Entries from April 2012 ↓
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.
April 10th, 2012 — Japan
At the height of the short-lived cherry blossoms Japanese have a tradition of throwing a cover over the ground underneath the cherry trees and partying seriously. This is often a company or group activity on the weekend and involves a lot of drinking – sometimes to the point of alcohol poisoning and hospitalization. Hanami, or blossom viewing doesn’t have to involve a bacchanal because plenty of people (including this writer) just go to see and appreciate the beauty of the many cherry trees. The idea of sitting on the ground all day, drinking and making a fool out of oneself among one’s colleagues and in view of thousands has little appeal to many.
April 3rd, 2012 — Japan
There is a general consensus in Japan that the country is falling behind in the race to compete. When , the new head of the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) assumed control this week his first promise was to help Japanese companies mount a charge. Hiroshi Okuda, 79, said “the politics and the economy of Japan are two or three laps behind the rest of the world.” Okuda, formerly president of Toyota Motor Corporation didn’t go into specifics about the causes of Japan’s lagging performance but he did point out that given the yen’s rise in value that now was the time for Japanese firms to buy companies and access to natural resources overseas. JBIC uses government loans and investment funds to provide financial assistance to Japanese firms to help them acquire concessions for natural resources and contracts to build infrastructure abroad.
As Yomiuri points out Okada will be the first businessperson to be appointed to the head of JBIC. The post has traditionally gone to retired Finance Ministry bureaucrats.