Japan protecting its own corporations from competition

beerThis beer isn’t anything all that special in the micro beer brewing market. Probably average beer where it was brewed with one of the micro brewed beers in this image brewed in Hawaii. In Hawaii this beer would probably sell for about US2.00 a bottle. Here in Japan it sells for two to three times higher in price and is a stiff tariff and tax to keep out competitors and to give the average Japanese the mistaken impression this beer is something special and that is the reason for the high price. Want a Chimay beer? One bottle of Chimay beer will cost currently US$7.20 per bottle here in Japan.

There are so many times coming through the train stations in japan where beer like this is sold in specialty shops and would really like to drink more compared to most of the cheap beer brewed in Japan and marketed very cleverly through television commercials, but this foreign micro brewed  beer is just too expensive to pick up an occasional six bottles or so.  There is nothing special about this beer at all, it is marked so expensively that there is no real pleasure in drinking this beer.

The beer in this image at the current exchange rate goes for roughly US$5.00 per bottle or more. That would make a six pack of this common micro brewed beer from Hawaii US$30.00 for a six pack. US$60 for twelve beers and a fucking whopping US120.00 for a case of this average micro brewed beer from Hawaii.

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the dysfunctional state of Japan

Abe

 

 

 

 

“My name is Shinzo Abe and I don’t have a fucking clue on earth what is going on.”

While online the other day looking for news on Japan off YouTube, Shinzo Abe appears in the first few seconds on YouTube talking about his government and this recent election which cost Japanese taxpayers billions in ¥en. When Shinzo Abe appears on YouTube from Japan I don’t even bother watching the video, I just click “get lost”. It astounds me how much loyalty and faith the Japanese have in their “elected” representatives and these reprobate politicians they have. I keep thinking to myself the Japanese will grow out of this childish passivity they have towards authority. It is in many respects and on many different levels very disturbing to watch.

This disgusting election two years ahead of schedule cost the Japanese people (government) roughly US$500 million. Where else can this kind of profligacy go on but here in Japan? Voter turn out was at an all time low and the passivity of the Japanese people to simply accept this profligacy is just astonishing. Then these politicians who were kept in office through this laughable voting process were voted in by private interests in the corporate, finance and banking structures, then they have the temerity to say they are working “in the best interests of the Japanese people.”

Dysfunctional Japan with a fast depreciating Yen

This article first appeared
at Yahoo news

Japan needs foreign workers, but will they come? [probably not]

cute JapanFaced with a dwindling population and severe labor shortage, Japan aims to attract more foreign workers, [sometimes I think this is just political empty rhetoric since Japan has been suggesting this for the past ten years and nothing has changed] but a rapidly depreciating yen and lack of rights stand in the way.

“Japan needs to compete for foreign workers against other developed Asian nations – the weakening yen [cynicism: Yen went from ¥100 to ¥120 in about three weeks] won’t make the country any more attractive” said Cesar V. Santoyo, a former priest who worked with migrants in Hong Kong before founding SOLS, a non-profit organization that retrains Filipino women living in Japan as English teaching assistants.

The yen has been in a downward spiral since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe [then these almost criminal Japanese reprobates announce a vote which cost the Japanese taxpayer billions of ¥en] introduced a series of fiscal and monetary stimulus measures to spur the economy in 2013. The U.S. dollar is near a seven-year high against the yen, up around 40 percent since Abe took office in December 2012.

Read more: New repair manual needed for Japan’s broken economy

A weaker yen makes yen-based wages less attractive to workers that plan to make remittances to family members back home.

Only while we need them

Two large publicly-financed construction projects – the ongoing reconstruction of the northeast region hit by the 2011 earthquake and the construction of venues for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics – have brought the issue into focus. Japan’s construction industry faces a shortfall of 230,000 workers [so bring foreign workers in for construction projects when many Japanese people are opposed to this enormous waste of money to build an Olympic stadium to host the 2020 Olympics?] in 2015, government statistics show.

Japan’s ageing population and low birth rates [youth in Japan are not even interested in sex anymore being distracted by computer games and the problems and financial costs] further underscore the need for labor. The population shrank for the third straight year in 2013, according to the Internal Affairs Ministry, and is projected to shrink by a third by 2060, increasing the need to import caretakers for children and the elderly, especially if housewives – traditionally caretakers in Japan – are expected to join the workforce. [Japanese families cannot survive economically unless the mother or wife works; then many mothers work as pre-school “teachers” in Japan’s hoikuen industry taking care of other Japanese children while their own children go to a different hoikuen to be taken care of by another mother?]

Read more: Betting on social change in Japan [Social change? In Japan? That will never happen.]

But voters [voting is for passive Japanese who think their politicians will actually make any efforts at advancing significant social change] find immigration unpalatable. Just 12 percent of respondents in the most recent government survey feel there should be more foreign workers. [the deeply seated prejudices and discrimination Japanese have against foreigners is not easily recognized until one lives here for a significant period of time]

As a result, Abe’s ruling party insists there is “no immigration policy,” just a plan to “expand the utilization of foreign talent,” in its manifesto for this Sunday’s national elections. [these fucking recent elections the Japanese government announced cost the Japanese taxpayer billions of ¥en]

“The government and voters have a hard time accepting temporary foreign workers, let alone permanent immigrants,” said Eriko Suzuki, associate professor at Kokushikan University.

“But the population decline cannot not be reversed without immigrants,” he said.

Systematic abuse

To attract more workers, the government seeks to reform and expand the central pillar of its guest worker policy: the Technical Intern Training Program – an initiative that provides technical skills training to youth and adult workers [a phenomenon known as “power harassment” makes working conditions almost unbearable for new employees] from developing countries for a specific period.

But the system is so widely abused by Japanese employers that the U.S. Department of State condemned it as “forced labor” in its annual “Trafficking in Persons” report. [Japan has the highest rate of porn production of any country in the world and roughly 1,500 persons go missing in Japan because of human trafficking related to the sex industry]

“It’s a charade calling them interns – Japanese employers are just exploiting them as cheap labor,” said Shoichi Ibusuki, a leading labor rights lawyer who has represented interns in court. [the Japanese system is EXTREMELY exploitative]

Still, the government is tightening oversight of the system and is taking tentative steps to introduce broader work permits, he said. [notice the word “tentative”; the Japanese have been saying tentative for the past fucking 20 years]

Read more: Japan’s brokerages seize opportunity as death tax set to rise [now the Japanese government will be going after 90 percent of estate in death taxes]

Interns are paid around 100,000 yen, or around $838, more than half of which is deducted for living expenses, according to Ibusuki. They are often forced to work long hours, sometimes more than 100 hours of overtime, cannot change jobs and must leave Japan if they quit. [foreign workers are basically treated like shit and then when the Yakuza gets involved like they did in the cleanup at Fukushima in sourcing these foreign employees then some really fucking serious problems begin]

Many interns quit when they learn they’re being paid half of what Japanese interns would earn.

In 2013, just over 50,000 “trainees”, mostly from China and Vietnam, were working in Japan, 2,822 of which were reported missing to the government agency that oversees the program.

Will supply meet the demand?

While experts [experts? Who the fuck might they be?] say there is a supply of migrants across Asia, the question is whether the kind of skilled workers Japan wants will choose the country over other equally developed nations, such as Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Kiyoto Tanno, professor at Tokyo Metropolitan University, doesn’t think so: “Japanese wages are no longer attractive for those with at least a high school education.”

Still, Japan remains more attractive than some places.

“Unemployment remains high in the Philippines [sex and the hostess industry] – and Japan is still a better place to work than the Middle East,” [Maybe. Qatar has many Philippine people working there and they looked like they had some good jobs and smiled a lot when I was there] said Rosario Hodoyama, a Filipina who’s lived in Japan since 1986. Her niece works in Saudi Arabia.

Japan faces downgrade in credit rating

This article first
appeared on PressTV

Fitch puts Japan credit on Rating Watch Negative

TokyoCredit rating agency, Fitch, has placed Japan sovereign credit on Rating Watch Negative (RWN), just days before snap elections in the country.

The rating agency said in a statement released on Tuesday that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s decision to delay the implementation of a sales tax from 2015 to 2017 raised “doubts over the authorities’ commitment to the objective of fiscal consolidation.”

The rating firm said the 18-month delay shows it will be nearly impossible to achieve the government’s previously-stated goal of reducing the primary budget deficit to 3.3 percent of gross domestic product by March 2016.

It warned that Tokyo would meet a negative sensitivity identified in the May 2014 credit review “unless broadly equivalent and permanent fiscal measures are announced in the forthcoming budget.”

Last week, Moody’s credit rating agency downgraded Japan’s credit rating, citing “rising uncertainty” over the country’s debt situation. [Japanese have been forced into this corporate system and they have no options at this point to opt out of this corporate system]

The vote for the lower house of parliament on December 14 is thought to be a referendum on Abe’s economic policies.

Over the past two years, Abe has pressed ahead with pro-spending policies to boost the economy.

The stimulus policies, called “Abenomics,” have boosted stock prices and pushed the yen down. [the Japanese Yen went from ¥100 to ¥120 per one U.S. Dollar in about three weeks – December 10, 2014 – after the Yen was around ¥100 per one U.S. Dollar for four years]

Although Japan left its latest recession in 2012 and experienced a fairly strong growth in 2013, Japan has one of the heaviest debt burdens among rich nations.

New phenomenon in Japan: “power harassment”

Mt. FujiIn many Japanese companies a phenomenon that can only be explained as being something Japanese called “power harassment” was brought to my attention the other day. A disturbing trend where employees in companies in Japan both large and small intimidate new employees. I suspect the reason for this type harassment is that older employees are protecting their economic interests, positions within companies, and incomes when new employees are hired.

My anger at learning of this type of harassment makes me question hierarchies in Japan even more. Many youth in Japan often quit work shortly after becoming employees because this “power harassment” is more than they can tolerate. And knowing Japanese they way I do after so many years living here in Japan, this type of harassment can be extremely intimidating.

How do companies expect to keep new employees around long enough to train them when they quit soon after being hired because of this type of harassment from older and usually male employees? The Japanese government is encouraging births in Japan and have gone on record as saying Japan would find itself having a shortage of workers. This anticipated shortage it is suggested would force the Japanese government to resort to relaxing Japan’s immigration laws which would allow foreign workers into Japan to make up for the labor shortage. I am still not able to follow that line of thinking.

From my many years living and working with Japanese especially male Japanese I know how nasty and niggardly they can be towards others in the work environment. With a suicide rate hovering around 30,000 Japanese a year it suggests that these suicides cannot tolerate the level of problems they are confronted with in trying to get along with other Japanese people while living under such enormous social pressures in Japan to conform.

More shit the Japanese government keeps hidden: rising poverty

Source: The Borgen Project

The Truth Behind Poverty in Japan


According to The Economist, poverty in Japan is rarely visible. There is little begging and little evidence that the homeless exist. The poor are quietly hidden in shadows away from what appears of economic homogeneity in Japan. They are hidden from sight and very difficult to measure.

However, the truth of the matter is that poverty is increasing at alarming rates in Japan. After years of economic stagnation, now statistics show that nearly one in six Japanese lived in poverty in 2007. This accounts for nearly 20 million people within the population.

Yet the popular perception of Japan is one of a nation of prosperity and centenarians. Even many Japanese themselves were horrified to find out that Japan’s poverty rate was in recent years as high as 15.7%, nearly as high as the figure for the United States. The Japanese government has admitted that it had been keeping poverty statistics hidden since 1998. Aya Abe, a researcher at the National Institute of Population and Social Security in Tokyo has stated, “it is very unpopular for the Japanese media to say anything about Japanese poverty.” [that’s right Japan Inc., just ignore the problem or sweep it under the carpet and maybe it will go away?] By denying the existence of increasing poverty, Japan has failed to support its growing impoverished population.

The results of this lack of support are visible in the plight of single parents in Japan. The poverty rate of single parents is now the highest of the all of the nations that are part of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Furthermore, statistics show that now one in seven children in Japan lives in poverty. According to Japan Times, more and more children are now unable to afford schoolbooks and basic materials for education.

Despite these grim facts, few impoverished Japanese are even willing to admit that they are poor. Poverty experts in Japan say that 80% of the poor in Japan are “working poor.” That is to say that these poor may be working temporary jobs with few benefits but they unable to or even unwilling to reveal the true condition of their financial or living situation.

Furthermore, years of deregulated labor and competition with China have created a wide market of low paying jobs. For a nation that is accustomed to lifetime jobs, there are few social safety nets for the unemployed. Thus, while the poor in Japan may fair considerably better than those in developing nations, they face a social taboo that attempts to cover up poverty. [Japan will never show public humility] Thus the climb upwards is a difficult and lonely challenge.

- Grace Zhao

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Additional reading:

Japan’s worsening poverty rate

Rental extortion in Japan and the niggardly Japanese

shit holeThis small rental for a business comes in at ¥180,000 a month (extortion)

There is a dark side of the rental agency businesses in Japan that I will never be able to reconciliate with and that is the almost yakuza-like activities of these fucking property owners and rental agencies. The rental company wants ¥180,000 (roughly US$1900) for this piece of shit small rental.

Who in their right mind is going to rent a small shop like this for ¥180,000 out in the country basically far away from Tokyo when this economy is going to shit and Japan is reporting the number of Japanese at the poverty level are increasing? What kind of a business would be set up here that could generate a monthly profit to pay ¥180,000 in rent and then have enough profit left over to live off? A fucking noodle shop? A coffee shop?

Considering the age of this building it looks to have been paid off by the owner years ago.  That means any rent coming in is almost pure profit. A young guy wants to start his own motorcycle repair shop in this area and this extortion rent curtails him from starting up his own business repairing and selling motorcycles. These fucking rental agencies in Japan are criminal predators sucking profits out of and chiseling the rentee class where ever they can.

There is also this unwritten rule in Japan in which at every two years in the rental contract, an additional months rent is extorted to “renew the rental contract.” It’s just pure profit no matter how it is looked at to keep the rental agencies (fudoya) in money.  That means every two years whoever rents this property is required to pay almost ¥400,000 (roughly US$4,000) to continue renting this property. That is extortion and only goes on in Japan no matter how people describe the rental agency business in Japan.

The really aggravating aspect too about this rental property, is that it has been vacant for eight years yet, the Yakuza-like rental company still wants the extortionist monthly rent refusing to negotiate to drop the rent even a fucking mere ¥10,000 a month. Don’t anyone ever get the idea the Japanese are not niggardly either, they are the worst. They will fucking chisel you at every opportunity. There are many aspects of Japan that I personally cannot reconciliate with and rental agencies in Japan are one of them. The Japanese would say: “Shikataganai.”

They are an exploitative predatory class who basically produce nothing in the Japanese economy. There are so many landlords in Japan who live their lives off the rentee class that it is to my way of thinking an extremely fucked up set of circumstances. Japanese people will tell you that is because they have to keep people employed. But that again is nothing but utter bullshit, especially when the lifestyles and homes these landlords and many of these rental agency owners live in are looked at carefully.