Week of November 9, 2015
- Last week apr. 10.000 people gathered at the Nippon Budokan hall to support a change in the Japanese constitution. "Utsukushii Nihon no Kenpo wo Tsukuru Kokumin no Kai” or "People's association for creating a Constitution for beautiful Japan” is linked with Nippon Kaigi a conservative Japanese group with PM Abe as its most prominent supporter. The idea is to hold a referendum as early as in 2016 on a new constitution in Japan, obviously with in mind the articles that deal with Japan’s defense (Asahi Shimbun).
- Mayor Eberhard van der Laan and PM Mark Rutte paid a well prepared visit to Japan this week, see also http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/11/11/national/politics-diplomacy/japan-netherlands-share-concern-tensions-east-south-china-seas/#.VkfnldC1_ww, but soon after PM Abe met with his Dutch counterpart he left for Turkey. Japan and Turkey will boost their mutual business and here an interview in the Nikkei with Turkish PM Ahmet Davutoglu
- Interesting view in the Financial Times on the definition of the word “recession”. Japan is coping with so-called recessions for quite some decades, now #4 in five years, but the word “RECESSION!!!” often results in a self fulfilling prophecy. Moreover, a recession in Japan differs from a recession in China, the USA or in Europe. Robin Harding, the FT’s Tokyo correspondent, proposes a new definition of a recession: two consecutive quarters of growth 2 percentage points below a country’s trend, as defined by its central bank. For Japan, the trend is 0.5 per cent, so it means two consecutive quarters when the economy shrinks by more than 1.5 per cent. At the same time in Japan the terms “inflation” and deflation” are redefined as the Bank of Japan now takes out energy and food prices… and when each country sets its own definitions, it becomes comparing apples and oranges.
- Another new definition, now on Japan’s GDP: the Abe government looks to boost Japan’s economy with 20% by 2020, and it will be easier with a new definition of its GPD, now by capitalising on its R&D expenses (Bloomberg).
- Japan’s overseas M&A drive is now in the overdrive. This year’s figures are a record (Nikkei), mainly realised by very large M&A’s. The prospects are that also midsize deals will be on the rise in the next year.
- Showa Shell and Idemitsu go for a full scale merger rater than a watered down cooperation. Idemitsu is the larger of the pair by sales, at 4.62 trillion yen (EUR 35 billion) for fiscal 2014 against Showa Shell's 2.99 trillion yen. The merger ratio and surviving entity will be decided following asset assessment.
- Japan’s megabanks are looking to divest a number of shareholdings in domestic companies in order to comply with the new corporate governance rules and healthier balance sheets (Bloomberg).
- Great read in the Financial Ti,mes on the way houses in Japan have been - and will be - constructed. It is air flow rather than isolation that matters. A home that ‘changes clothes’ in summer and winter aims to overcome the country’s traditional aversion to insulation.
- Childhood hunger in Japan: it is a real problem as 16% of two-parent families are financially unable to provide enough food for their children, and that number jumps to 32 percent for single-parent households, according to a 2012 survey. So now there are the kodomo shokudo, children’s cafetaria set up by volunteers (Japan Today).
- To finish: how to finish your life properly? Kokuyo, a major stationary maker in Japan, hit te jackpot by launching a “personal organiser fro dying”. Everything is to be organised properly in Japan, so why not your own final records? (Financial Times).