Japan

Europe’s childless leaders – without progeny ruling on posterity

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Here is a picture of Angela Merkel as a child. Sadly this is as close as she got to having her own. It isn’t just her. The majority of European political leaders have no kids. France’s Macron – no kids. UK PM Theresa May – no kids. The Netherlands PM Mark Rutte – no kids. Italian PM Paolo Gentiloni – no kids. Swedish PM Kjell Stefan Löfven- no biological kids. Luxembourg PM Xavier Bettel – no kids. Scotland’s Nicola Sturgeon – no kids. EC President Jean-Claude Juncker – no kids. Incidentally Japan’s PM Abe also has no children.

As Europe’s population growth rate declines are these people best positioned to impart advice on how to stop it? Seems that surrender to mass migration is all too easy a policy to replace dwindling stocks of local inhabitants.

From the Washington Examiner

“The Boomers first grabbed the reins of political power in the West in the 1990s, as Communism collapsed and Francis Fukuyama declared “The End of History.” The Boomers live like they believe it. If history is over, if all that is left is consumer capitalism in a liberal democracy, if the stream has stopped flowing, why not climb out?

The late Benjamin Barber wrote a response to Fukuyama called Jihad vs McWorld. Barber argued that the death of the old conflicts—between nations—would go hand in hand with a new conflict: the clash between the McWorld of global consumer capitalism and the “jihad” of local, traditional, and “conservative” cultures.

It’s clear which side has political power now. But the demographics point to a different future. In 2009 Phillip Longman noted that in France (for example) a tiny minority of women are giving birth to over 50% of the children every year. These women are either practicing Catholics or immigrant Muslims.

One of the benefits of parenthood is the daily confrontation with free will—a human nature. Parents may have their child’s life, career, and happiness planned out, but a child has other ideas -constantly. Love, patience, teaching, negotiating, scolding—nurture—can help direct the child, but the overwhelming otherness of the child is undeniable. They are not blank slates upon whom the parent exercises his will.

Political leaders without this experience of parenthood may be susceptible to the idea that people are blank-slates, interchangeable units of human capital. As a parent and a teacher, I have seen many brilliant and well-meaning parents and colleagues crash their will and intellect against the rock of a child’s independent nature. Now, scale such a hubristic paternalism to a nation. Or a continent.

Contemporary childless leaders, however ascendant they feel today, may be the last gasp of secularism. The future is won by those who show up, and only the religiously orthodox are having children.

Those still swimming in the ancient streams of Faith and Culture in France will have the observant offspring of two rival religions living within the borders of one nation. The second Battle of Tours, (or Vienna, or Lepanto) might be extra bloody due to the policies of today, but the authors of those policies will not be around because they will be dead, and their offspring will not be around, because they do not exist.

The Founding Fathers of the United States established the Constitution to “secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity”, posterity being their offspring. Looking out for one’s posterity, having a long-term vision, is necessary for the good of society, according to Harvard Political Scientist James Wilson. Do childless political leaders have skin in the game long-term?

In Europe today, those without progeny are enacting policies that impact the posterity of others.

Surely Macron, Merkel, Juncker, and the rest would argue that they can do their crucial jobs better because they don’t have children to distract them. C.S. Lewis provides the rebuttal: “Children are not a distraction from more important work. They are the most important work.”

Whichever way you cut it, Europe’s childless leaders speak volumes of a continent in long term (terminal) decline.

BBC Radio interview on Japanese crime

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Please find the link to the radio interview with BBC World Service here. I’m wondering whether there is more merit nowadays to vlogging or audio given the small propensity to read. The hardest thing is to accept is the sound of one’s voice on tape! What I wasn’t aware of is another person interviewed was my former colleague I sat next to in Tokyo 18 years ago…small world.

Crime in Japan – BBC interview 7 July

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Tomorrow, BBC World Service’s Edwin Lane will release the pre-recorded interview he conducted with me several months ago on the back of a series I wrote on Crime in Japan – Part 1 – Geriatric Jailbirds, Part 2 – Breakdown of the nuclear family and Part 3 – Fraud, Drugs, Murder, Yakuza and the Police some 15 months ago. Since then the reports have been reported in 14 different languages and reached c.5 million page/podcast impressions as the BBC also conducted an interview on BBC Radio 5 “Up all night”

The reason I ended up writing the research paper came by chance. While trawling through the Japanese National Police Agency statistics looking for data to help a client on motorcycle license trends, I stumbled over the crime stats and couldn’t believe the wealth of information that showed the sharp jumps in crime levels. There is some suggestion that much under-reporting went on several decades ago but as you can see in the reports the charts speak for themselves.

On a global basis, Japanese crime is low on almost any measure but the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has had to expand prison capacity 50% in the last decade, facilitated early release to prepare for a sharp rise in elderly inmates. The pension-age cohort in prison now represents the highest percentage of total inmates. With that the MoJ has had to apply for a supplemental budget to cover the extra cost of healthcare in prison as the average age rises.

 

Abe’s LDP smashed in Tokyo Municipal Assembly election

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Has populism has found its way to Tokyo? Not really. PM Shinzo Abe’s LDP, which has ruled Japan at a national level for decades) bar a few periods was smashed in the Tokyo Municipal Assembly elections yesterday. Tokyo Gov Yuriko Koike had split from the LDP to form the Tomin First (Tokyo-ites First) Party. She won 49 seats (out of 50 contested) from 6 held before the election in the 127 seat Municipal Assembly. The LDP went from 57 to 23, 15 less that its worst ever showing to date. Even the Communist Party gained seats at the expense of the LDP.

Koike’s popularity (despite sliding from 74% to 59%  over the dithering around Tsukiji Fish Market redevelopment) has been driven by the idea of ‘transparency’ in government policy decision making, a clamp down on wasteful spending and accountable government.

Abe’s LDP on the other hand has been embroiled in scandal after scandal and citizens of the capitol were not prepared to be taken for mugs (although only 33% showed up to vote). Whether it be the out-of-control screaming of recently resigned LDP member Mayuko Toyoda to her staffer, the favouritism shown in the Kake Gakuen scandal to PM Abe’s long term friend, the sale of government land at a 90% discount to set up a nationalist school (Moritomo Gakuen) or even the PM being booed on the campaign trail, voters let the LDP know that they’re sick of old school establishment politics. A national election is still some 18 months off.

The bigger issue being debated is whether Koike’s party could make serious inroads into the LDP at a national level putting Abenomics and ultra loose monetary policy on the back burner. The LDP’s national junior coalition party (Komeito) had backed Koike’s Tomin First since last year after the LDP balked at salary cuts for Tokyo Municipal Assembly politicians.

Abe tried to hose down the talks of the rise of Tomin First arguing they were like the Japan New Party which floundered after success in the 1993 Tokyo Municipal Assembly elections. They promised much but ended up disbanding despite Koike being 2IC.

Abe will no doubt crank up public spending in the regional areas to support prefectures with rapidly aging populations. What many overlook is that Japan is still backed by an aging society. Despite all the wishes of the youth for reform, the elderly will continue to grow as a % of the voter base as the population decreases. This means policy will need to be serving the silver-haired.

Abe can’t dismiss these dreadful results out of hand. The citizens of Tokyo are livid at the LDP’s antics. Yet a 33% (+2%) turnout suggests voter apathy is still alive and kicking. Abe isn’t going to be finished by this but the party needs a long hard look at itself. The voters are suitably upset. Is this a wave of populism a la Trump or Brexit? Not really. Japan continues to suffer from lacking a credible opposition which means inexperienced parties often fail in their first term. Every now and again the LDP gets sent a warning shot before business as usual returns.

The Red Pill vindicated in the land of the Rising Sun

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For all the drama surrounding the Red Pill movie and the idea that men can be victims, former LDP politician Mayuko Toyoda made the case for defenseless males. She totally lost the plot at her driver/secretary hurling expletives and insults at his baldness and physically attacking him. Japan has had consecutive episodes of politicians making fools of themselves- is there any wonder the population has lost faith in the ability to operate government. Here are a few reminders.

Nakagawa at the G8. After years of failed policy to weaken the yen his drunk press interview sunk the yen more rapidly than any rational policy before it.

Nonomura hearing over falsified travel claims. He burst into tears at his presser.

Then again we shouldn’t overlook the pathetic level politicians hit on a regular basis overseas-

Aussie PM Turnbull on Trump

Justin Trudeau’s cardboard cut outs of himself

Trump love in with his cabinet who all betrothed their adoration for him

Is this what great leaders are made of?

The sorry tale of US auto makers in Japan

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It isn’t new news. American leaders have often complained at the Japanese for not buying more American cars. The sad reality is that most American cars are totally unsuited to the narrow streets in the land of the rising sun. Last year, Chrysler sold 240 cars, Cadillac 585 and Chevy 593. Jeep, to its credit sold a compact SUV into Japan and sold 9,745 cars. Toyota sold 2.45mn cars in the US last year. Nissan 1.56mn and Honda 1.64mn. What is the best selling US brand in Japan? Harley Davidson – it imported 10,766 bikes last year approximately half the total of foreign imported motorcycles sold in Japan in 2016 above 251cc.

We shouldn’t forget that Ford pulled out of Japan several years back as the low volumes couldn’t justify it. Don’t think that the Japanese hate imported cars:

Mercedes-Benz was Japan’s No.1 import brand selling 67,386 units, BMW at 50,571 and Volkswagen at 47,234. By model, the top-selling import in 2016 was BMW’s Mini with 24,548 units. Volkswagen’s Golf at 22,802 deliveries, followed by the Mercedes-Benz C-Class (17,760); BMW 3-Series (11,947) and VW Polo (10,903). Surprise surprise- all at the lower end of the size spectrum.

 

Climate sceptics are idiots by association

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Burn this image in your head first. It is Tokyo today. As you can see for such an evil carbon emitting industrialized nation as Japan the skies are blue as any you’d find in Australia. Ironically Japan is a country often selected as a country that must pay into the climate change pot for its sins rather than get a pat on the back for its ability to be clean and productive. So it was no surprise that once again I read the bias in the press reporting from the G-7. Because Trump is a climate sceptic and disagrees with the other 6, articles tried to use this as a reason to beat up on those who won’t bend to the will of the alarmists because he is in their view – an idiot. The inference is that all climate skeptics must be fools by association. Exactly the same garbage at the time of Brexit. A table circulating with Trump, Farage, Putin and other ‘undesirables’ supporting Leave and Obama, EU officials and bodies like the NUS and Greenpeace backing Remain. Then we get the result of the referendum.

I will openly admit that the President has many flaws but to use this as a basis of driving the climate change agenda is pathetic. One article blathered on about his lies (hardly news) and then made the reference to “universally accepted science” which is a huge porky in itself. It isn’t settled. One of the reasons it isn’t settled is down to the data manipulation, amateur hour ethics of bodies like the UNIPCC, NOAA and numerous universities with agenda driven studies numerous of which numerous have been exposed for fraud. Climate alarmism is nothing more than wealth redistribution as the above picture highlights.

If indeed it is universally accepted why bother investing billions of side-by-side research papers to formulate the same outcome? What we have is the construction of multiple rail lines built next to each other operating each at 10% capacity. It is such inefficient capital allocation. Why do we need 50,000 climate disciples flying annually to mega junket tourist locations all to kneel at the altar of the COP summits. This could be delegated to 1% of that number. It shows at the very least that the disciples are the biggest hypocrites. If the science is so settled and everyone is so universally on board as they claim then there is no need to keep twisting the truth to squeeze more funds to prove what we already (supposedly all) agree on.

Seeing Merkel make an argument about 6 countries in favour of following through with the Paris Agreement and America against is laughable. Is America, or at the very least its President required to follow consensus for the sake of group think? Is global politics now reduced to going with the flow? Should dissenting opinions be treated like conservative speakers at universities? This is exactly why it is so hard to respect the current crop of global leaders. One seriously doubts that they truly believe it outside of it being an agenda item to secure votes. Climate alarmism is the socialism of the 21st century.

So perhaps the ‘idiots’ are the ones that can’t escape the pre-formed bias against America’s Commander-in-Chief. Talking about German car imports (when many BMWs and Benz’s are built in the USA) and other gaffes don’t really do him favours but if the media wants to take the moral high ground at the very least they can balance the views on the climate debate (and others) and admit the multiple self-inflicted wounds and inaccuracy of decades of forecasting models where 98% have proven wildly off target. It reminds me of compliance seminars in my old industry. We’d fly in compliance officers to train us about the penalties and Big Brother! We’d focus on the evils of all our competitors and the punishment meted out to them. I asked a simple question – “why don’t we use compliance breach examples from our own company and the manner in which we dealt with it as a matter of getting people aware of being a responsible corporate? Can we honestly say farts don’t smell?” It sums up the climate alarmists perfectly. Everyone else is at fault and everything we do is virtuous, honest and worthy of self-praise.