Entries Tagged 'Uncategorized' ↓
July 11th, 2012 — Uncategorized
So unemployment in the U.S. is still at 8.2% and everything is gloomy right? The media hasn’t reported on the inbound tourism numbers, which is up significantly and is bringing in a lot of new money into our economy. 5.7 million international visitors traveled to the USA in April 2012, a two percent increase over April 2011. April 2012 registered the 13th straight month of increases in total U.S. visits. Visits to the USA by Asian visitors were up a whopping 27%. Japan was up 28%, China up 61%, and South Korea up 27%.
Part of the continuing rise in visitors over the past year has to do with an uptick in business transactions as the U.S. economy improves. Part is due to a general sense among foreign travels that the U.S. is safer and friendlier than a few years ago.
June 23rd, 2012 — Uncategorized
To see the explanation check out: http://maddowblog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/06/21/12345961-that-wealth-inequality-chart-rachel-showed-last-night?lite
June 21st, 2012 — Uncategorized
Ouch. China’s soft power isn’t making any progress among Japanese. The results of a poll jointly conducted in China and Japan showed that 84.3% of Japanese and 64.5% of Chinese respondents have negative impressions of the other’s country. The 84.3% of Japanese, up 6 points from a year ago, is the highest reading since the annual survey began in 2005. Of the Japanese respondents, 54.4% said that China is behaving selfishly in securing resources and energy.
Japanese construction firms are facing increased competition for infrastructure projects from Chinese and Korean firms in third-country markets such as Vietnam. The Japanese Ministry of Infrastructure’s solution? Teach Vietnamese to speak Japanese and understand Japanese technology. As the Japan Times reports the Ministry is setting up firms overseas to teach potential customer-engineers Japanese. One has to wonder if the Ministry thought about using public money to internationalize the Japanese construction industry and teach Japanese engineers either English or the local target language? In Vietnam, Pakistan and myriad other countries, English-speaking engineers are more common than engineers willing to spend years learning Japanese. There’s a Japanese saying that one sells in the buyers language and buys in one’s own language. Maybe the Ministry has not heard of it.
April 11th, 2012 — Uncategorized
Conflicting territorial claims in the South China Sea have again come to ship-to-ship confrontation – this time between China and the Philippines. The Philippine Navy was summoned to an atoll called Scarborough where it found Chinese fishing boats illegally harvesting protected corals and other sealife. When the Philippine Navy tried to intervene Chinese military ships interceded. Both China and the Philippines claim the atoll. Take a look at this map of where Scarborough Shoal is and decide for yourself. Does it look like it would belong to China?
This has interesting implications for China’s soft-power projection into SE Asia and South Asia. While not scientific, the comments at the end of this story from the Times of India are telling.
March 28th, 2012 — Uncategorized
Earlier this month the Obama Administration teamed up with Japan and the European Union to file a case against China at the WTO over that country’s export controls on rare earth metals. You’ve probably read about it but what you might not have read was China’s reaction.
Minister of Industry and Information Technology, Miao Wei told Xinhua that China had been preparing for the WTO filing for quite a while and would “actively respond” to the filing. Wei told Xinhua that China’s rare earth export policy was not designed as trade protectionism but to protect resources and the environment. Wei said that if exports were uncontrolled that China’s supply would be exhausted within 20 years. He also said the state policy to consolidate the industry and better control it would be carried out. The Ministry convened a meeting of the industry in March to discuss China’s response to the WTO. Attendees reported that the Ministry told the industry that even if China loses the case the government will take “other measures” to thwart the rare earth importers.
While cutbacks in rare earth exports put foreign manufacturers in a bind Western governments main concern is that China’s export controls may force more Western companies to move manufacturing to China to gain access to the rare earths. That is certainly the outcome China is hoping for. If the West wants to thwart China’s plan it will have to utilize its own rare earth resources to a greater extent – and may need subsidies to get the extraction industry restarted.
February 24th, 2012 — Uncategorized
Mayor Takashi Kawamurathe of Nagoya, Japan has impeccable timing, choosing to air his doubts that the Nanjing Massacre was really so bad while addressing a group of Nanjing leaders. Nagoya and Nanjing are sister cities – well, at least they have been.
January 23rd, 2012 — Uncategorized
As 4/3 Rumors reports the Tokyo Exchange slapped Olympus with an unexpectedly light penalty of $129,800 for the concealment scandal and hiding of $1.7 billion in losses. Olympus isn’t out of hot water yet however. The Japanese police and Scotland Yard and FBI investigators are pressing ahead with criminal charges. Former CEO Michael Woodford, the one who revealed the entire mess at Olympus, is suing for wrongful dismissal after the board fired him to cover up their actions. Disgusted with the lack of support from Japanese institutional investors to reinstate him as Olympus CEO the whistleblower stated, “despite my having done the right thing, none of the major Japanese institutional shareholders have offered one word of support to me.”
Also this week a crack team of attorneys organized an effort to invite former shareholders to sue Olympus and the company’s auditing firms. As ZetaBids.com reports the Lawyers for Shareholders’ Rights are not charging for their services and hope to change the cozy relationship between Japanese institutional investors and boards of directors.
Despite the damage that the scandal has done to Japan’s corporate governance image worldwide, the Government, the corporations and the institutional investors have not taken the Olympus debacle as an opportunity to reform a very dysfunctional system.
January 20th, 2012 — Uncategorized
Chinese and Russian testing of Japan’s air defenses were at an all-time high in 2011. Japan scrambled its fighter jets 143 times in response to Chinese aircraft in the April-December period of 2011, nearly triple the level from a year earlier and surpassing the record high of 96 times in 2010. Many of the Chinese approaches to Japanese territory were near the disputed Senkaku Islands, an archipelago in the East China Sea. Russia kept Japan even busier, with Russian approaches requiring 175 scrambles during the nine months.
The Chinese and Russian aircraft don’t have to enter Japanese territory to elicit a scramble response from Japan. Japan sends up interceptors if foreign military craft fly within Japan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) or around the median line between Japan and China. Because the ADIZ is not the same as territorial airspace, foreign aircraft flying into the zone are not considered to be violating airspace. Until recently, Chinese fighter jets and fighter-bombers had usually avoided entering Japan’s ADIZ. But that changed soon after the Senkaku Islands incident in 2011 that triggered a major diplomatic row between the two countries.
Ironically, in October 2011 China’s Ministry of National Defense complained about Japanese surveillance (intercepts?) of China’s military aircraft which “undermines China’s national security interests”. A Chinese spokesman actually called on Japan to stop scrambling fighters to intercept Chinese planes, warning that this was the cause of air and maritime safety problems, and had “severely disturbed military drills”.
The point about air safety is a valid point but aimed at the wrong party. Most defense experts agree that Chinese military pilots are less skilled than Japanese and American pilots and they fly erratically at times.
No one should forget about the incident in 2001 when a U.S. Navy EP-3 collided in midair with a Chinese fighter jet over the South China Sea, leading to the death of the Chinese pilot.
January 14th, 2012 — Uncategorized
It isn’t good when the American government is seen as interfering in an allies’ democratic elections but for some reason some members of the Obama Administration have done so in recent weeks. Now the former head of the unofficial U.S. mission to Taiwan has gone even farther and explicitly warned of instability if the DPP opposition regains power. This just before the elections this weekend. The State Department cannot control what a former diplomat says but it reflects very poorly upon the former envoy to embroil his country in an ally’s election. Not only is it poor form but it could easily backfire. Several members of Congress have urged the Administration to avoid being seen as favoring either side in the Taiwan elections.
January 12th, 2012 — Uncategorized
When American businesses look at hiring an interpreter for their meetings in Japan they are often taken aback by the prices – approximately $600-1000 per day for A or B grade interpreters. Many make the decision to forego interpretation, hoping to save costs by relying on the Japanese organization’s staff interpreter or just hoping that the Japanese they are meeting with will understand English. This lack of preparation or needless reliance on hope can be very costly. Let me illustrate.
I recently heard from a U.S. company about an import-related regulatory problem they had recently experienced with a Japanese government agency. Like so many foreign companies the U.S. firm had been relying on help from a part-time, non-exclusive distributer in Japan – let’s call him Sato-san. Sato-san set up a meeting with the government agency and the American firm’s sales manager for Asia (call him Mr. Haggar) flew in for the meeting – probably thinking Sato-san would interpret for him. During the meeting Sato-san sat quietly and did not interpret. Nevertheless, the American thought he got across his point and that the government agency was convinced. A month passed and the import problems persisted so the American called me to ask for help.
When I talked to the Japanese government agency staff that had met with the American they explained that their English ability was quite limited and they had been unable to understand most of what the American had said during their meeting. The way they described the meeting reminded me of Charlie Brown listening to a parent talking to him or his friends in the Peanuts animations – “wawwaw wawwaw wawwaw”. “During the first part of the meeting Haggar-san sounded gracious and kind, during the second part of the meeting he was agitated and stabbing the table with his finger, and during the last part of the meeting he calmed down and smiled a lot.” So, in essence, Haggar-san’s trip to Japan was completely wasted and another month had gone by with tens of thousands of dollars in lost sales.
Was it worth trying to save a few hundred dollars by not using an interpreter? No, of course not. There are many reasons to go into a meeting with an interpreter that you are paying to do nothing but interpret. Haggar-san’s experience is just one example why.