Japan’s Finance Minister Elected as Head of Democratic Party

Japan’s finance minister Yoshihiko Noda has been elected as the head of the ruling Democratic party, and is likely to soon become the country’s next prime minister as well. Japan’s next prime minister will undoubtedly inherit the region’s financial situation as Europe’s crisis deepens and economies across the globe struggle to stabilize, as well as the resurgent yen, new energy policies, the nuclear crisis and the rebuilding of the devastated northeast coast.

A political analyst in Tokyo, Hiro Katsumata, said “Noda needs to call for a national election within the next two years no matter what. The main challenge for Mr. Noda will be the cohesion in the party and to win in the national election.”

The latest leader of the Democratic Party, who also served as prime minister, was Naoto Kan. He resigned last week as a result of heavy criticism following the earthquake and tsunami in March, as well as the economic status of the country.

Steve Chao reported that “the question is whether the next leader will overcome the hurdles Naoto Kan did not manage to overcome, and, he has to show the public he is able to make the tough decisions that will help the country overcome its economic hurdles.”

Japan Stalling as Yen Rises?

Financiers across the globe were disappointed in Japan’s move to counter the rising strength of the yen.

Early this past Wednesday, the dollar relinquished gains in comparison to the yen in Asia, increasing concerns and prompting additional measures to stem the growth. Japanese Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda then held a press conference to discuss such measures.

The conference ended with a statement pledging a $100 billion facility dedicated to limiting the yen’s rise by encouraging mergers and acquisitions, as well as providing aid to domestic corporations in securing energy resources. The ministry will also now require currency trading reports from leading financial groups until September.

Investors around the world were unimpressed with the results of the conference, explaining that the measures would have no real impact on the situation and would not be enough to contain the increase.

“They’re hoping to get as much as they can from talk, just ramping up the threat without taking any more steps,” said Sean Callow of Westpac.

Yuji Kameoka of Daiwa Securities added that “The FX market is a global market. It is hard to contain FX movement with only these measures.”

Market Mess in Japan? Too Soon to Tell



Not surprisingly following Japan’s crazy earthquake and tsunami, the financial markets are in a sate of panic.  Finance leaders in the country are trying to calm the situation as the nuclear power crisis continued to worsen matters.  With an estimation according to Bank Credit Suisse of a loss of $171 billion, it’s no great shock that there is this panic. But the question being asked is how much do economists really need to panic?  According to Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda said that it’s just too soon to make this kind of assessment vis-à-vis the economy.

Major Japanese Companies Close

When a country’s primary companies start to close down, there’s not likely to be a surge of confidence in the markets. Unfortunately since Friday’s travesties, Panasonic, Sony and Toyota Motor Co. have closed their production facilities.  As well, nuclear power plants have shut temporarily due to the possibility of reactors overheating.

Japan’s Biggest Crisis Since WWII

The earthquake and tsunami are being hailed as the country’s largest crisis since World War II.  Stock markets plummeted over 14 percent as the Fukushima nuclear power plant encountered two explosions. PM Naoto Kan didn’t have much to add, other than give out a warning that radioactivity levels had become ‘significantly’ higher.  This could lead to a cost of anywhere between 3 and 5 percent of output, which is extremely significant for a country that rates as the world’s third biggest economy.

Clearly Japan is going to take a long time to recover from last week’s events.  The question just remains, how much this will cost and what it will mean for the future of the country’s markets?  Only time will tell.