A trend comes and goes in Japan. It is not restricted to fashion but includes many areas that should be neither trendy nor passing. A recent phenomenon of the interest in Kyoyo (教養) might be another trend that comes and goes.
While the Japanese economy has seen the beginning of its recovery from the fifteen-year recession in recent months, the tension with China and South Korea heightened over the last week. This was largely due to the visitation to Yasukuni Shrine by 168 members of the Parliament. Both China and South Korea reacted and voiced their frustration over the incident. Later, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spoke about the issue of colonization vis-à-vis South Korea, which angered officials in Seoul. All these things can have troubling economic implications insofar as the foreign trades are concerned.
The current mood of Japan is all for Abenomics. It is very surprising to hear many commentators and columnists writing so positively about Abenomics and its monetary policy. It was not too long ago that many of them were quite hesitant to welcome Mr. Abe and the Reflationists’ policy. It is as if the whole nation repented and converted.
One of the most popular ramen shops in Monzennakacho, Kokaibo’s motto is to offer the type of soup that you will be able to enjoy everyday. Many Ramen shops have great soup. Some are rich in pork fat, others are full of flavors, and yet others have the great flavor of seabura. But you cannot return to those places daily because the flavor is so rich. The dream of Kokaibo’s owner was to create the Ramen soup like miso-soup that is comforting and so easy to stomach that Tokyo's residents want to have it everyday.
On November 15, 2012, Shinzo Abe, then the leader of Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), announced his request to the Bank Of Japan to create a moderate inflation of 2-3%. The market reacted immediately since many thought the LDP would win the general election, which would make Abe the next prime minister. The interest rate of ten-year government bonds began to decline and the inflation expectation to surge slowly. By the beginning of March, the Nikkei exchange reached over 12,000 yen (41% increase from the day prior to Mr. Abe’s public request) and the value of yen reached over 95 (15.5% increase). After the appointment of Haruhiko Kuroda as the new chairman of the Central Bank, the Nikkei reached above 13,000, and the value of yen is about to surpass 100 yen per dollar.
Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture, in central Japan, is holding a large Chinese festival this weekend in celebration of the New Year's arrival. As one of the biggest Chinese New Year events in Japan, there are large crowds eager to see cultural demonstrations and enjoy traditional cuisine, in light of all the recent diplomatic tensions between the two countries, there is something noticeably, and thankfully, missing.
It is commonly known that Japan is a collectivistic society. The group is more important than the individual. The adage that "the nail that sticks out gets hammered down" is often mentioned when bringing up this idea. But if it's important not to stick out, then it's just as important to fit in. To stay with the group. To act within the whole. And this is why the constant reporting of public opinion surveys for elections, especially this week's on who will be the next prime minister, can be more harmful in Japan than other more individualistic countries.
“How do you feel about philanthropy? What is your purpose in life? Tell me about your family. I believe a great father is a great employee. I believe a great mother is a great employee. I believe someone who’s willing to give up their free time to help others is a great employee…” As reported in a series of articles in The New York Times, this is how one successful American executive interviews job candidates.
Two different news stories were released today based on the results of a survey to determine the Japanese public's feelings over the nation's whaling program. One frames its findings under the title of "Japanese appetite for whale meat wanes," while the other is "More [Japanese] back whaling than not." But in reality, it's much less clear.
Trouble was stirred up last week over China's new passports in regards to disputes in the South China Sea, however, they surprisingly managed to leave Japan out this time around. The country has issued new passports which feature a map that highlights territories belonging to India, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Taiwan as Chinese. This incident has understandably upset the neighboring countries, but it also highlights how China continues to say one thing and do another, all while criticizing Japan for disrupting regional stability.