Humanities to be Outlawed at Public Universities

The Japanese government is moving forward with plans to scrap humanities programs from public universities by withholding funds from “non-performing” universities and research centers engaged in activities that subversively undermine the profit-generating imperatives of a burgeoning, neoliberal fascist state.   Shusuke Murai of the Japan Times cites various government sources on this latest scheme to transform public institutions from centers of intellectual activity into taxpayer funded vocational training centers for corporate employers.
You don’t need advanced studies to decipher the latest Imperial proclamation being issued from Nagatacho.  In fact, it’s better to discourage genuine literacy altogether in order to prevent some uppity serf from reading into the implications of the Abe government’s latest assault on the democratic institutions that don’t advance the cause of his ruling Liberal Democratic Party or its feudal “reforms”.  This time,  America’s shadow puppet PM is warning national universities that they won’t receive crucial subsidies unless they scrap their unproductive, money-wasting humanities programs entirely.  If you want “to build a system to produce human resources that match the needs of society by grasping accurately changes in industrial structure and employment needs, you’re not going to accomplish any of the above with the current system that favors “theoretical” mumbo-jumbo above more “practical” concerns of industry.   Roughly translated: Less thinking in the brains and more elbow grease!  And off the record, of course: Chew on that, you bespectacled, pointy-headed sociology major!  Here’s a “three-pronged economic growth strategy” for your indolent, non-productive life – one for each orifice.
In other words, the nation’s “wealth creators” have figured out a cost-saving measure to fill entry level positions in their white collar sweatshops with a workforce already trained by the nation’s public universities, which, if Abe and Co. get their way will “conduct more practical vocational education that better anticipates the needs of society”.  Having already checked one item off their wish list of government acquiescence to their demands in the form of a recently passed labor bill in the Lower House that gives companies carte blanche to hire temporary workers without ever having to hire them full-time, corporate Japan now seeks further de-regulation of itself and harsher oversight for the public institutions that are “failing” to meet its needs.
And just what are those needs for a newly re-minted aggressor nation poised to reassert declining American power in the face of a Chinese “threat”?  According to the Finance Ministry, which studies this sort of thing, but without books, knowledge or insight, Japan has a severe shortage of venture capitalists and lawyers well-versed in intellectual copyrights.  Never mind its ancient traditions of skilled and disciplined artisans, its cutting edge innovations in engineering and electronics, or even its poised and sophisticated service industry workers, a dearth of “dynamic” developers and other bullshit-based, bottom feeders is what it takes to drive an economy forward and advance a nation’s interests. Never mind, either, that it’s the US’s interests we are advancing here.  Japan’s “nationalist” rulers believe in essence, that in order to rouse the nation out of its unpatriotic complacency, it first needs to rid itself of its pesky tendencies towards pacifism and perfection, and instead, harness its brain trust to ensure that American entertainment behemoths are not cheated out of royalties.
Why squander precious resources better used to enrich shareholders when you can get the taxpayer to foot the bill for training up “industrious” workers while they attend one of the 90 already partially privatized institutions of higher learning put on notice to divest themselves of the non-performing assets among their faculties, staff and student bodies?   After all, literature and philosophy and all that other mind-expanding, brow-furrowing rot isn’t going to produce a “shovel-ready” chain gang to dig the nation further into a ditch and install its vast network of brain drains.  Nor is it going to recall any historical antecedents of wartime hubris when its constitutionally unrestrained military forces venture into other US-occupied countries to counter China’s diplomacy-based inroads towards procuring the resources necessary for a super-power with a GDP that has quietly overtaken both Japan and the US.
Emperor-in-Chief Abe and his Ministry of Finance cohorts have, in effect, declared war on critical thinking to produce a malleable, non-questioning work force of vocational trainees who will submit to their neo-Imperial masters upon entering their places of employment in paper hats and construction helmets. They will compete with cheap foreign labor for part-time, temporary work and won’t shun uncompensated overtime or workplace harassment.  Ideally, they will perform unpaid internships until retirement, at which time they will join thousands of other feral senior citizens without full pensions for coveted spots to lay down a sheet of cardboard in the nation’s parks. The more affluent ones will venture boldly, pedigree in hand, into McStart-Up businesses where largely useless phone apps are developed by contract workers “skilled” in taking orders from some jargon-spewing MBA, who just happens to be the son of an Abe crony.
Meanwhile, Abe Inc. will get its monolithic fascist stadiums, and costly non-essential infrastructure built in time for the Olympics without the interference of business-hating, egg-headed aesthetes.  With more enhanced measures of stifling opposition to nuclear power and US bases in Okinawa, the government’s latest mandate to transform an already compliant citizenry into a “servant race” will prove in the end, a race to the bottom.
by Jennifer Matsui

Whaling is not a sustainable industry in Japan anymore, says study

Patrick Ramage, Director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare Global Whale Programme gave a press conference in Tokyo yesterday
Patrick Ramage, Director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare Global Whale Programme gave a press conference in Tokyo yesterday

Yesterday, February 5th, the International Fund for Animal Welfare released their report The Economics Of Japanese Whaling: A Collapsing Industry Burdens Taxpayers and held a press conference at the Foreign Correspondent’s Club of Japan.

The report was based on research conducted during the course of a year and commissioned by the IFAW to examine the economic aspects of Japan’s whaling program.

A detailed report on the state of whaling in Japan and its lack of economic or diplomatic benefits for Japan.
A detailed report on the state of whaling in Japan and its lack of economic or diplomatic benefits for Japan.

Mr. Patrick Ramage, the IFWA Whale Programme Director, told reporters in Tokyo, “For the first time, we are able to demonstrate, based largely on the government of Japan’s own data, that this industry is in the red.”  The report also showed the steep decline of whale meat demand in Japan. The conclusions of the report include: Japan’s whaling industry has relied on taxpayer subsidies for over 20 years; a majority of the Japanese are indifferent to whaling and don’t want whale meat; and that commercial whaling is not sustainable without government aid. However, they did point out that there is a whale-centered industry in Japan that is profitable and needs no government subsidies: whale watching. Japan has 30 different whale and dolphin watching operators in more than a dozen locations from Hokkaido to Okinawa.

Why Abe & Adult Diapers Make Shorting Japanese Yen A Sweet-Smelling Deal! (Op-Ed)

As many of you know, the lower hours elections were held in Japan today and the LDP and New Komeito Alliance scored a clear victory. It means the likely return of Shinzo Abe aka Mr. Bond, Japan Bond, to his starring role as prime minister of the country. Financial blogger and twitterdachi, Finansakrobat has a piece on the economic repercussions worth reading (while at your desk or in the bathroom.)  Reprinted with his kind permission.

WHY ADULT DIAPERS MAKES SHORTING JAPANESE YEN THE TRADE OF THE CENTURY

by finansakrobat


The core to Japan and its future problems is embedded in its demographics.

In many developed countries, the average age of its population is rising. But nowhere is this happening as quick as in Japan. This was succinctly exemplified last May, when the Japanese diaper producer Unicharm said that soon they will be selling more adult diapers than regular diapers:

 

At Unicharm, said Takahara, who is also president, the adult diapers business is becoming increasingly important to the company.

“Domestic sales of diapers for the elderly are growing by double digits,” Takahara told reporters last month. “It’s an extremely important business in terms of both sales and profit margin.”

This story was largely ignored in May, but as hedge funds and banks started honing their sights on Japan this fall, the story resurfaced. It was Morgan Stanley that made many people, myself included, aware of the large demographic shift, in a presentation with the lovely title: “Shorting Japan is the trade of the decade. But which decade?”.

Other than a less than optimal demographic, there are three things you need to know about Japan’s economy; they have the worst looking balance sheet of any country (including Greece and Ireland), the country has been in deep financial trouble for a whole generation and somehow the economy has failed to blow up .

 

As I am writing this, Shinzo Abe has just won reelection. He first served only one year and is making his comeback on two issues: boosting the economy and nuclear energy.

 

When Abe left the position as prime minister,  due to “Crippling Diarrhea“, he was known as the worst prime minister since 1994 for Japanese bonds. Based on this, and the fact that he publically said he wants to make sure the Yen weakens, it could be a blessing for the Japanese export sector.

 

That’s probably the reason why the smartest investors in the world are betting heavly against Japan. Both the bonds and the Yen. But that could be great news for Japanese exporters.

Albeit Abe is walking a tight rope, since even a 2 percentage point increase in interest rates, could be enough to crush the Japanese economy. In theory.

The final thing you have to consider, is the way Japanese debt is structured. On the face of it, the country has a debt 195% of their GBP. Meaning the economy is almost half as small as the debt. But who are these creditors? 3 out of every 4 Yen owed, is to Japanese banks, individuals and institutions. That means that Japan has control over its creditors, which gives them significant leverage. (In contrast we can look at Greece, which has almost all of its creditors abroad and no control over its own currency).

Secondly if Abe manages to do what he has pledged to do, to destroy the value of the Yen through “unlimited easing”, the Japanese export sector could be in line for the biggest boost in history. If the value of the Yen drops 20%, that money hits Japanese companies straight on the bottom line. Instant profit.

Now finally we have to consider that investors have been betting against the Yen about once a year for the last four years. Massive losses have built up so far.

But this time, it could be different.