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Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reportedly plans to propose a major economic cooperation package meant to create hundreds of thousands of jobs in the U.S. when he meets with President Donald Trump on Friday

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Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reportedly plans to propose a major economic cooperation package meant to create hundreds of thousands of jobs in the U.S. when he meets with President Donald Trump on Friday and Saturday. Do you think this would be in Japan’s best interests?

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It is not Japan's job to create jobs in the US. That would be Trump's job.

15 ( +17 / -2 )

So, he's more willing to create jobs in the US than in Japan? How can he expect Japan to be a "normal" country again with such a brown-nosing leader.

12 ( +13 / -1 )

What gokai said.

Abe should be working on Japan First. (Without being all obnoxious and over the top about it, of course).

Let America sort out its own problems.

11 ( +13 / -2 )

Trump in not asking for Japan to create jobs in the US, he is asking for equal access to Japan's consumer market. Trump is not asking for Japan to invest in America, he is asking for equal access to Japan's consumer market.

This just sounds like digging up arguments from the 1980s before the Strategic Impediments Initiative rather than anything based in current reality. Japan is the 4th largest market for US exports.

If Ford and GM can't sell cars in Japan while Mercedes, Volkswagen and BMW can while operating under the same rules, that is because Ford and GM don't make cars that Japanese consumers want to by, not because the Japanese government is closing the market.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

No economist would accept the argument that consumers have no influence over prices in Japan

Movie theaters? Real estate agents? Did you realize that every movie theater in Japan charges the same price for a ticket, regardless of the theater, the movie, the theater company or owner? Does every movie theater in Canada charge the same price? Estate agents here all charge the same fee and percentage, regardless of which agency you use. Does this happen in Canada as well? Is it really possible in a country where consumers strongly influence prices that entire industries nationwide charge the same minimum price?

You are not aware that price fixing is very old cultural practice in Japan, and it is pervasive in every Japanese industry. American prisons have a large number of Japanese men in their care who have tried to do the same thing with their American subsidiaries.

Japan and the Japanese are non-completive by nature. In the international marketplace, Japan relies on one-sided trade deals and weak currency to maintain sales and profits, instead of competing head-to-head with foreign manufacturers. In the domestic economy they rely on collusion and price fixing, which is one of the main reasons they don't want outsiders doing business here.

if prices were actually kept "above what the market is willing to pay" in Japan, then nothing would ever be sold.

Things are not being sold. No Japanese automaker has earned a profit on domestic sales in years. Japan Inc's domestic balance sheet is deeply in the red. High prices are the main reason why the population is falling, and why the economy remains deflationary, despite diluting the currency with trillions of freshly created yen. The domestic economy is propped up by the national government (taxpayers), which enacts failed stimulus program after failed stimulus program (18 at last count) which is distributed to the Japanese mega banks, which are owned by Japan Inc. which distributes the money to themselves. The end result a stagnant, deflationary nation which is one quadrillion one hundred trillion yen or so in debt. Right now there are more than 8,000,000,000 vacant homes and buildings in japan, and such could not happen in an economically-stable country.

Under WTO rules Japan cannot impose differential rules to cars from one country that it doesn't apply to others, and the US is not at all shy about bringing claims to WTO dispute resolution panels about that sort of thing,

Japan doesn't impose any rules, but Japanese business imposes it's own. Japan can easily adhere to the letter of the law without bothering to adhere to the intent. How long have you been in Japan? Japan signs on to an international moratorium on commercial whaling, then sends out it's whaling fleets, calling the harvesting of whales "scientific research." Japan passes laws requiring part-time workers to be hired as full-time permanent staff after three years. Despite being the law, part-timers becoming full-timers is the exception and not the rule. Business does what it wants, and the governments seldom interferes.

WTO complaints and rulings in the past have come to naught. In 1995 when the Clinton administration threatened Japanese trade practices, Japan conceded by importing some 17000 American cars to Japan. Except that these cars were actually American-branded Japanese cars assembled in America with Japanese parts. When the WTO ruled against Japan for discouraging American rice imports, Japan let the rice be imported, but refused to sell it on the Japanese market. The rice was left to rot in warehouses.

And, once again, what about Korean cars, Australian cars, British cars, French cars, and Italian cars? Why are German cars doing so well, but no imported car from any other car producing country in the world?

In the end, the market will pull prices in Japan to their natural level, but it will take a calamity to for that to occur, or cause a calamity when it does.

but this doesn't in itself tell us much about which ones are more open or closed to trade.

It does. As a rule, countries with more open trade have a higher standard of living than those who are more closed to trade. Developed countries have the lowest barriers to trade, developing countries have the highest barriers. If you live in Europe, you find that even in the EU, the barriers increase as you go from north to south, from 17% in the UK or Scandinavia, to more than 30% in places like Greece. In Africa or Latin America, you are talking about 60% and up.

6 ( +11 / -5 )

nothing makes Japan look more diminutive, like a yippy little dog, than this behaviour . Japan doesn't need to prove anything

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Japan is the 4th largest market for US exports.

For food, materials, and energy, but not finished goods. And even food, materials, and energy are either tariffed and taxed heavily, or subject to a weak yen limiting supply more than it might otherwise be.

If Ford and GM can't sell cars in Japan while Mercedes, Volkswagen and BMW can while operating under the same rules,

The German makers are not operating under the same rules. Some years ago German cars were subject the same nonsense which applies to American and other imported cars now. Germany had enough, and threatened Japanese imports with she same restrictions. Japan conceded, and prices came down.

In regards to car imports to Japan, how about other makers? Have you ever seen a Korean car in Japan? Have you ever seen an Australian car? These companies are not doing well under the "same rules" are they? You see about as many French or Italian cars as American cars, right? In Japan, only 7% of cars on the road are imports, a smaller percentage than any other large economy which produces cars.

Remember about 5 years ago when the yen strengthened to about 75 to the dollar, and 100 to the euro? This was a change of more than 40% over 3 years. Do you remember what happened to the prices of imported cars (including German cars) when the yen was so strong? Nothing at all happened, the window sticker price was the same at 75 yen to the dollar than it was at 130 yen to the dollar. The weaker yen should have pushed the prices of imported goods way down, but it didn't. Japanese import car dealers in new cars refused to lower the prices to levels competitive with domestic cars.

Even worse, the strengthening of the yen did not result in cheaper iPods, New Balance shoes, or Levis jeans. Shelf prices were unchanged. The excuse given by Japan Inc was that fluctuations in prices reflecting changes in currency exchange rates were "harmful to consumers." In years of business, and studying economics, I never heard anyone before claim that low prices were harmful to consumers, but then again, this is Japan, where inflation is called a "price stability goal", where commercial whaling is called "scientific research", and where deficit spending trillions of yen on bridges to nowhere is supposed to "inspire the virtuous spirit of Abeonomics." At least I can go to Costco, where shelf prices quickly change in response to changes in the exchange rate.

In America, the prices of the goods consumers buy are generally determined by the consumers. In Japan this is not the case. Not only are the prices of imports kept above what the market is willing to pay, the prices of domestically made goods are also priced higher than what the market is willing to pay (which is why the economy remains stubbornly deflationary). The main reason Japan Inc has been able to maintain higher prices for it's goods in Japan (a Sony TV or Toyota car is cheaper in America than in Japan) is because the lack of competition from imported goods.

All of this nonsense Abe is doing now is not what America is asking for. Trump has not asked for Japan to create jobs in America. Trump has not asked Japan to invest any money in America. Trump clearly said that Japan is not allowing American exports equal access to the Japanese marketplace, and he is correct, no one who does business in Japan could possibly argue otherwise. Abe clearly does not want to give America equal access, hence the numerous jobs and investment schemes.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

How can he expect Japan to be a "normal" country again with such a brown-nosing leader.

Because, my friend, Abe was NEVER about making japan better or more prosperous. Its about making his fat cat buddies so. What does he care about Japan?

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Movie theaters? Real estate agents? Did you realize that every movie theater in Japan charges the same price for a ticket, regardless of the theater, the movie, the theater company or owner? Does every movie theater in Canada charge the same price? Estate agents here all charge the same fee and percentage, regardless of which agency you use. Does this happen in Canada as well? Is it really possible in a country where consumers strongly influence prices that entire industries nationwide charge the same minimum price?

Movie theatres actually do charge pretty uniform prices across Canada. Real estate agents are a racket in Japan, I agree, but that is a regulated profession that Americans wouldn't really be interested in (or capable of) breaking into in Japan anyway. Regulated professions in other countries, including America, also impose oligopolistic or monopolistic pricing like that as well.

You are not aware that price fixing is very old cultural practice in Japan, and it is pervasive in every Japanese industry. American prisons have a large number of Japanese men in their care who have tried to do the same thing with their American subsidiaries.

Again you sound like you are talking about the 1980s - the Japan Fair Trade Commission today is one of the most aggressive enforcers of anti-monopoly law in the world and arguably has a better system for dealing with it than the US equivalent. While I would have agreed that price fixing and cartels were a huge part of the Japanese economy in the post-war era through to the 1990s, it is way less common today than it once was (again in part due to American pressure to more actively enforce the Anti-Monopoly Act) and probably not much different in scale than it is in other developed countries.

Japan and the Japanese are non-completive by nature. In the international marketplace, Japan relies on one-sided trade deals and weak currency to maintain sales and profits, instead of competing head-to-head with foreign manufacturers. In the domestic economy they rely on collusion and price fixing, which is one of the main reasons they don't want outsiders doing business here.

So this is why Toyota, Nintendo, Sony (etc), which operate in extremely competitive international product markets, are household names around the world?

Things are not being sold. No Japanese automaker has earned a profit on domestic sales in years. Japan Inc's domestic balance sheet is deeply in the red. High prices are the main reason why the population is falling, and why the economy remains deflationary, despite diluting the currency with trillions of freshly created yen. The domestic economy is propped up by the national government (taxpayers), which enacts failed stimulus program after failed stimulus program (18 at last count) which is distributed to the Japanese mega banks, which are owned by Japan Inc. which distributes the money to themselves. The end result a stagnant, deflationary nation which is one quadrillion one hundred trillion yen or so in debt. Right now there are more than 8,000,000,000 vacant homes and buildings in japan, and such could not happen in an economically-stable country.

Personally I think the housing market is probably the biggest explanation for a lot of Japan's economic problems - owning a home in this country is like owning a used car in the US - its value drops like a rock the second it becomes used. So instead of becoming an asset and store of value for families like it does for families in the US and elsewhere, home ownership involves taking a huge loss, which negatively impacts consumption on other things. Fixing this problem would go a long way to fixing Japan's economic problems IMHO, but this is taking us way off the topic of what Trump wants Japan to do for America.

Compare menus from America and Japan at places like KFC, McDonalds (a quarter pounder set with cheese $4.79 in America, vs 780 yen in Japan), Burger King (A double whopper combo is $6.59 in America now, and 1240 yen in Japan), or Dominos Pizza. You will find that Japan is significantly more expensive than America. With rice, beef, butter, corn, pork, and other ingredients costing at least twice as much as they do in America, it is not likely that Japanese restaurants are truly cheaper, unless you are talking about beef bowl and ramen shops.

Again you are citing numerous examples of American businesses that have successfully entered the Japanese market in a thread where your main argument is that Japan is closed to American business, again without seeming to notice the irony. Those arguably aren't fair comparisons either, since you are just looking at the prices of American food in Japan. Ever try to buy Japanese food in America? Guess what, it costs way more than Japanese food in Japan does. Just try to find a kaiten sushi place in the US that sells the same stuff you get for 100 Yen per plate here and then

There are about a million other counter-examples. Ever bought eye glasses in Japan? It costs me about 1/4 what I pay in Canada (where the cost is about the same as the US) to buy a similar pair here. That is a ridiculously huge difference. Please explain how this price discrepancy fits into your view that Japan is a closed market where everything costs more than what consumers will pay while the US is a totally free economy in which everything is cheap because it is driven solely by supply and demand.

Not anywhere to the same extent that Japan Inc controls the Japanese government. Have you never heard of "amdakudari?" In America it is common enough for retired or defeated politicians to become lobbyists, but very seldom do you hear of them becoming board member or CEO's of the companies they formerly regulated.

Again this sounds like you are talking about the Japan of the 1980s more than that of today, the practice of Amakudari is now illegal and the law is actively enforced. Just two weeks ago this was in the news when a bureacrat from Monbusho got a job with Waseda University. There was a public inquiry into this and the top bureacrat in the Ministry was forced to resign as a result. While this obviously shows that the practice isn't dead, it also shows that the legal costs of doing it are very high and that it is no longer viewed as acceptable. (And BTW it would be unheard of for someone to be given the position of CEO in an amakudari situation).

In the US this goes by another name (agency capture) but it basically involves the same concerns and I don't believe it is any less prevalent there than it is here.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

Movie theatres actually do charge pretty uniform prices across Canada.

In Japan, ticket prices are not "uniform", every theater in the country charges 1800 yen for a ticket. This cannot be possible in a real, free market economy, but then Japan is not a free market economy.

the Japan Fair Trade Commission today is one of the most aggressive enforcers of anti-monopoly law

Utter nonsense. A handful of conglomerates control most of Japan's economy, and anti-trust laws which are common in America and Europe are painfully few in Japan. Not only do the conglomerates formally control vast numbers of subsidiaries, the informally control many more. When the entire movie industry sets a nationwide minimum ticket price, it is, in effect, a monopoly.

Price fixing is illegal in Japan, yet every movie theater in the country charges 1800 yen for a ticket. Every estate agent charges the exact same fee and percentage. Japanese companies and manufacturers set a "recommended" retail price for most goods, and retailers almost universally use this price. Some years ago the price of beer was increased in Japan. What was interesting is that the 4 major breweries all raised their price at the same time, and for the same amount. The JFTC investigated, but withheld any punishment. When it was discovered that beer from these brewers was priced exactly the same at 99% of shops and stores checked, the JFTC still did nothing.

Investigations found that 2/3 of Japanese goods were priced almost 40% higher in Japan than in America, and nearly 50% higher than in the UK. The JFTC discovered that imported goods to Japan were priced 80% higher than in their home markets. Wholesale prices to Japanese retailers were the same as what American and European retailers paid. When the yen doubled in value against the dollar and European currencies from 1985, retail prices for imported goods in Japan continued to rise, despite their wholesale prices falling dramatically.

In every case brought by the JFTC which has resulted in prosecution (and these are very few), in most cases punishments were suspended. The JFTC very seldom agrees to punish or prosecute price fixing and anti-trust cases, contrary to America and Europe, who punish such practices vigorously.

Personally I think the housing market is probably the biggest explanation for a lot of Japan's economic problems - owning a home in this country is like owning a used car in the US

Owning a home in the city is no different, but Japan Inc shares a bit in the problem. Since the main builders and financers of homes and buildings are mainly under the control of Mitsubishi and Mitsui, they have a great influence over the resale price of old homes. You need a loan to buy a home, and when the lender is also a new home builder and supplier, they are going to give preference and higher loans to those who buy their new homes. When Mitsubishi builds a building, it uses materials and products from companies it owns. From the steel, to the glass, to concrete, to the wiring, light, elevators, etc. And it is usually the provider of the home loan as well. The building is constructed by a contractor which is nominally independent, but which is in effect, wholly owned by Mitsubishi.

Another factor is that larger businesses and companies gravitate to the metro areas, because business is culturally done face to face, and Japan still uses the horribly inefficient and antiquated practice of applying an official seal to any and all legal documents and agreements. In the rest of the world, I can use an electronic signature for a loan, credit card, real estate contract, or other purpose. I can buy a home in America or Italy, ands imply fax a document with my signature. Here in Japan, I must personally seal such documents, and often every page of a contract. It is absurd, especially having to get new seal certificates every 90 days. Since the companies all move to the metro areas, so do the people.

Those arguably aren't fair comparisons either, since you are just looking at the prices of American food in Japan.

I am talking able staples. Rice, wheat, corn, beef, chicken, butter, milk, and so on. In Japan these are more expensive than other countries. Japanese spend 12.6% of their incomes on food, in Europe, they spend about 8.2%, and in America, 4.9% (more or less, the exact percentages fluctuate). The higher cost of staples is due to protections for domestic producers, even though these make up only 3% of the national economy. These protections are given in exchange for votes, as I said before, rural voters get three votes per person. If all people had an equal vote, and there were no tariffs or subsidies, Japan would not have essentially a one-party government.

There are about a million other counter-examples. Ever bought eye glasses in Japan?

I don't wear glasses, most Americans and Canadians don't. But in Japan it is the opposite, a much larger percentage of Japanese wear glasses, and the infrastructure to supply glasses is better than in America or Canada, and therefore less expensive.

Again this sounds like you are talking about the Japan of the 1980s more than that of today, the practice of Amakudari is now illegal and the law is actively enforced. Just two weeks ago this was in the news when a bureacrat from Monbusho got a job with Waseda University.

You are mistaken, amakudari is widely practiced, and is not limited only to politicians. The law is not actively enforced, it is selectively enforced. The example you provide was an exception, not the rule. Whenever a politician or bureaucrat steps on someone else's toes in Japan, he will be "outed" by the offended parties. Remember Ishihara and his bags of cash? He wasn't punished because he accepted the cash (or most of his peers would be punished as well). He was punished for not obeying when his leash was pulled.

An acquaintance of mine was in charge of a department which regulates domestic trade and investment Japan. Upon his retirement, he became president and CEO of one of Japan's largest real estate companies. And his is not a rare example, it being the rule, rather than the exception.

You have to realize that culture in Japan generally overrules the letter of the law. Things which are not illegal are often punished for being culturally unacceptable, while things that are illegal are not punished, because they are culturally acceptable. The law is only exercised when people step out of line.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

I am not sure.

On one level I understand what Abe is doing and it might make sense. Trump likes to be flattered and wants to look like he is getting results and this is Abe's way of getting in his good graces. That might protect Japan and Japanese companies from Trump's unpredictable outbursts and could give Japan a favored place in whatever Trumpian world order is being set up from the White House.

It could easily backfire though. Its hard to tell how long Trump will last in office and once he is gone, whatever Abe has given up to get in Trump's good books will have been a wasted investment. On the other hand if Trump lasts the full four years, or even the full eight, he is not a dependable leader and will probably throw Japan under the bus regardless of whatever Abe is giving him if it becomes politically advantageous for him to do so.

Its pretty high risk for Abe in terms of domestic politics too, if this doesn't work he'll lose a lot of support.

At this point its impossible to say which of these is more likely to come to pass (or other possibilities I haven't though of), so its hard to say. how it will play out. Its really interesting either way though since Abe is probably the first leader to make such a high stakes risk in terms of his approach to Trump, I am sure other world leaders are watching it carefully.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

The German makers are not operating under the same rules. Some years ago German cars were subject the same nonsense which applies to American and other imported cars now. Germany had enough, and threatened Japanese imports with she same restrictions. Japan conceded, and prices came down.

What is the substance of the "nonsense" that American producers are subjected to which German cars are not? Under WTO rules Japan cannot impose differential rules to cars from one country that it doesn't apply to others, and the US is not at all shy about bringing claims to WTO dispute resolution panels about that sort of thing, so I am curious what it specifically is that you are referring to.

Even worse, the strengthening of the yen did not result in cheaper iPods, New Balance shoes, or Levis jeans. Shelf prices were unchanged. The excuse given by Japan Inc was that fluctuations in prices reflecting changes in currency exchange rates were "harmful to consumers." In years of business, and studying economics, I never heard anyone before claim that low prices were harmful to consumers, but then again, this is Japan, where inflation is called a "price stability goal", where commercial whaling is called "scientific research", and where deficit spending trillions of yen on bridges to nowhere is supposed to "inspire the virtuous spirit of Abeonomics." At least I can go to Costco, where shelf prices quickly change in response to changes in the exchange rate.

That isn't specific to Japan. I'm from Canada, a country whose currency experiences similar fluctuations against the US dollar and whose prices on imported goods similarly do not change to reflect these ups and downs. The Japanese government does not set the prices that dealers charge for products, there are a lot of reasons why retailers don't adjust prices in real time to match currency fluctuations.

And where did you study economics? In the same post that you rail against barriers to American imports you say you like to shop at Costco (presumably in Japan) without any apparent sense of irony. Do you know why Costco is in Japan? Because Japan de-regulated its retail sector in the 1990s in direct response to SII negotiations with the US, allowing American style big box stores to enter the market for the first time. That destroyed the structure of retail distribution in Japan that existed until the 1980s, it was not a small sacrifice on Japan's part.

In America, the prices of the goods consumers buy are generally determined by the consumers. In Japan this is not the case. Not only are the prices of imports kept above what the market is willing to pay, the prices of domestically made goods are also priced higher than what the market is willing to pay (which is why the economy remains stubbornly deflationary). The main reason Japan Inc has been able to maintain higher prices for it's goods in Japan (a Sony TV or Toyota car is cheaper in America than in Japan) is because the lack of competition from imported goods.

Again, where did you study economics? No economist would accept the argument that consumers have no influence over prices in Japan - if prices were actually kept "above what the market is willing to pay" in Japan, then nothing would ever be sold. The mere fact that prices for some goods are higher in Japan than in the US (emphasis on "some" since the opposite also holds true) does not mean they do not track with what consumers are willing to pay for them. Prices differ wildly from country to country in general, but this doesn't in itself tell us much about which ones are more open or closed to trade.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

It does. As a rule, countries with more open trade have a higher standard of living than those who are more closed to trade. Developed countries have the lowest barriers to trade, developing countries have the highest barriers. If you live in Europe, you find that even in the EU, the barriers increase as you go from north to south, from 17% in the UK or Scandinavia, to more than 30% in places like Greece. In Africa or Latin America, you are talking about 60% and up.

you do realize that the EU is a customs union with a uniform set of tariffs, Products entering Denmark face identical barriers to those entering Greece.

Will respond to the rest tomorrow, interesting debate.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Seriously, so what? Nations can choose whatever economic systems and import rules they choose.

In other countries, people can choose. In Japan, companies make the choices, and the people have to live with those choices. Japan's society is brought up to conform, to respect those older than you, to do what you are told, and not to complain about it. Do you think your average Japanese really wants to pay 10 times as much for rice, 4 times as much for beef, and 3 times as much for milk or butter than people in other countries pay?

The main strength of the Japanese people and the economy is the people's ability to work together. The main weakness is critical thought and action. When japan gives rural voters 3 votes per person, the vast majority of the people in the cities don't complain. When the government levies large food tariffs to subsidize rural voters to buy their votes (the LDP's secret formula to staying in power almost indefinitely) no one complains. As the government pawns the future of the country by borrowing heavily, and debauching the currency to keep Japan Inc afloat, no one complains.

you do realize that the EU is a customs union with a uniform set of tariffs, Products entering Denmark face identical barriers to those entering Greece.

The standard tariff is the same, but each country applies it's own VAT at different rates depending on the goods being shipped in, so the barriers are not identical. As an exporter of Japanese goods to North America and Europe, my goods are 100% tax and duty free in America, but are subject to a taxes and tariffs from 17% to 38% in Europe. Needless to say, most of my sales are to America. Higher rates are for eastern (Hungary) and southern Europe (Greece), the lowest rate is Switzerland.

4 ( +9 / -5 )

You think corporations don't rule the US Congress? You can't possibly be serious? Net neutrality is over in the US and a former (damn) lawyer for Verizon is now FCC Chairman. The military suppliers run the entire budget process now.

It costs substantially less to eat in restaurants in Japan than in the US now. My internet service is extraordinary and reasonable in Japan and is complete hell at my US house. I was the second person in Kanagawa-ken to get fiber and have only had a single outage at my place north of Tokyo from a little 9.0 earthquake... but it came back up within a day.

My phone service in Japan s less expensive and 100x better than in the US. For heaven's sake, even as bad as McDonald's is, it's better in Japan than the US.

Even golf is less expensive in Japan now. And so is insurance and healthcare is far less expensive. Two prescriptions, identical package, brand and dosage: $179 in the US and 2,100 yen in Japan. You also fail to account for the cost of quality in customer service and products.

People in Europe have an expectation to pay VAT on imports, and that is their issue, not yours as an exporter to Europe. I export my products (approx $5,000 value) from the US around the world and my customers don't whine about the VAT they pay in Asia or Europe like you're whining.

What do you export from Japan? You have no control over what other countries do. If it upsets you so much, do something else. :)

4 ( +7 / -3 )

No, this is utter nonsense. Japan's anti-monopoly law (not plural) is directly modelled on American law.

Enforcement sure isn't.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Do you think this would be in Japan’s best interests?

Not Japan's interest but Abe's interest.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

How can one vote, when not know the what Abe is proposing. Does Abe mean to close down Toyota in Japan and build all toyota car in the USA. Or is Abe going allow USA to print the yen or contract out Government work, What is the pretext of the Vote. This editor is stupid.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

"Nations can choose whatever economic systems and import rules they choose."

No they can't, practically speaking. When they sign on to trade and investment agreements, they must abide by the rules of those deals. The WTO is a case in point, and TPP would have been.

You can't have your cake and eat it too in today's globalized "free market" economy.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

You think corporations don't rule the US Congress?

Not anywhere to the same extent that Japan Inc controls the Japanese government. Have you never heard of "amdakudari?" In America it is common enough for retired or defeated politicians to become lobbyists, but very seldom do you hear of them becoming board member or CEO's of the companies they formerly regulated.

brand and dosage: $179 in the US and 2,100 yen in Japan.

A box of 40 aspirin tablets cost 1300 yen at Matsumoto Kiyoshi, I can get 500 for that price at any American pharmacy. OTC medicines are several times more expensive in Japan than they are in America, Europe, or Canada.

And don't forget that just because you pay a lower price for prescription medicine that someone else doesn't pay the difference. You may pay less out of pocket, but the difference comes from what you pay in tax. The government does not pay for any of the subsidies or services it provides, the taxpayers do. My private insurance in America cost 10% less than what I pay for the national healthcare in Japan, yet offered 100% coverage, rather than the 70% which is covered in Japan.

Even golf is less expensive in Japan now.

As a high school student, I could play golf for free after school at the public golf course.

It costs substantially less to eat in restaurants in Japan than in the US now.

Compare menus from America and Japan at places like KFC, McDonalds (a quarter pounder set with cheese $4.79 in America, vs 780 yen in Japan), Burger King (A double whopper combo is $6.59 in America now, and 1240 yen in Japan), or Dominos Pizza. You will find that Japan is significantly more expensive than America. With rice, beef, butter, corn, pork, and other ingredients costing at least twice as much as they do in America, it is not likely that Japanese restaurants are truly cheaper, unless you are talking about beef bowl and ramen shops.

If you really want a kick, take a look at American grocery store ads for this week, and compare them to your local Japanese grocery store. You can get 2 liters of cola for what Japan stores charge for 500ml, 5 ears of corn for $1, instead of 200 yen for one ear, one gallon of milk for what Japan charges for one liter.

Take a look at countries by disposable income, that is, the money left over after deducting normal living expenses. You'll find Japan does not rate very highly on the list.

As for cars, I bought a new American car three years ago. The price in America was $31,000, the identical car in Japan was 5.5 million yen. It was cheaper to fly to America, buy the car, ship it to Japan, pay the inspection fees and taxes, and still come out several thousand dollars ahead.

How can an American car cost twice as much in Japan when there are no tariffs or barriers? How is it possible that a Japanese dealer's overhead is thousands of dollars higher than the cost to fly internationally, buy a car at retail (not dealer wholesale) ship a car as a single unit, pay all the fees and taxes? If Japan's market was truly as free as you think, it would not be possible.

Japan Inc keeps competitors out so as to have a monopoly on the domestic economy. When you have a monopoly on a market, you can charge as much as you want, and since the customers don't have any alternative, you can still sell goods.

3 ( +9 / -6 )

Trump's an arrogant man and he's the emperor now, at least he thinks of himself as such. Anything that a world leader does which implies bending a knee to him will probably go a long way with a leader like this.

Besides, if Abe does present a deal to build a bullet train in the northeast of the U.S. and Trump accepts the deal, then it looks like a win-win situation for both countries. Japan's expertise and engineering and American labor and resources to help build it. A really big joint project for both countries and it'll give Trump's over-inflated ego a chance to say It'll be HUGE!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Stay out of it - it's going to serve more to fill American fat cats' coffers, and to placate certain US voters, than anything else.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Same size meal? Volume isn't the measure. Two people can't spend more than 2,000 yen at Sushiro, but the same meal will cost you $60 - $90 + tip in the US.

And a steak dinner would cost much more in Japan. We're talking about the price of the average meal, which is cheaper in the U.S. than in Japan, for a comparable meal.

Population density in major US cities is similar to Japan. Density has nothing to do with quality of service.

For telecom is has everything to do with quality of service. When you have to install lines in remote areas you get less bang for your buck overall.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

But how is this at all related to the topic of this article

It is because Trump wants equal trade with japan, not more jobs at Japanese companies in America, or investments in America which provide most of their return to Japanese investors. The above is all relevant because it described the hurdles and barriers which America and other countries must face when trying to do business in Japan, hurdles and barriers which, for the most part, don't apply to Japanese products sold in America and Europe.

It is also related because the domestic companies tightly control the domestic market and the domestic economy, and would not be able to collude with foreign companies or fix prices with them in the unlikely event that foreign companies were let in.

Abe is a tool of Japan Inc, and the rural voting block, and for these reasons he will not be able to allow America or anyone else equal access to Japan's market. Opening Japan's market would lead to the dissolution of Japan's current business and economic structures (which are hopelessly inefficient, and subsidized by the taxpayers), because with foreign goods and services being available at fair prices would force Japanese companies to compete for sales and revenue, rather than negotiate with each other for the same.

The tragic thing is that if Japanese companies were required to compete and innovate, they would be formidable, and quite capable of success. But the entire system is paternalistic and seniority-based, run geriatric fossils who can't be trusted to drive a car safely.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Well, the world will be watching closely. If it works for the US then maybe the EU, ASEAN and China can make the same threats and get the same treatment. If it works for Japan and its companies then maybe they will be encouraging these blocs into providing a convenient excuse for them to abandon Japan and just build up other countries.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

It is not Japan's job to create jobs in the US.

Trump in not asking for Japan to create jobs in the US, he is asking for equal access to Japan's consumer market. Trump is not asking for Japan to invest in America, he is asking for equal access to Japan's consumer market.

All Trump is asking for is that America gets the same access to the Japanese market that America has given to Japan for the last 5 decades.

But Abe and Japan do not want to give America equal access to the Japanese market, that is why Abe keeps spouting this nonsense about creating jobs and investment in America.

If Japan does create jobs in America, it will be only at Japanese companies, and there profit will be Japan's. If Japan invests in America, it will be Japanese companies doing the investments, and the returns going to Japan. In other words, most of the benefit would be Japan's, not America's

Once again, America and Trump are not asking for Japan to create jobs in America, or invest in America. Once again, America and Trump are only asking for the same access to the Japanese market that America has always given Japan to the American market. America is asking Japan to be fair, and nothing more than that.

Instead of all the smoke and mirrors Abe and Japan Inc are blowing and flashing, it would save us a lot of trouble if they simply had the goddamn balls to say "yes" or "no".

1 ( +10 / -9 )

A rationale was written in a headline mentioned right next to this item on the JT webpage:

'Japan still frets over Trump (despite assurances from Pentagon chief)'

(don't we all!)

Abe is just playing politics: fret about some things and grovel about other things. Not too close but not too distant either.

Absolutely nothing new about that here.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Toyota and other Japanese cars, etc are also made in South Africa, mostly for the African and Eurpean/ME markets.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Sigh.

Same size meal? Volume isn't the measure. Two people can't spend more than 2,000 yen at Sushiro, but the same meal will cost you $60 - $90 + tip in the US.

Population density in major US cities is similar to Japan. Density has nothing to do with quality of service.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

The US economy is disproportionately people and bankers screwing around with money and making nothing.

There can never be equal trade because Japan doesn't need the things that the US makes, including all of the missiles, rifles, rockets, warships, tanks, processed foods, fast foods, flip flops, T-shirts and jeans that are the staple of US fashion, ethanol, high fructose corn syrup, etc, that either kill you or are used to kill others.

Japan and Japanese companies actually design and make stuff.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

The US has also been Number 1 in invading more countries and been responsible killing more people since the end of WWII.

The US has invaded many countries since world war two. But also since world war 2, the Soviet Union and China killed tens of millions of people. which was many, many times more than how many America killed. Stalin and Mao were bent on spreading their communist doctrines throughout the world (the Soviet Union had planned to achieve world socialism by 1985). Had the Soviet Union and China been successful, how many more millions would have been killed? Perhaps many, perhaps few, perhaps none at all. But America was not going to take that chance. When the few choices one has to make are all bad, one must try to choose the lesser evil, lest a greater evil arise.

Stalin wanted to subjugate Japan, to punish Japan for humiliating the Russian Navy before the rise of the Bolsheviks. Had America not defeated Japan as quickly as it had, Stalin might very well have succeeded, Russian forces were already massing for an invasion of northern Japan. As much as people despise the dropping of the atomic bombs on Japan, had they not been dropped, and the war had dragged on, there would have been little left of Japan for America and Russia to divide between them. Japan would not exist as we know it today. There would have been no Japanese "economic miracle", and no bubble economy to collapse.

But none of this has anything to do with the article, does it?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Trump has made no such claim as you say. You're just making it up.

American companies chose to have products made overseas to reduce the cost of US workers. The trade imbalance is from Americans not wanting to make cheap plastic crap in dirty factories.

The US protects its industries just like Japan and other countries do.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@sangetsu03. Well laid out arguments! I priced a corvette a year ago and it was twice the price as the same car in the US. WTO rules.........loopholes!

0 ( +8 / -8 )

@sangetsu: So what?

Seriously, so what? Nations can choose whatever economic systems and import rules they choose. Your US chooses the market rules it wants and other nations can choose their own systems and rules.

The narrative that every country has to "do it like we do in America" is tedious.

0 ( +8 / -8 )

It costs substantially less to eat in restaurants in Japan than in the US now.

What restaurants are you comparing? Outside of cities like New York and San Francisco, a meal of the same size will generally be more in Japan.

My internet service is extraordinary and reasonable in Japan and is complete hell at my US house. My phone service in Japan s less expensive and 100x better than in the US.

This is a symptom of a high population density.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Utter nonsense. A handful of conglomerates control most of Japan's economy, and anti-trust laws which are common in America and Europe are painfully few in Japan.

No, this is utter nonsense. Japan's anti-monopoly law (not plural) is directly modelled on American law. You seem to believe that there are multiple types of anti-trust laws and Japan only has a few, which isn't how you compare anti-monopoly law.

Price fixing is illegal in Japan, yet every movie theater in the country charges 1800 yen for a ticket.

I am not saying that price fixing doesn't exist or that it is perfectly regulated, yup movie theatres charge the same price throughout the country (though you can get cheaper tickets in advance).

But how is this at all related to the topic of this article? The largest theatre operator in Japan is Warner-Mycal (joint venture between an American and Japanese company) and half of the top ten grossing pictures in Japan last year were American. Hollywood clearly is not having trouble breaking into the Japanese market.

Owning a home in the city is no different, but Japan Inc shares a bit in the problem. Since the main builders and financers of homes and buildings are mainly under the control of Mitsubishi and Mitsui, they have a great influence over the resale price of old homes. You need a loan to buy a home, and when the lender is also a new home builder and supplier, they are going to give preference and higher loans to those who buy their new homes. When Mitsubishi builds a building, it uses materials and products from companies it owns. From the steel, to the glass, to concrete, to the wiring, light, elevators, etc. And it is usually the provider of the home loan as well. The building is constructed by a contractor which is nominally independent, but which is in effect, wholly owned by Mitsubishi.

Sorry, by "in this country" I meant in Japan, not in the countryside. I own a home in a major city.

I generally agree with what you are saying, except for the home loans. In the current market banks are willing to make home loans to anyone qualified regardless of whether or not they are buying a home from a favored company.

I am talking able staples. Rice, wheat, corn, beef, chicken, butter, milk, and so on. In Japan these are more expensive than other countries. Japanese spend 12.6% of their incomes on food, in Europe, they spend about 8.2%, and in America, 4.9% (more or less, the exact percentages fluctuate). The higher cost of staples is due to protections for domestic producers, even though these make up only 3% of the national economy. These protections are given in exchange for votes, as I said before, rural voters get three votes per person. If all people had an equal vote, and there were no tariffs or subsidies, Japan would not have essentially a one-party government.

Yeah, I'm not saying things aren't expensive in Japan, a lot of stuff clearly is, but that isn't solely the result of barriers to trade - a country that has to import most of its food is going to pay more than a country that can grow most of it.

Take a look at the retail sector. In the 1980s it was extremely inefficient and extremely closed. Products would pass through about 4-5 middlemen between the producer and the ultimate consumer, versus an average of 2 middlemen in the US. Consumers had to pay way more as a result and it was extremely difficult for foreign companies to enter the market since they couldn't enter the complex distribution system (and they faced regulatory hurdles as well).

That system is mostly gone now as a result of deregulation in the 90s. Box stores selling goods at cheap prices (not to mention online retailers) are everywhere and the tiny shops that were typical of the old system are a dying breed (you see these on the street sometimes still, like little shops selling only Toshiba products which are clearly going out of business). Foreign retailers like Costco, IKEA have entered the market and are doing well, which would have been impossible in the 80s. Is the country completely open and easy to enter? No. But the argument that it is completely closed and lacks competition is equally false.

I don't wear glasses, most Americans and Canadians don't. But in Japan it is the opposite, a much larger percentage of Japanese wear glasses, and the infrastructure to supply glasses is better than in America or Canada, and therefore less expensive.

This is nonsense. More than 60% of American adults use glasses, that is a massive market. I assume the Japanese numbers are similar, if they are bigger I doubt it is enough to explain a 300% difference in price.

The real reason is that the US glasses market is extremely concentrated - 80% of the market is in the hands of one conglomerate, which is able to control prices through its total domination of the distribution system (just Google "eyeglasses price fixing"). Basically everything bad you have said about the Japanese market applies to the US market for eyeglasses. The Japanese market on the other hand isn't dominated by one player and there is a huge amount of competition which keeps prices down. Another bonus is that the market is less regulated than it is in North America. To get glasses back home I need a prescription from a doctor, which basically just involves an eye test any idiot could perform, but because I need to get it from a doctor it costs about $100. This is in addition to the price of the glasses which as I said are themselves about 4 times more expensive. Japan doesn't require that, so in addition to the glasses themselves being incredibly cheap, people don't have to throw money at a regulated profession that gouges consumers.

My point isn't that Japan is a free market paradise while the US is run by monopolies who gouge everyone, rather it is that you should be careful about drawing conclusions about the entire economy just from how the market for one product operates. Movie tickets are expensive in Japan, while glasses are cheaper. And the opposite holds true for the US.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Political cartoon request: Abe helping the POTUS roll out a big barrel of salted pork while Robert Mercer and other billionaires watch, pockets bulging with cash and smiles from ear to ear.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This is indesputable.

Though not unpresidented. Other empires have burned out suddenly, too.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I have no idea what "unpresidented" means.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Abe has the spine of a jellyfish in a high wind, plus a tendency to brown nose anything American, so any negotiation with Trump is not going to work out in Japan's favour.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

What is so difficult about JAPAN FIRST? President Trump understands that and respects it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

There are not enough workers in Japan to make the stuff Japanese companies want to make, so having US workers make the stuff is Abe's plan. The profits still return to Japan. But why does Abe have no plan to promote population growth in Japan?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Because all of us in Japan could use a little breathing room? I like the idea of de-constructing Japan - tearing up concrete and making parks with trees, tearing down the empty old houses and making a place where pollen can be absorbed into some dirt instead of being recycled on cement and asphalt.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I can't claim to understand what this would entail...

But on the face of it if you are dealing with someone who sees negotiating-and indeed whose very philosophy on life-is that its a zero sum game, and who's mantra is 'America First'...then how good could it be for Japan? On the other hand, if you throw in Trump ncompetence it might tip the scale in Japan's favor.

Then there's supply and demand-if you create more jobs in America then you create more demand for Japanese imports-but at the same time you make Japan less competitive if it loses jobs to America...So the devil is in the details...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Sangetsu - magnificent. You win JT.

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

Sangetsu _ excelllent points made. Thanks for a good read.

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

It is because Trump wants equal trade with japan, not more jobs at Japanese companies in America, or investments in America which provide most of their return to Japanese investors.

No I mean specifically in terms of the movie ticket price that you hold up as your main piece of evidence of collusion that prevents American companies from earning money here, how is that relevant? American film and theatre companies have been massively successful in Japan, which completely undermines the central premise of your argument. How does that success square with your argument that the Japanese market is closed to Americans?

Opening Japan's market would lead to the dissolution of Japan's current business and economic structures (which are hopelessly inefficient, and subsidized by the taxpayers), because with foreign goods and services being available at fair prices would force Japanese companies to compete for sales and revenue, rather than negotiate with each other for the same.

Again I come back to eyeglasses. The industry is perfectly competitive in Japan, offers consumers better products at better prices than anything in the US to an absolutely astonishing degree.

The only conclusion one can draw from that is that clearly some product markets in Japan do operate under competitive conditions and do offer consumers excellent value while their American counterparts fail miserably at the same.

This is not always the case of course, but it is a logical fallacy to say that because some products are expensive in Japan, the entire market for all products all the time is uncompetitive and solely driven by cozy relationships, etc.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Within the past 100+ years, time and time again the United States of America has come to the aid and assistance to more countries more times than any other country anywhere else in the entire world. Of those countries, Japan has been the biggest beneficiary by far. This is indisputable. So it is now time for Japan to stand up and come to the aid of its benefactor and pony up some serious long-term financial and jobs related projects. Furthermore, these negotiations between President Trump and Prime Minister Abe will be very beneficial for both countries in many great ways long into the future. #MAGA #MJGA

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

The US has also been Number 1 in invading more countries and been responsible killing more people since the end of WWII.

This is indesputable.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

He is getting Japanese companies to partner up and partake in the massive upcoming Trump infrastructure splurge, so to me it is in Japan's best interests to take a slice of that massive windfall

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

@gokai and Cleo,

America is sorting out its own problems. It`s called negotiating and making better deals.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

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