The Japan Status – Spring ’11

 

Here’s the first in series intended to be a snapshot of Japan as it is right now.  There is no way I can be as all inclusive as I would like, but hopefully this will paint a general picture about where Japan is now.

Physically

Japan is recovering from March earthquakes and tsunami.  The nuclear power plant is slowly being brought under control, but still poses risks.  At least one reactor has significantly melted, though it does not appear to be in danger of melting through its protective casings (ie the most dangerous aspect of a meltdown).  Bodies are still being recovered and there are still evacuation zones around the plant, though the severity of evacuation procedures seems to be changing as radiation decays.

Economy

The Japanese Economy is likely in a recession caused by the massive damage to infrastructure and people in March.  The reduction is consumer spending has also hampered things as people turned towards necessities rather than desires.  The Yen is also still strong (82.86 vs the dollar as of Monday, May 23, 2011) which hurts Japan’s export based economy.  The G20 was working to keep the Yen from strengthening too dangerously, and the Bank of Japan has intervened over the last months.  Many Japanese companies are still struggling to rebuild lost or broken factories, crippling production which is slowing recovery.

Politics

The world rallied behind Japan, offering aid after the disasters.  While much was accepted, much aid was also not taken.  Japan and America have reaffirmed their strategic and economic ties.  Japan, South Korea, and China are working on a free trade pact between the three countries.  The more belligerent aspects of China’s foreign policy have seemed to have toned down in the last months and China has offered support to Japan in its time of need.  (The group SMAP sang for the Chinese Premier’s visit).

On another note, Japan may be moving towards adopting the Hauge Convention which regulates child-custody.  It is a long-standing divide between Japan and many western countries.

Culture/Tech

The release of Nintendo’s 3Ds was below expectations, likely due to the earthquake/tsunami.  Nintendo is also expected to announce the successor to the Wii system soon, putting it in position to be the first of the 3 major systems to release its nextgen.

The Most Popular (among my Jr. High School Students) Music: AKB48, Anime/Manga: One Piece, Sport: Badminton

As always, if you have questions, comments, or ideas/corrections please post a reply or email me.