In yen's fall, the end of Japan's higher living standards
South China Morning Post -- Feb 24
The Japanese yen has plunged 17 per cent against the dollar and more against the euro since its high in November last year. Some officials in the Abe government gleefully egged on the currency sellers. Their aggressive attitude has sparked fears of a currency war. But while Japan's official attitude may be distasteful, a yen fall is justified: it would happen on its own sooner or later, without the Abe government cheering it on.
Since the 2008 financial crisis, the world has seen major currencies depreciating in turn. The dollar fell as the US Federal Reserve printed money, first to bail out America's bankrupt banks, then to stimulate the economy, and now to prop up the property market.
A fall in the euro followed as the euro zone's debt crisis sparked fears of a break-up, and the European Central Bank rushed in to keep bankrupt governments afloat.
Now recession and deflation are sending Japan's central bank down the same path of printing money. Relative to the US and Europe, the Japanese economy has deteriorated. The yen, which had not reflected this change, has been adjusting accordingly.
This rotating currency devaluation isn't a war. The turn-taking reflects comparative economic fundamentals. It is as if a central banking plutocracy is colluding to debase paper money without causing panic. Today's central bankers, no matter where they are, are cut from the same cloth: they believe that printing money could help. Indeed, it has helped some people, including the bankers who plunged the world into crisis while fattening themselves.
For the rest of us, the money printing has merely imposed an inflation tax. In terms of the ostensible reason for printing money - to drive economic growth - the policy has failed miserably. After five years of loose money, the economies of Europe, Japan and the US contracted simultaneously last quarter.
Just over one ton of water contaminated with radioactive particulates leaked from one of the containment vessels at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant on Wednesday, Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) said. (Japan Today )
Japan is expected to secure the minimum required power supply capacity when electricity demand peaks in August, even if all the country's nuclear reactors remain offline, estimates by major regional utilities showed Thursday. (Kyodo )
A former Bridgestone Corp. (5108) executive agreed to plead guilty to conspiring to fix prices for auto parts, a day after a grand jury indicted another executive and two former workers at the Japanese tire maker. (Bloomberg )
Tochigi prefectural police said Thursday that they are questioning a man in his 30s over the murder of a 7-year-old girl in December 2005. Japanese media quoted police as saying that the man, who was arrested for dealing in fake brand-name goods, has hinted at his involvement in the murder. (Japan Today )
People enjoy viewing the 15-meter snow walls of the Yuki no Otani (Great Snow Valley), along the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route that passes through the Northern Japan Alps to link Toyama and Nagano prefectures. (The Japan News )
Tokyo prosecutors plan to look into whether a man, who has been arrested for allegedly vandalizing copies of Anne Frank's diary, is mentally competent to be held criminally responsible for his actions, informed sources said Wednesday. (Jiji Press )
Apparently perplexed but thrilled to find himself in the spotlight, Iwao Hakamada, formerly the world's longest-serving death-row inmate, made his first public appearance Monday in Tokyo since being released from prison and hospitalized. (Japan Times )
Aichi prefectural police are investigating a possible link between the discovery of the bodies of a husband and wife and their eldest son, and the body of a male relative of the deceased family who was found hanging by his neck in a hotel. (Japan Today )