News from Japan – Week 46

It’s that time of the week again. Today I have a bunch of news for you, as always with commentary by yours truly. I am not a superstitious man, but somehow Friday the 13th always scares me somewhat. Here’s hoping that everyone makes it through the day without incident.

You may have heard that Sean Connery, one of the most iconic “James Bond” actors ever, has passed away recently. This prompted several Japanese (or Japan-focused) news outlets to write stories about the actor, due to him having starred in the only “James Bond” to be set in Japan. The following article by the JapanTimes, while entertaining, also reads somewhat like fanfiction and provides no sources or citations for their adventurous claims, so prepare sufficient quantities of salt before reading.

JapanTimes -> https://www.japantimes.co.jp/culture/2017/06/17/films/extraordinary-untold-japan-story-live-twice/

A big topic in Japan, same as everywhere in World, was, of course, the American election. Until now, Japan has gotten on comparatively well with President Trump, but in a country that values soft-spoken and polite diplomacy over emotional tantrums and outbursts, he was always seen as a very curious figure. His unpredictability, never knowing who he will try to pick a fight with next, has made Trump an unreliable Partner to the whole world, and Japan is no exception here. But a Biden presidency (all but confirmed now, but who knows) also carries risks for Japan, as he might be inclined to go softer on China, allowing them to expand further in the Asian region, or focus policies on Korea instead of Japan. I have to admit that I cannot wait to see the back of Mr Trump and hope that this election has brought an end to the lunacy, that appears to have taken hold of the US, and by extent the rest of the world, since 2016.

ForeignPolicy -> https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/11/03/japan-worries-about-four-more-years-of-trump-and-about-a-biden-presidency/

Hong Kong had been Asia’s financial hub until very recently, making it very easy for foreign firms to open branches there and conduct their business in English. Tokyo has always been more difficult to set-up in, as there is a Japanese-language requirement for many necessary procedures, as well as higher taxes and other hurdles. With Hong Kong’s freedoms looking to be going away as China tightens its grip on the former British colony, many companies are looking to move their offices from Hong Kong to a new destination. Tokyo is in a position to attract some of these companies, but action has to be taken quickly to ease the aforementioned barriers to entry. To that end, the government is going to set up a new office, to support foreign firms looking to open a branch in Tokyo. Only time will tell, whether they will be successful in this endeavour or not, but judging by the infantile way that 

Pensions&Investments -> https://www.pionline.com/markets/japan-open-entry-office-foreign-firms-rival-hong-kong

America’s new leader has yet to be officially confirmed or sworn in. But didn’t Japan get a new leader as well, recently? What was his name again, Sugar? Suga? He was a close confidante of former PM Abe right? If you haven’t been keeping a close eye on Japanese politics it’s quite easy to miss the fact that Japan has also seen a change in leadership. The following opinion piece talks about Suga Yoshihide’s priorities and policies, which are described as incremental and vague. Rightfully so, in my opinion at least, as Suga seems to simply seek to continue where Abe had left off, without any significant changes, even though the latter had already seen a heavy decline to his approval ratings before stepping down.

Nikkei Asia -> https://asia.nikkei.com/Opinion/Japan-s-new-leader-goes-missing-in-action

Finally, I will leave you with a bit of a humorous piece. A mayor of a provincial town in the south-west of Japan has become a bit of an overnight social media sensation. The 73-year old’s name is Yutaka Umeda, written with Chinese characters or “Kanji”, that also make it possible to pronounce his name as “Jo Baiden”. Let’s hope that this is a foreshadowing of close US and Japanese ties in the future as well.

The Guardian -> https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/nov/09/japan-jo-baiden-becomes-overnight-internet-sensation-joe-biden

That’s it for this week. As always, I hope that you have a very nice weekend and that you and your loved ones stay safe.

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