Saturday, January 05, 2008

Japan "sales day"

Back to work! I attended the Prime Minister New Year press conference at Kantei, and my ears were caught with these words, more an enigma than a statement. What is the wise man (some call him the Tanuki) up to? "I would like to make this year the start of a society where the people and the consumers play the center role," Prime minister Fukuda also wants politicians and the government to drastically change their way of thinking and assume a more public and a consumer-oriented viewpoint.

Have sales started, is it a wishful thinking, a good or bad points to bad ministers or is there a cabinet reshuffle ahead? By the way, during the conference the Prime minister clearly stated his anger in diplomatic words towards Japanese press, (I remember that the Emperor too showed his dissatisfaction with Japanese media interpretations recently...)

At the end of December, during his visit to China, Fukuda is reported to have told Japanese press that he would keep an open mind toward reshuffling the Cabinet in the new year (2008). Right after, reports said Fukuda would do a reshuffle mid-January before the Diet opens.

Fukuda: "I don't know whose practical joke it was, but I think the media reporting went against my intentions, what I said was that everything about it was still a blank sheet of paper, including the possibility of reshuffling the Cabinet, or not."

Er... Then it is up to media to sale paper.

And then, I went to the Stocks exchange. Bad bad time... Tokyo stocks plunged on the new year's first day of trading, -700 something points, the market, it is said, focussed on American economic slowdown and surging oil prices, ($100 per barrel overnight in New York)

Shortly before the massive selling began, the TSE held a ceremony to mark the beginning of the year's trading. It started with the ringing of the stock exchange's bell by Financial Services Minister Yoshimi Watanabe and women dressed in kimono.

TSE President Atsushi Saito then gave a speech warning of the bourse's declining appeal and pledging his utmost efforts to make it more attractive:

"Last year, the subprime loan problem dealt a hard blow to stock markets worldwide. While most markets in developed countries managed to end 2007 higher despite the subprime woes, stock markets in Japan and a few other countries finished lower, this means our country is losing its appeal as an investment target although huge excess funds, including oil money, are flowing across global markets." He wants to make the Japanese market more attractive, as by making new financial products available and by setting up a "high-risk, high-return" market that will limit participation to professional investors.

January resolutions and sales day, indeed, Yasuo Fukuda wished YouTube users a happy New Year in a 5 minutes video posted in English and Japanese and spoke about the challenges facing the world and that Japan would become a key player on the international scene. “Of these challenges, those that concern the environment seriously affect all who live on this earth. Japan’s mission is to play a major role in this area.” From what I saw, it was not very clear what the G-8 nations would do about it in his press conference at the Kantei prime minister residence just a few months before the Hokkaido G8 Summit. Besides, the US and Japan were quite dull in Bali summit. Right? So what role are we talking and playing about? By the way, if I check the Prime minister conference picture, isn't it a can of Sapporo beer standing on the desk? For a Kanpaiiii live or... what? Sales day, I say!