Gov't excludes Nomura from Japan Tobacco share sale

By Junko Fujita and Nathan Layne

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Here we go, another tobacco-related news item. But regarding JPMorgan Chase, i think they are no better than Nomura if you dig deep enough.

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i still find it unconscionable that the govt owns 50% (now 30%) of Japan's tobacco industry and thereby promotes & supports the sale & distribution of a harmful & destructive cancer-inducing product. And here they are excluding Nomura from the sale for their previous deceitful practices when the govt in Japan is more deceptive and unscrupulous than any financial services agency...

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Well, it's not like the product is defective. Everyone knows what it can do. I do, and i still smoke. I find nothing unethical in the fact that the government of a country with such a huge national debt owns shares of a tobacco company. It would be worse if it was owned by somebody else and they raised the tobacco tax to collect the same amount of money as the profit they now collect.

Here in the US tobacco tax money is used to finance road and bridge construction, nothing to do with the health of smokers. Is that more ethical for you? I think Japan is being a little more fair.

The Russian Orthodox Church has sold tobacco and liquor to finance their operations. Is that ethical? How does that compare? At least the Japanese gov't in not being hypocritical.

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@REMzzz - your argument doesn't make sense. You state :"It would be worse if it was owned by somebody else and they raised the tobacco tax to collect the same amount of money as the profit they now collect" . How do you figure? , The profit they make from tobacco sales go back into advertising & promoting their product - certainly not into paying for health care costs associated with the tobacco they are selling. And why should I pay taxes to support the health care costs of smokers in Japan, who, like you, choose to smoke, then end up in the cancer ward in the hospital? If they raise taxes on the product, then those who choose to smoke, people like yourself, should pay for the health care costs you incur. Because unlike you, I live in Japan where I have to pay national health insurance which subsidizes everyone, including smokers. And they are deceptive - because as long as they have a hand in the revenue till, they will not inform the public as to the dangers of the product they sell. Unlike the US, people here are not informed by their govt about how deadly tobacco is - because that would reduce their profits. So I'll stand by what I said earlier, they are extremely deceptive & nefarious, because on the one hand they point fingers at Nomura, while they simultaneously promote a product that causes cancer, heart disease, stroke, and lung disease.

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Well, my argument is a bit too "wide" to make sense, yeah, but the point is that "profit" i was referring to is the net income (gross income - operating costs). This is what they "take home". Half (now 30%) of the dividends are paid to them. If someone else was collecting that money in the first place, the tobacco tax would have had to be higher to compensate.

And tobacco taxes are generally not taking care of the smoker, no matter how high they are, because those sticky hands in the gov't at many levels take their share, like for road construction. As such, i feel that the cigarette tax isn't "fair", if i'm paying more for what everyone else uses to an equal degree. "Fair" is subjective, but i would think it's logical for a cigarette tax to have something to do with the smokers, rather than be a "free for all" revenue stream. Tobacco profit on the other hand doesn't have the same stigma for me. They can spend the money as they wish. They collect a profit but tobacco stays affordable. I can only stand a certain degree of parasitism.

I would think that tobacco-related harm is obvious even without the oversized graphic stickers. Lung disease is obvious. You have to be in another universe not to see the signs of health problems. It's not the government's job to tell people what they can already see without it.

Maybe we don't agree on that. But i doubt that the public health policy will anyhow change when JapanTobacco is 100% private. Because the gov't is interested in the tax revenue. They will raise the tax and collect the same amount of revenue. Ownership or not, the government is as "addicted" as we are. Nothing will change, unless the companies selling smoking cessation drugs will come in and share their revenue with someone who is relevant.

The tobacco control groups in the US are entirely profit-motivated. There was that faction which was mostly focused on collecting the "Master settlement" from "i didn't know tobacco was harmful" lawsuit(s). They got that, and were able to benefit from those funds... as the funds filtered thru programs they had set up, that gov't agencies funded with settlement money. The second category is those who are affiliated with Johnson & Johnson, the consumer products company which indirectly paid for smoking ban laws to coral inconvenienced smokers into using their products. Pfizer, the maker of Chantix has also teamed up with them to put in place and benefit from the same over-reaching laws.

In Japan, the system isn't in place yet, and thus no incentive to discourage smoking. In the US it is profitable to fight smoking, in Japan it is profitable to leave them alone. There is no ethical component in either country. They are a-moral. Nobody cares how we smokers feel. But i can only stand so much heartless parasitism. We are people too.

Sure the government can take some money if they don't double, triple and quadruple dip, so to speak. I understand, and it's been that way before i was born. Collect the dividends and cut out the middle man, rather than compensating by charging me more. But you don't smoke, so you probably don't see it the same way as i do.

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I agree with you on several of your points; such as tobacco taxes not being used to help smokers quit or pay for health care costs that result from people who end up in the cancer ward. Though one point I would make relates to what I think govt's should not be doing - and this is a moral stance if not a realistic one - is profiting from a known harmful & damaging commercial enterprise. Your point that it is not an ethical battle I cannot agree with. It took 30 years in N.Am for the public to realize that tobacco was dangerous & to get the public to then pressure govt to adopt policies to educate others & accept the fact that smoking does cause cancer. Had it not been for ethical & moral crusaders battling big tobacco & their govt backers, we would still have the Marlboro man on every street billboard promoting how wonderful tobacco is. ... ... ... ... ... That said, I do understand your point about govt duplicity & corruption & how it only serves to line the pockets of bureaucrats. But in Canada, where I come from, the govt has put a lot of resources into the anti^tobacco lobby & fighting tobacco companies in order to protect its citizens. We pay a much higher tax rate than our US neighbours but I think most people in Canada are happy to do so, knowing that our "socialist" govt does take a moral stand and not a corporate one (at least most of the time). But living here in Japan, where I see a corrupt govt perpetually deceiving the public (The Health Ministry does not have a single full-time employee working on smoking related issues), the double-dealing and hypocrisy perpetually have me looking for an exit strategy so I no longer have to put my health, or the health of my loved ones, at risk.

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