Slices of Japanese business, politics and life
As Japan’s economy slips back towards deflation, the country’s price-cut kings are raking it in. The latest Forbes wealthiest list for Japan was headed by those running companies offering discount clothes, discount shoes, discount broking, discount drugs – and for people without the funds to take advantage of all the discounts — a consumer lender at far-from-discount interest rates.
Forbes said the nation’s richest man was Tadashi Yanai, worth $6.1 billion and quarter owner of seemingly recession-proof clothing retailer Uniqlo. Yanai saw a $1.4 billion jump in his fortune after a huge surge in company shares despite the economy shrinking faster than it has in decades.
Masahiro Miki, founder of discount shoe chain, ABC Mart, Chizuko and Michio Matsui of the eponymous on-line brokerage, and the Kinoshita brothers of lender Acom, rounded out the small list of those increasing their wealth last year in the world’s No.2 economy, which appears to be going through its longest recession on record.
The Tada brothers, who run discount chain SunDrug, and Akio Nitori of the same-name discount home furnishing retailer also made the Top 40, as disposable income was disposed of ever more cheaply.
Japan’s finance minister denies he was drunk at a G7 news conference but opposition lawmakers sense blood in the water and are demanding he be fired, adding yet more pressure on a deeply unpopular government that faces an election this year.
The story is the Internet phenomenon of the day in Japan as TV stations and newspapers issued stories calling attention to Shoichi Nakagawa’s behaviour at the news conference at the G7 gathering in Rome over the weekend.
Japan’s salaried workers may have an image as corporate drudges, but some are turning economic angst and political ire into poetry for a competition.
“My motivation, falling in tandem with steps to cut corporate costs” is one entry in the contest for “Best 10 Senryu”, a type of humorous verse similar to 17-syllable “haiku” but without references to nature or the seasons.