Week of May 2, 2016
- of senior officials on the territorial dispute in June, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov told reporters following the Abe-Putin talks. Russian media reported that Putin intends to invite Abe to this year's Eastern Economic Forum, a two-day gathering to be held in Vladivostok from Sept. 2.
- Donald Trump as American president: for many Japanese this is a horror scenario given Mr Trump’s remarks on his envisioned foreign policy. There are currently 54.000 U.S. troops stationed in Japan and 28.500 in South Korea and both countries have to pay more under a Trump presidency than currently. Japan earmarked JPY 189.9 billion (EUR 1.5 billion) to host U.S. military bases in Japan in fiscal 2015 through March 31 as part of the costs necessary to station the U.S. personnel in Japan. “We cannot go around subsidising Japan, which is a behemoth economically with the cars and everything”. Trump said earlier that if elected president he will consider withdrawing military forces from Japan, complaining that Tokyo shoulders too little of the burden to host U.S. forces. He also indicated Japan and South Korea could go nuclear for self-defense as a result. “If they don’t take care of us properly, if they don’t respect us enough to take care of us properly, then you know what’s going to have to happen ... It’s very simple. They’re going to have to defend themselves,” he said in the CNN interview. Both Japan's ambassador to the U.S., Kenichiro Sasae and Minister for Regional Revitalisation Shigeru Ishiba reacted quickly. Ishiba said that comments by one candidate, who he said he would not name, were causing "a lot of concern in Japan. If Japan or South Korea chose to develop nuclear weapons regional stability would suffer, and he added: "I don’t think it will add to the U.S. interest.” (Reuters and others). To my opinion the uncertainty will fasten the Japan’s decision to change its constitution. See also the article of Politico at the end of this News on the American foreign policy and its return to its past. Not only relevant for Japan but also for Europe.
- Japan has not only to cope with its northern neighbour Russia, but also with Taiwan. Japan’s most southern area consists of two small rocks, Okinotorishima, and that is claimed by Taiwan as well. About a week ago Japan detained the captain and nine crew members of a 50-ton Taiwanese boat last week but released them after a USD 54.400 security deposit was paid with help from Taipei's government, according to local media reports. Tokyo has defended its action claiming the Taiwanese boat was within the 200-mile economic zone off Japan-administered Okinotorishima atoll, a rocky outcropping in the Pacific Ocean around 1.600 km south of Tokyo and 1.500 km east of Taipei. Main question is: is Okinotorishima an island with a 200 mile economic zone or is it a couple of rocks with a 12-mile zone. It is a complicated game for all parties concerned, as Japan and Taiwan want to contain China, while interests for the Taiwanese and Japanese fisheries industries are high (NBC News).
- In 2013, Luo Yuan, a two-star general in the People's Liberation Army, raised the territorial stakes, saying the Okinawa, also known by the name of Ryukyu's, had started paying tribute to China in 1372, half a millennium before they were seized by Japan. The claims were not officially endorsed by the Chinese government, but neither were they denied”, says the National Interest, an American magazine on foreign affairs. The Kingdom of Ryukyu paid tribute to China 600 years ago, what does that mean? This Wikipedia entry shows what missions have been sent from various countries to China: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_tributaries_of_Imperial_China. Complete nonsense, claims The National interest, it would be as absurd as when Japan would claim Hawaii or Russia would reverse the sale of Alaska to the U.S.
- The Salaryman: "the white collar salaryman was a glorious, indefatigable, all-conquering economic hero. His loyalty, labours and loves defined a nation that selected - first by expediency and later by habit - the company as the dominant institution. Corporate, social and family life in Japan spun in enthralled orbit around his work ethic, his expense account and the ideal of lifetime employment. Men wanted to be him; women wanted to marry him, bars wanted to serve him whisky till 2am and ambitious corporations wanted as many of him as they could grab”, writes the Financial Times in this great read. "But in 2016, the salaryman - unassertive, allergic to risk and with a growing list of corporate debacles to his name - has switched from asset to liability. To economists who see labour market reform as Japan’s only hope, it ranks among the country’s most insidious threats. The identity of a lot of Japanese men working in offices is tied to group think and respect for authority, says Koichi Nakano, a political scientist at Sophia University in Tokyo. “It is the very opposite of the creativity and original behaviour that the economy needs at this point,” Prof Nakano said.
- FUJIFILM, one of DUJAT’s earliest members, has a new COO: Mr Sukeno, will replace Mr Nakajima, who served apr. 10 years ago as President of FUJIFILM Europe. Mr Shigetaka Komori, the company’s Chairman and Chairman of DUJAT’s Advisory Board in Tokyo, will stay. The Nikkei writes about the risks, rewards of long-serving Japanese CEO’s. Mr Komori serves for 16 years as Chief Executive and Chairman and he is the man who changed FUJIFILM into big moneymaking company by transforming the company drastically. "In Japan, where lifelong employment remains common, companies tend to promote leaders from within their own ranks. Depending on the talent of their workforce and their plans for growth, however, finding potential leaders from the outside may be an option worth considering”, writes the Nikkei.
- Brexit? "Japan very clearly would prefer Britain to remain within the EU,” PM Abe told reporters during a visit to London. "Many Japanese companies set up their operations in the UK precisely because the UK is a gateway to the EU.” He added: "A vote to leave would make the UK less attractive as a destination for Japanese investment.” According to the Nikkei there are apr. 1.000 Japanese companies in the UK, providing 140.000 jobs.
- Retaining salaryman or not, Japanese companies continue to develop state-of-the-art technology, such as these two examples.
Teijin Frontier, an Osaka-based subsidiary of health care conglomerate Teijin, has developed an electrocardiogram that can be wrapped around a person's torso. Kyoto University's medical school also joined forces in the efforts. Electrodes installed throughout the wearable device monitor heart signals. With normal EKG units, electrodes need to be placed one by one on designated spots on the body. The company will apply to register the equipment as a general medical device by the end of the year. Plans are to initially equip ambulances with it. Accurate EKG readings are necessary to boost the survival chances of heart disease sufferers and other patients, and Teijin Frontier says the wearable unit can help provide faster readings, especially during emergencies.
- Surface treatment is another strength of Japanese companies. Yamaha Motors has developed a nano-film coating technology that makes motorcycle exhaust pipes more heat- and corrosion-resistant, so as to help prevent discoloration and rust. The versatile technology is expected to find a variety of other uses, such as in making kitchenware and automotive parts, and is described in another article in the Nikkei. Developing technology was a journey that started in 2005.
- Meanwhile Toshiba appointed new management after the accounting scandal of some months ago. Its new team has defined its focus area’s after selling its medical business to Canon to ensure its survival: semiconductor, energy and infrastructure businesses will be the drivers of the company's long-term strategy. But the Nikkei states that a fourth focus area is needed. Radiation therapy equipment, which was spared from the sale, as a potential growth area. The company also positions batteries and the "internet of things" as new growth businesses. The fresh management team aims for a return to profitability in the current year ending in March 2017. The sales target is 4.9 trillion yen, roughly 40% lower than the record. The company wants to raise annual sales to 5.5 trillion yen in the year through March 2019 (Nikkei).
- The number of children aged 14 or under in Japan fell for the 35th straight year to a record-low 16.05 million as of April 1, government estimates showed Wednesday. It was down 150.000 from a year earlier to the lowest level since comparable data became available in 1950. By gender, there are now 8.22 million boys and 7.82 million girls aged 14 or under in Japan. The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications released the data ahead of the Children’s Day national holiday last Thursday. The ratio of children through age 14 to the overall population also slipped to a record-low 12.6%, down for the 42nd consecutive year. Among 31 countries with a population of 40 million or more, Japan ranked lowest in terms of the ratio of children to the overall population, lower than Germany’s 13.1%, according to the United Nations Demographic Yearbook (Japan Today).
- Fish or meat? Japan remains the leading consumer of fish per capita, but the amount of meat on dinner tables overtook that of seafood in 2006, according to data from the fisheries agency. Latest figures from the health ministry show that meat consumption per person is almost 30 per cent higher than seafood, while that of raw fish fell 5 per cent in 2014 compared with 2011, writes the Financial Times. Good news for tuna lovers, or better defined: lovers of free swimming tuna. To quote the website of World Wild Life: if fish were like cars, tuna would be the Ferraris of the ocean - sleek, powerful, and made for speed. Their torpedo-shaped bodies streamline their movement through water, and their special swimming muscles enable them to cruise the ocean highways with great efficiency. Tuna are remarkable and impressive wild animals. The Atlantic bluefin can reach ten feet in length and weigh as much as 680 kg (more than a horse). Their specialised body shape, fins and scales enable some species of tuna to swim as fast as 70 km per hour.
- Japan's PM Abe Gives David Cameron Brexit Backing
- Treasury's Lew: Japan Needs to Use All Policy Tools
- The South China Sea in 2016: What’s Changed?
- Japan's million-strong army of shut-ins
- Germany's Eurovision hopeful influenced by Japan