Crisis

Rebels too old for a cause

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The average age of motorcyclists in Japan is 53 years old and continuing to climb as younger riders looking to obtain new licenses continues to drift. Between 2010 and 2016 the Japanese National Police Agency (JNPA) noted that large capacity motorcycle license holders (ogata – classified as 400cc+) have fallen by nearly 1,500,000. While mid-size (chugata – classified as below 400cc) have risen around 715,000. Female riders have shown a similar pattern of 178,000 fall in ogata licenses and 147,000 increase in chugata respectively. While there are still 9.175mn men and 625,000 women willing to get out on the highway with large capacity bikes, the trend is alarming. More frighteningly, new graduates aren’t lining up either. 30,000 fewer students lined up to get a mid or large size bike license between 2014 and 2016 representing a 12.3% dip. Latest report found here Motorcycles in Japan – Analogica KK

14m Japanese pensioners behind the wheel. 1.6m over 80yo

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The Japanese National Police Agency (JNPA) has recorded 6 million extra pension aged drivers in Japan over the age of 65 in the last decade. The total is now 14.2mn. The number of 80yo+license holders has reached 1.6 million. Over the last decade the total number of licenses has not changed much but the age composition is definitely skewed to the elderly. I was waiting at the front door of the Roads & Traffic Authority the day I was able to apply for a license. It seems that Japanese kids are not as excited to get freedom on four wheels. There are 6.8mn fewer driver’s licence holders aged under 40 over the last decade.

The worry for the police is the growing incidence of traffic accidents involving elderly drivers.

Comey testimony proves media can’t stop playing the man rather than the ball

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Comey admitted in his testimony that he was never pressured by Trump to end any investigations. Damn and blast. The media has done another collective Rachel Maddow “we’ve got his tax returns” backfire. So insistent on trying to seek revenge they forgot the old Chinese proverb, “before setting out on revenge, first dig two graves.” So eager are they to play the man they overlook basic check sheets to find balance. Trump may well be a loose cannon at times but the media is the pot still calling the kettle black.

While I long argued Trump would win the election I’ve been an advocate of trying to seek balance to the one sided argument against him. It doesn’t mean I think he is ideal.  I disagree with many (not all) things he has done and petty things (like his attitude to Merkel) are certainly not fitting the most powerful office in the world. Trump derangement syndrome is none-the-less real. The media attack dogs never seek to do moral equivalence with their beloved Obama over the same supposed crimes of leaking sensitive info or whatever. I do think Trump is Turnbull-esque in lacking judgement as well as constant cabinet reshuffles but the most twisted irony is that financial markets would seem to want him there using any wobble on the back of an impeachment scenario as an excuse rather than admit the hyper asset bubble blown for 8 years.

The mainstream media now preys on clickbait. Thinking the number of clicks, likes and shares are endorsements and can replace quality content (as much as they self appraise it’s high value added factual). In fact the revenue numbers of media outlets who continually rant  is telling. Fairfax in Australia has had two rounds of layoffs in the space of 12 months and The Guardian is openly begging for donations.

The media is surely going to keep launching salvo after salvo to try get him out of office. As stupid as they keep suggesting the ‘orange baffoon” is he keeps getting their measure. I issue a caution though. The deplorables that voted him in want him to get on with the job. With all these distractions the quest that they hope will get them under the “have not” hole is pushed further into the future. Getting an impeachment to stick and force a resignation is not high on a have not’s priority list. They need help as I argued at the time of the election. Whether Trump can provide it is a moot point but they voted for change and the “haves” ought to be careful how they indirectly impact the “have nots”

The screaming, carrying on and promoting blood sport may end up creating proper civil unrest. It’s simmering but the media as usual is oblivious to it all. In any event the last thing the world needs is instability in the world’s largest economy at this point in a peaking cycle.

Tsunami Tales pt.1: Remember the selfless bravery of Miki Endo in Minamisanriku

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On March 11, 2011 Miki Endo (24) kept announcing to the 17,700 citizens of her hometown Mimamisanriku to seek higher ground as the tsunami approached. As the tidal wave engulfed the town, Miki tragically lost her life as the three story building wasn’t high enough to escape. Despite the huge rebuild in Minamisanriku today, the skeleton of the building will be preserved as a memory of that fateful day.

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This is what it looked like 6 years ago. Miki had been clinging to the tip of the radio mast but  it wasn’t high enough.

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Here are the pictures I took of Minamisanriku over 5 years ago.

This is what it looks like today

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The rebuilding of the town will take at least another 5 years. It is hard to know what to think. So much reclaimed land, huge mounds of dirt and lots of temporary buildings which mostly house convenience stores. When the workers go, will there be a Minamisanriku to call home? It just looks temporary. Nothing should take away the bravery of Miki Endo.

Misfiring Motorcycle Market in Japan

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The Japanese National Police Agency has just released its 2016 statistics. Since 2010, there has been a decline of 1,500,000 Japanese men who possess a large bore (401cc+) motorcycle license. In the reverse there has been a 715,000 increase in mid size capacity bikes. Female riders have shown a similar pattern of 178,000 fall in large capacity licenses and 147,000 increase in mid size respectively. While there are still 9.175mn men and 625,000 women willing to get out on the highway with large capacity bikes, the trend is alarming. More frighteningly, new graduates aren’t lining up either. 30,000 fewer students lined up to get a mid or large size bike license between 2014 and 2016 representing a 12.3% dip.

In fact only one prefecture saw a rise in graduates out of 47.

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Even then that was the law of low numbers. Yamagata saw a 9.9% increase in total graduates or 222 people, hardly making a dent on Kanagawa which saw over a 3,000 person decline or 13.3% fall.

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When looking at the large bore market, something the big overseas brands are targeting the stats look grim.

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Nagasaki and Miyazaki, two of the prefectures in Kyushu (which had a terrible earthquake in April 2016) saw a rise in those obtaining a large bore license, which backs up the trend seen in Miyagi and Fukushima when the quake and tsunami hit in 2011. Perhaps the idea of ‘living one’s life’ became a driver to get people to apply for big bore bike licenses.

New % graduate

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So overall the outlook remains bleak. While licenses numbers are falling at a relatively slow pace (2% p.a.) eventually riding schools will end up shutting shop because there is little new business. Tottori-Pref on the Japan sea coast is one of the aging population centers but it saw a 22% fall in new grads from its schools.

This has to be one of the best countries in the world for motorcycling with high quality twisty ribbon throughout. The question is what to do to arrest the situation.

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Austria to go to an early election after OVP falls out with SPO?

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It seems the coalition of the centre-right Austrian People’s Party (OVP) and the Social Democrats (SPO) has reached breaking point. Austrian Vice Chancellor Reinhold Mitterlehner (above) announced Wednesday he would quit the post and also resign as leader. Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz is viewed as the most likely successor to Mitterlehner but he said on Tuesday that the ÖVP leadership was not an appealing option when the OVP was in such disarray. The discussion is whether they stay with the Social Democrats or split and seek an early election. The next scheduled election is to be held in September 2018. Der Standard published a poll on March 20 showing the far-right Freedom Party (FPO) on 30%, the SPO on 29%, and the SPO’s coalition partner, the OVP, on 20%.

While Socialist/Green Alexander van der Bellen took the recontested Austrian Presidency  this year over FPO candidate Norbert Hofer, his recent comments have raised eyebrows suggesting Austrian women wear the hijab as a way of integrating with their new neighbours. In any event we could potentially have another election in Europe where the  market must weigh up the risk of yet another shift toward the right,

Comey canned

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Well the inevitable has happened. Trump fired FBI Director Comey. Some might say this is a Nixonian ‘Saturday night massacre’ when the president removed the special Watergate prosecutor, Archibald Cox, leading to the the resignation of Elliot Richardson, then Attorney General. Now for a can of worms. Note how Trump made the explicit remark in his termination letter to Comey that the FBI Director confirmed “three times” that he was not under investigation. That remark in and of itself will get the conspiracy theorists on overdrive.

PA Democrat Senator Bob Casey said,

“This is Nixonian. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein must immediately appoint a special counsel to continue the Trump/Russia investigation. On March 20th Director Comey said, ‘I have been authorized by the Department of Justice to confirm that the FBI, as part of our counterintelligence mission, is investigating the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election and that includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts…This investigation must be independent and thorough in order to uphold our nation’s system of justice.”

Prepare for the barrage of ‘Fake News’ claims for anyone wanting to force an independent investigation. You can see now that Trump will use the ‘three times’ to shut down the need to conduct it. If indeed nothing is wrong then he should gladly invite an independent investigation or release findings of the investigation to date. That way he clears his name. Doesn’t pass the sniff test. All this does is undermine confidence, something the world could do without.