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.

Apr 17 Contaminated water leaks from container at Fukushima plant
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 )
Apr 17 Japan to secure minimum required power supply capacity in summer
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 )
Apr 17 Bridgestone executive to plead guilty in price-fixing case
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 )
Apr 17 Tokyo Station platform roof to be replaced
The entire roof of a JR Tokyo Station platform will be removed and replaced for first time since the station opened in 1914, according to East Japan Railway Co. (The Japan News )
Apr 16 Population declines for 3rd straight year
The nation's population has slipped for the third straight year to a 13-year low, the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry said Tuesday. (The Japan News )
Apr 17 Man in his 30s being questioned over murder of 7-year-old girl in 2005
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 )
Apr 17 6-year-old boy dead, 3-year-old girl in coma after being swept away in river
A 6-year-old boy died and a 3-year-old girl remains in a coma after they were swept away by a strong current in a river in Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture, on Wednesday afternoon. (Japan Today )
Apr 17 Spectacular snow walls
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 )
Apr 17 24-year-old man arrested for robbing convenience store
Police in Tokyo said Wednesday they have arrested an unemployed 24-year-old man for robbing a convenience store in Shibuya. (Japan Today )
Apr 16 Anne Frank vandalism suspect to face psychiatric test
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 )
Apr 16 Young salmon released into river in Fukushima
Fishermen in Fukushima Prefecture have released young salmon into a local river for the first time in 4 years. (NHK )
Apr 15 Hakamada makes first public appearance as reprieve pends
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 )
Apr 15 Spring festival in Takayama starts
The Takayama Spring Festival in central Japan kicked off on Monday with its traditional float parade. (NHK )
Apr 15 3 family members, one relative found dead in Aichi
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 )
Apr 14 Taiwanese tourists hurt in deer rampage at Nikko
Visitors to one of Japan's most celebrated spots are being warned to be on the lookout, after two Taiwanese tourists were injured in a rampage by a wild deer. (Japan Today )