Posts Tagged Japan

For A Million BTU: Monday 4 June 2012 |

Update: Check out this graph from Seth Godin’s blog: it compares fatalities in the nuclear and coal industries. (Thanks to Mike Rogers for the link).

A week ago, I posted about Japanese shut-down nuclear reactors and how this had resulted in a big jump in purchases of natural gas and coal.

I had believed that the costs of importing coal and natural gas were higher than the costs of running the nuclear power plants, and that this was an unsustainable policy in the long run.

However, today, I was alerted to the falling prices of LNG and coal:

For A Million BTU: Monday 4 June 2012 |


Tags: , , ,

2012/05/19 01:16 – Govt Panel Pushes For Total Liberalization Of Household Power


This is not good news. Yet. It could become good news, one day, when action is taken. If “no-one says the current situation is good”, how come the current situation came about? Directive from God? No answer. The question is ignored.

Some good news. Just the other day, I was discussing this matter with an anti-nuke person, and we both agreed the present monopoly by utility companies is, ahem, less than ideal. Bring on liberalization! Tomorrow wouldn’t be too soon.

The supply of power to households should be completely liberalized, members of a committee under the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry all agreed Friday.

Deregulation of electricity sales began in phases in 2000. New entrants have been allowed to sell power to large-lot users such as factories and office buildings with contracts of 50kw or more, but only regional utilities can supply regular households.

“Electricity sales should definitely be liberalized,” says committee member Kikuko Tatsumi of the Nippon Association of Consumer Specialists. “No one says the current situation is good.”

If deregulation is achieved, it could pave the way for companies specializing in the sale of renewable energy, expanding the options for consumers.

via 2012/05/19 01:16 – Govt Panel Pushes For Total Liberalization Of Household Power.

Tags: , ,

Cherry blossom viewing? There’s an app for that! Check out the “hanami” app for iPhone & Android

People in Japan love cherry blossom, especially standing or sitting under it and getting drunk just enjoying its intoxicating sight and perfume, which activity is called “hanami” 花見 (literally “flower-watching”).

Cherry blossom is rather later this year than usual. Must be global warming. Wait. Maybe global cooling? No, that idea was dumped in the ’70s. Climate change. That’s it. Must be.

Last year, the cherry blossom was in full bloom, or “mankai” 満開 for entrance ceremonies the first week of April.

Sakura - cherry blossom - blooming on a Kansai campus, April 6th, 2011

Sakura - cherry blossom - blooming on a Kansai campus, April 6th, 2011

This year, full-bloom is this week in many parts of Kansai. Last week, Mike Rogers and friends had a hanami-party beside a Tokyo river, proving that you don’t need a whole lot of cherry blossom to have a great party.

But where to go to see the blossom at its best? Dates vary with geography and type of cherry tree.

Here’s the answer:the “hanami” app for iPhone and Android!

the "Hanami" app for iPhone and Android

the "Hanami" app for iPhone and Android


via 無料のiPhone&Androidアプリ「お花見ナビ2012」- お花見特集2012 – Yahoo! JAPAN.

“1,000 + hanami spots in the palm of your hand. See the stage of blooming at a glance.”

(In Japanese only, maybe.)

One of my earliest memories in Japan is visiting a friend in April. Walking around the small town with his wife and his two young daughters, we came to a field with a big old cherry tree in it. We wandered over, sat down, popped the sake bottles, and just enjoyed watching the petals flutter down and the children playing in the warm sunshine. No blue sheets, no karaoke, no drunken shouting. Just the magic of the blossom and the sunlight playing on open hearts.

For some great photos and a little culture, and all in English, please visit

Tags: , , , , , ,

U.S. Tax Burden: 40 Million Government Workers. Is Japan better off?

How many people work for governments in the United States?  Let’s look at the numbers.

via Tax Burden: 40 Million Government Workers. Answer: 40 million, according to a study by Prof. Paul Light of New York University.

A little top-heavy maybe?

top-heavy big-breasted woman


How many people work for governments in Japan? Last month, Saving Japan author Peter Dyloco compared the two countries Japan and the U.S. in terms of their populations and the percentage that is employed by the government. His estimate for the US was 1.7 million.

Perhaps the figure for Japan is also much higher than the 1 million Saving Japan quotes.

Some states are discovering they cannot afford to pay all the workers that they hire. According to Mish, “In a much needed development U.S. Local Governments Cut Payrolls to Lowest Level Since 2006″

Will local governments in Japan have to fire their workers? Few people seem to be considering this possibility. It seems to be another of those “impossible” scenarios that actually happened last year. The Japanese phrase is “soutei-gai” 想定外 unimaginable, completely unpredictable.

But it’s happening in the U.S., in a country that, according to pundits, has an economy that is recovering.



And so is Japan’s:

Recovering from a hangover


More Executives Say Japanese Economy Is Improving.

According to a quarterly survey compiled by The Nikkei on Saturday, 58.6% of respondents said the domestic economy is growing, a significant increase from the 38.6% seen in the previous survey from December.

Tags: , , , , ,

Next contestant Nikkei from Japan, special subject the bleeding obvious

How much sooner would this have happened if Tepco was a genuine private company?

Tepco has not gone bankrupt simply because it is being bailed out by the government. Financial aid from the government-backed Nuclear Damage Liability Facilitation Fund is expected to reach 3.4 trillion yen. The figure is already far higher than the 350 billion yen or so that Japan Airlines Co. received from the government and the roughly 2 trillion yen that went to Resona Holdings Inc. 8308.

In Tepco’s case, government aid will continue to grow unless the firm can plug the hole in the bucket.

Given this grim reality, what needs to be done is evident. Power rates need to go up so that Tepco can pay compensation for the nuclear accident and provide a stable supply of power. And some of its idled nuclear reactors need to be brought back online after their safety has been confirmed to curb the increase in power rates.

via 2012/03/30 05:38 – OPINION: There Are Solutions To Tepco’s Financial Woes.

The reason for my title, if you haven’t spotted it already, can be explained in this video. It’s a cultural reference to a line from the British comedy series, “Fawlty Towers” (and here for Japanese readers).



Tags: , ,

Time run out for Japan? “The yen’s looming day of reckoning”

English-speaking observers of Japan’s economy have been sounding warnings since last year (and many before that), but within the world of Wa, there seems to be little sense of panic.  Has time run out for Japan?

So says MarketWatch, and thanks to MarketingJapan’s Mike Rogers for the links: read Mike’s articles Yen Devaluation Now Imminent? Being Called by Major Financials! Get out of debt – Get your financial house in order now!
“A massive 40% devaluation of the Japanese yen is imminent and inevitable…”

Mike’s articles contain excerpts from a MarketWatch article entitled “The Yen’s looming day of reckoning” and from a ZeroHedge article by Tyler Durden of March 26th, entitled, “Four Years of Japanese Central Planning Failure Charted”.  Both articles are worth reading in their entirety for the insights they give into how Japan’s economy works (or doesn’t, depending on your point of view).

Even though you may live and work in Japan, you may still get some insights  and surprises, probably unpleasant ones. So buckle up, hold onto your seat, and read on. Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: ,

ECB’s and BoJ’s balance sheet as portion of GDP

ECB BoJ balance sheets as % of GDP

ECB BoJ balance sheets as % of GDP

The above graphic is from an RT interview with “Tragedy of the Euro” author and economics professor, Philip Bagus (Bagus’ interview begins @ 16:15).

Bastiat Circle blog has the transcript and the video.

What happens in Europe, of course, impinges on Japan because

  • Europe is one of Japan’s major trading partners,
  • the BoJ’s balance sheet is approximately equal to the ECB’s, and
  • the BoJ’s and Japan’s Finance Ministry policies may well follow the path of Europe’s.

via Eurozone Wealth Transfers and Sovereign Default

Enhanced by Zemanta

Tags: ,

Big Japan trade deficits? So? We don’t need no stinking nuclear plants!

Asian trade deficits seem to be talk of the markets at the moment, with China and Japan both reporting notable trade deficits in recent days. Chris Martenson wrote a piece published in the Analysis section of this website yesterday, noting that Japan is now recording record trade deficits as a result largely of a surge in energy import costs.

Before the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the country relied on nuclear power for 30% of electricity production. But by the end of this month, that figure will stand at 0%. Resource-poor Japan is having to spend enormous amounts on importing oil and natural gas.

The fact that China and Japan are now both running trade deficits has troubling implications as far as heavily-indebted western countries are concerned. After all, if large Asian countries are no longer running large trade surpluses, then there will be less demand from them for western bonds, which will compound the already tricky financial situation that Europe and the US face.

However, mercantilism remains the dominant trading preference as far as both of these countries are concerned, so we shouldn’t expect the authorities there to sit back and watch these deficits increase. CNN reports that officials at the People’s Bank of China are already hinting at halting the yuan’s appreciation, while Japanese efforts to weaken the yen in recent years have been persistent – though unsuccessful on a relative basis

So in one form or another, China and Japan will both look to weaken – or at the very least in China’s case, suppress – their currencies. Whether or not they succeed on a relative basis is tricky to predict, given that they’re squaring off against the heavyweight money printers of Europe and America. But one thing is pretty much certain: the yen and the yuan will weaken against gold, and gold will continue to benefit from these competitive devaluations.

via Asian trade deficits: prelude to more money printing?

Tags: , , , ,

Japan Posts Record Trade Deficit in January, 4th Consecutive Deficit Month

In today’s post, Mish gives (yet another) warning about Japan’s unsustainable economic road, and makes a good suggestion (my emphasis)

At some point, I suggest now, Japan needs to stop blaming the earthquake and tsunami for its collapse in exports. Furthermore, Japan is going to have difficulty financing its debt unless its turns the situation around quickly.

That may not be likely as Japan logs record trade deficit in January

Imports rose 9.8 percent from a year ago and energy prices are one of the reasons. Japan needs alternate energy sources following the shutdown of its nuclear reactors.

While rising imports may still be blamed on the tsunami, the collapse in exports has a different reason. Europe is in a major slowdown and more US consumers are happy with GM and Ford autos.

via Mish’s Global Economic Trend Analysis: Japan Posts Record Trade Deficit in January, 4th Consecutive Deficit Month.

On the matter of alternate energy, Prof. Lenz has done a great job recently of translating from Japanese into English Japan’s new feed-in tariff law, which is closely connected with consumer usage of alternative energy supplies (especially, but not limited to, solar):

Prof. Lenz seems to be a believer in using the power of government to force businesses or consumers into certain paths of economic behaviour:

In my opinion, building codes world wide should make solar panels as part of the roof obligatory. Just as there are building codes designed to reduce the risk of fire (which of course come with a cost), there should be building codes designed to help avoiding killing everyone on the planet by Venus Syndrome.

Mish is not at all sure using government power to force a “green agenda” is a good idea.

Solar Energy Madness in Europe

In an effort to spur solar energy in France, Germany, Spain and other European countries, bureaucratic dunces decided to pay as much as 10 times market rates for those supplying energy to the power grid.

In response, farmers in France have started building “barns” that serve no other purpose than a place to put solar panels. Supermarkets put solar panels on their roofs and unused sections of parking lots.

It has been a boom to solar panel makers (China), but it is costing costing the French power company Electricite de France SA more than a billion euros ($1.3 billion) a year to meet government mandated pledges to accept solar energy from those supplying the grid.

At the end of 2010, EDF received 3,000 applications a day to connect panels to the grid. In 2008, the number of applications was 7,100 for the entire year.

The results should have been easy to predict in advance, but you can never explain anything to economic illiterates interfering in the free markets hoping to make things better. They never do. (from Sunday Funnies 2011-01-23 Student Loans; Solar Energy Madness in Europe)

Obviously this is silly: the historical record will clearly show that politicians only have humanity’s best, long-term, interests at heart. What other motives could they possibly have for pushing green energy?

It is, admittedly, disappointing to read that the Earth Summit is doomed to fail:

said Syukuro Manabe, a climate modeller at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, “the political system is not motivated to worry about the future“.

And here is another idiot who clearly doesn’t  know what he is talking about: politicians as thieves, in a system that discourages them from treating resources as scarce? Nuts!

Mish is just a successful investment advisor and fund manager. What the hell he know about economics?

Tags: , ,

Don’t look here. Look over there!

The Emperor is doing fine after his operation.  Ooh! Look at this spectacular solar flare!  And who can resist this great pic of Mount Fuji, Japan’s sacred mountain? And the Festival’s started in Rio! And anyway, there’s nothing to worry about, and the endless gradual increase in consumption tax will fix everything, and I think we can all ignore the sour-grape nobodies who say it’s not the answer   (thanks to Mike Modernmarketingjapan Rogers for the link). Our leader has spoken! No further debate is necessary.

According to data compiled by the Ministry of Finance and the Bank of Japan, the net foreign direct investment outflow rose from the 109.9 billion yen in 2010 to 183.2 billion yen last year.

The latest figure is the highest on record going back to 1985,…

European multinational banking group Dexia Group left Japan in June … and major U.K. supermarket chain operator Tesco Plc … plans to withdraw.

Allianz Life Insurance Japan Ltd. stopped selling new policies at the beginning of the year, while Exxon Mobil Corp. announced late last month that it will sell its Japanese oil refining and sales operations to TonenGeneral Sekiyu KK 5012.

One major reason behind the exodus is the yen’s appreciation … Power shortages and supply chain disruptions… [my emphasis]

A poll conducted by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry after the calamity shows 30% of foreign firms that had intended to invest in Japan were contemplating canceling or reducing their plans.

via 2012/02/18 03:27 – Foreign Firms Stepped Up Exodus From Japan In ’11.

Tags: ,