Optimism in Japan?

The Washington Post carried a post this weekend suggesting the “last optimists” in Japan were finally abandoning ship. You can read the piece here:


Alas, the key “cog” in this piece is Jesper Koll, a long-term resident of Tokyo who says: “If you speak optimistically about Japan, nobody even believes it. They say, ‘Oh, in 600 years there will be 480 Japanese people left. The Japanese are dying out and debt is piling up for future generations.’ Japan is an easy whipping boy.”

Alas, what the Post doesn’t point out is that Koll and other “professional” foreigners who live in Japan and work in the financial sector are PAID to be optimistic about Japan. There is no equity market for foreign investors in Japan unless someone makes a “bull” case. Koll and Kathy Matsui, for many years the chief “gaijin handler” for Goldman Sachs,  could make predictably optimistic (and flawed) assumptions about Japan for years and years without ever being “called to account.”

My favorite of these constructions is that “Japan is turning the corner.” That being the longest corner ever recorded…!

The reality –as the Post is finally learning to accept — is quite a bit more downbeat. But we covered that in our book. The Post reviewed the book when it was published. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/09/18/AR2006091801192.html

Maybe writers assigned to Japan should read it, too.

Welcome to an updated site.!

Shutting Out the Sun has been in print since 2006, but except for the names of new Prime Ministers and the shocking devastation (and subsequent malfeasance) triggered by the earthquake and tsunami of 3/11, little of the malaise that I wrote about more than a half decade ago has really experienced fundamental change.

That’s unfortunate for the world, and, alas, too bad for Japan.

But, you know, it’s hard to keep recycling negative news…So mostly I’ve moved on to tackle other issues primarily. For a while I worked on issues related to China and innovation for the Monitor Group, as recently I’ve become Managing Editor/Thought Leadership for the UK-based Oxford Economics group. http://www.oxfordeconomics.com.

But as time and temperament permit, I’ll try to add some thoughts here to the latest issues and my concerns about Asia and Japan.