policy newsletter published by RIETI from October 2000 - September 2003. It is now discontinued. The newsletter featured the analyses of writers living in Japan or associated with RIETI.

Miyakodayori was originally a personal newsletter by former RIETI Vice President Nobuo Tanaka. His mission statement is reproduced below. The newsletter was later formalized and gained its own place in RIETI's outreach activities. RIETI sought to maintain the newsletter's personal touch, which made it rather unique among similar publications coming out of Tokyo.

People sometimes mispronounce the title "miyakodori," a more familiar word among Japanese speakers. Enunciated this way, it means "bird from the capital," and it evokes the classic image of a prince in exile in the wilderness of Musashino (where the capital Tokyo would be built centuries later). Though elegant, it is a mispronunciation. Ours is meant to be "letter from the capital."

* * *

One of the things that I wanted to do once I get back to Japan was to disseminate information from Japan to those abroad.

While I was working in Washington, D.C., I occasionally wrote my own newsletters entitled "Washington Miyakodayori" (letter from the capital, Washington). Colleagues of mine in Tokyo criticized me for writing this kind of essay.

I wondered why. Were they upset with the title? "Why should Washington be 'the' capital?" they may have been asking. Conversely, they may have not liked the appearance of putting Tokyo in the periphery of world affairs. But let's face it. Washington, D.C. is the capital of Pax Americana. There are a number of newsletters issued in Washington with worldwide readership, but I am not aware of any counterparts published in Tokyo by Japanese. So, I wanted to do this once I was back in Tokyo, and started this project with my colleagues. The new newsletter is again entitled "Miyakodayori."

I know that senior officials in Washington enjoy this letter. After reading one of the newsletters a senior staff at an international organization took interest in RIETI, and visited me the next time he was in Tokyo. Some avid readers have even taken the trouble of highlighting interesting parts of a letter and then forwarding the message to their friends. A well-known Japanologist commended the newsletter as the best source of information out of Tokyo. The readers generally appreciate the newsletter because it gives a timely and vivid account of the state of the Japanese economy. Many of the readers understand Japanese, but none of them criticized the title. No one has questioned why Tokyo should be "the" capital.

While we have been sending "Miyakodayori" to all the regular participants of RIETI's brown bag lunch seminars, none of those Japanese colleagues have commented on the content of the newsletter. Perhaps that's because it is written in English. When I told of this lack of response from the Japanese readers to a member of an American think tank, he was very much surprised. In any event, we will keep sending Miyakodayori to the regular participants of BBL seminars. Please take a moment to read it in your spare time and send us your thoughts.

- Nobuo Tanaka, founder of Miyakodayori