Tokyo

Fukushima update

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Japan’s Ministry of Environment plans an interim storage site of approximately 16sqkm to temporarily house contaminated soil and other waste. Some 22 million cubic metres of soil is likely to be collected. Scattered throughout Fukushima prefecture are some 5.5mn black bags containing soil contaminated by the crippled reactors. The government intends to find a final disposal site outside Fukushima Prefecture to permanently store the contaminated soil by 2045.

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One million tonnes of contaminated radioactive water is being stored in 850 5-storey tanks. The amount of contaminated water is growing by 150 tonnes a day. Capacity is 1.1mn tonnes. The Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) is encouraging Tepco to dump water that has diluted to levels below that of national standards into the sea claiming it will have little or no impact on local fisheries. The NRA has said that these tanks can’t be used indefinitely, planning to store it until January 2021.

Tepco aims to remove to remove melted fuel debris inside the damaged reactors around 2021 and remove spent  and unused fuel rods from the storage pools inside reactor 3 in the middle of this year. The other two reactors will see their rods removed around 2023.

Unsurprisingly information is scant leading to public mistrust of foodstuffs emanating from the region. Taxpayers have funded around $120bn so far in the clean up. To think much of this damage could have been avoided had then PM Kan listened to his nuclear experts to release the pressure from the reactors 10 hours before they exploded.

 

Checking privilege or checking presumptions?

CM has lost count of the times the white privilege moniker has been thrown about as a way to shut down debate. There is an almost uncanny wish for liberal whites to white-shame other whites these days. It seems that 99.9% of those who throw the white privilege word are white themselves. The tacit argument is that they feel they gain acceptance with non-whites by denying their own identity. Have non-whites come out en-masse demanding this? Virtually none that CM has met.

The left is obsessed with this idea that all minorities are distinct groups who share identical thoughts and beliefs. Take the radically leftist inspired C-16 compelled speech laws in Canada where the trans community took what was supposed to be a compassionate piece of legislation as one where they felt betrayed by the lack of consultation and presumption of shared voice. There is a fantastic scene from Freedom Writers to this very point. Do these supposedly justice for all human rights crusading cultural Marxists assume all minorities are facsimilies within their clusters? Why do these activists become self appointed spokespeople for these groups? It is exactly this type of condescending action which creates the very division they are trying to stop. Diversity of thought among individuals, anyone?

Take these posters from the University of San Francisco (uSF). Karl Marx may have recently turned 200 but his legacy lives and breathes in California. So much for universities being the cradle of free and open thinking. The University of Texas has the MasculinUT program which is equally obtuse. Men must not feel obliged to express unrestricted masculinity. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200 – why not castrate male UT students or force inject female hormones instead? Let’s not start with the mind-bending educational programs forced on pre-schoolers across the world. The designers don’t even hide the agenda. Not to mention Bill 89 in Ontario which allows the state to remove children from parents who don’t accept their gender identity in time. Or a Massachusetts kindergarten that has banned the use of the word ‘best friend’ for the sake of inclusivity. We’re even being told to ask for an infant’s consent to change their diaper. It is a slippery slope that the left wants considered mainstream when it is patently empirically extreme.

Apart from the deeply condescending nature of the uSF posters, are Christians the only religion that should feel privilege? Why not Buddhists, Jews, Hindus or Muslims? Do those groups not observe religious holidays? Do the majority of Muslims protest Christians celebrating Christmas? No. Do Christians take to the streets when Muslims celebrate Ramadan? No. When you’re busting to go to the bathroom do you consciously check cisgender privilege? Most likely not. It is surprising more cisgender women don’t cross the border to use male bathrooms when their line in long. Probably because of a group assumption that men are less hygienic and might leave the toilet seat up.

Let’s look at some of the leftist thinking about ranking ‘privilege’.

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Take the quick test above. According to this table you will need to become an other, intersex, gay, trans, Middle Eastern, homeless, blind, disfigured, short, Muslim scientist (presumably climate professors get extra negative scores) to maximize all potential disadvantages. There is no worse combination for future victimhood in the liberal identikit than a tall, white, straight, cis male who works in finance. Although thankfully Australians are regarded at the lowest spectrum of whites. Still, how unfair to the Japanese who have gone through two decades of virtually no economic growth and untold natural disasters to be compared to Aussies that have had 25 years of unfettered economic expansion and face some dangerous snakes and spiders. Or is that a function of the Japanese being required to check their colonial past throughout Asia in the early 20th Century?

White privilege is just another tenet of group categorization. Should whites pay a tax to offset their level of privilege, presumably relative to their position on the chart above?

Going back to the white privilege shamers, many of those CM knows have backgrounds in finance. In an industry that is often tagged for having a penchant for deregulation, free spirits and mugging Main St. is anything but, when so many scream to the world at their virtuous moral code. How many of them support so many ideologies around equality of outcome despite most of these ‘white’ investment bankers being the first in line to cry foul if their ‘supposedly’ superior skill sets have not been rewarded accordingly. So while on the outside they protest so much injustice and inequality, they scream like libertarians internally. They can’t have it both ways. CM has always been a libertarian and believes in equality of opportunity rather than equality of outcome.

CM appreciates there are injustices throughout the world but the worst way to achieve it is by compelling it, even under the veil of affirmative action. The case studies of doing so are overwhelmingly conclusive of producing the opposite outcomes. If everyone is assured the same result, why bother studying or striving for the extra mile? It is counter intuitive. It is also downright demeaning to assume that ALL ambitious minorities are crying to be given a leg up.

The most recentwhite privilege jab was over a discussion of the freedom of speech of NFL kneelers. Because many of the players happen to be black, CM needed to check white privilege. The only argument CM made was that these NFL players were employees who have a boss. How dare CM silence these people fighting for a cause! CM argued that no one is claiming they do not have a right to protest but if their bosses are witnessing customers (aka fans) deserting the games, hence impacting revenues which ultimately impedes the ability to throw multi millions to the same players something has to give. Put simply they have a business call to make. Make it all about police brutality but when harsh economics ends up seeing players sacked, don’t cry to CM. Is your boss unfair to sack or demote you if you are not prepared to please customers in order for the business to stay afloat? Just take a knee and see how far you get. CM bets none of you will. You know full well the boss is entitled to expect a return on the money he or she pays you. The boss isn’t doing it solely out of generous spirit. The NFL bosses aren’t questioning free speech but forecasting the net present value of the franchise.

The irony is that most of the kneelers (although CM read that Colin Kaepernick does invest into some of the causes he is protesting) do not invest their own spare time to fight those injustices. Many are trying to stay out of the courts given their all too frequent misdemeanors off the field – rape, DUI, resisting arrest, dog-fighting etc. Yet the white privilege shamers come forward with the argument that fans should put up with it. The liberal creed is that ‘social justice’ must be beaten into viewers. Do these SJWs get that the more they hammer these messages home the further they drive the people they’re trying to convince away? If we can white shame these spectators enough they’ll cave, right? Wrong. Little do they realize that these same fans might have financial, marital or employment stresses that the game is supposed to take them from? Is it just white fans seeking remediation? Most certainly not.

White privilege was hurled at the US education system for unconscious racial bias. What The NY Times article failed to document was that 99.6% of ALL kids stay out of big trouble which would result in serious disciplinary action, including arrest. All too easy to dumb it down to colour alone, yet when looking at liberal (Brookings Institute) or libertarian (Heritage Foundation) think tanks, both point to broken homes as a major cause of problems in graduation rates and disciplinary action. This has been documented over decades. Yet the liberal view is that all this division can only be attributed to white privilege. Torn asunder if black libertarians like Thomas Sowell, Larry Elder or Candice Owens don’t tow the line.

Skin colour seems to be a single-variable regression to white shamers. Does CM tell his half-Japanese kids to moan and complain that they are mixed race? Or does he try to impart to them the value of hard work, diligence and making their way through application and effort? They hopefully get the message that their father has tried to impart to them many times that the ‘taste of victory’ is umpteenths times greater the harder the challenge. Did Oprah become the world’s highest paid entertainer for hard work or just because she is black? Should we gut the NFL and put in less competent white players to ensure that ethnic balance is restored along the lines of population weights? Would fans want to pay a premium to see inferior performance? White shamers would suggest they would. Common sense would say not.

Yet, white privilege is the problem that if fixed will supposedly solve everything. Australian nurses and midwives are being told in the latest code of conduct to check white privilege and admit their colonial past to expectant mothers of other backgrounds. No seriously, instead of focusing on ensuring safe deliveries they are being asked to bow down to this ridiculous indoctrination. Will mothers giving birth feel empowered that the midwife grovels or marvel in the miracle of bringing life into the world?

Little by little, freedoms are being forcibly removed from society under the guise of political correctness. Reasoned debate is ignored. Outcomes are engineered in a way that ensures the data fits the legislation. Canada is one of the worst examples of this in action and the latest polls against PM Justin Trudeau reflect the backlash. Instead of debating sensibly through democratic means, the left wants to channel their doctrine through education and compelled speech. The left shouldn’t be surprised when a growing list of countries throughout Europe are becoming fed up with centralized control and voting at a sovereign level to disassociate themselves. Even if Brussels still tries to influence those constituents as to how they democratically choose to sustain their cultures, as evidenced this week in Italy.

Take the UK stance over Islam. British authorities seem so afraid of their own shadow that they have introduced a two-tiered approach to the control of citizens that would even make Lenin blush. Not initially by design but by avoidable mistakes. The dithering non-confrontational nature of the Brits means that they muddle through issues which end up making them more uncomfortable and put the population in a worse position, period. There are undoubtedly swathes of Muslims who detest the way they are tarred with the same brush as the more radical among them that are behind terrorist activity or grooming under-age girls for rape and sex trafficking. Rightly so. Any group of Christians would feel equally appalled to have their faith associated with sexually deviant priests molesting young boys. Therein lies the danger of generalizing groups rather than correctly targeting individual perpetrators, regardless of whether religion has been taken out of context to commit crimes.

Radio presenter and founder of Quilliam, Maajid Nawaz, has openly critized the UK authorities for pandering to political correctness.

For too long in this country, we have ignored the issue of grooming gangs. Of young vulnerable teenage girls who have been victimised, drugged, raped and abused…Whether it’s the Rotherham case or all the other cases that were replicated across the country, it is both the conclusion of the prosecutor in the Rotherham case…or indeed the official inquiry into why it took so long for these young vulnerable under-age girls to get justice – both of those concluded that fears of racism prevented us from coming to the defence of vulnerable under-age girls…Fears of racism meaning that the state was scared that it would be accused of being racist if it rightly arrested and prosecuted largely British Pakistani Muslim men in their abuse of under-age white teenage girls…If we hadn’t all been silent, if we had all addressed this issue head on when it needed to be addressed, when it was time to address it, then the void would not have emerged for the populist agitators to fill that gap…

Nawaz holds no punches. The British government has presumed the majority of Muslims may get offended so 1,000s of innocent under-age (white) girls became sacrificed on the altar of political correctness. One Labor politician claimed that these rape victims should shut up for the sake of diversity. Should that be categorized as a white privilege offset? Presumption is a dangerous game. Are people surprised when the cover up is finally exposed that Britons become enraged? It is hardly a win-win for the Muslim community at large to have this fester beyond the squalid state it already has become.

Yet examining the state of UK prisons, inmates identifying as Muslims number 15% of the population despite being 7% of the UK population. Is that a sign the judiciary is being biased against the Tommy Robinsons of the world? No. While the drive-thru jailing of him last week apears overly biased, the explosive growth in the Muslim prison population would not exist were the courts targeting non-Muslims. If only the courts were able to expedite justice for these poor girls as quickly as Mr Yaxley-Lennon.

Examining the huge surge of violence (against fellow inmates and guards), an 800% leap in unexplained deaths (aka murder) and the 6 fold jump in call outs of the tactical riot squad within UK prisons over the last decade coincide with the doubling of jailed radicals. It must worry the law makers no end to how they solve for this disturbing rise in crime and stick to politically correct narratives.

The simple solution is to engage a broader section of all communities beyond those that have clearly produced no tangible results. When will they realize it is not working and DO something about it, rather than presuming the several speak for the whole?

If liberals desperately covet diversity and identity politics for the good of peoplekind, they are going the wrong way about it. Shaming others has proven to be a recruiter for the right. To put this in chess parlance –

The best chess move is the one which your opponent least wants you to make

Instead of ostracism and presumption, try engaging individuals rather than expect them to accept accusations of association to groups that they may abhor.

Bosch Japan celebrates diversity in the kitchen

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“In order to create a diverse environment, we first begin to understand!”

Hello! from the Bosch, Public Relations team!
From this week, the Bosch Japan group begins with the diversity of the country’s food in the dining room at each office factory.

This is a part of the initiative of ” Diver City Day which is widely expanded around the global Bosch group.

The aim of the initiative is to have a new approach and its own ideas, and to be able to respond to a variety of customer needs, and eventually the company’s success will lead to the success of the company.

We want to build a variety of HR initiatives in order to create more diverse environments in the future!

What is this obsession with corporates feeling compelled to ram “diversity” down staff throats? Why not just serve foreign cuisine and let staff enjoy it? They’ll notice it. Stick a Thai flag in the meal if need be to denote where it is from.  Why not let them provide feedback of their own volition? Will the workers all of a sudden feel after eating Egyptian cuisine that their customers at Mazda are in need of Arabic on their diesel pumps? Why not secretly record lunchtime conversations to ensure staff are “on message” otherwise force them to do hours on end of appropriate workplace behavior classes? Did the diversity brigade in the kitchen consider that Jews or Muslim staff (if any in Japan) can’t eat pork? Lest they be offended.

Bosch is an auto parts manufacturer which in Japan would serve predominantly Japanese customers. Will diversity rally the troops to higher levels of excellence? Completely immeasurable. Will Bosch customers select them on the cost performance of their products or pay premiums because the staff canteen serves chicken satay and tacos?

Indeed if Bosch HR & PR think they have a diversity problem that requires remedying through the kitchen then perhaps we should question their substandard hiring practices that allowed such bigots on the factory floor in the first place. Seriously, if they feel that staff are so out of touch that they require re-education, why not waste more money on internal indoctrination. Bosch be warned – virtue signaling can backfire.

Look how well things have gone for Starbucks preaching their virtuous side. Now staff are concerned their seating areas/bathrooms (now open to all after bending to social pressure based on something they were well within their rights to do) will be open to homeless people or drug addicts looking for a place to shoot up. So in order to appeal that the coffee chain is of higher moral standing they’ll happily trade alienating paying customers to achieve it. Lunacy. By that measure every corporate office should open their amenities to anyone. How shameful they put their businesses before humanity.

Maybe Bosch should look to hire based on diversity rather than quality of engineering talent. You can be sure that’s won’t lead to “success of the company”. Quite the opposite. Note Bosch is sponsoring these ads on social media. Pathetic. It is sort of like those people that profess their love and happiness endlessly on social media. So lacking in confidence are they in their partners that they feel safer telling the world instead of the one that matters.

Stars of the Tokyo Motorcycle Show 2018

Ducati Panigale V4S

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The absolute star of the 2018 Tokyo Motorcycle Show was the Ducati Panigale V4S. 214hp, 174kg. It not only raises the game but doubles down. Completely customizable bike which has basically bombed the goalposts of what is technically possible. It is a Ferrari La Ferrari on two wheels.

KTM 790 Adventure

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Austrian makes KTM has effectively made a Paris-Dakar bike with a bigger motor and light weight. It should totally devour trails versus the competition.

Husqvarna 701/401

Both Vitpilen and Svartpilen models should sell like well in Japan.  Compact size, well appointed and funky Swedish design even though it is built in Austria.

BMW 850GS Adventure

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BMW has a problem in Japan. It has seen some of its older riders find that the R1200GS is too much to handle as they age so some switching to the 310GS. This should be a good half way house. Lighter and more powerful with well appointed LCD screen.

Triumph Bobber

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Triumph has really got its act together. Properly decent bike range with unique product which Harley should be copying. Harley has been struggling in Japan because it I s stuck in the 70s when it should be going back to the 1930s-40s like the Bobber.

Harley FatBob 114

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Almost 2000cc gives ridiculous torque. A sensible departure from the current range which suffers from the divine franchise. It looks like it is a decent replacement for the V-Rod but they neeed a proper Bobber bike. The Japanese don’t seem to like it.

Kawasaki Z900RS

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Actually this is the #1 selling big-bore bike in Japan. It harks back to the 1970s when the Z-1000 was king. A modern day interpretation of a classic. Sold out in Japan til next year. Amazing to see how many custom shops were playing with this bike. Best of the Japanese.

Honda CB1000R

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Honda finally showing it has a pulse. It may make 18 million bikes a year but it has a deadly dull product range. The CB has modernized a classic. Not quite a Kawasaki Z900 but it is something that should sell equally well. I’ve never wanted a Honda but this is something worth considering. 140hp motor.

Yamaha Niken

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Essentiallyba quirky 3-wheeler with a bomb in it. It won’t be for purists but it takes the maker down a unique path. Yamaha will sell a lot of these to bikers who are coming back to it now the kids have left home. It’s a safe alternative.

Two bikes that should be built:

BMW R-32 Heritage

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Two years ago CM told BMW Motorrad management that the K1600 Bagger was a waste of time. If people want a cruiser they’ll opt for a Harley, Indian or Honda Gold Wing

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It was an excuse to find a chassis for the 6-cylinder motor. Nothing else. That’s never a good reason. It is a technical tour de force with a million buttons which press none where it matters. However the success they’ve had with the RNineT is admirable Still a modern day version of the R-32 is what it must produce for the purists. It would be special. Does it have the guts? The K1600 should be made into an S with 200hp+

Suzuki GSX-R

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Suzuki invented the racer replica market in 1987. A mint 30yr old GSX-R750 sells at a premium to a brand new one today. The current GSX-R gets rave reviews but it has no unique qualities that sets it apart from its competition. CM’s suggestion is to encase it like above. The people in their 40s who can afford it would fall over backwards to buy the poster on they once had on their wall as a teen. CM did. Suzuki toyed with the concept in 2015 with the GSX 1200 but it was a half-baked job with a pokey 100hp. A retro GSX-R1000 will crush it and revive a brand that has seen its sales halve inside a decade.

Trust in Japan? Strangled by sontaku 忖度

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Trust and Japan used to go hand in hand. It was a hard earned reputation.  A mining executive once told me that “when you sign a contract with the Japanese, that is the contract. When you sign a contract with the Chinese that is the beginning of the negotiations.” Hardly a subtle difference. Yet here we are in the last few years where a plethora of scandals from Japanese companies have come to light. Houeshold names too – Olympus, Toshiba, Kobe Steel, Subaru, Toray, Nissan, Mitsubishi Motors, Takata, Mitsubishi Materials, Asahi Kasei, Obayashi, JR Central, Nomura etc etc. It is almost as if there is a coming-out of sorts so the crimes are somewhat diluted in the midst of others. Syndicated scandals? Expect more to come out. Perhaps the worst part about it is the limp wristed approach by the regulators. ‘Sontaku’ (忖度) in Japanese is a word meaning ‘glossing over’ which is exactly what the regulator is doing over scandals involving household names. Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil.

In October I was invited to give a lecture to 70 bureaucrats at the Ministry of Finance’s attack dogs – the Financial Services Agency (FSA) and the Securities and Exchange Surveillance Commission (SESC) on foreign perceptions of Japan’s handling of corporate  crime. In the interests of objectivity the first slide pointed to how no corporate governance system is perfect citing the minefield of foreign corporations caught up in bad behaviour – VW, Petrobras, Parmalat, HealthSouth, Lehman Brothers etc etc. I also highlighted the sentencing of executives who commit crimes – many received lengthy jail sentences, personal fines while the corporates faced eye-watering penalties.

Ironically much of the crime committed by corporates here is at a relatively pithy level. Instead of billions being massaged into or from the books, Japanese corporates tend to commit the equivalent of falsely submitting a $20 taxi receipt to your boss as a business related expense. One almost could conjure up a scenario that if Toshiba was ever able to make back the money to cover the accounting fraud they’d have broken into corporate HQ in the dead of night to put it back in the safe.

I touched on Kobe Steel which conveniently broke the news that it had falsified the true contents of its products to customers. While pointing out such behaviour was regrettable a chart which showed a heavy shorting of the stock on the day it announced it to its duped clients displayed the bigger problem. A question was asked directly to the regulator – “do you intend to investigate the heavy short selling of Kobe Steel stock 3 weeks before the company announced this to market?” No answer.  The following slide showed that a person that was able to short the stock 3 weeks before the announcement would have cleaned up a tidy 60% profit. Again no plans to investigate the insider trading. Why bother having the FSA if it is a toothless tiger?

The following slide showed the types of fines dealt to both the broker (Nomura was a regular feature in the leaks) and the investor (at the time Chuo Mitsui Asset). The fines were the equivalent of $500 and no suspension of license was pursued by the regulator, When the following slide that compared it to the types of fines meted out to foreign banks – lengthy jail terms, lifetime suspensions and monster fines in the the millions and billions jaws didn’t so much drop but celebrate the idea “thank God we live in Japan”. Truth be told the FSA did punish one dying asset manager $150mn but that is an exception. That is the problem. It is too conditional where convenient.

Rolling onto the next slide the discussion looked at how ‘sontaku’ was a problem. Whereas the FSA & SESC heavily pushed for license revocation of foreign investment companies that it found to break rules, it let off all the domestic companies that had ‘brand names’ to protect. What message is the regulator sending if local corporations know they can pretty much get away with anything. In what way is that a fair system? If foreigners will be turfed on a whim then why do the locals get special protection?

When looking at agency funding, the FSA was put up against the US SEC and Australia’s ASIC equivalents. The US was there for illustrative purposes. Yet Australia was the market that made the point clearest. Despite having a total market cap 5x the size of Australia and 30% more listed companies, Japan spends 20% less than the antoipodeans. Even worse it had fewer numbers of staff and its budget was shrinking.

When analyzing market surveillance, in 2014 the Aussie market issued 36,000 speeding tickets (alerts to potentially suspicious trading). The sophisticated systems are designed to catch any wrong doing. The Japanese issued around 180 speeding tickets. I suggested the FSA go cap in hand to ASIC and the ASX and ask if they can buy the software off the shelf. Safe markets attract capital because all actors feel adequate protections are in place to prevent crime. Higher liquidity attracts more liquidity. It is a win win.

Several years ago the fanfare of the Corporate Governance Code was thrust into the faces of the intenational investment community that Japan Inc was changing. After visiting multiple staff inside the FSA and the TSE there is absolutely no pulse of proactively to be seen anywhere. Even my slight nudge to get the FSA to tap the shoulder of the TSE to suggest listed corporates provide English language materials to encourage more transparency for foreign investment met with the response, “it might help if you spoke directly to the Deputy PM & Minister of Finance Taro Aso.”Not a word of a lie.

How can the Japanese authorities look to appropriately handle a slew of corporate scandals if the encouragement of English language documents requires someone (a gaijin no less) outside the agency to ask the Deputy PM to suggest it back down to them. It is an embarrassment.

In closing perhaps we can look to these corporate scandals breaking out as endemic of a greater underlying problem. While the knowledge that the regulator is likely to do next to nothing provides mild comfort, the reality is that Japanese companies have been strangling themselves for decades. The corporate fabric is fraying. The world is far more competitive than it was. For Japan to assert its ‘quality and/or engineering gap’ dominance now means profits likely suffer. In order to  get around that hurdle it seems that to maintain profit margins, corporates now lie about specifications hoping a history of ‘trust’ and ‘time honoured’ traditions can keep the bluff going. As mentioned earlier the scale of the ‘cheating’ is pitiful yet the shame it brings is multiples larger.

Japan’s cultural rigidities are on full display. Unfortunately they couldn’t arrive at a worse time. Clumps of companies confessing crimes to soften the collective blow is only the start of many more. I suggested in my speech that the authorities introduce a 3 month amnesty period for companies to fess up to any wrong doing. That way they can clear the decks and make it clear that any wrong doing after that date will be met with harsh repercussions. Of course it won’t happen but expect the list of companies above to have many join them at the table of shame.