The Japan Pulse Summer 2011

 

Here’s the second 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 just passed the six month mark since the 3/11 Earthquake, Tsunami, and Nuclear Accident.  Japan is struggling to recover, but has been hampered by heavy rains and several deadly typhoons.  Concerns over radiation are still spreading as more areas are found with higher radiation levels.  Reconstruction has slowed or been limited due to political and financial troubles.

Economy

The Japanese Economy is likely still 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 even stronger (77.75 vs the dollar as of Monday, September 12, 2011) than in May, which hurts Japan’s export based economy, however some Japanese companies still seem upbeat.  Continuing sovereign debt issues in Europe and America’s debt burden are helping to keep Japan’s yen strong despite several interventions.  Japan’s Government put forth several programs to help companies expand and purchase assets abroad as an attempt to weaken the yen.

Politics

After only a year in office Prime Minister Naoto Kan resigned from office.  He was criticized for his handling of the 3/11 catastrophe and other domestic issues.  His replacement, Yoshihiko Noda, is already coming under fire as Trade and Industry Minister Yoshio Hachiro resigned after embarrassing remarks about the Nuclear catastrophe.  Since Mr. Noda is the former finance minister, many Japanese are expecting him to deal with Japan’s massive debt, financing the rebuilding of Japan, and dealing with the yen’s strength.

Culture/Tech

The poor release of Nintendo’s 3DS, led the company to slash prices and institute new rounds of promotions.  Nintendo also announced its followup to the popular Wii.  The WiiU will feature a tablet like controller and HiDef output.

Japan’s leading LCD screen makers are teaming up to streamline production and remain competitive in a persistently tough market.

Japan is anxiously awaiting the announcement of the iphone5 and ipod3.  The announcements are expected sometime in September or October.  While until now Softbank has been the sole apple carrier in Japan, with the release of the new versions and iOS, there are rumors that AU and possibly NTT’s docomo may gain the handsets as well.  Such a change, if true would likely boost Apple even farther ahead in Japan, despite the many great Android headsets since Softbank is known for poor coverage.

Japan’s women’s soccer team won the 2011 World Cup, which was a needed lift to Japan’s sagging spirits.

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

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