Raw Japan

Slices of Japanese business, politics and life

from Summit Notebook:

Blackrock sees opportunities in shrinking Japan

Japan's population has peaked and all the projections have it sliding sharply in coming decades, raising questions about investment opportunities when emerging markets, in particular, offer much more obvious growth opportunities.

By 2055 government researchers expect Japan's population to slide 30 percent to below 90 million from around 128 million with mushrooming numbers of retirees to be supported by a dwindling workforce.

Yet Japan will still be an important destination for world investors, argues Hiroyuki Arita, the Japan head of Blackrock, the world's largest money manager.

Women, having not made such a big move into jobs as elsewhere, will cushion the decline in the Japanese workforce by taking up more jobs, he says.

Japan struggles with puzzle of random killing

Photo

One year after a 25-year-old factory worker killed seven people in a stabbing spree in a crowded Tokyo shopping district,  Japan is struggling again with the sinister puzzle of random killings following the arrest of a man on suspicion of  causing the deaths of four people by setting fire to a “pachinko” pinball parlour.

“I was out of work, had no money and hated my life, and then I got the idea of killing anyone, like a random killer, and started a fire at a place where there were a lot of people,” the 41-year-old man was quoted by media as telling police after turning himself in on Monday evening.

from Summit Notebook:

Nomura: Lehman taking shape

Nomura's takeover of Lehman Brothers' European and Asia businesses is yielding results, and concerns the Japanese bank will struggle to marry cultures is misplaced, according to the man who drove the deal.

"It's a very successful start and we've been happy with what we've got," Takumi Shibata, chief operating officer for Nomura, told the Reuters Japan Investment Summit in Tokyo.

from Summit Notebook:

The Esperanto currency

Hiroshi Watanabe, president of the Japan Bank for International Cooperation, saw his share of dollar buying intervention during decades at the nation's finance ministry.  But the market veteran says despite prevalent talk recently, a shift away from the greenback as the world's reserve currency may be great in theory, but like the language of Esperanto short on daily practitioners.

"Esperanto is a very good language, but no community uses it in its daily life, " Watanabe told the Reuters Japan Investment Summit.

from Left field:

Will there be a Japanese Grand Prix next year?

fujiToyota-owned Fuji's announcement that they are pulling the plug on hosting the Japanese Formula One Grand Prix leaves a question mark over the country's future on the championship calendar.

Fuji had been due to host the race next year as part of an agreement to alternate with Honda-owned Suzuka. However since that deal was done, Honda have pulled out of Formula One and may not have too much of an incentive to pick up the slack.

from FaithWorld:

Japan’s rare Catholic PM Taro Aso meets Pope Benedict

aso-popeJapanese Prime Minister Taro Aso, a member of Japan's tiny Roman Catholic minority, had a chance toenjoy some time away from political trouble at home when he met with Pope Benedict on Tuesday.

As his first stop during a trip to attend July 8-10 summit of G8 leaders in Italy, Aso went to the Vatican, gave the pope a Sony digital video camera and discussed the global economic crisis with him.

from Summit Notebook:

Expect action in Japanese M&A

After falling off a cliff at the start of this year as the global financial crisis gripped, mergers and acquisitions by Japanese companies overseas are likely to pick up again in the second half of this year, according to boutique Japanese M&A advisory firm Recof Corp.

There won't be a flood of deals, Recof President Hikari Imai says, but the ones there are, are likely to be chunky as Japanese companies expand their frontiers beyond domestic markets where growth prospects are limited.

from Summit Notebook:

Independent in appearance

Japan is edging towards the introduction of independent directors and auditors for publicly listed companies, but so far even the idea of having someone from outside at the top of a company remains a foreign concept.

The tradition is for someone to join a Japanese company at age 22 with the ultimate goal of serving on the company board, says Takeyuki Ishida, the head of Japan Research at RiskMetrics Group, which advises institutional investors on how to vote their shares.

from Summit Notebook:

Asia still a wealth of wealth players

A few years ago, domestic and international financial players were chomping at the bit to lure Mrs. Watanabe's millions of yen or fellow Asians' yuan, won or dollar holdings from their futons or equal-interest savings accounts.

The global financial crisis in the last year has sparked a rejigging of foreign institutions' expectations about Asian wealth and their own ability to attract it, with some opting out of the game altogether.

from MacroScope:

Tokyo and Osaka: most expensive cities in the world

Perhaps largely to a surge in the yen, Tokyo is back as the most expensive city in the world, followed by Osaka which made a leap from last year when it ranked 11th in the cost of living survey by consultants Mercer.

Moscow falls to the third from the top, while New York jumps to the eighth from the 22th last year.

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