Earth Hour Good for Japanese Morale

Earth Hour took place on 26 March between 8 30 and 9 30 pm.  It is a time when people around the globe turn off their lights and make a “commitment to actions that go beyond the hour.”  According to the Earth Hour website, this year “our thoughts are with the people of Japan during this incredibly challenging and sad time for their country.”

Origins of Earth Hour

Earth Hour first emerged in Australia in 2007 as a way of conserving the world’s energy and natural resources which are depleting way too quickly.  This was a great first step but was also then leading to a climate change and is today a global event which is “being observed in more than 134 countries and territories,” coordinated by the World Wide Fund.

Delhi Saves 296 MW Power

Earth Hour was most effective in India.  During the hour more than a thousand individuals came together to dance away to loud rock numbers from the Indian band Euphoria, in complete darkness!  Lights weren’t needed for the energy to spike.  No one stayed home.  From toddlers to seniors, everyone joined in total cohesion to save electricity during the 8 30 to 9 30 Earth Hour.  According to DU student  Sharmishtha Chatterjee, “…it was very wise on WWF’s part to organize an event like this, where everyone was invited,” since otherwise many people would have just stayed home alone and ignored the event – and the idea – and not turned off their electricity.  Indeed, according to Sheila Dixit Delhi Chief Minister, “the city plunged in darkness for a brighter tomorrow….[with the] hope that Earth Hour sensitizes each one of us for making the shift to a better lifestyle.”

There’s Always One Party Pooper

Unfortunately at any party there’s usually one party pooper.  At this celebration it was clearly Toronto.  Millions of people from 134 countries — from Delhi, India to Heidelberg, Germany — switched off their lights and televisions for the fifth annual Earth Hour on Saturday night to show their support for action on climate change, but Toronto witnessed a measly 5 per cent power drop during the event, marking just 50 percent of the country’s achievements last year.  Nonetheless, it’s still seen as a “success” in the country.

Charity Begins at Home for Toshiba

 

Charity Begins at Home for Toshiba

Hello Tosh; Gotta Toshiba?

Perhaps it was before your time but Toshiba really nailed it with that 1984 advertising campaign.   It’s funny because way back then it was all about the stereo….how far things have come.  Today Toshiba is still in the news, forever the helpful.  Along with Hitachi, the company had sent “hundreds of staff to provide support at Japan’s stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant and to carry out checks at the neighboring Daini plant.”  Clearly for Toshiba, charity begins at home.

<h3>Hitachi and Toshiba Make Waves After Quake</h3>

Following the earthquake and tsunami both Toshiba and Hitachi supplied the Daiichi plant with reactors.  Indeed, a 100-man team was sent to the two Fukushima plants from Toshiba and Hitachi sent 120 –man team to the Daiichi plant.  This is in addition to other mega-assistance both companies are sending.

<h3>Japanese Markets Continue to Soar</h3>

Despite everything that’s been going on, Tokyo Electric Power Co., rose 16 percent with Toshiba Corp. increasing 12 percent.  In addition, an additional 11 percent was gained by JX Holdings Inc. with Nippon Steel Corp., gaining a further 7.5 percent.

<h3>Improving Japanese Stock Market</h3>

The Japanese stock market is improving, with trade figures for today increasing, in the anticipation that the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima nuclear plant is being contained.  As well, the Bank of Japan is not showing any signs of pulling out of its emergency fund provision to “soothe the jittery markets” which also “boosted sentiment,” at around yen 2 trillion into the short-term money market.

The Japanese are clearly banding together.  There is major support from the country’s successful companies and the central bank.  No doubt all this backing will lead to a smooth recovery from Japan’s recent disaster.

 

Japan Returning To Recession?

Well, if it did it certainly wouldn’t be surprising.  There’s not that much worse than what the country endured last week, with the extent of its earthquake and tsunami.  So why is this enough to make headline news?  Well, because what’s newsworthy is that the country looks set to “become the first Group of Seven member” to go back to that recession status following the easing of the global financial crisis.

Statistics and Truth

Although it is said that there are lies, damned lies and statistics, in Japan’s case it seems like the figures are speaking for themselves.  The G7’s yen sales depreciated the currency the most since September to ¥80.58 per US dollar at Friday’s close in New York.  This is very different to its postwar peak of ¥76.25 on March 17.

European Banks Band Together

The potential problems of Japan’s economy and currency following the country’s disaster have led various European banks to join with the Bank of Japan “in the first co-ordinated intervention by the G7 since the launch of the euro a decade ago.”  It is anticipated that the US Federal Reserve will be joining this effort too.  It is hoped that such action “may help corporate sentimate to recover, a key factor in reviving growth, along with public spending said Takuji Aida, UBS AG economist in Tokyo.

For sure when there is such a strong economic force working together the economic recovery of a country stands a way greater chance than it slumping back into a recession.  And if that is the case, then the global economy faces a far greater likelihood of being able to recover which will benefit everyone.  So let’s hope the European and American banks put their money where their mouth is vis-à-vis Japan’s recovery.

Online Drug Companies Abusing Tsunami Disaster?


Obama Causing Panic?


There’s always someone who tries to make money from a disaster.  And this time it’s following Japan’s tsunami, with the threat that Americans might be in danger of the nuclear fallout.  This is likely due to the panic President Barack Obama and his top medical official raised which has led to Americans buying drugs for protection.  Although Obama himself was given the assurance that “any harmful radiation from Japan will have dissipated before it reaches Hawaii or the US mainland.”  


So why the panic?  Because everyone likes to be prepared and according to US Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, it is a good idea to buy radiation antidotes “as a precaution,” such as potassium iodine pills which is often able to protect the thyroid gland against cancer and radiation, reducing the amount of iodine the body can absorb.


Drug Suppliers Reap Benefits


So now drug companies are getting wise to how they can make some extra money. Although it seems a bit like black money.  Indeed one drug supplier in America sold 250,000 anti-radiation pills since last Friday, ordering more medicines to meet increasing demand.  Those who haven’t managed to buy them yet are spending extortionate amounts of money by purchasing them on line.  It seems everyone is suffering from Japan’s earthquake and tsunami, but drug companies are taking advantage of what happened.


Brits Try to Escape Too


Brits are now being warned to leave Tokyo and other areas in danger of radiation poisoning.  The country’s Foreign Office is even considering putting on extra planes to ensure all Brits trapped in the country are able to leave on free “rescue flights.”


Asia, America, the whole world, has been affected by Japan’s tsunami.  The question remains, what is one’s host country doing to help, first their own citizens, and second, those working on a recovery plan in Japan?  As the situation changes daily, only time will tell which governments and administrations will really pull their fingers out.  Let’s just hope that in the meantime, entrepreneurs work for the good of the people, rather than trying to exploit them.
 

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.

 

Japan’s Economy: Where to Now, with Failed Fukushima Power Plant?


Following Japan’s “monstrous earthquake” (the largest in the region for over 1,200 years; seventh largest ever in the world), the country’s Fukushima power plant failed which has led to “fears of serious accident.”  But experts have said that there isn’t a risk to human health from the low radiation.  The crisis in Japan is no doubt escalating following Friday’s earthquake and tsunami ; a situation which isn’t being helped by the failure of another emergency cooling system at a different reactor.


Energy Fuels Japan’s Economy


Energy has always been a major source of economic sustenance for all countries.  But for Japan it is even more the case.  This is for the following reasons:  less than  half a percent of Japan’s crude oil supply is accrued from domestic sources; the country has to import more than 80 percent of all its major energy needs;  and added to this fact is the issue that Japan is home to very few domestic sources of uranium, natural gas or coal.  In spite of this, the country has managed to develop its economy into the second largest in the world.  It has managed to decrease its dependability on crude oil since the oil crises’ in the 1970s by instead using a mixture of energy resources, one of these being nuclear power.


Which Way Forward Following Tsunami


So the question that will be asked when things start to calm down a little in Japan, is what is the way forward for Japan’s economy following the impact of the tsunami and the failed Fukushima Power Plant.  It would be doubly devastating if the incredible work that has been done on bringing Japan to the forefront of global economic success were to be undone because of this crisis. Only time will tell what direction the country – and especially the economy – will be taking.

Naota Kan to Celebrate International Women’s Day?

Although he may be struggling to win popularity in his cabinet, Naota Kan might have some fans from the fairer sex and might even be stealthily celebrating International Women’s Day today.  Following his university graduation, Kan was a staff member for Fusae Ichikawa’s campaign, a woman’s rights activist.  But unfortunately, this isn’t exactly helping his case today.  When things are already looking somewhat bleak for the guy, his cabinet is facing further instability leading commentators to conclude that his “days as prime minister are numbered.”

Kan’s Cabinet Crashes

Seiji Maehara resigned for taking illegal donations from a Korean national which also brought to the forefront discussions about Japan’s diplomacy.  This doesn’t look good for Kan as Prime Minister or for the stability of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) either.  The resignation of three cabinet ministers cannot be good for anyone.


So perhaps Kan should step down gracefully and go do something else in the non-profit world instead…like celebrating the women in his country by fighting their corner.  Who knows?  The fairer sex just might not be so harsh on him.

What Would King George VI Have Said About Singapore’s Rice Crisis?

Pest storms are devastating rice production in Singapore, which is no good for anyone since this grain is a staple throughout Asia.  This is becoming a threat to the country’s food security and could completely destroy rice farms throughout the region, according to Singapore scientists.  Indeed, there is talk that the pesticides used to counter this problem may be doing the opposite – making it worse.  The problem has partly been caused by trying to go cheap:  use of less expensive pesticides; poor farmer education and destruction of ecosystems around paddies, to name but a few.

Historically this wouldn’t have been the case.  Farmers took immense pride in their plots and ensured their produce was protected.  King George VI would have been ashamed at his Asian brethren and might not have so readily agreed to having his face emblazoned on a set of Singapore stamps issued in 1948.

 

 

Japan Aeroforge Ltd. Investments

 

 

 

The new Tokyo-based company Japan Aeroforge Ltd. That will be creating nickel and titanium products for airplanes is going to be investing approximately 20 billion yen in order to build a plan in Kurashiki, Okayama.  What this will mean is that any procedure needed to complete the building of titanium aircraft parts will be able to be undertaken in Japan.  The company will be receiving capital from Marubeni-Itochu Steel and Sojitz Aerospace Corp. for this venture.  It is expected the plant will be completed in March 2012.

 

Economic Status of China Versus Japan

 Last quarter, China jumped in to second place in the world’s largest economy, pushing Japan out.  This is quite a significant jump considering its Communist isolation some years ago.  Figures for the second quarter were Japan’s GDP at $1.288 trillion (China at $1.337 trillion). Japan’s yearly GDP is $5.07 trillion, with China’s exceeding $4.9 trillion. China took the world out of the global recession last year, given its huge economy (over 90-times larger than in 1978 when Deng Xiaoping [the country’s premier] eliminated mega-Communist policies, replacing them with free-market reforms).  By 2027, China will even be superseding America as the world’s biggest economy where GDP is approximately $14 trillion per year according to Jim O’Neill, chief economist at Goldman Sachs Group Inc.