Friday, January 22, 2010

Hardened times for Foreign Correspondents in Japan

Reaching Japan shores

""Major foreign media outlets are leaving Japan in
droves, a sign of financial difficulties at home as the
news industry struggles with falling advertising
revenue. But observers note that Japan is also losing
its appeal as the most newsworthy country in Asia, with
China now the hot spot.

Extract of the article from the Japan Times, by Mariko
Kato in today's edition, an interview of a colleague of
mine Takashi Uesugi, ex New York Times, today a
successful freelance journalist who even has time

"The financial situation of the companies in their own
countries is a big factor". "But the second reason is
(the decrease in) Japan's national power. Foreign
media are becoming increasingly more interested in
China and setting up offices there, while they withdraw
from Japan." (Takashi Uesugi, a freelance journalist
and expert on journalism said.) The Washington Post
office in Tokyo has only one reporter left and the Los
Angeles Times branch has closed, according to Uesugi.

Numbers reflect the trend. According to the Foreign
Correspondents' Club of Japan, its foreign members
numbered around 250 during the late 1980s and early
1990s when the booming economy provided both
interesting news and an attractive home for overseas
correspondents. The count was more than 300 if
Japanese staff employed by foreign media companies were
included. However, the ranks have since been
decreasing steadily, with only 144 foreign members
registered as of March 2009. "This means that news
about Japan becomes more dependent on news wires. Even
if (those media that have left Japan) hire temporary
staff here, only correspondents are actually eligible
to write stories, which would lead to lack of depth or
analysis," Uesugi said.

For correspondents elsewhere in Asia to visit Japan and
report news, the event would need to be as big as Aum
Shinrikyo's sarin attack on the Tokyo subway system or
the Great Hanshin Earthquake, which both happened in
1995, or last year's Lower House election that led to
the first major change in government since the 1950s,
he added...

Uesugi said the hostile setup has served to encourage
foreign correspondents to move elsewhere in Asia. "The
current government has the desire to communicate more
with the outside world, but it needs to do more,"
Uesugi said. He acknowledged it is already too late to
woo the foreign press back to Japan, except for the
unlikely event that Japan's national power increases or
China's politics becomes too unstable to remain
there..."" End of quotes

Assistance for Foreign media:


Briefing for foreign press & foreign media event

Foreign Press Center online office

Foreign press club event

✍✍✍ Comments✍✍✍

1 "This article title should have been "US Media (rather
than "foreign" media)" is pulling out of Japan. In
fact, Middle East media is increasing its coverage of
Japan and more reporters are needed (who can speak
Arabic). I also think the environment is better in
Japan than China in terms of freedom of reporting. But
the article is right about the closed doors against the
foreign media by Japanese kisha clubs, but this is not
the reason why the US media is leaving."

Khaldon Azhari
Panorient News, President.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Sarkozy versus Ghosn, public dispute? "Renault C'est Qui?"

Nicolas Sarkozy and Carlos Ghosn

Carlos Ghosn most admired, still, is the target of the Palace.
When Carlos Ghosn was "summoned" at the Élysée palace by France
president Nicolas Sarkozy, I immediately remembered what the
Chief of Renault and Nissan told me about politicians and

In my first interview with the Mr Ghosn published in Valmonde
group media "Carlos Ghosn The French Samurai", in July 2001, I
asked Mister Ghosn's views on politician Junichiro Koizumi, the then
flamboyant prime minister of Japan (who ruled 2 mandates with top
level of popularity). Clear enough is what Carlos Ghosn then
stated about how he views his role and the role of politicians.


"... each time he (prime minister Koizumi) intervened in the field
of economy, he mentioned Nissan and he did it in a constructive
and positive manner. I trust his modernizer spirit, but you
know, me, I am an industrialist, bottom line: the intentions
account for 5% of the work, and 95% is in the application of the
project and the demonstration by the facts"...

end of quotes.

Quite a puzzling debate, and seen from a Tokyo perspective it is
interesting to follow how Paris, or the EU rules tend to modify
the way companies are or want to be ruled and how it confronts
administrative policies. Something to ponder when in 10, 20
years, some say later, Asia would build a formula of loose
economical integration.

It did not make Japanese comfortable. Nothing here is made
without the decisions of a dozen of very powerful industrialists,
and without accepting the effects, Sarkozy or his staff
undermined Carlos Ghosn work in Tokyo, where-else...?

Media comments, also quite impressive was the title of the Wall
Street Op-Ed:

"Renault, C'est Moi" For French President Sarkozy the subversion
of EU free market rules is French business as usual.


Carlos Ghosn might be one of the world's most admired CEOs, but
last weekend Nicolas Sarkozy summoned the Nissan-Renault
executive to the Elysée Palace to show him who's the real boss.
The reason for the French President's ire? Renault plans to move
a production site overseas just when Mr. Sarkozy is facing
regional elections. France still holds 15% of Renault and lent
the company €3 billion during last year's financial crisis. And
so when news broke that the car maker might produce its next Clio
model in Turkey, Nicolas Sarkozy saw his chance to play patriot
games. "We are not giving all that money to support the auto
sector so that all our factories can leave," Mr. Sarkozy told
lawmakers last week. "I strongly contest the idea that these big
companies, just because they are global, no longer have a

Mr. Ghosn got the message. "Renault is a French company, a
socially responsible citizen," he said after the meeting at the
palace. He promised that some of the production of the
subcompact car will stay in France, which corresponds with the
government's dictates. "When a French car is destined for the
French market, it has to be made in France," Industry Minister
Christian Estrosi told parliament last week. This nonchalant
subversion of the European Union's free market principles and
state-aid rules has so far triggered only a muted response from
the European Commission. With even Britain now exhibiting a
weakness for French-style mercantilism (see Peter Mandelson's
meddling in the Cadbury takeover battle) it's probably not
surprising that Mr. Sarkozy has returned to French business as
usual. French consumers, and Renault itself, will be the ones
who ultimately pay the price.

and In the Irish Times:

"... The French government on Sunday tried to save face vis a
vis Carlos Ghosn in its dispute with Renault, insisting it had
secured a promise from the car maker that units of its future
Clio small car destined for the domestic market would be made in
France. Ministers have leant heavily on Renault since it emerged
earlier this week that it was considering centring production of
the Clio 4, to be launched in 2013, at its lower-cost factory in
Bursa, Turkey, rather than in France. Paris had insisted that a
majority of Clio 4s were assembled in France, either at Renault’s
Flins site, near Paris, or at another factory. President Nicolas
Sarkozy raised the pressure by summoning Carlos Ghosn, Renault
chief executive, to the Élysée Palace on Saturday. But Sarkozy
received only a pledge that part of future Clio production would
be in France. Claude Guéant, Sarkozy’s chief of staff, insisted
on Sunday that the government – which has a 15 per cent stake in
the company – had got everything it asked for."

End of quotes

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Dominique Strauss-Kahn at FCCJ Tokyo: "Candidate for 2012 French presidential election? Hypothetical..."

But DSK does not deny or confirm...

DSK was our guest at the press club January 18th for his IMF visit to Tokyo and Hong Kong, he was in China 3 months ago.

✍ His stature as an international figure rises as the world globally is trying to handle the Great Recession of 2009, he creates quite a crowd in the FCCJ on Monday. 100 persons half of them journalists. Right after his address about "Asia and the Post-Crisis Global Economy" and prior to the Q&A, and as our Guest Speaker is well known to be a possible candidate for France 2012 Presidential Election, I ask him, privilege of the moderator, about his future and about the international and France political agenda:

-"It's been one year since president Obama is at the White House, what are the qualities required to lead a nation? Do you have, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the ambition to lead France one day"?

DSK: " Well... it's been one year that president Obama has been elected and I think what has been done this year by the US administration has tremendous importance. Now, you want to ask me a question about French politics which you know before I would not answer... So you are not surprised that I won't... -smiles from DSK-. Well, I am now dealing with global economic problems as the Head of the IMF. What may happen in the future is a question for the future. And you know how American' politicians say, they don't answer hypothetical questions, so, that's what I learned during this year in the United States." -smiles from DSK and praise from the audience-

According to the last Ipsos barometer for the Point to appear on Thursday January 21, Dominique Strauss-Kahn is the preferred political official of the French. It precedes Bernard Kouchner, and Rama Yade. Martine Aubry does not take off. 2012 French presidential election, the leader of the current French opposition Martine Aubry stated a few hours before in Paris (RTL) that she and DSK would be able to lead the nation prior to the primary to be launched within the opposition.

✌ Definition of hypothetical: 1) Supposed but not necessarily real or true. 2) Logic denoting or containing a proposition of the logical form. DSK's answer captivated FCCJ's audience.

Other main themes and quotes we had during the event:

Quotes: Dominique Strauss-Kahn said China and other developing Asian economies are leading a global recovery that is faster and stronger than expected, but warned that money rushing into emerging markets could lead to asset bubbles. He strongly suggested that the IMF would raise its 2010 global growth forecast from the 3.1 per cent it projected in October. China, India and other emerging Asian economies were close to returning to their pre-crisis growth rates, while rebounds in the U.S., Japan and other advanced economies remained "sluggish."

"The political will was strong 8 months ago (G20) still strong ago 6 months (Pittsburgh) ago but there is a risk the consensus built at climax, could vanish as recovery comes." While the IMF doesn't forecast a "double-dip," or second recession, risks remain, he said. "We have to very cautious because this recovery remains very fragile." While hundreds of billions in stimulus spending by governments around the world avoided another Great Depression, DSK said, the most important risk facing the global economy is deciding how and when to reverse those polices and deal with resulting debt burdens. "Now we have to fix the consequences of the policy that has been put in place to fight against the crisis," he said. "Finding the right time to implement exit policies is really a difficult one." "If you exit too late, you waste resources," he said. "If you exit too early, you have a risk of going back into recession."

The IMF recommends that governments devise policies that will support the labour market given still-high joblessness, which could lead to social unrest in some countries. A key lesson from the global financial crisis is that authorities need to beef up supervision - more so than regulations - of financial institutions, DSK said.

Jlk moderator, with Dominique Strauss-Kahn, presidential candidate? Favored in the French surveys (picture shima press tokyo)

FCCJ audience, Tokyo January 18, 2010