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Short takes from the weeklies

  • 2015-03-19 15:00:00
  • , Nikkei
  • Translation

 On tenterhooks

 [Shukan Shincho, 3/26/2015 issue, p. 24]


o Flashing on the electronic bulletin board, set up in the room, are rapidly changing figures, which indicate stock price fluctuations. This is not a dealing room at a securities firm. It’s a room for “Japan Inc.’s CEO,” namely Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in his “Kantei” office building.


o Despite tailspins in the U.S. stock market, the Nikkei Stock Average is now on the rise. Such a “mysterious” phenomenon can often be seen these days. Prime Minister Abe is pleased to see it, becoming even more confident.


o “All economic indicators have improved with Abenomics and its effects. Above all, the stock market is one of the best indicators. The prime minister used to be on tenterhooks over its fluctuations.” (a Kantei source)


 “Five whales”

 [Shukan Shincho, 3/26/2015 issue, pp. 24-25]


o The average stock price keeps on rising in March as it did in previous months. It’s now about to hit the 20,000 yen level. There are prime movers for this that are driving the market.


o “It’s the huge amount of public money, which is called ‘a whale’ among market players. There is a school of ‘five whales’ now swimming in the stock market. The lead one is GPIF (“Government Pension Investment Fund, Japan,” an independent administrative institution established by the Japanese government to pool retirement savings), which manages funds to the tune of 137 trillion yen.” (Fumiyuki Nakanishi, rep., Lotus Investment Research Institute)


o The second whale is the Bank of Japan. The BOJ has now expanded its Exchange Trade Fund (ETF) buy-in slot and has bought in a total of 1 trillion yen since last fall.


o “The BOJ has declared its intention to buy in more [from ETF] for a total of up to 3 trillion yen. The third whale is a convoy of three mutual benefit associations (“kyosai” or “kyosaikumiai“) for public service personnel, including those employed by the national and local governments. These three kyosai associations have a total of 30 trillion yen in assets, and they still can afford to buy in for 1 more trillion yen. The fourth whale is Japan Post Insurance (“Kampo Seimei” or “Kampo” for short), which has total assets of 83 trillion yen. And the biggest whale, the fifth one, is Japan Post Bank (“Yucho Ginko”), and it has assets to the tune of 205 trillion yen. JP Bank and JP Insurance have both declared that they will shift their fund management from government bonds to stocks. These ‘five whales’ can still afford to buy in Japanese stocks for a total of over 27 trillion yen.” (Nakanishi)


o From now on, this great sum of money will be invested in Japan Inc. This is just like jacking up the stock market with public funds. That’s why it’s called a “public stock market.”


 “Big booing” to “a man from another planet”

 [Shukan Shincho, 3/26/2015 issue, pp. 27-29]


o In the midst of the battle raging in Ukraine, Yukio Hatoyama, 68, Japan’s one-time prime minister, went to Crimea, where the “fire” started.” This was a surprise per se. However, we were even more surprised to see a “big-shot rightist” sitting beside Hatoyama when they met the press there. The rightist in question was Mitsuhiro Kimura, 58, representative of a neo-rightist group named “Issuikai.”


o Hatoyama’s grandfather is Shojiro Ishibashi, the founder of the Bridgestone Corporation, the world’s largest maker of tires.



 [Shukan Shincho, 3/26/2015 issue, p. 40]


o “Seikatsunoto to Yamamoto Taro to Nakamatachi” (The People’s Life Party & Taro Yamamoto and Friends) is perhaps the most shameful name of a political party in the history of constitutional government.


 Freedom of the press

 [Shukan Shincho, 3/26/2015 issue, p. 130]


o “Tatsuya Kato, former Seoul Bureau chief for the ‘Sankei Shimbun’, is alleged to have defamed President Park Geun Hye, and he is now ordered by local authorities not to leave South Korea. This can serve as a barometer to gauge South Korea’s freedom of the press. Moreover, on this matter, none of the South Korean media has exactly criticized the government.” (Yan Denman, S.P.I. correspondent, from his “Tokyo Confidential” column)


o “If the Japanese government treated South Korean reporters for ‘Dong-a Ilbo’ and ‘JoongAng Ilbo’ in the same way, things would have become serious. South Koreans are hot-blooded, so they would diss Japan and could even take military action.” (a French reporter, quoted in Yan Denman’s “Tokyo Confidential” column)


 “Creating a stir”

 [Shukan Shincho, 3/26/2015 issue, p. 146]


o “I want Mr. Abe to say ‘Japan committed an act of aggression’.” (Shinichi Kitaoka, 66, a professor emeritus at the University of Tokyo and deputy chair of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s private advisory panel for Japan in the 21st century, quoted as saying at a symposium held in Tokyo on March 9)


o “Unlike academics with no formal institutional affiliation, the prime minister’s brains wield sizable influence. What Mr. Kitaoka said could benefit China and South Korea that have been taking anti-Japan policies.” (Hirotada Asakawa, political commentator)


 In quest for 3,000 hits

 [Sande Mainichi, 3/29/2015 issue, p. 22]


o Ichiro Suzuki, 41, an MLB position player traded from the New York Yankees to the Miami Marlins and entering his 15th year in the MLB, is now gearing up to be back in full force after his slump. He is on a quest for 3,000 hits as an MLB player.


 Elvis forever

 [Sande Mainichi, 3/29/2015 issue, p. 41]


o The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Elvis Presley, died on Aug. 16, 1977. He was at 42.


o “Elvis is second to none in singing to attract people.” (Reiko Yukawa, a music commentator, who interviewed Elvis Presley on many times)


o “The Beatles and many other artists modeled themselves after Elvis. However, there was no model for him. He sings unconsciously and he can’t be copied. He’s really a star. He’s in the spotlight even after his death. That’s because he’s so attractive, I think.” (Tomikazu Taguchi, 54, the president of the “Elvis Presley Society of Japan,” a fan club for those who love Elvis Presley, and who became an Elvis fan when he saw Elvis Presley on TV when he was in junior high school)


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