Smoke-And-Mirrors Japan Defense Buildup

If I were a betting man, I wouldn’t bet against the defense buildup in Japan.

Prime Minister Abe may face nominal pressure to tone down the rhetoric towards a defense buildup against the “impending threat” of the hostile and aggressive duo of China and North Korea, but the real intention of the end game is to get tacit approval to a burgeoning, under-the-radar defense industry in Japan gearing up for exporting of munitions and other weaponry to so-called neutral nations.


Under Abenomics and the Liberal Democratic party (LDP), Japan is about to become a military hardware and software exporter second only to the United States…mark my words! The domestic military buildup will be untenable because an offensive army ready for war in the American style can only happen in a totalitarian Japan.

Abenomics is a joke:  robbing Peter to pay Paul.  But when a military-industrial complex is added into his bag of tricks, Abenomics will find traction.  Who would have imagined Japan becoming an exporter of potential genocidal weapons of mass destruction less than a century after their last war debacle?

Until now, the Japanese government’s policy to ban arms exports to other countries has made it difficult for defense companies in Japan to maintain profitability. Since 2003, 20 companies have discontinued their participation in the fighter jet manufacturing business.

But as sure as Japanese eat with chopsticks, so will Japan become an unwitting yet culpable accomplice in terrorism not too far down the pike.  The United States may not be pleased with the impending defense industry growth of Japan at the expense of their own parasitic, amoral counterpart, but it is the price America will have to pay for Japanese cooperation in containing China economically and militarily, as well as the renegade North Korean nation.

But in a capitalist setting, I would buy stock in the heavy industry giants and high tech industries of Japan.

The US Defense Technology Office foresees joint US-Japan research as making the best use of each nation’s strong suits. For the US, this is their underlying weapons systems, munitions and aerospace capability, while Japan excels in the areas of miniaturization, robotics and digital optics. These various strengths are almost certain to come together in the future joint development of Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAVs).  (Source:  Center for Research on Globalization)

Will Japan become a fascistic, emperor-worshiping threat to world peace and shed the alliance with the U.S.?  Possibly, but probably not under Abe’s watch.  Abe is only setting the table for the domestic industrial powers and bankers who will finance him and his cronies royally under the table for making the arms industry an international player and eventually force.

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A Broad Perspective

To counteract the declining birthrate in conjunction with the shrinking labor pool as Baby Boomers retire, the Japanese Cabinet Office is progressively encouraging a work-life balance.

Although the government cannot mandate firms to consider child-raising support measures and people’s attitudes toward family life, corporations can see the writing on the wall:  Make it easy for women to work after the birth of a child or watch Japan’s labor force and economic might bleed to death.

At present, less than one in five children under five years of age are in childcare.  The one’s that are may not be there because the mother works; it may be due to the mother wanting time to herself.

While there are opportunities for licensed (60%) or unlicensed (40%) childcare centers, there is another related opportunity which will find acceptance in Japan quite soon.  That area is in job sharing.

To be in front of the curve, you could set up a job share portal site in Japanese.  This could include teleseminars, uploaded videos and ebook which outline the benefits of such a system to both employees and employers.

Many women, after childbirth, want to return to work but not without the consistent overtime and travel.   Dividing the workload amongst people who have retired, could boost the prospects of a company remaining competitive despite a labor shortfall.

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The Japanese Silent Pressure Cooker

“I had my bully, and it was excruciating. Not only the bully, but the intimidation I felt.”
~Robert Cormier, writer and journalist~ 

Unless you were raised in a cave, you most likely have been subjected to or acted as a bully at some point in your life.  This was not just a school-day phenomenon.  In subtle and not so subtle ways, it continues throughout our adult lives in our homes and our workplaces.

He or she – the bully – is like the bulldozer or a Sherman Tank that dominates or attempts to dominate by force, intimidation or guilt.

Japan is a nation controlled by such dominating souls, though on the surface of things everyone tries to convey a society of disarming smiles, consensus and non-violence.

A foreigner living in Japan for a short time may well be convinced of the niceness of the natives compared with people from their own country.  But looks can be and often are deceiving to the initiate.  And once the hooks’ of domination and manipulation have set in, your entire life can become like a slab of beef on the butcher’s block ready to be sliced and diced on the whims of others.

How did you deal with bullies in your youth?  Fight or flight?  I dealt with one persistent bully by popping him with an eight-year-old’s right hook.  He cried, his father came in protestation to my father, but my father supported me for being a man.  That boy stopped pestering me and eventually became his true friend.

Against the grain of consensus thinking when dealing with the Japanese, I believe it is in your best interest to draw your line in the sand early in business and personal relationships.

If not, your Japanese counterparts will lack respect for you and dominate you with a mixture of guilt and uncertainty.  Just because they choose vagueness and innuendo, does not mean that you should or have to buy into their mentality.

You cannot compete nor thrive when trying to play mind games with the natives.  Know your true north in life and you will never be unsure of whether to play the passive-aggressive role out of self-interest or to openly reject others because they don’t have your best interest in mind.

Communism and socialism have never worked effectively because people never contribute equally to the final result.

Do your utmost to be diligent, thoughtful and positive in business and personal situations in Japan, but become acutely aware of when to say NO if people guilt-trip you about with the sinkhole concepts of common good, consensus or wa.

Stay out of this silent pressure cooker so prevalent here.  Be bold and assertive, but ditch the western bravado or the Ugly American mien.


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Wikipedia-Type Bilingual Medical Guide For Caretakers

Japan faces an acute shortage of caretakers.In order to communicate with their colleagues, superiors, patients or clients, Nihongo de Care-navi consists of more than 5,500 daily Japanese expressions and basic vocabulary as well as more than 2,000 example sentences.

Nihongo de Care-navi has both Japanese and English pages to designed to help all kinds of Japanese learners and their supporters.

Access this free resource HERE.

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Finding a Power Business Partner in Japan

The Chamber of Commerce of Japan has a useful database to assist international companies to obtain information about Japan Chamber members throughout Japan.  Take a peak.


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Japanese Government Procurement Ins and Outs

Japanese Protectionism used to be a given.Not many years ago – during the Japanese economic bubble years – the cries of “unfair trading practices” rang across America. American workers destroyed Japanese cars with mallets to emphasize their point. Interestingly, those cries of inscrutability are seldom heard these days.

A comprehensive database of Japanese government procurement notices and procedures can be obtained by visiting JETRO and The Ministry of Foreign Affairs(MOFA).

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Pay-What-It’s Worth Travel in Japan

Japan is in need of a stimulus to bring visitors back and stimulate economies in devastated regions. Source: Japan Probe Blog

The Japanese government seems to give lip service (at least) to the proposition that they want to increase tourism.  Many individual cities and prefectures have taken over their local promotions from large travel agencies, hoping that the local touch will make the travel experience to their region more pleasurable and perhaps more reasonably priced.

Here’s what the Japanese National Tourist Organization says about traveling in Japan (and I agree):

The Japanese islands stretch over 3,000 km with a rich variety of scenery in climates ranging from sub-artic in the north to sub-tropical in the south. Volcanic mountain ranges teem with hot spring resorts, while a history going back thousands of years gives each region a distinct cultural character. In short, Japan is a tourist paradise. On these pages we suggest some examples of incentive tours or excursions centered on major cities.

There is a company called Live Quality Check in Austria that arranges tours based on a pay-what-it’s worth price tag.  This system can lure locals and visitors from overseas to the more remote, out-of-the-way villages and regions.  The idea is to get a bunch of local  merchants to collaborate in offering a wide array of choices of hotels, golf courses, restaurants, outdoor activities, etc.

Before the patron decides on the price they are willing to pay, they fill out a survey reviewing their tourist experience.  This helps local  tourist bureaus streamline their list of quality merchants and thus increase the chance that visitors will be satisfied, recommend the area to friends  and associates, and return themselves in the future.

With more and more local tourist bureaus taking over marketing campaigns from tour agencies, no doubt many of them would be receptive to this idea.

The pay-what-you-want idea has caught on worldwide, and if you can cut a deal with regional businesses then the profit potential could be exponential.  You could even start a pay-what-it’s-worth network of merchants regionally or nationally in Japan.

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Inner City Hydropower in Japan


Source:  United Nations University

Japan is an energy-dependent nation which, for better or worse, was crippled in its last and hopefully final war more than a half-century ago.

Since that time, its technological progress has enabled it to deal with energy concerns more dynamically than any other nation.  Those advances were seriously challenged a year ago when the devastating earthquake and tsunami seriously damaged the Tohoku Region and had a ripple effect into the Kanto Region.  Twenty-three of 27 nuclear power plants were shutdown as a precaution after the event, and remain offline.

In Japan, the small-scaled mini- and micro-hydroelectric power plants have been regarded for a considerable time as being suitable for creating electricity in mountainous regions, but they have through refinement come to be regarded as excellent for Japanese cities as well. Kawasaki City Waterworks, Japan Natural Energy Company, and Tokyo Electric Power Company have all been involved in the development of small-scale hydroelectric power plants within Japanese cities.

How can this technology benefit your community or even corporation.  Pay attention to these developments.

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Bolstering Opportunity for Underpaid Japanese Women in the Workforce

  Source: 21 Blue Jaggers Blog

Women’s working conditions are worsening for working women of the part-time variety, according to panelists at a recent Tokyo forum.  The low wages for women mean that a single mom would have to work 3600 hours a year at 900 yen per hour (the going rate) to squeak by with two school-age children.

In the last ten years or so, the number of people earning less than 2 million yen per year has increased from nearly 8 million to well over 10 million.  Of those workers, seventy percent are women and thirty percent of those women earn less than 2 million yen.

While this may seem appalling to westernized women and men, in Japan this has been and probably always will be the norm.  Nix the idea that corporations and government officials will ever change their bias ways in a meaningful fashion, even as the population decreases and the number of elderly needing support increases.

The panelist concluded that J(Just)O(Over)B(Broke) training is the answer, but that is totally wishful thinking.  While Japanese women may work on the cheap, India’s and Vietnam’s masses command even cheaper wages  to Japanese corporate interests.

The plight of Japanese women is as much the fault of women as it is men.  Women often choose home-body marriages when and if their husbands can afford to carry the financial load.  The men still expect or subtly pressure women to quit when their motherly duties conflict with their workload, and a large majority of women still eventually relent.

Moreover, I have taught close to a thousand Japanese women English in my 31 years here, and all but maybe a dozen have zero curiosity about careers or entrepreneurship.

The time is ripe to teach all women self-sufficiency, not just single moms.  There are scattered NGOs and other support groups in Japan doing just that, but mindsets of both gender are rigid still.

A series of regional high school after-school programs for women desiring to live independently and become entrepreneurial-minded would be a winner.

Once women graduate from high school, the education system and society as a whole sets low expectation for the fair sex, so at adult age they are locked into stereotypical roles.   With few exceptions, they will seek out an up-and-coming hubby rather than the grind to success.

They must develop the self-confidence in their formative years.  Many prep schools (jukus) face a rapidly-declining youth market.  Many of them would be all  ears about women entrepreneurial programs.

A good reference point for the aspiring women entrepreneurs can be found in the video below:

Female Entrepreneurship and Institutional Change in Japan from CAPI on Vimeo.

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Designer Fruit

I was astounded the first time I saw a perfectly square persimmon in Japan.  But farmers are getting more and more innovative.  Above, witness the pyramid and the heart-shaped watermelon.  Shaping fruit could well become an outstanding niche opportunity inside or outside of Japan.

It could also branch off into fruit and vegetable art, something I think the Japanese would literally eat up…

Here’s a video of many more great food art ideas to chew on for Japan…

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