Piglet comments

Posted in: Panasonic to trim TV business, cut 1,000 jobs See in context

Samsung is now the world leader for TVs with a 20% global market share (the only country where Samsung doesn't sell TVs is Japan due to protectionist policies). I believe this is just the beginning for Japanese electronic manufacturers: Japan cannot compete anymore in this industry and should refocus on new industries with a global vision (high-end specialized electronics, products adapted for developing countries, etc...).

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Posted in: JAL could go public again by Sept 2012: report See in context

I wouldn't touch any share or bonds from JAL, knowing that their reorganization has been very cosmetic and it still has overall a very traditional organization in collusion with government.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: TEPCO asks for Y700 bil in gov't aid to help cover compensation See in context

Let's take a more libertarian (or classical liberal approach): with freedom comes responsibility. There shouldn't be any bailout or public aid for failed private companies. If the companies get bankrupt, then let's let them go bankrupt. Shareholders (banks, private owners, etc...) cannot be left out of it either. By buying shares and bonds from TEPCO, they also took the risk their investment to be lost. Therefore they shouldn't be protected for their bad investment.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: TEPCO asks for Y700 bil in gov't aid to help cover compensation See in context

@rarara

Trying to put the blame on the least responsible part of the chain is a well known tactic, but it won't change the fact that TEPCO bought the design from the late 60's and then refused to make any adjustment and modification. You are also lying about the fact that local companies "tried" to implement security measures but it would be "refused" by GE. Anyway, GE/Toshiba/Hitachi were responsible for the reactor design, not for the remaining installations (buildings, etc...).

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: TEPCO asks for Y700 bil in gov't aid to help cover compensation See in context

TEPCO is now lobbying to obtain a liability cap, which would mean that only a fraction of the demands for compensation would be paid by TEPCO.

I also found this in the Economist:

TEPCO faces claims for compensation that, in a worst-case scenario, could exceed its assets of ¥15 trillion ($186 billion). No one knows how much it will have to pay. (Oddly, it is the education ministry’s job to issue guidelines for nuclear compensation.) Estimates of TEPCO’s liabilities range between ¥4 trillion and ¥25 trillion. The firm also owes ¥7.8 trillion to bondholders and bank creditors. If TEPCO goes bust, these people take precedence over those affected by the disaster, a fact that is politically radioactive.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: TEPCO asks for Y700 bil in gov't aid to help cover compensation See in context

TEPCO has huge assets (including real estate property). I would like first TEPCO to sell most of their assets, ask the shareholders to take responsibility and go bankrupt before help is asked to taxpayers.

TEPCO is protected by the government (because it is deemed as "too big to fail" and because of intense collusion between TEPCO, the NSA and the government).

TEPCO enjoys a private monopoly in the whole Kanto area. It is time for this monopoly to end and competitors be allowed to join the market (with domestic or foreign funding).

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: TEPCO asks for Y700 bil in gov't aid to help cover compensation See in context

@rarara

The design of the reactors was from Hitachi, Toshiba and GE (depending on the reactor). These companies were not responsible for the overall maintenance of the nuclear plant. Furthermore, GE published a long time ago the design flaw, which was corrected in US... but TEPCO and the Nuclear Safety Agency decided it was not worth implementing the corrections. Therefore legal (and possibly criminal) responsibility lies within TEPCO and the NSA.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: TEPCO asks for Y700 bil in gov't aid to help cover compensation See in context

I don't want to pay for TEPCO. Let's them first sell assets, let the shareholders pay, and when there's nothing more let TEPCO bankrupt and other companies take over.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Posted in: TEPCO asks for Y700 bil in gov't aid to help cover compensation See in context

No bailout, no public aid to TEPCO. Let's TEPCO fail and reorganize the whole system by allowing competition !

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Posted in: Maehara, Kamei spar over TPP See in context

@It's me

There is a 700% import tax on foreign rice, so if the import tax was reduced to a more reasonable 10%, you would pay your thai rice about 250 yen instead of 1900 yen. Concerning domestic rice, the removal of price control by government and JA (combined with increased competition) would result in a sharp decrease, probably around 300 to 500 yen for 5 kg. Japanese families would definitely appreciate this sudden increase of available income.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Maehara, Kamei spar over TPP See in context

Regulated price of rice in Japan means that the price for domestic rice is 5 times the world market price. Abandoning the socialist policies and allowing free trade of rice would mean that the local rice would probably cost 1/4 to 1/5 of the current price, and the foreign rice might even be cheaper. In times of economic stagnation, this would mean increased available income for the average japanese family.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Posted in: Maehara, Kamei spar over TPP See in context

The TPP would be the be thing to happen in the Japanese economic life since the explosion of the bubble in the early 90s. It would spur growth and would help the domestic sector adjust to international competition. Everybody agrees that the agricultural sector needs to be reformed anyway (there are too many small farms owned by a single old man, consolidation is absolutely necessary through the association of small farms into commercial or cooperative entitites). The soviet-style JA and price regulations need to be abolished (do you know that a farmer is not even allowed to sell his products at any price?). With increasing competition and consolidation of domestic farms, I believe there will be a specialization:

high-quality products and local species produced domestically

mass market imported products

rice anti-competitive price-fixing will be abolished and the price of rice will decrease 50% to 90% overall (both local and foreign)

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Posted in: 84 children injected with radioactive substance at Kofu hospital See in context

However you need a license to become a radiographer (which is not a license to practice medicine indeed)

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: 84 children injected with radioactive substance at Kofu hospital See in context

Not only this radiographer should loose his job, he should also loose his license and possibly be charged for medical negligence and malpractice.

So much sloppiness in the hospital procedures in many local hospitals around here. Every time I have to go to the hospital/clinic, I can see at least one breach of procedure or non respect of good medical practices, for example:

no respect for medical secrecy in one clinic (the nurse talks about the case with a family next to other patients)

a doctor that originally refuses to sign the additional medical booklet for my son (I try to fill both the Japanese and the foreign booklet to keep up to date with vaccinations and medical consultations)

a doctor that basically says that he doesn't want foreigners in his ladies clinic (when we were looking for a suitable maternity for my pregnant wife, instead we went to a very nice local private hospital, quite cheap too)

consultations that last only 1 to 2 minutes for my son, the doctor barely checking anything

a total lack of hygiene in a private kids clinic (we stopped going there) and in the local public hospital at the child emergency room (dirty floor and walls with an amazing amount of dust and various consumables stocked in cardboards on the floor)

etc...

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Posted in: Kyushu Electric execs under fire for not resigning over fake email scandal See in context

the needs of the nation must be placed above the safety of a few.

Your ideology is very similar to these collectivist political ideologies (communism, fascism, etc...). These are not acceptable in a liberal democratic society.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Japan eyes simpler immigration procedures, including automatic gate See in context

"in order to cope with increasing numbers of tourists to Japan in the future."

The whole program is based on a working hypothesis that is quite optimistic, but not necessarily realistic.

4 ( +3 / -0 )

Posted in: Air traffic controllers banned from having cell phones, cameras in tower See in context

I am wondering what happened to this guy. Was he fired? Was he brought to justice? No doubt he's been under the radar of the US Secret Service and will be for a while.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Two riot police officers arrested for molesting izakaya worker See in context

You people putting the blame anywhere but on the two J-cops is ridiculous!

It is so obvious that these cops should be jailed for a long time and banned from the job, it doesn't even need to be discussed.

The young victim has been sexually assaulted and I sincerely hope she will get justice and that she will be able to recover (psychologically and physically) without too much harm.

That being said, she shouldn't have been working there, because of alcohol and second-hand smoke. The two problems (sexual assault and employment of minors in bars) are unrelated, but this doesn't mean the question whether such places should not employ minors should not be discussed.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Posted in: Two riot police officers arrested for molesting izakaya worker See in context

Apart from the disgusting act of the two cops (let's hope they rot in jail), I find it absolutely shocking that a 16 years-old girl could work in a pub serving alcohol and inhaling second-hand smoke. Shouldn't minors be protected from second-hand smoke? I wouldn't let my son enter any smoking place (granted he's still very young).

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Posted in: The definitive Japanese bar code of conduct See in context

I think the author is talking about these small "bubble area" bars in Ginza that pretend to be elitist but actually target middle-aged conservative middle- and upper-middle class men. Don't waste time with these places, they are stuck in the glory days (when salary men could afford to spend a few man for an evening, complete with drinks, hostess, etc...).

Most of these bars are struggling financially but the stubbornness of their owners will lead most of them to bankruptcy within a few years.

There are many kind of bars, both Japanese and Western style, at every price range (from the cheap beer-hole to the most sophisticated downtown bar) and for everybody (conservative, arty, casual, elegant). The above-mentionned bars only target a specific demographic, if you are not the target don't even bother. They will not welcome you.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: Japan to offer 10,000 free trips to foreigners to boost tourism industry See in context

At a first glance, it looks like a very nice idea (who wouldn't want to receive a free ticket to visit Japan?)... But when you think about it, you realize this is typically a bad "good idea". Government money should be better used in promoting modern tourism infrastructure (most touristic infrastructure is old if not crumbling outside major centers) :

help the hospitality industry reach global standards (international reservation database, credit card processing, hotel networks, multilingual information)

renovate tourist attractions (renovated infrastructure, sponsor modern management and financial process, new design, automation)

embellish tourist hotspots: many streets in Kyoto are still filled with pachinkos, power cables, etc... while some historical buildings are destroyed or are not renovated

promote a tourist card giving access to public and private venues (museums, temples, selected restaurants and hotels, trains, ...) at reduced prices.

If they don't know how to do it, I suggest they spend some money to study the tourism organization system in France (world leader with 80 million foreign tourists a year).

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Posted in: Apple fails to impress with updated iPhone See in context

Siri personal assistant is miles ahead of the competition. Apple bought Siri company and integrated their AI technology into iOS. The result is absolutely stunning. Too bad Apple did not release the iPhone 5 yesterday, but the speed bump is quite significant (9X with the dual core A5).

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Return trip See in context

"North Korea suffered chronic food shortage due to series of drought and crop failures (also the fundamental flaw of the socialist system of collective farming). The articles says that average height difference is significant, as of 2005, the average height of people aged between 20 and 39 in North Korea is 154.9cm (5.08ft) for females and 165.6cm (5.43ft) for males, while the average height for the South Korean is 159.1cm (5.21ft) for females and 172.5cm (5.65ft) for males. "

Interesting!

Anyway good luck to these new citizens of South Korea! Let's hope they will be able to see a democratic reunification of their country (and the dislocation of the dictatorship in the northern part of the country) during their lifetime.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Lawmaker urged not to visit N Korea See in context

Japan and South Korea are the only two countries that do not recognize North Korea (for both countries, South Korea is the legitimate government for the whole of korean peninsula). There are no diplomatic relations between both countries. Therefore it makes sense for Japan to avoid normalizing relations with the stalinist-fascist dictatorship. However, this doesn't mean negotiations or discussions between officials of both countries could not happen.

0 ( +0 / -1 )

Posted in: Y10 mil 'for Tohoku' left in bag in Saitama municipal bldg restroom See in context

Maybe this person cannot prove the origin of the funds (if it was acquired doing illegal or non declared work), so a "real" donation would raise suspicion to the tax administration. (just an hypothesis). Anyway, let's hope that this money will help some families.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Posted in: Tokyo gov't agrees to take 1,000 tons of debris from city in Iwate See in context

@cleo

All the contracts are going to Tokyo companies with cosy relationships with the government (and possibly ties with the Yakuza).

I can tell you personally that this kind of collusion is not a myth, I have heard some stories (from a very trustable source and personal experience) about how businesses dealing with government-related entities have to provide gifts to get contracts (for example, hiring retirees from these entities). Many (most?) public contracts are not given on a competitive basis but to "friendly companies".

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Posted in: Gov't, DPJ settle on tax increase plan See in context

If my understanding is correct, the taxation for bonus and normal salary are different, so it might be more advantageous to have a higher bonus than a slightly increased salary (correct me if I am wrong).

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Typhoon strands several thousand commuters in Tokyo See in context

My company allows employees to leave early when there is a typhoon/disaster (they provide a special paid leave to everybody for "exceptional circumstances"). Most of the employees left around 3 pm. It was obvious trains would be stopped from 6 pm. Unfortunately, many companies do not have such a system.

There is a very common misconception in this country that economic success is directly proportional to the number of working hours for the staff (which leads to situations where people have to keep "working" even though there is a typhoon). It couldn't be further from the truth. It is all a matter of organization, good planning and good management. With some organizational thinking, it is feasible to significantly decrease the amount of overtime for staff (especially for basic staff, for executives this is of course another story). Unless you have some administrative work to do, it doesn't make sense anyway to work during a typhoon, while the whole city is paralyzed anyway (clients could not be reached, business meetings could not be held, so why bother?).

I was a manager for a previous (crappy) company in Tokyo for a short time (I left after a few months), and I could not believe how bad organized they were, which led the company to ask for unpaid overtime for staff and rely on contract secretaries (no paid vacation, no insurance, cash payment). They did not have a proper client database (everything on various papers, e-mails and doc files), and accounting was done manually. With a few tricks (client database, online HR system for employees), we started to significantly decrease the amount of basic administrative work (to focus on the core business and marketing). The owners were morons though and I don't believe they implemented the necessary measures after I left.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: TEPCO says up to 500 tons of groundwater flowing into Fukushima nuclear plant See in context

I might be stupid, but if groundwater can flow into the reactor buildings, doesn't it mean that water (including contaminated water) can also escape from these buildings?

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Posted in: Police continue search for baby girl feared abducted from car in Oita See in context

You don't a young child without supervision even for a minute. Period. The mother bears some responsibility and could be charged for child neglect.

As a father of a toddler, I never leave my child in the car alone (or anywhere else for instance). Anything could happen while you're out of sight (medical condition, accident or stolen car, kidnapping, etc...). I don't have any stats here but I would guess that the child abduction rate in Japan is not statistically different from many other developed countries: this is a rare occurrence, but you nevertheless don't want to give any opportunities to kidnappers.

On a side note, if you leave your car unattended without locking it and it is stolen, you are not covered by your insurance (because they consider it is your fault).

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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