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Published on October 9, 2007

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Conundrum and Challenges: Japan’s Impact on Asia Pacific Political Economy? Asian Studies Symposium Southern Methodist University:  Conundrum and Challenges: Japan’s Impact on Asia Pacific Political Economy? Asian Studies Symposium Southern Methodist University “We cannot sit huddled within our borders and avow ourselves merely an assemblage of well-to-do hucksters, who care nothing for what happens beyond.” Theodore Roosevelt, Address Before the Hamilton Club, April 10, 1899. Japan’s Greatest Achievement in the 20th C. - victories over Russia during the Russo-Japanese War, 1904-05. After Portsmouth Peace Conference, for which he received the Nobel Prize, Theodore Roosevelt commissioned in 1906 the Great White Fleet to sail around the globe, displaying the “Big Stick” The San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 (3,000 deaths) triggered a new wave of immigration and of discrimination. Eleven years later, the seeds of World War II had been well-sown. Conundrum and Challenges: Japan’s Impact on Asia Pacific Political Economy? Asian Studies Symposium Southern Methodist University:  Conundrum and Challenges: Japan’s Impact on Asia Pacific Political Economy? Asian Studies Symposium Southern Methodist University The infamy of September 11, 2001 ….. September 12, 2001: The U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt Battle Group is commissioned to sail from Norfolk Virginia to the Mediterranean Sea. What is different with the picture? …. (After 1905, a weak China was a greater menace to Japan than a weak Korea (after 1882); After 2001, a strong China is a greater menace to Japan than a unified Korea.) Perhaps…. nothing but the same result if WE ARE NOT CAREFUL! Our leaders were naïve and ignorant then of Asia, failing to understand the intricate undercurrents of millennium old balances of culture and of power. Conundrum and Challenges: Japan’s Impact on Asia Pacific Political Economy? Asian Studies Symposium Southern Methodist University:  Conundrum and Challenges: Japan’s Impact on Asia Pacific Political Economy? Asian Studies Symposium Southern Methodist University Japan has entered another new millennium of significant challenges and uncertainties. Major, unparalleled change forces; NEVER before experienced. Japan is not just on the verge of a major recession, it is here. We must be concerned: (i) serious impact of Japan’s situation on global economic conditions, especially throughout the Asia-Pacific region; and (ii) leaving an Asia-Pacific balance of power in China’s favor. Conundrum and Challenges: Japan’s Impact on Asia Pacific Political Economy? Asian Studies Symposium Southern Methodist University:  Conundrum and Challenges: Japan’s Impact on Asia Pacific Political Economy? Asian Studies Symposium Southern Methodist University The current environment: September 7th - downgrading by Moody’s of Aa2 rating. Corporate restructuring at a torrid pace, both private and public. Deteriorating bank debt conditions: 8.6 trillion yen in new bad loans emerged in the year ended March 31 at 137 Japanese banks Eighteen big banks saw the emergence of 4.3 trillion yen in fresh bad loans in fiscal 2000. Conundrum and Challenges: Japan’s Impact on Asia Pacific Political Economy? Asian Studies Symposium Southern Methodist University:  Conundrum and Challenges: Japan’s Impact on Asia Pacific Political Economy? Asian Studies Symposium Southern Methodist University Bank debt continued. Regional banks saw 4.4 trillion yen in new bad loans. The bad loan balance as of March 31 at 16 big banks stood at 11.7 trillion yen, meaning that 5-6 trillion yen a year must be cleared away from the books each year for the government's target to be met. The Problem: new accounting standards require banks to deduct 60% of unrealized losses on securities from retained earnings Conundrum and Challenges: Japan’s Impact on Asia Pacific Political Economy? Asian Studies Symposium Southern Methodist University:  Conundrum and Challenges: Japan’s Impact on Asia Pacific Political Economy? Asian Studies Symposium Southern Methodist University The Problem continued: When the Nikkei fell below the 10,000 yen level on September 12th (first time in 17 years!!!), all major banks suffered unrealized losses on portfolio equity, making it difficult to pay dividends in some cases. The new rules are expected to force Japan's big four banking groups, including Mitsubishi Tokyo Financial Group Inc., to realize losses of up to 200 billion yen each. Banks will be required to deduct about 60% of their unrealized losses from retained earnings, a component of shareholders' equity, under mark-to-market accounting rules due to take effect from the current fiscal year. Conundrum and Challenges: Japan’s Impact on Asia Pacific Political Economy? Asian Studies Symposium Southern Methodist University:  Conundrum and Challenges: Japan’s Impact on Asia Pacific Political Economy? Asian Studies Symposium Southern Methodist University The Challenge: many major banks have decided or are likely to decide to skip their interim dividend payouts and pay dividends at fiscal year-end, but some analysts are concerned about their ability to pay even year-end dividends. Daiwa Bank, Chuo Mitsui Trust & Banking Co., and Asahi Bank have announced that they will skip interim dividends, while Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp., Sumitomo Trust & Banking Co. and Mizuho Holdings Inc. are likely to follow suit Conundrum and Challenges: Japan’s Impact on Asia Pacific Political Economy? Asian Studies Symposium Southern Methodist University:  Conundrum and Challenges: Japan’s Impact on Asia Pacific Political Economy? Asian Studies Symposium Southern Methodist University Financial Balance of Power is shifting to Shanghai. Other challenges (Nikkei Forecasts), 2 examples: Unemployment Rate (rising from 1995 = 2,100,000 @ 3.2% ) Due Out: September 28, 2001, 8:00 JST Figures For: August Average Forecast: 5.1% Officially Announced Figure For Previous Month: 5.0% Conundrum and Challenges: Japan’s Impact on Asia Pacific Political Economy? Asian Studies Symposium Southern Methodist University:  Conundrum and Challenges: Japan’s Impact on Asia Pacific Political Economy? Asian Studies Symposium Southern Methodist University Nikkei Forecasts Continued. September Tokyo CPI. Due Out: September 28, 2001, 8:00 JST Figures For: September For Tokyo, August For Nationwide Average Forecast: (0.9)% On Year; (0.8)% On Year Nationwide Announced Figure For Previous Month: (0.9)%;( 0.8)% Conundrum and Challenges: Japan’s Impact on Asia Pacific Political Economy? Asian Studies Symposium Southern Methodist University:  Conundrum and Challenges: Japan’s Impact on Asia Pacific Political Economy? Asian Studies Symposium Southern Methodist University Prior to the infamy of September 11th, the collapse of Japan’s economic prowess had already weakened its position vis-à-vis Asian economies. Myriad other socio-political issues, two recent examples: Prime Minister Koizumi’s visit to the Yasukuni Shrine on August 15th had further exasperated that decline (the Shrine is dedicated to Japan’s war dead but also contains the remains of a number of Japanese wartime criminals.) The Japanese government has sought to limit imports from various Asian countries, which goods the Japanese Government was claiming were being “dumped” on the Japanese market. Conundrum and Challenges: Japan’s Impact on Asia Pacific Political Economy? Asian Studies Symposium Southern Methodist University:  Conundrum and Challenges: Japan’s Impact on Asia Pacific Political Economy? Asian Studies Symposium Southern Methodist University If Tokyo introduces new restrictions on Chinese textiles, the fear is that Beijing will cut exports from China-based Japanese factories. That would be a blow to firms that have shifted production to China in an effort to survive. Even more serious would be the damage to Japan's credibility as a champion of free trade. Tokyo, which has also started a dumping probe into polyester staple made by South Korean and Taiwanese companies, would be branded a convert to the protectionist camp, hampering Japan's efforts toward a multilateral free trade pact in Asia. The ruling coalition will come under increasing political pressure to pander to domestic lobbying by troubled industries as the upper house election draws near. If he is going to keep his structural reform crusade on the rails, Koizumi will need to ensure his trade policy is not compromised.” The Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Wednesday morning edition, August 16, 2001, Tokyo, Japan Conundrum and Challenges: Japan’s Impact on Asia Pacific Political Economy? Asian Studies Symposium Southern Methodist University:  Conundrum and Challenges: Japan’s Impact on Asia Pacific Political Economy? Asian Studies Symposium Southern Methodist University On the other hand…. Japan’s savings rate is rising exponentially - the world’s highest; Japan’s foreign exchange reserves: world’s highest for 21st consecutive month at U.S. $372.22 billion; Yen is at 118 avg; Regulatory reform is continuing unabated; Foreign direct investment (finance/insurance sector) surged 101.2 %; Japanese manufacturers invested in China in record numbers ($2.1 billion in first four months of FY2001 alone for an increase of 117%); 80% + Japanese will be connected to internet by 2005 (of which there will be 66m net-enabled phones in use); and More fiber optic cable has been buried in Japan than in the US. Conundrum and Challenges: Japan’s Impact on Asia Pacific Political Economy? Asian Studies Symposium Southern Methodist University:  Conundrum and Challenges: Japan’s Impact on Asia Pacific Political Economy? Asian Studies Symposium Southern Methodist University Chinese Proverb: “A frog in a well shaft sees the sky differently” Arising from an argument between a bird who stopped to drink at a well and a frog therein. They argued about how the sky looked. The frog’s vision was of course very limited. “By recognizing Japan’s power where we should we see things we would otherwise not be aware of.” The Enigma of Japanese Power, Karel van Wolfren, 1988.

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