Posts Tagged Tohoku

Thinking the unthinkable: Sell U.S. Treasuries | The Japan Times Online

Peter Schiff gets interviewed by AP, and the Japan Times quotes him.

Peter Schiff, chief executive of Euro Pacific Capital, a New York-based investment company, said the current accumulation of debt by the U.S. government is unsustainable.

“The more money the world lends to America today, the more money they’re going to have to lend tomorrow,” he said in a telephone interview.

“It’s a giant Ponzi scheme. Nobody is ever going to get their money back.”

Japan would be venturing into untested territory if it decided to reduce Treasury holdings.

via Thinking the unthinkable: Sell U.S. Treasuries | The Japan Times Online.

So….. reducing its Treasury holdings is “untested territory” and that’s of greater concern than “Nobody is ever going to get their money back?” I must be missing something!

(Update:) In case readers think Schiff is the only expert out there with this opinion, here’s another one, from Mike Shedlock: “The global financial system is bankrupt. There is no way loans that have been made can be paid back. That statement applies to the Eurozone, the US, the UK, China, Australia, Canada, and for that matter nearly everywhere one looks.”

And here’s some more fun facts and figures:

“The holdings translate to ¥1 million per Japanese taking this risk in shouldering U.S. debt, all without their fully being aware of it,” said Kenji Nakanishi, a lawmaker in Your Party, a new opposition party that made significant gains in the last election.

Nakanishi said that Japan shouldn’t sell all its holdings at once, but should reduce them by about ¥10 trillion each year, and earmark some of that money for recovery spending in the Tohoku region, which was devastated by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

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Thieves raid evacuation areas / Unguarded ATMs robbed of 684 million yen; empty homes violated

More on the “law-abiding Japanese” (see here for the previous blog on this topic):

Fifty-six ATM thefts have been reported in the three disaster-hit Tohoku prefectures since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, with the amount of money stolen totaling 684 million yen, according to the National Police Agency. About 420 million yen, or 60 percent of the money, was stolen from within 20 kilometers of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. Deserted in the wake of the disaster, ATMs in convenience stores and financial institutions in the area in particular have become targets for theft.

via Thieves raid evacuation areas / Unguarded ATMs robbed of 684 million yen; empty homes violated.
News video (in Japanese) below:

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Matsumoto rips Tohoku governors | The Japan Times Online

Much criticism has been levelled at Japanese leadership (or lack of it) after the March earthquake and tsunami. In particular, observers have noted the lack of effective executive decisions and actions. There seems to be much agreement on this matter, at least from the media.

But there is the other side of the coin. It is clear from the tone of the article below and the wave of protests that have followed, that this kind of leadership is actually not tolerated in egalitarian Japan. Most people do not want executive leadership.

Matsumoto is no diplomat and is therefore not suited for the job he is doing, but he would be a good leader in an emergency, I think. Unfortunately, in the exchanges below, he just comes across as a little Hitler. He should not have spoken merely out of irritation, if that is what it was.

Matsumoto initially appeared irritated because he had to wait a few minutes before meeting Murai. When the governor entered the room smiling, Matsumoto refused to shake hands and insisted that it was the governor who should have been waiting.

“When a guest is coming, you should enter the room first and then call the guest, right? You damn well should do that.

“Someone from the Self-Defense Forces would do that if they understood how seniority works. Understand?” Matsumoto said. Murai was an SDF helicopter pilot before becoming a politician.

via Matsumoto rips Tohoku governors | The Japan Times Online.

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Irradiated food poses moral dilemmas | The Japan Times Online

Not “moral dilemmas” but economic choices. Clearly, the writer knows little or no economics, or she/he wouldn’t write such obvious nonsense. Still there are a few gems of information in this article. I’ll pick out a few for you so you don’t have to read the whole thing, and pollute your mind with a-economic tripe (ugh!).

“Many of them said they would stop buying from us if we sold veggies containing ones from Fukushima and northern Kanto,” Fujita said. “Others were anxious whether we could deliver mineral water, whether we were testing the veggies for radiation, and if they could really trust what the government says.”

via Irradiated food poses moral dilemmas | The Japan Times Online.

  1. Online mail-order food-delivery companies and cooperatives have loyal health-conscious and “green” consumers, to whom they promise pesticide-free, organic food.
  2. However, since March 11, no food distributors have been able to guarantee “radiation-free” food.
  3. Many distributors of such food products have or had their suppliers in the Tohoku region.
  4. One distributor,  Daichi wo Mamoru Kai, a Chiba-based company founded by Kazuyoshi Fujita, a 64-year-old former student radical, in 1975, quickly raised ¥90 million in donations for its suppliers in the quake-hit area.
  5. However, its attempts to further help their suppliers by marketing “a range of vegetables grown in Fukushima and the surrounding Ibaraki and Gunma prefectures — has met with mixed reactions.” Surprise, surprise, eh?
  6. Scylla and Charybdis. On the other hand, there are Daichi’s customers, some of them young mothers concerned about radiation levels in food and water: they want radiation-free food.
  7. Another example: Seikatsu Club, “a co-op that serves 350,000 households in Hokkaido and the Tohoku, Kanto, Chubu and Kinki regions, and has dealt in low-pesticide, additive-free, non-genetically-modified — and less-irradiated — food for decades.” Seikatsu Club had a self-imposed 37 becquerel-per-kg limit for cesium in its produce, which it set after Chernobyl in 1986.
  8. In 1986, “only one tea product from Mie Prefecture was found to exceed the cesium limit, forcing it to be withdrawn from sale to the co-op’s members.”
  9. In 1986, the government of Japan set a safety limit of 370 becquerels per kg for imported foods.
  10. “But this time around, because of the scale of the radiation leaks, it is practically impossible for the group to adhere to the same logic and impose a threshold 10 times tougher than the government’s, said Akira Ishii, an official of Seikatsu Club.”
  11. Amid mounting consumer concern, more and more food distributors are independently testing their produce and buying expensive dosimeters (only the expensive ones can detect the minute radiation levels in food).
  12. But, they only test for cesium and radioactive iodine. “That’s because to test for contamination by radioactive strontium-90, uranium and plutonium requires a high level of training and technique, and even government agencies don’t have enough trained personnel for the task,” said a Daichi official.

The article ends by announcing the obvious solution: Daichi and Seikatsu have found alternative suppliers based in Western Japan. Who’d a thunk, eh? It’s called business, and it is what will keep Japan fed during the recovery.


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