Japanese Economy – Japon Online http://japononline.net/ Fri, 11 Jun 2021 18:41:06 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.7.2 https://japononline.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/default1-150x150.png Japanese Economy – Japon Online http://japononline.net/ 32 32 Reviews | Wonking Out: economic nationalism, Biden style https://japononline.net/reviews-wonking-out-economic-nationalism-biden-style/ https://japononline.net/reviews-wonking-out-economic-nationalism-biden-style/#respond Fri, 11 Jun 2021 17:20:03 +0000 https://japononline.net/reviews-wonking-out-economic-nationalism-biden-style/ If you’re under 50, you probably don’t remember when Japan was going to take over the world. But in the late ’80s and early’ 90s, many people were obsessed with Japan’s economic success and feared America’s decline. The allegedly documentary sections of the airport bookstores were filled with volumes featuring samurai warriors on their covers, […]]]>


If you’re under 50, you probably don’t remember when Japan was going to take over the world. But in the late ’80s and early’ 90s, many people were obsessed with Japan’s economic success and feared America’s decline. The allegedly documentary sections of the airport bookstores were filled with volumes featuring samurai warriors on their covers, promising to teach you the secrets of Japanese management. Michael Crichton had a bestselling novel, “Rising Sun”, about the looming threat of Japanese rule, before moving on to dinosaurs.

The political side of japonophilia / japanophobia has taken the form of widespread calls for a national industrial policy: government spending and perhaps protectionism to foster industries of the future, especially semiconductor production.

Then, Japan largely disappeared from the American conversation – cited, if at all, as a cautionary tale of economic stagnation and lost decades. And we’ve entered an era of self-righteous arrogance, supported by the dominance of US-based tech companies.

Now the truth is, Japan’s failures have, in their own way, been overstated as much as the country’s previous successes. The island nation remains rich and technologically sophisticated; its low economic growth mainly reflects low fertility and immigration, which has led to a decline in the working-age population. Taking demographics into account, the economies of Japan and the United States have grown at about the same rate over the past 30 years:

Either way, we appear to be entering a new era of concern over the US role in the global economy, this time driven by fears from China. And we are hearing new calls for industrial policy. I must admit that I am not entirely convinced by these calls. But the justifications for government action are much smarter this time around than they were in the 1980s – and, of course, immensely smarter than the economic nationalism of the Trump era, which they superficially resemble. .

Which brings me to the 250-page supply chain report that the Biden-Harris administration released a few days ago. It was one of those reports that can turn out to be important, although few people will read it. Why? Because it offers a kind of intellectual model for policymaking; When drafting legislation and rules, this report and its analysis will be hidden in the background, helping to shape the details of spending and regulations.

Now, the world economy has changed a lot from the days when America’s rulers tried to reinvent themselves as samurai. Countries made things like cars and airplanes; nowadays they make parts of things, which are combined with other parts of things which are made in other countries and ultimately put together into something that consumers want. The classic example – and a little tired at this point – is the iPhone, assembled in China from pieces from everywhere. Last year’s World Bank’s World Development Report, obviously written before the pandemic, focused on global value chains and featured a fine alternative example: bicycles.

I’m a little surprised to learn that Japan and Singapore have such a large market share for pedals and cranks. I thought America was really cranking the world (charlatans too).

Either way, the World Bank offers a measure of the global value chain of global trade – the share of exports that cross at least two borders on their way to their end buyers:

This measurement shows that the strong growth of global supply chains is not new; in fact, it took place mainly between 1988 and 2008. But the dangers of fragmented production have been highlighted by recent events.

The Biden-Harris report focuses on four sectors: semiconductor chips, batteries, pharmaceuticals and rare earths which play a key role in many technologies. It’s not hard to see why.

The modern economy uses chips with just about everything – and chip production is very globalized. So we have a situation where US auto production is reduced due to the drought in Taiwan and a factory fire in Japan disrupting the supply of these tiny but essential components. In addition, much of the world’s supply of rare earths comes from China, whose regime is not known to shy away from carrying its full weight.

And vaccine nationalism – countries restricting the export of vaccines and the key components to make them – has become a real problem in the age of Covid.

As you can guess, much of the Biden-Harris report focuses on national security issues. National security has always been recognized as a legitimate reason to depart from free trade. It is even written into international agreements. Donald Trump gave the national security argument a bad name by abusing it. (Seriously, is America threatened by Canadian aluminum?) But you don’t have to be a Trumpist to worry about our addiction to Chinese rare earths.

That said, the supply chain report goes far beyond the national security argument, arguing that we need to retain domestic manufacturing across a wide range of sectors to maintain our technological competence. It’s not a stupid argument, but it’s very open-ended. Where does it stop?

One thing is clear: If you thought the revival of economic nationalism was purely a Trumpist aberration, you are wrong. The Biden administration won’t engage in silly stuff like Trump’s obsession with bilateral trade imbalances, but it won’t return to the uncritical embrace of globalization that has characterized much of US politics for decades. . Will this lead to a new era of trade wars? Probably not, but don’t expect many big trade deals in the years to come.

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Japanese minister says he never asked adviser to contact Toshiba shareholders https://japononline.net/japanese-minister-says-he-never-asked-adviser-to-contact-toshiba-shareholders/ https://japononline.net/japanese-minister-says-he-never-asked-adviser-to-contact-toshiba-shareholders/#respond Fri, 11 Jun 2021 03:08:00 +0000 https://japononline.net/japanese-minister-says-he-never-asked-adviser-to-contact-toshiba-shareholders/ The Toshiba Corp. logo can be seen at the company’s premises in Kawasaki, Japan on June 10, 2021. REUTERS / Kim Kyung-Hoon / File photo Japan’s Commerce Minister said on Friday he never asked an adviser to contact shareholders of Toshiba Corp (6502.T) after a report accused his ministry of colluding with company executives to […]]]>


The Toshiba Corp. logo can be seen at the company’s premises in Kawasaki, Japan on June 10, 2021. REUTERS / Kim Kyung-Hoon / File photo

Japan’s Commerce Minister said on Friday he never asked an adviser to contact shareholders of Toshiba Corp (6502.T) after a report accused his ministry of colluding with company executives to pressure shareholders to comply with its management plans.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) is waiting for Toshiba to respond to the independent investigators’ report, Hiroshi Kajiyama said during a regular press briefing.

The report says Toshiba’s management called on METI to help counter activist foreign shareholders at its annual general meeting last July.

The shareholder-commissioned report released on Thursday also alleges that Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, when he was chief secretary to the cabinet last year, verbally encouraged this pressure in a meeting with a senior Toshiba executive.

Suga, who left Japan yesterday for a meeting of G7 leaders in Britain, has denied the allegation

As part of METI’s response, Special Advisor Hiromichi Mizuno approached the Harvard University endowment fund warning it that his vote could be subject to regulatory investigation, sources told Reuters last year. The American university subsequently abstained in the vote.

Mizuno, who describes himself as a friend of tech entrepreneur Elon Musk and sits on the board of directors of Tesla Inc (TSLA.O), oversaw the Government’s Pension Investment Fund (GPIF) of 1, $ 4 trillion from Japan before becoming a METI advisor. In December, he was appointed United Nations Special Envoy for Innovative Finance and Sustainable Investment.

Mizuno did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Toshiba shares fell 1.7% at the start of trading while the Nikkei 225 index was mostly flat.

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.



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Gold under the new regime https://japononline.net/gold-under-the-new-regime/ https://japononline.net/gold-under-the-new-regime/#respond Thu, 10 Jun 2021 05:31:03 +0000 https://japononline.net/gold-under-the-new-regime/ This article is an on-site version of our Unhedged newsletter. Sign up here to receive the newsletter straight to your inbox every day of the week Happy to see you again. I don’t own any gold other than a pair of cufflinks my dad gave me. My wedding ring is in platinum. But the subject […]]]>


This article is an on-site version of our Unhedged newsletter. Sign up here to receive the newsletter straight to your inbox every day of the week

Happy to see you again. I don’t own any gold other than a pair of cufflinks my dad gave me. My wedding ring is in platinum. But the subject is unavoidable, especially when the subject of everyone’s concern is inflation. So this is it.

Email me at robert.armstrong@ft.com

A hedge against what, exactly?

Wednesday’s article on Japan in the 1980s was, in a sense, about regime change. The idea was that a big change in Japanese monetary policy, tax approach and corporate culture had caused an asset price bubble and permanently reset all kinds of economic relationships. The question is, does the current outbreak of a concurrent accommodative fiscal and monetary policy and the Federal Reserve’s shift in attitude toward inflation mean the United States is heading for a similar regime change?

Given that one of the main risks of this potential regime change is, by consensus, high inflation – which would likely cause stock and bond markets to correct – my mind turned to hedging. Readers’ minds are in a similar position: I have received a number of emails asking me where the safe assets are.

Gold is an obvious candidate; it is often presented as a hedge against inflation. But it’s too general. Gold has one of the most stable relationships to the economic fundamentals of all assets. It evolves in reverse to real interest rates with great regularity, especially in recent years (all graphical data from the Fed):

The yield on inflation-protected 10-year Treasury bills (the blue line) is the standard indicator of real interest rates, or the inflation-adjusted cost of money, which is currently negative.

Gold (yellow line, note the scale is inverted) has followed real rates, slavishly but upside down, for 15 years, rising when real rates fall and falling when they rise. There’s a simple reason: the real return on silver is the opportunity cost of holding gold, an asset that doesn’t earn money. Nominal rates have been rising in recent times, driven almost solely by inflation expectations, so gold has cut an uneven but mostly sideways path in recent months.

Holding gold will not do you any good, judging by the graph above, if the new economic regime raises inflation, but also manages to stimulate real economic activity and real rates. For gold to work, you need to get inflation without any real growth gain (you can have an economic gain in the sense of easing the debt burden of sovereigns and households, even without real economic growth, but this is not what supporters of monetary / fiscal coordination tend to claim).

I wonder, however, if significantly higher and more volatile inflation would make gold more valuable as a hedge, even if real rates were to rise. High real rates that seem unstable could make investors want something stable in their pockets, right?

Below is a picture of the longer term relationship between gold and real rates. I have used another indicator of real rates here because inflation-protected Treasury securities are a relatively new phenomenon. Instead, I used the 10-year yields minus the annual CPI inflation rate. This makes a series slightly more volatile, but comparing it to Tips gives a pretty good match. I also left the inflation rate in (in gray).

The most interesting time here is the 1970s, when two huge increases in inflation pushed real rates down sharply. Focus on these years:

What is compelling here is that the relationship holds (falling real returns, rising gold) but it is not very stable. When real yields first collapsed between September 1972 and December 1974, falling more than eight percentage points, gold rose 179%, a very good return in a period when stocks lost a third of their value. But when inflation returned, between 1978 and 1980, gold was spectacular. On a significantly smaller drop in real returns, it rose 238 percent.

My tentative interpretation is that gold looked better and better to investors as inflationary instability persisted, leaving investors increasingly anxious.

But then came the 1980s and Paul Volcker’s Fed. Inflation seemed to have been put back in the bottle for good. And in a context of stable inflation, the gold-real rate relationship has been reduced, to some extent. Real rates fell sharply between 1985 and 1990, an oscillation of more than six points, but it occurred in a gradual and orderly fashion, against a background of relatively contained inflation and inflation volatility. Gold only rose 25 percent. Again, the violence of the day, and how bullied investors felt, seemed to matter to gold, not just actual performance.

And the next big rally for gold came, of course, on the eve and in the aftermath of the great financial crisis, a period of volatility of sorts.

As real metal students will now have determined, I am not a golden bug. My modest suggestion is just this: the link to actual returns is persistent but varies in strength over time. A change in economic regimes, like the one many people are currently experiencing, could once again alter the gold / real rate relationship, which seemed so constant in recent years. Cover yourself carefully, folks.

Japanese flashback

I received several emails on Wednesday regarding my article on Japan from readers who worked in Japanese finance in the late 1980s, many commenting on how much today’s environment reminded them of that time. . Here is a particularly representative sample, from James Bogin, who worked as an analyst in Tokyo in 1987:

“Japan was hit harder than most by the oil shock of the 1970s. They had a weak currency and oil imports were 10% or more of GDP. They have long conducted a very accommodating monetary policy, leading to a stock market boom in stocks of hidden assets. . . With massive liquidity flowing. . . companies were issuing bonds convertible into stocks with warrants sweeteners because the interest rates were so low. I once asked a cement company why they raised money, and the answer was, basically, because it’s cheap, and we can. “

Discovering new reasons to value companies at ever higher valuations (“hidden assets”) is a familiar thing in the bull market. The same is true of the proliferation of delicate instruments (warrants, spacs). What particularly reminds me today are the companies that collect money “because it’s cheap, and we can”. Hello, AMC.

A good read

I ran into this on Wednesday, since 2018. It felt so true to me that I burst out laughing. Which trait is key for an aspiring employee in law, finance, consulting, etc. ? It can be personal insecurity.

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WHO: Delta virus variant hits 74 economies https://japononline.net/who-delta-virus-variant-hits-74-economies/ https://japononline.net/who-delta-virus-variant-hits-74-economies/#respond Wed, 09 Jun 2021 09:14:56 +0000 https://japononline.net/who-delta-virus-variant-hits-74-economies/ The World Health Organization says the variant of the coronavirus known as Delta, first confirmed in India, has now been found in 74 countries and territories. WHO released its latest weekly epidemiological update on COVID-19 on Tuesday. The report says that as of Tuesday, the number of countries, territories and areas reporting cases involving the […]]]>


The World Health Organization says the variant of the coronavirus known as Delta, first confirmed in India, has now been found in 74 countries and territories.

WHO released its latest weekly epidemiological update on COVID-19 on Tuesday.

The report says that as of Tuesday, the number of countries, territories and areas reporting cases involving the Delta variant was up 12 from the previous week.

Last month, the WHO began identifying variants of the coronavirus with letters of the Greek alphabet, to prevent discrimination against countries where they were first detected.

The WHO also says the number of countries and territories reporting the Alpha variant, which has been identified in Britain, has increased by one from the previous week, to 161. The number involving the beta variant, detected for the first time in South Africa, increased by two, to 115.

The report says the number of countries and territories reporting the Gamma variant, first confirmed in Brazil, remained unchanged at 64.

The WHO says the global incidence of cases and deaths continued to decline, while some countries in Asia and Africa reported increases from the previous week.

It indicates that the implementation of anti-virus measures in the communities remains crucial to contain the spread of the variants.



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America is the engine of the global economy. When does this become a problem? https://japononline.net/america-is-the-engine-of-the-global-economy-when-does-this-become-a-problem/ https://japononline.net/america-is-the-engine-of-the-global-economy-when-does-this-become-a-problem/#respond Tue, 08 Jun 2021 15:16:24 +0000 https://japononline.net/america-is-the-engine-of-the-global-economy-when-does-this-become-a-problem/ In the calculation of the world economy, a foreign tourist staying in the United States essentially purchases an export of American services. Travel exports were only $ 18 billion in the first four months of 2021, compared to $ 67 billion in the same period of 2019. Meanwhile, American hunting consumers have shifted their spending […]]]>


In the calculation of the world economy, a foreign tourist staying in the United States essentially purchases an export of American services. Travel exports were only $ 18 billion in the first four months of 2021, compared to $ 67 billion in the same period of 2019.

Meanwhile, American hunting consumers have shifted their spending from services to goods. In the first four months of the year, imports of consumer goods rose 29% from 2020, a jump of $ 57 billion.

“The only thing people could consume was goods,” said Constance Hunter, chief economist at KPMG. “You couldn’t have a wedding, you couldn’t go to a baseball game. So what did people buy? They bought goods, and it is much more of a global market than services.

Indeed, the United States and China are acting as the engines of the global economy, while most of the rest of the world is further behind in recovering from the pandemic.

In the IMF’s World Economic Outlook released in April, the U.S. GDP in 2021 is expected to be 3% above its 2019 level, while that of China is expected to be 11% above its 2019 level. 2019. But the Eurozone and Japan were each on track to have economies 2% lower than in 2019, with Britain, Canada, Brazil and Mexico also forecast in negative territory.

This is unfortunate for the people of these regions which are experiencing a slow recovery, but it is likely helping to prevent supply shortages in many sectors from worsening. Already, a semiconductor shortage has hampered auto production; shortages of building materials have suppressed housing construction; and a shortage of shipping containers has skyrocketed the cost of transporting goods across oceans.

“If everyone were stimulating simultaneously and everyone enjoying maximum growth simultaneously, you might see more congestion,” said Nathan Sheets, chief economist at PGIM Fixed Income and former senior international economist at the Reserve Federal and US Treasury.



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Chinese military overflights near Taiwan plunge after US-Japanese statement https://japononline.net/chinese-military-overflights-near-taiwan-plunge-after-us-japanese-statement/ https://japononline.net/chinese-military-overflights-near-taiwan-plunge-after-us-japanese-statement/#respond Mon, 07 Jun 2021 19:02:00 +0000 https://japononline.net/chinese-military-overflights-near-taiwan-plunge-after-us-japanese-statement/ TAIPEI – Chinese military activity near Taiwan’s airspace has fallen sharply since the U.S. and Japanese leaders called for peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait at their April 16 summit, according to the officials. data compiled by Nikkei. Beijing appears to be withdrawing from aggressive measures that would upset Washington over the burning issue […]]]>


TAIPEI – Chinese military activity near Taiwan’s airspace has fallen sharply since the U.S. and Japanese leaders called for peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait at their April 16 summit, according to the officials. data compiled by Nikkei.

Beijing appears to be withdrawing from aggressive measures that would upset Washington over the burning issue after the United States and Japan made their first statement naming Taiwan in decades. As China celebrates the 100th anniversary of the Communist Party on July 1, the country has also prioritized internal order.

China had sent military planes to the Taiwan Air Defense Identification Zone for 75 days between Jan.1 and April 16, at a rate of about 70 percent, or about five days a week. A total of 257 jets, mostly J-10 and J-16 fighters, landed in Taiwan’s ADIZ during these incursions, for an average of 3.4 jets per incident day.

Taiwan has seen large-scale incursions of 10 or more Chinese jets in nine of those days, including six within three weeks of the US-Japan declaration.

China tends to increase overflights around Taiwan whenever Washington reports greater involvement with the island. A record 25 planes flew into the island’s ADIZ on April 12, four days before the declaration, as speculation grows that US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga make explicit reference to Taiwan .

China’s position on April 12 also came a day after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned that “it would be a big mistake for anyone to try to change this status quo.” [on Taiwan] by force. “

Beijing’s activities near Taiwan waned after the summit, both in scale and frequency. Su Tzu-yun, of the Taiwan National Defense and Security Research Institute, said the Biden-Suga statement had a clear impact.

As of April 16, an average of 1.9 Chinese jets have entered Taiwan’s ADIZ per raid day. No incidents involving 10 or more aircraft were reported.

Incursions have only occurred in seven of the past 14 days, with two planes involved on one occasion. The other six days involved one plane each, including June 4, when Blinken slammed China on the 32nd anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown.

China wants to avoid antagonizing the United States over Taiwan, while demonstrating Beijing’s military might to those at home before the Communist Party’s centenary, Su said, noting the recent increase in provocations against countries of China. ‘South East Asia.

Sixteen Chinese military planes approached Malaysian territory on the island of Borneo on May 31. They changed course after Malaysia sent its own plane in response.

More than 220 Chinese ships have been moored by a reef in the Spratly Islands, which China and the Philippines claim as their own, since March. The Philippines has criticized the presence of ships in what the archipelago considers its exclusive economic zone.



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Japan plans to launch vaccine passport this summer https://japononline.net/japan-plans-to-launch-vaccine-passport-this-summer/ https://japononline.net/japan-plans-to-launch-vaccine-passport-this-summer/#respond Sun, 06 Jun 2021 17:50:00 +0000 https://japononline.net/japan-plans-to-launch-vaccine-passport-this-summer/ BRUSSELS / NEW YORK / TOKYO – Japan intends to issue COVID-19 vaccination certificates this summer to vaccinated residents traveling abroad, hoping to boost business travel and other economic activities, Nikkei learned. Such vaccine passports are increasingly used around the world. The European Union will adopt them in July before lifting restrictions on movement within […]]]>


BRUSSELS / NEW YORK / TOKYO – Japan intends to issue COVID-19 vaccination certificates this summer to vaccinated residents traveling abroad, hoping to boost business travel and other economic activities, Nikkei learned.

Such vaccine passports are increasingly used around the world. The European Union will adopt them in July before lifting restrictions on movement within the bloc.

Some senior Japanese government officials already wear unofficial certificates when traveling to Europe, the United States or elsewhere, as they are increasingly asked if they have been vaccinated.

An interagency team led by Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato discuss a formal agenda for businessmen and others. Plans call for a paper certificate to be issued this summer, followed by a digital version – possibly used via a smartphone app – by the end of the year.

Japan has fallen behind other developed countries in immunization, but is now purchasing and distributing more doses manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna. The country has been inoculating residents 65 and over since April, and corporate workplace vaccinations will begin on June 21.

Vaccine passports should make it easier for businessmen from different countries to meet in person, reducing risks for the traveler and the host country.

“From a businessman’s point of view, it would be ideal if a vaccine passport allowed free movement,” said Ken Kobayashi, president of the Japan Foreign Trade Council.

Passports will be issued by local governments which hold information on residents and are responsible for administering vaccines. Information such as the name of the person, the vaccine manufacturer and the date of inoculation will be listed. The central government of Japan should ensure accuracy by linking certificates to a national immunization record system.

Users will present vaccine passports when taking international flights and entering foreign countries. Foreigners living in Japan who return to their home countries are among the expected users, in addition to Japanese citizens going abroad to study and for business.

“The 14-day self-quarantine period after return is the biggest obstacle for overseas travel,” said an official at HIS travel agency. “The tide will turn if the restrictions are relaxed with the introduction of the vaccination passport program.”

Japan is modeling its program on the EU’s COVID digital certificate which will begin on July 1. The EU certificate, issued to those who have been vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19, will exempt holders from self-quarantine and testing. Seven countries, including Germany, are using them on a trial basis this month.

On May 31, the European Commission recommended that members of the bloc gradually relax travel restrictions, taking into account the introduction of the vaccination passport. The EU should allow visitors from outside the bloc, such as the US and Japan, if they have received EU-approved vaccines.

Critics say vaccine passports could discriminate against those who are not vaccinated. In the United States, different states take different approaches. New York launched the Excelsior Pass smartphone app showing a person’s vaccination history in March, and the app has been downloaded over a million times.

But Georgia has banned state public entities from requiring vaccine passports, based on the view expressed by Governor Brian Kemp that “vaccination is a personal decision between every citizen and a medical professional. – and not the state government “.

Georgia has said it will not share state vaccination records with any public or private entity as part of a vaccination passport program, although it will continue to urge residents to get vaccinated. At least 10 states have similar restrictions, according to U.S. media.

Japan is discussing the matter cautiously. A proposal calls on the central government to create unified guidelines to avoid a mishmash of rules created by businesses and municipalities hoping for a quick return to normal economic activities.

International cooperation will be essential for the proper functioning of a vaccination passport program. The Group of Seven Nations confirmed the need to work together on this issue at a recent meeting of UK health ministers. Nations hope to create a framework to recognize each other’s vaccine passports, with the World Health Organization playing a central role.



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Japan lacks coordinated efforts to defuse volcanic time bomb https://japononline.net/japan-lacks-coordinated-efforts-to-defuse-volcanic-time-bomb/ https://japononline.net/japan-lacks-coordinated-efforts-to-defuse-volcanic-time-bomb/#respond Sun, 06 Jun 2021 01:01:00 +0000 https://japononline.net/japan-lacks-coordinated-efforts-to-defuse-volcanic-time-bomb/ TOKYO – You could safely call all of Japan a geological hotspot. It is home to 7% of the world’s active volcanoes, although it only accounts for 0.25% of its total landmass. Experts warn the country is ill-prepared for a major eruption. Many active volcanoes in Japan are located near residential areas, posing huge risks […]]]>


TOKYO – You could safely call all of Japan a geological hotspot. It is home to 7% of the world’s active volcanoes, although it only accounts for 0.25% of its total landmass.

Experts warn the country is ill-prepared for a major eruption. Many active volcanoes in Japan are located near residential areas, posing huge risks to people’s lives and livelihoods.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the eruption of Fugen Peak from Mount Unzen in Nagasaki Prefecture in 1991. When Mount Unzen detonated its summit, it set off a massive pyroclastic flow – clouds of ash and rapidly moving superheated gas – which killed more than 40 people. It was the first major volcanic disaster in post-war Japan.

But the long-standing problem of poor policy coordination between government organizations tasked with preparing for the next big eruption remains unresolved. And as many older experts retire, there are growing concerns about a shortage of people capable of meeting this public safety challenge. The government’s slow response to the COVID-19 pandemic should serve as a warning, highlighting the dangers of overlooking long-term public safety challenges.

At the end of May, more than 2,000 residents participated in a large-scale disaster exercise jointly conducted by the towns of Shimabara and Minamishibabara, located at the foot of Fugen Peak.

In the June 1991 eruption, the toxic flow of solidified lava, ash and hot gases killed 43 people, including a Nikkei photographer. At the moment, Fugen Peak is calm, but experts say the enormous lava dome near the summit, a steep mound formed by lava spewed out from the volcano, could collapse.

Japan has more than 100 active volcanoes. An eruption even more deadly than that of Mount Unzen occurred in 2014 on Mount Ontake in central Japan. This event left 63 people dead or missing, mostly mountaineers, and was the worst volcanic disaster in Japan since the end of World War II.

In 2019, increased volcanic activity at Hakone, a popular spa resort near Tokyo, resulted in entry restrictions. And the legendary Mount Fuji – Japan’s highest peak, a UNESCO World Heritage site and the nation’s geographic symbol – is also an active volcano. Some volcanologists say it could erupt at any time.

But the government has been extremely slow to respond to the security risks posed by these volcanoes, experts say. There is no single agency in Japan dedicated to the management of volcanic disasters.

Public research institutes and universities are engaged in vital research for monitoring volcanic activity and disaster prevention, but they operate independently and lack effective coordination. Human resources and expertise are dispersed.

Government organizations that study volcanoes are divided among seven government departments, agencies and companies. Meetings to discuss disaster reduction usually involve a little more than information about what various agencies are doing.

Since 2019, the government has been operating a system designed to allow government organizations and universities to share research and surveillance information. But progress has been elusive. Since universities pay out of pocket to install and maintain surveillance equipment, they tend to focus on their own research, showing little interest in working with others. The system is designed to bring together 14 institutions and universities to share information, but only 10 have participated so far. Some institutions have a policy of not publishing their data.

Yuichi Morita, a former professor at the Earthquake Research Institute at the University of Tokyo and currently a senior researcher at the National Institute for Earth Sciences and Disaster Resilience Research, says the problem stems from the lack of an organization to coordinate research and monitoring by various institutions.

Before Mount Ontake suddenly erupted on September 27, 2014, the Japan Meteorological Agency did not issue an alert despite warning signs. The agency maintained its Volcanic Alert Level for the mountain at Level 1 on its five-point scale.

Japanese Self-Defense Forces troops scale Mount Ontake days after the September 27, 2014 eruption, which left 63 people dead or missing. (Photo courtesy of the Ministry of Defense) © Reuters

A government-appointed investigative panel found insufficient communication between the organizations involved as there was no established method for sharing information about volcanic earthquakes and other telltale signs. The panel called for the creation of an integrated system to comprehensively assess eruption risks and take action to prevent disasters.

Many volcanic countries have national institutions that conduct integrated studies and monitoring of volcanoes under normal circumstances, and respond to emergencies. The United States Geological Survey, the Italian National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology, and the Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation serve as command centers for efforts to minimize social and economic disruption from the activity. volcanic and eruptive.

An even more serious problem for Japan is the decrease in the number of experts in volcanology. Predicting eruptions requires a pool of researchers familiar with the characteristics of the volcano in question and who can work with local governments to set up fixed observation points.

In 2019, Japan had only 109 experts in predicting volcanic eruptions, less than one for each active volcano in the country, according to the Science Ministry.

With some seasoned researchers on the verge of retirement, the shortage of trained people will become even more severe in the years to come, compromising Japan’s ability to predict volcanic eruptions and mitigate their impact.

Because Japan’s volcanoes have been at rest in recent years, research funding has stagnated. Few universities have the financial means to employ volcanologists. The question is whether they will be within reach the next time one of the country’s volcanoes comes alive.



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Japan’s newborn baby numbers drop to all-time high in 2020 amid pandemic https://japononline.net/japans-newborn-baby-numbers-drop-to-all-time-high-in-2020-amid-pandemic/ https://japononline.net/japans-newborn-baby-numbers-drop-to-all-time-high-in-2020-amid-pandemic/#respond Sat, 05 Jun 2021 03:42:00 +0000 https://japononline.net/japans-newborn-baby-numbers-drop-to-all-time-high-in-2020-amid-pandemic/ The number of newborns in Japan fell to an all-time high in 2020 amid the Covid-19 pandemic, marking the lowest level since the health ministry began keeping records in 1899, said the government in a report. The number of babies born in 2020 fell from 24,407 to 840,832 a year earlier, falling below 900,000 for […]]]>


The number of newborns in Japan fell to an all-time high in 2020 amid the Covid-19 pandemic, marking the lowest level since the health ministry began keeping records in 1899, said the government in a report.

The number of babies born in 2020 fell from 24,407 to 840,832 a year earlier, falling below 900,000 for the first time in history, Xinhua News Agency said on Friday, citing the report.

The main spokesperson for the Japanese government, Cabinet Secretary-General Katsunobu Kato, said the country’s growing demographic crisis could shake the very foundations of the country.

“The decline in the number of children is a problem that can shake the foundations of our society and our economy. It must be dealt with as a priority,” Kato said during a press briefing on the subject.

He said the barriers that prevent bearing and raising children in society must be removed.

The health ministry also said that the average rate of children a woman will have in her lifetime was 1.34 in 2020, down 0.02 points from the previous year.

In addition to the social crisis, the negative effect of the pandemic is not yet fully visible in the statistics, due to the length of time between birth and conception.

The number of births could drop to around 700,000 for the whole of 2021, analysts said, which would be a decade ahead of government forecasts.

The number of marriages during the registration period declined from 73,517 to 525,490, the lowest of the post-World War II era, while the number of divorces fell by 15,245 from to the previous year to 193,251, the ministry added.

–IANS

ksk /

(Only the title and image of this report may have been reworked by Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)

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How to measure inflation during a pandemic? https://japononline.net/how-to-measure-inflation-during-a-pandemic/ https://japononline.net/how-to-measure-inflation-during-a-pandemic/#respond Fri, 04 Jun 2021 17:15:07 +0000 https://japononline.net/how-to-measure-inflation-during-a-pandemic/ This article is an on-site version of our Coronavirus Business Update newsletter. Please share this with your friends and colleagues who might find it useful and let them know that, even if they are not a Financial Times subscriber, they can read the newsletter – and all of the FT – free for 30 days. […]]]>


This article is an on-site version of our Coronavirus Business Update newsletter. Please share this with your friends and colleagues who might find it useful and let them know that, even if they are not a Financial Times subscriber, they can read the newsletter – and all of the FT – free for 30 days. Welcome and register here.

Covid cases and vaccinations

Total global cases: 172.1 m

Total doses administered: 2.0 billion

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Latest news

  • France has unveiled a color-coded system for travel, with EU members classified as “green”, the UK and US as “oranges”, and those with severe epidemics like India and South Africa as “red”

  • Canada posted job losses for second month in a row as country locks in against third wave of coronavirus

  • UK approved BioNTech / Pfizer vaccine for use in children ages 12-15 as infections involving Delta variation of coronavirus increase

For the latest updates on coronaviruses, visit our live blog

How do you measure the effect of rising prices when normal consumption patterns have been completely disrupted by a global pandemic? This is the theme of the day in the last installment of our series: Inflation: a new era?

Statistical authorities typically use a basket of goods and services to monitor the amount spent on everyday goods but also on items such as restaurant visits and thefts – consumption that has been massively reduced by the pandemic restrictions. .

The way these elements are weighted can seriously skew the reading. In the euro area for example, the weights are updated every year in January, so that year’s calculation will place less emphasis on things like gasoline, hotels and restaurants that have been affected by blockages last year. This means that even if consumers return to pre-pandemic spending habits, official statistics will underestimate spending in these areas.

This lack of clarity makes political targeting even more difficult for central bankers, who already suffer from a breakdown in consensus on how best to encourage low and stable price growth.

Other indicators are increasingly being considered. The used car market, for example, is closely watched by the US Federal Reserve.

And those who are convinced that this new era of inflation is already upon us have a lot of ammunition. Yesterday’s UN data, for example, showed that global food prices rose 40% in May, the biggest monthly increase since 2011.

Mondial economy

Some of the 47 Japanese companies that have together paid more than $ 3 billion to support the Tokyo Olympics – the most sponsored sporting event of all time – fear getting less for their money unless matches are postponed to allow more spectators to attend. The Japanese population, for their part, cooled the spectacle amid continued coronavirus infections and a slow vaccination program.

Today closely watched non-farm payroll data showed that the United States created fewer than 559,000 jobs than expected in May and that the unemployment rate fell to 5.8%. Yesterday, separate data showed new jobless claims were falling to a pandemic era low.

EU trade chief Valdis Dombrovskis told the FT he wanted to see vaccine manufacturing raised rather than backing US-backed proposals for patent lifting, ahead of a crucial World Trade Organization meeting on June 8-9. Brussels wants to remove export restrictions and use existing WTO rules on intellectual property to facilitate licensing. The United States yesterday unveiled details of its intention to donate millions of spare doses as part of its bid to become “the world’s vaccine arsenal.”

Business

A “trendy national treasure” sausage roll Gregg or a salad of crayfish and avocado Ready? Leisure journalist Alice Hancock examines the UK lunch battle between the two major take-out chains amid changing main streets and commuter habits.

Thanks to a successful US vaccination program, “World of Concrete 2021” marks the return of trade shows to Las Vegas, where $ 11.5 billion in convention activity is crucial for a city hard hit by the pandemic. Event companies across the country are excited about the return of physical shows, or as one industry executive put it, “Virtual shows honestly don’t deliver the kind of value our customers are looking for.

Can readers be tempted to return bookstores now the blockages are coming to an end? Columnist John Gapper reports the story of an Englishman trying to lure Americans away from Amazon and bring them back to Barnes & Noble.

Markets

US stocks rose, the smaller-than-expected rise in the we jobs helped allay investor fears that the economy was overheating and that the Fed would start pulling its stimulus measures. In Europe, the regional Stoxx 600 index remained close to the highest records recorded at the start of the week.

the US Federal Reserve is to start selling the corporate bonds and fixed income funds it bought last year as part of its emergency program to help businesses borrow more cheaply. Although reliance on the Secondary Market Business Credit Facility, or SMCCF, has been low, the Fed said simply pledging its support helped markets get back to functioning after the initial pandemic panic.

Spaghetti Alphabetti May 27

Foreign investors bought record highs of UK government debt over the past year, according to new figures from the Bank of England, helping to finance a massive increase in borrowing to fund pandemic measures. UK assets have a relatively high yield compared to economies such as the Eurozone or Japan, where government debt is trading at sub-zero yields.

Line graph of changes in UK government debt holdings (in billions of pounds sterling) showing foreign investors buying gilts at a record pace

Have your say

Keine Lust comments on the reopening of the hospitality industry in England fails to increase retail footfall in May:

The evidence is that shopping as a leisure activity has not resumed. It is not yet clear whether this should be cautioned with an “yet”. A structural shift in some demographics that hadn’t bought much online before the pandemic towards much more widespread adoption could mean it will never return to where it was. The connection between going to retail stores and dining out is based on this day of leisurely shopping and the custom of chain restaurants. Another thing is targeted purchases with high conversion rates. And the meal side is a specific (and planned) trip in and of itself after so long without being able to make it and the need to book a specific time, with a lot more emphasis on local pubs and restaurants rather than city centers. , where to eat out is usually in the middle or at the end of a leisure shopping trip.

So none of this comes as a surprise to me. Very few of the best food-focused pubs, especially those with outdoor space, which many people will always feel more comfortable with, are in or near major shopping destinations.

Final thought

Hong Kong’s real estate market is the most expensive in the world, but some top-notch properties are being abandoned. The reason? A combination of superstition, mystery, and skulduggery has led many to believe that they are haunted. . .

Rumors and ghost stories surround Dragon Lodge, located on Victoria Peak in Hong Kong © Alamy

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