Week of October 12, 2015
- PM Shinzo Abe is the first Japanese government leader to board a nuclear powered naval ship, the USS Reagan. This weekend an international fleet review took place at Sagami Bay, close to Tokyo, with ships participating from Japan, France, India, Australia, South Korea and the United States (Stars and Stripes).
- Early November a meeting, long due, is planned between PM Abe and South Korean’s President Geun-hye Park. Disagreement so far on the topic of comfort women: the South Korean side wants to see Abe show resolve toward a reconciliation. Japan, meanwhile, has not changed its stance that the comfort women issue was settled "completely and conclusively" with the 1965 agreement that normalized diplomatic relations between the two countries (Nikkei).
- It is all-hands-on-deck for the Japanese agriculture sector now that the TPP has been signed between the USA, Japan and 10 other nations around the Pacific. Import duties on over 100 agri products from abroad mainly the US, New Zealand and Australia are to be abolished (Nikkei). The good news is, I read elsewhere, that Japanese sushi prices are likely to decrease.
- “Please invest in Japan by using your huge cash reserves”, is Shinzo Abe’s mantra. The Ministry of Finance data showed corporate internal reserves stood at JPY 350 trillion in the fiscal year ended March 2015, compared with JPY 300 trillion two years earlier. In these two years, capital expenditures grew just JPY 5 trillion yen, to JPY 40 trillion. However, corporate Japan is demanding lower taxes (Reuters).
- However, mounting inventories and a shaky Chinese economy have Japanese manufacturers losing their willingness to spend on new facilities and equipment (Nikkei).
- Who is Japan’s Elon Musk or Steve Jobs? That is the multi billion dollar question. Silicon Valley is serving as a great example to create multi-billion companies, but as I reported earlier, VC stands for Venture Capital everywhere in the world, except in Japan, where it labeled as Very Conservative (Bloomberg).
- Reuters conducted a survey among Japanese companies and found out that three-quarters of Japanese companies support opening up the country to more foreign workers in low-skilled jobs in construction, farming and care in order to cope with a rapidly worsening labor shortage, However, the government is relaxing visa for highly skilled workers (Reuters).
- The announced acquisition of SAB Miller of Anheuser-Busch Inbev, forces Japanese brewers to re-think their strategy, in particular overseas (Reuters).
- The November listing of Japan Post, Japan’s largest IPO since decades, is top of mind for investors in Japan and elsewhere. There is a lot of appetite, also at Japanese retail investors, so shares in Japan Post Bank Co. and Japan Post Insurance Co. will probably be priced toward the top end of marketed price ranges after investor orders exceeded the amount of stock on offer (Bloomberg).
- Immigration is a hot-topic in Japan as well and more on the impact of immigrant on the Japanese society in an article in Jitsuwa Bunka Tabuu, here quoted by Japan Today. “How splendid the Japan of immigrants will become!”, is the message of this article. Also Nomura’s think tank thinks the same: It has estimated that if Japan were to accept 100,000 immigrants annually, its income and expenditures 30 years hence would be in the black. Interesting remarks in this article on the homogeneity of Japan’s population (see marked part, Japan Today).
- Revealing article on the Japanese yakuza and the break-up of its largest group, Yamaguchi Gumi. Prices of guns are going up and killings between the various groups are expected (Asahi Shimbun).