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Number 1 Shimbun


NUMBER 1 SHIMBUN 2018 (80)

Children categories

DOUDOU BEACH - Poetry of Sand

DOUDOU BEACH - Poetry of Sand


No1-2018-08 09

New Members (August 2018)

New Members (August 2018)


Huh Kun Yeong,
Embassy of the Republic of Korea

Mariko Fukui, AALT
International Japan Co., Ltd.

Tetsuji Iwama,
ACT Co., Ltd.

Noriyuki Katayama, 
City-Yuwa Partners

Takeshi Tsujimura,
AIG General Insurance
Co., Ltd.

Akira Tamura,
PRAP Japan, Inc.

New in the Library (August 2018)

New in the Library (August 2018)

Tanaka Kakuei no higeki: beikoku kimitsu bunsho ga akasu shikkyaku no shinso
Eiichiro Tokumoto
Gift from Eiichiro Tokumoto

Japan's population implosion: the 50 million shock
Yoichi Funabashi (ed.)
Palgrave Macmillan

Contemporary Japanese architects: profiles in design
Igarashi Taro; David Noble (trans.)
Japan Publishing Industry Foundation for Culture

Patient X: the case-book of Ryunosuke Akutagawa
David Peace
Faber & Faber

Trade: Deal with the Fundamentals

Trade: Deal with the Fundamentals


Can Japan and the EU together save the world trade order from destruction at the hands of Donald Trump, who seems intent on wrecking it in pursuit of America's national interest? Their recent agreement to sign what would be the world's biggest trade deal might appear to suggest so.

But the truth is that attempts by Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe and EU presidents Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker to present themselves as champions of multilateral trade are really little more than political posturing in the face of deeper challenges to the global economic order.

Their agreement to create a trade pact covering around one third of global GDP certainly sounds enlightened at a time when Trump has pulled the United States out of the Trans Pacific Partnership and is threatening to walk away from the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Abe meanwhile has managed to keep a scaled-down version of the TPP on the road among eleven of the original dozen members. This plus the Japan-EU agreement makes the Japanese leader look good at a time when China's president Xi Jinping is also billing himself as a champion of free trade.

Yet things are by no means so simple. Trump's attempts to restore balance in US trade by levying tariffs on imports from key trading partners appear crude and inward looking by comparison. However, the global trade system was in trouble even before the American president weighed in.

In recent years trade has been used increasingly as a strategic weapon, not least in Asia where the TPP, for example, its goals broader than facilitating trade, aimed at bringing together countries that subscribed to similar views on how their economic and political systems should be organized.

Meanwhile, increasing trade within and between such blocs has come at the cost of unemployment for certain groups of workers in advanced economies, thus contributing to income inequality and social stresses. In turn this helps foster popular resentment against free markets.

Trump came to office largely because he recognized and exploited this fact. Populist politicians elsewhere may ride to power on his coattails. Simply deploring this fact or rushing to create new trade blocs as counters to Trumpian protectionism will not solve the problem.

The Japan-EU agreement may look good but it adds to a proliferation of trade blocs that in Asia alone are taking on baffling complexity. Japan is already a member of the revised TPP (now known as the CPTPP) and will join the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) which includes China.

There are wider Asian free trade schemes planned too, forming only part of a growing spider's web of such accords globally. Within these dense networks with their often conflicting rules of origin governing tariff treatment, highly complex manufacturing supply chains have evolved.

Rather than a spaghetti bowl of overlapping accords, it is more a dog's breakfast. Just one of many problems is that the interests of business have often overshadowed those of labor.

Obviously what is needed if the forces of dissatisfaction driving populism and trade protectionism are not to become even more powerful and disruptive is some rationalization of this largely ungoverned process. There is a need to get back to basics.

For decades during the postwar period, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (later subsumed within the World Trade Organization) sought to further world trade through a series of negotiating rounds that ended in the failure of the so-called Doha Round.

One reason it failed (apart from the sensitivity of trade in areas such as agriculture and services) was the complexity of dealing with all the problems that go with free trade, especially when attempts are made to apply the principle on a global basis.

Instead of grappling with these problems at that time, a number of advanced economies opted to walk away from the multilateral process and to focus instead on bilateral and regional free trade and investment agreements that were billed as building blocks for global free trade.

The building blocks are of such varying design, however, that they cannot easily form part of a global free trade architecture; they are not designed with the best interests of the ultimate structure in mind. The best brains and policies have not been deployed in their design. Only a return to the multilateral approach (via the WTO or some new and comprehensive organization) is likely to solve the current problems of the global trade order. And that means looking not only at trade but also at the domestic economic factors that contribute to trade imbalances.

The system needs a thorough overhaul rather than quick fix, but instead the United States is applying voodoo economics. As the IMF noted in a recent report, "protectionist policies should be avoided as they are likely to have significant deleterious effects on domestic and global growth [with] limited impact on external imbalances." 

Surplus and deficit countries alike, the IMF concluded, “should work toward reviving liberal- ization efforts and strengthening the multilateral trading system—particularly to promote trade in services, where gains from trade are substantial but barriers remain high."
Trump is seen as the villain of the piece in all this but equally Japan and the EU are not serving the cause of good international policy by trying to present their (also rather simplistic) policies as being antidotes to a much more fundamental economic malaise.

- - - 

Anthony Rowley is a former Business Editor and International Finance Editor of the Hong Kong-based Far Eastern Economic Review and has spent some 40 years writing on Asian affairs from Singapore, Hong Kong and Tokyo. He currently writes for the Singapore Business Times, among other publications. 

Record-Breaking Flight Japan-To-Europe

No1-2018-08 07

Record-Breaking Flight Japan-To-Europe

The Original Kamikaze Story – Supported by Asahi Shimbun


Visitors to this year’s Farnborough Air Show in the UK – the biggest air display in the world in 2018 – will have seen the historic, record-breaking demonstration flights of the Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ), the first time a Japanese civil aircraft has ever appeared at an international air event since the 1930’s.

Unfortunately the appearance of this attractive little 90-seat passenger jet was marred by a towing accident, which put a hole in the aircraft’s nose cone. A replacement was swiftly flown in but the incident was the latest in a series of mishaps that have plagued the makers, Mitsubishi Aircraft, since they launched the new airliner project in 2008.

Few people at Farnborough this year realized this was not the first Japanese aircraft to be demonstrated in the UK. The first was an early version of another Mitsubishi, the KI-15, a long-range, high-speed reconnaissance machine developed by the company in the mid 1930’s.

In 1937, the Asahi Shimbun, then as now one of Japan’s leading newspapers and a great promoter of civil aviation, acquired one of the Mitsubishi KI-15 prototype single engine airplanes, gave it the lucky name, Kamikaze-go and flew it to the United Kingdom. The record-breaking flight was a gesture of Japanese goodwill for the coronation of the new British monarch, King George VI, and to promote Japan-Europe friendship. “Go” is a suffix used to identify Jap- anese aircraft, just as “maru” is used to name Japanese ships.
Despite the aircraft’s name, it had no connection with the suicidal waves of warplanes unleashed in 1945 by the Japanese military in desperate attempts to stem the tide of war.

Kamikaze, meaning “divine wind,” was the name given to a typhoon that saved Japan from Mongol invasion in 1281. Kublai Khan, grandson of Genghis, had arrived on Kyushu’s northern shore to establish a bridgehead in preparation for invading Japan – only to be defeated by the god-sent weather, which smashed the invasion fleet into matchwood.

A kamikaze, it could be said, was a good thing to have around as long as it was on your side. It was, all in all, a very auspicious name for an airplane at that time.

Leaving Tachikawa Aerodrome in western Tokyo on April 6, 1937, the Kamikaze-go headed for London’s Croydon Airport, then the aerial gateway to the British capital. It arrived there, after a 15,357-kilometer flight, in a total of 94 hours, 17 minutes and 56 seconds.

Actual time in the air of the media-sponsored flight was 51 hours, 17 minutes and 23 seconds and the average speed was 160.8 kilometers per hour. The route taken was Tokyo-Taipei-Ha-noi-Vientiane-Calcutta-Karachi-Basra-Baghdad-Athens-Rome-Paris-London. 

The flight attracted huge attention world-wide, as no one had yet succeeded in establishing a successful east-west flight linking Japan and Europe, or vice versa. It made foreign aircraft manufacturers and airlines take note of the high level of technology achieved by Japan’s budding aero-industry and was an eyebrow raiser among the military aviation planners of the major global powers.

Not only was it the first all-Japanese built aircraft to fly from Japan to Europe – it was the first aircraft of any type or origin to make the record-breaking journey.

A key driver in aircraft development in Japan at this time was the need to design and build longrange transport types to link Japan’s main islands with its colonial territories in Manchuria, Taipei, Korea and the South Pacific mandate.

Included in the requirement were long-range military aircraft such as bombers and fighters capable of operating in transoceanic environments where land-based facilities such as run- ways were few and far between.

Meanwhile, hailed as heroes in Japan and Europe, the two-man crew of the Kamikaze-go, pilot Masaaki Iinuma (26) and navigator Kenji Tsukagoshi (37), found themselves the center of attention. A trip to Paris saw the pioneering aviators both awarded with the Legion d’Hon- neur and their epic flight was the first Federa- tion Aeronautic Internationale (FAI) record to be won by Japanese.

While in London, they helped with the filming of a documentary of King George’s coronation and also gave joyrides to Japanese royals Prince and Princess Chichibu, younger brother and sister in law of the Japanese emperor, who were in London for the UK royal wedding festivities.

After a busy month, the Kamikaze-go set off from Croydon to return to Japan, retracing its route across the Mediterranean, the Middle East, India and Asia to Japan, arriving in Osaka May 20 and at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport the following day.

From here, Iinuma and Tsukagoshi, their places in Japanese aviation history assured, fly into history. Test pilot Iinuma joined the military only to be killed in action near Phnom Penh in December 1941.

Tsukagoshi continued to work on aircraft testing and development. In 1943, while attempting to fly another prototype aircraft, the Tachikawa Ki-77 from Singapore to Germany, he disappeared over the Indian Ocean and was never seen again.


Back in the Day: Covering East Asia from Japan

No1-2018-08 06

Back in the Day: Covering East Asia from Japan



Once upon a time, when the world was young, or at least I was young, Tokyo was the center of attention in terms of covering Asia – not counting the Vietnam War and episodic conflagrations elsewhere such as the Indo-Pakistan War of December 1971, which transformed what had been East Pakistan into Bangladesh. One reason why Tokyo was of such overwhelming importance was that China remained largely closed to regular coverage by Western journalists.

The Toronto Globe and Mail had had a correspondent in Beijing for many years, but that was a special case. Correspondents for major American news organizations were just getting into the country when US President Jimmy Carter switched diplomatic recognition from the Republic of China – that is, Taiwan – to the People’s Republic of China, as of January 1, 1979. I was in Tokyo at the time and recall the excitement as we talked of “getting into China,” breaking through barriers that had once been almost impregnable to rank-and-file reporters. Richard Nixon during his presidency forged the way, sending his secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, on a secret mission to Beijing in mid-1971 and then visiting China for one week in February 1972.

I got to China for the first time in early 1978 accompanying a group of doctors on a tour that took us to Beijing, Shanghai and one or two other cities. Then, on assignment for the Boston Globe, I accompanied the Boston Ballet to Beijing and Shanghai in June 1980 on a whirlwind tour that the organizers touted as “the first by an American ballet company,” as if that were somehow a milestone accomplishment. I’m pretty sure the company had to pay all its own expenses for the privilege. (The Globe covered mine.)

China was a whole lot more open by the time of the Tiananmen Square uprising nine years later, in June 1989, which I covered as correspondent for USA Today. Authorities, after suppressing the firebrands, would begin to revert to the habits of a bygone era, but the constraints imposed on correspondents in China were nothing like the old days.


When I was based in Hong Kong as Asia correspondent for the Washington Star in the late 1960s, “China-watching” was as important as sorties to Saigon and other Southeast Asian datelines to cover the war. A number of famous correspondents operated out of Hong Kong. I remember them well. Stanley Karnow of the Washington Post, Seymour Topping and Tillman Durdin of The New York Times, Robert Elegant of the Los Angeles Times and Robert Shaplen of The New Yorker all resided there, peering across the New Territories into China, to which they were denied access until much later. During a Party Congress in Beijing, the foreign editor of the Star had me filing every day, culling quotes from Xinhya, i.e. the New China News Agency, and “China experts,” who might or might not have known what they were talking about.

Soon the Red Guards were rampaging through China, and Anthony Grey, Reuters man in Beijing, was placed under house arrest for more than two years. When I asked an official from Beijing about a visa to go to China and see for myself what was happening, he screamed in my face. Seriously.

Ah, those were the days. For a steady base, free from wonders about getting your visa renewed or getting kicked out or openly harassed, you could count on Tokyo, to which I gravitated in the fall of 1971 as far east correspondent for the Chicago Tribune. I succeeded Sam Jameson, who recommended me after moving to the Los Angeles Times. Richard Halloran of The New York Times, whom I had known during a fellowship year at Columbia, kindly briefed me. The staff of Reuters, through which I filed for the Tribune in those pre-Internet days, were pleasant, helpful and accommodating.

There were some pretty good stories too. Those who were around all those years ago will no doubt remember Rengo Sekigun, the Red Army, whose zealots staged a number of bloody incidents including the hijacking while I was there in 1973 of a Japan Airlines plane, which they blew up. So intense was the Red Army that the group honestly gave the impression its violent revolution, supported by revolutionaries globally, might jeopardize the long-ruling Tokyo establishment.

Adding to the excitement, from time to time, were mass demonstrations, sometimes in front of American bases, staged by highly organized, mostly leftist groups protesting the US role in the Vietnam War and Japan’s involvement as a rear base area. Japan may not have been as vital to the Americans as it had been during the Korean War, but US Marine Corps divisions rotated out of Okinawa to Vietnam and B52s flew out of Kadena Air Base on bombing missions.

Then too there was the economic story as the “Nixon shokku” of August 1971 freed the value of the yen to the dollar, resulting in rapid depreciation of the dollar from a solid 360 yen through the 200s and down to the 100s on a dizzying roller coaster ride. We all got used to never-ending stories about American efforts to redress the yawning imbalance of trade, admit American imports on a significant scale and take in foreign direct investment. The numbers and other details change, but the basic story has remained much the same ever since.

After a while I began to get on to how deeply conservative was Japan, how driven were the salarymen and bureaucrats who ran the country and, eventually, how different it was, beneath superficial appearances, from any other culture or society that I had visited or experienced. Readers of Number 1 Shimbun understand the often rigid, closed nature of Japan, the difficulties of penetrating barriers, the scarcity of real news, beyond what you’re told by bureaucrats and professors and all those other experts before whom journalists wind up paying obeisance, like it or not.

Complaints about the infamous “press club system” were as often heard then as they are today. Ivan Hall, in his classic Cartels of the Mind: Japan’s Intellectual Closed Shop, quotes an instance in which the leader of a press club tried to block me from access to one of those Japanese who had emerged from the jungle decades after the end of World War II. (I made clear the only ones who could order me around were my editors, and I didn’t always do their bidding either.)

For a break from the daily tensions of uptight Japan, however, one could count on Korea. I first came to Seoul in September 1972 for what were called “Red Cross talks” – negotiations between high-level emissaries of North and South Korea sponsored by the Red Cross organizations of both Koreas. The atmosphere was charged with excitement. Might North and South cooperate on visits between members of millions of families divided by the Korean War, on mail and commerce, on cultural and athletic events?

The Tokyo press corps swarmed over the story. Don Oberdorfer of the Washington Post, who years later drew on memories of those talks in writing The Two Koreas, was there, as were Jameson and Halloran. Keyes Beech, the legendary Chicago Daily News correspondent whom I had first met in India during the 1962 border war with China and then had often seen in Vietnam, flew up from Saigon.

Those Red Cross talks ultimately did little if anything to resolve inter-Korean problems. If that scenario sounds familiar, think of all the other moments, right up to the Singapore summit between President Trump and Kim Jong-un, when high hopes and optimism were dashed by incredible hassles and delays and rhetorical exchanges. Since that first taste of Seoul, the story has only gotten better (not sure that’s the proper word) in terms of the threat of nuclear war and long-range missiles. In fact, on that first visit, no one realized North Korea was going to go nuclear.

We had to wait another 20 years for a real nuclear crisis, a challenge so grave as to get President Bill Clinton considering an attack on North Korea’s nuclear facilities. Jimmy Carter in June 1994 saved the day by going to Pyongyang and meeting Kim Il-sung on a boat on the Daedong river. I saw Carter, before and after that mission, at the US ambassador’s residence in Seoul. He may or may not deserve credit for averting Korean War II, but I do have this memory of a modest, unassuming man who lives to make the world a better place.

Japan hovers over the region, a giant enigma capable of upsetting or shifting the strategic balance. But the Japanese story also gets boring. How do you penetrate the minds of people who know where to pigeonhole you as a foreigner, to bestow little by way of real insight and information? Sometimes, sure, you get lucky, but the Korean story is far more dramatic, a never-ending cycle of outbursts and recriminations, of dreams and disappointments.

Mass outpourings in central Seoul happen every few years, governments writhe in scandal and abuse, and tensions rise and fall along the demilitarized zone that divides the two Koreas as surely now as it did at the end of the Korean War. From the bloody Gwangju revolt of 1980, which I covered for British and US papers, to shootouts in the Yellow Sea to heart-rending tales told by defectors from the North, Korea as a story never ceases to shock and surprise.

All of us sought out Kim Dae Jung, the dissident who later became president, about whom I wrote a controversial book, “Korea Betrayed,” citing the vast payoffs he arranged to North Korea to bring about his summit with Kim Jong- il in June 2000. Oh, yes, I also dove so deeply as almost to drown writing books on the Hyundai empire and the 1997-1998 economic crisis.

That’s not to say the Korea story is more important than Japan. Unlike Japan, however, the Korean drama is there, in your face, all around you, while Japan is so infinitely complicated and subtle that perhaps it’s not possible to cover while running off to more alluring datelines and headlines. In my years in Tokyo, I got a sense of having been there and done that, of déjà vu all over again, writing features on the same topics, talking to the same types.

I used to say I wasn’t “covering” Japan, really, but rather one square mile or maybe a square kilometer of central Tokyo, ranging from the foreign ministry to MITI, the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, to a few corporate entities and think tanks, then back to the FCCJ to tap away in the workroom (does anyone remember, we used typewriters in those days?), to check out its great library, to enjoy the correspondent’s lunch and chat with familiar faces. As to whether I “understand” Japan, that goal remains as elusive now as when I first got to Tokyo decades ago.


- - - 


Donald Kirk, a member of the FCCJ in the 1970s and 1980s, has been reporting from Asia since the Vietnam War. He’s currently based in Seoul and Washington, reporting mainly for CBS Radio, the Daily Beast and Forbes Asia, among others.








Mr. Smith Goes to Tokyo - Part 5

Mr. Smith Goes to Tokyo - Part 5


When Charles Smith arrived in Tokyo in 1973 as Financial Times bureau chief, he had no idea he would end up spending most of the rest of his life here. Reaching 80 and having been diagnosed with malignant lymphoma, he set about writing his memoirs. When he finished the project recently Charles – still an enthusiastic FCCJ member – consented to share with us some memories from the FT Tokyo segment of his long and interesting career. The series began running in the April issue. On May 18 Charles died, at age 82. A Club memorial evening was held July 11. In this penultimate installment he tells us about covering trade disputes and their adjustments in the 1970s.

- - - 

Nakasone- and Ohira-watching were among the lighter-weight pleasures of covering Japan during my first few years in Tokyo. A heavier-weight job was keeping up with the changing economic and political interfaces between Japan and the West.

Change was certainly the word. At one point in the mid-1970s a surcharge was imposed on supposedly risky Japanese bonds issued in London’s capital market. A year or two later Japan was being asked to accept “voluntary” restraints on exports of some “too successful” goods to western markets.

What was going on? It seemed that neither risky Japanese borrowers, nor too-successful Japanese exporters were acceptable as regular members of the community of advanced countries. And perhaps Tokyo really was an irregular case. Japan’s economy had been re-launched after World War II using a development model provided by the Occupation, which recommended the aggressive use of exports to help create a modern industrial economy while being ready to protect weak sectors.

I believe open markets weren’t part of the (then) US model, and perhaps there was no generally accepted code for world trade behavior when the Americans gave Japan their advice. Also, thanks to Washington, Japan had entered the 1960s with what quickly became an undervalued exchange rate ($1=yen 360). An eminent American economist had set that rate with the stroke of a pen.

I didn’t know any of this in 1968-69 when I first heard diplomats at the US Embassy in Tokyo expressing anger about Japan’s selfish trading practices. But it was clear that the picture was many-sided. Japan’s remarkable array of non-tariff barriers could be seen as making it a delinquent in a world of supposedly well-behaved traders. It didn’t seem to count that Tokyo was doing all too thoroughly what Washington had told it to do (although perhaps staying too long with the original recovery package).

At the back of all that, there were political questions. When it came to foreign policy, was Japan a too-passive – and therefore less than full – member of the club of advanced nations? Should it have worked out its own policies towards Asia instead of automatically following the American lead on, for example, China and Taiwan? In the case of Europe were Japanese politicians still thinking only of country-by-country relations when they should have noticed that they were watching attempts to create the world’s biggest eco- nomic and political bloc?

In the mid-to-late 1970s being the FT’s Tokyo reporter was like being a child on the lower reaches off a climbing frame, hoping to get a step up without shedding too much blood.
I had a lucky day in the summer of 1978 when Endo-san, a friendly but not particularly senior member of the MITI PR division, phoned to tell me that “Sir Michael” (a.k.a British Ambassador Sir Michael Wilford) had been seen in the building on the way to what seemed to be a personal meeting with MITI Minister Toshio Komoto.

As a follower of UK-Japan trade relations I thought I could guess what this meant: Britain had finally decided to ask Japan to formally lim- it its fast-rising motor vehicle sales. The British request (which was duly turned down by MITI) came after three years during which The Japan Automobile Association (JAMA) and Britain’s Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) had been holding meetings at which JAMA “forecast” the level of Japanese car sales in the UK six months or so ahead.

These diplomatically correct discussions (correct because a formal promise by Japan to cut exports would have broken the rules of GATT and upset other members of the Europe- an Economic Community) were not working. The JAMA forecasts were based on solid commitments by Toyota Motor Corporation and Nissan Motor Company, the two largest Japanese vehicle builders, but three smaller companies didn’t see why they should be stopped from selling in the juicy UK market, so there were some rough edges. By the time the three outliers had been forced into line a year or so later there had been an unforeseen jump in car sales to Britain.

Then came a time when British Leyland couldn’t meet demand in its home market anyway because of difficulties with some new models. So the UK had felt it had to act. Japan said no, but officials promised “somehow” to get Japan’s car exports reduced from a fast rising 13 percent of the UK market to a more sober 10 percent.

For me the Japanese car story had begun during a summer holiday in 1970 when I spotted a small white Toyota speeding along a country road in northeast Scotland, apparently the first of its breed. At that time Japanese car exports to Britain had barely started. The other end of the story came in 1986 when Nissan opened a car plant in Sunderland, north-east England, which quickly established itself as the UK’s (and for a while the Nissan group’s) most efficient vehicle assembler.

By the early ‘90s there were three Japanese car assembly plants in Britain (Toyota and Honda as well as Nissan) and the UK’s native-born motor industry was on the way to extinction. A successor company to British Leyland was finally placed under administration in 2005. So much, I thought, for what diplomacy could achieve when British business failed.

Nissan had finally decided to open up in Britain three years after being urged to come by Margaret Thatcher’s government and more than a decade after its international business manager, Masataka Okuma, had written off the UK as the worst place in Europe to build a car plant.

He told me in 1974 that Nissan couldn’t face Britain’s stormy labor relations. That changed in the later 1970s. The UK was upgraded by Nissan when it turned out that British blue collar workers had begun to welcome Japanese managers after having been accustomed for years to being held at arm’s length by British management.

The powerful leader of Nissan’s own company union, Ichiro Shoji, was less welcoming. He told me in 1983 that investing in Britain would undermine Nissan’s strength and would “never be permitted” by the union. That only changed after a Japanese magazine had published an illustrated story about an alleged affair between the union leader and his mistress in Yokohama which showed the leader falling face-down in a puddle while apparently trying to escape a press photographer. He resigned and the UK project went ahead.

The Nissan affair’s happy ending reminded me of a tense editorial conference at the Financial Times several years earlier when Sony Corporation applied to open a TV factory in Wales. The Sony proposal was the first of its kind by a Japanese manufacturer.
Half of those present at the meeting thought that letting in a hyper-competitive Japanese company would spell doom for the UK’s admittedly backward TV industry. The other half said it would be better to have Sony exporting TVs from Britain to Europe than the other way round. The second group won the argument. Sony came and the UK industry survived, if it didn’t exactly flourish.

Ten years after the Sony affair, in 1977, I made a trip to look at Japanese factories in Europe as part of a 20-page FT survey on relations between Japan and the EEC. I spent a week interviewing managers at five plants in Belgium, France and Germany as well as three in the UK, Matsushita, Sony and bearings maker Nippon Seiko (NSK).

The messages I got varied, but the mood was upbeat. All the Japanese firms in Britain had started out by wanting to have single-company unions at their plants as was standard practice in Japan but they all ended by agreeing that staff should join just one craft or industry-wide union. This was a compromise between Japan’s system and the usual British practice of allowing multiple and competitive union membership.

British component suppliers were shocked when Matsushita said it would examine every single component, from transistors upward, coming from UK makers, but the quality of components soon began to improve. A company that supplied cabinets to Sony’s TV factory at Bridgend in South Wales set up a “Sony production line” where, I was told, the young female workers had acquired a “Sony spirit.”

My factory visits left me thinking that Japanese manufacturing investment-in Europe was a triple winner. As with Sony’s early TV investment in Wales, it was a way for Japan to partially by-pass restrictions on its exports and for Britain to exchange trade deficits for jobs. There were other less direct benefits. Japanese investment in Britain helped to spread the message that there might be better ways for management to deal with staff than the fossilized model of bosses in business suits facing aggressive unions. Japanese factories were good news for remoter regions of England and Wales and, later, Scotland where incomes were low and employment was falling.

What I did not realise was that Japanese investment presence in Europe in the mid-1970s was a fragile beachhead for what would become a tidal flow. In December 1975 Japan’s offshore manufacturing investments were worth just three percent of its GDP. At the same time the ratios were nine percent of GDP for the US and 17 percent for Britain.

By 1990 Japanese factories were scattered all over Europe and the US. When Donald Trump threatened to punish Japan in 2017 for over-exporting exports cars to the US, Toyota was exporting 130,000 cars a year from the United States.

Exploring Other Exploring Other Worlds with JAXA’s Worlds with JAXA’s Deep Space Fleet

No1-2018-08 04

Exploring Other Exploring Other  Worlds with JAXA’s Worlds with JAXA’s Deep Space Fleet


Traveling more than three billion kilometers in order to grab a bunch of rocks from a small diamond-shaped asteroid and then returning home to complete a six-year round trip can only be described as one audacious adventure. That adventure, still in the making, began when Japan Space Exploration Agency (JAXA) launched the Hayabusa2 space probe on an H-2A rocket from Tanegashima Space Center in 2014.

After 1,302 days speeding through space, the probe arrived at the target asteroid, named Ryugu, on June 27. Currently, the spacecraft is slowly descending to observe Ryugu’s surface from as close as five kilometers. By the end of August JAXA will decide on a suitable place for the explorer to touch down and in September or October the delicate maneuver of landing Hayabusa2 on the dusty, boulder-strewn surface will begin.

What could go wrong? The asteroid’s weak gravity could see the craft bounce back into space. But if all goes according to plan, Hayabusa2 will land and take off up to three times on Ryugu during a period of 18 months. This will enable it to study conditions at different locations as the asteroid orbits around the Sun.

After the craft completes its long sojourn of picking, prodding and probing the asteroid’s surface, it will head back home. As it approaches Earth in late 2020, a capsule carrying its valuable crustaceous cargo will detach itself from the spacecraft and a parachute will deploy at an altitude of 10 kilometers to make a soft landing, perhaps in Australia if JAXA can negotiate permission. Meanwhile, Hayabusa2 will swing by our planet and continue traveling in space, possibly for eternity.

But why go to all this trouble, not to mention US$300 million in travel expenses, for only a handful of rocks? The answer is that asteroids happen to be some of the most primitive objects in our neck of the universe. So the samples brought back could tell us a lot about how our solar system was formed. Even more enticing, Ryugu is a Type C asteroid apparently packed with carbon and other organic materials containing water; consequently, this bunch of rocks might also help us learn how life on Earth came into existence.

The Hayabusa2 mission began four years after the first probe, Hayabusa (Japanese for peregrine falcon) returned to Earth in 2010. Hayabusa made two landings on another asteroid named Itokawa — this despite experiencing a series of equipment glitches, including problems with all four of the spacecraft’s engines; the failure of two of its three reaction wheels used to orientate the spacecraft; and a disappointing malfunction of the sampling mechanism, which limited the collecting of samples to mere grains rather than rocks.

Nevertheless, despite these issues, JAXA deemed Hayabusa an impressive achievement, for it was still able to limp back with 1,500 particles from Itokawa — the first time asteroid samples had been captured and brought back to earth for analysis.

According to Hitoshi Kuninaka, vice president and director general of JAXA’s Institute of Space and Astronautical Science, the agency learned much from that first operation. After Hayabusa2 rendezvoused with Ryugu, Kuninaka came to the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in July to brief the press on the new mission and to describe some forthcoming expeditions JAXA is planning. He was joined by Makoto Yoshikawa, mission manager of the Hayabusa2 project.

To strengthen the reliability of the craft and hopefully score even greater success than achieved by the first expedition, JAXA has modified several parts of Hayabusa2 and added new equipment. As a result, Hayabusa2 tips the scales at 609 kilograms, about 100 kilos heavier than its predecessor, though its 1 x 1.6 x 1.25-meter dimensions are not much larger than those of the first probe.

While chemically fueled rockets have tra- ditionally powered spacecraft, they require extravagant amounts of propellant. Given the small sizes of the Hayabusa and Hayabusa2, such a means was unfeasible from the start. Instead, JAXA has developed its own electric propulsion ion engine. Microwaves are used to generate ions (charged atoms) from xenon gas. The ions are then accelerated using an electric field and expelled at high speed to pro- vide the thrust that propels the craft forward.

Kuninaka noted that although this type of propulsion provides less raw power than standard chemical propulsion — each probe required a rocket to launch it into space — it is highly efficient and can maintain acceleration for a long time on relatively little propellant. Following JAXA’s improvement of Hayabusa2’s engine and durability, “the system can now achieve a velocity of over 30 kilometers a second compared to five kilometers a second for conventional chemical propulsion,” says Kuninaka. “So Hayabusa2 is able to reach the asteroid Ryugu and return to earth on just 60 kilograms of propellant — one-tenth the weight of the craft.”

Concerning the craft’s communications with Earth, mission manager Yoshikawa notes that the first space probe employed a large, bulky parabolic X-band antenna. This has been replaced with two smaller but equally powerful planar antennas that use different wavelengths that are better tailored for the different kinds of data being transmitted back to Earth. What’s more, this new set-up has the advantage of providing Hayabusa2 with a communications fallback should one of the systems fail.

Other important equipment packed on board includes a suite of cameras, a near-infrared spectrometer, a laser altimeter to measure the distance between probe and asteroid, asteroid sampling devices, and three small rover robots — compared with one rover on the first probe that was never deployed.

Two new additions are a novel impactor and a small lander containing several scientific instruments.

The impactor will release a high-speed projectile composed of an explosive copper plate to smash into the surface of Ryugu and form an artificial crater. JAXA then hopes to land the Hayabusa in the crater or close to it and pick up samples of the asteroid’s internal makeup – an enterprising experiment worthy of high praise if it succeeds.

The small lander was created jointly by the German Aerospace Center and the French National Center for Space Studies. Dubbed the Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout (MASCOT), it will change location once by jumping. It carries a wide-angle camera, spectroscopic microscope, thermal radiometer and a magnetometer to study composition of the aster- oid’s surface.

The craft’s electric power is generated by a two-winged solar array paddle system con- sisting of three panels per wing. This produces 1,460 watts to charge eleven inline-mounted 13.2 Ah lithium-ion batteries that supply power to onboard equipment as needed.

JAXA aims to have three traveling robots explore Ryugu’s surface: Rover-1A, Rover-1B, and Rover-2. They will be deployed via a MINERVA-ll minilander. Each of the first two concentric robots weighs approximately 1.1 kilograms with dimensions of 18 x 7 centime- ters. Each contains a wide-angle and a stereo camera; a temperature sensor and photodiode; and an accelerometer and gyro. Power is supplied by solar cells, movement by means of internal flywheels.

The optional Rover-2 is some 45 percent taller than its two counterparts and contains similar equipment but also incorporates four types of mobility systems: two kinds of bucking mechanisms, an eccentric motor micro-hop mechanism, and a permanent magnet-type impact generation mechanism.

While all this is going on, JAXA is planning to launch several more space expeditions. On October 19, JAXA and the European Space Agency (ESA) will jointly launch two spacecraft — JAXA’s Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MIO) and ESA’s Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) — from French Guinea on an Ariane 5 rocket. The two agencies will cooperate to learn more about Mercury. MIO will study the planet’s mysterious magnetic field and how it interacts with harsh solar winds, given its proximity to the Sun, as well as study the planet’s magnetosphere. MPO will observe the planet’s surface and internal composition.

Then around 2020, just as Hayabusa is on its way home, JAXA will send its Smart Lander for Investigating the Moon (SLIM) to the moon. With SLIM, JAXA hopes to demonstrate pinpoint lunar landing techniques to pave the wave for future exploration missions on the moon and on other planets.

And possibly in 2024, we will see the launch of the Martian Moon Exploration Mission (MMX). JAXA aims to have MMX visit the two Martian moons, Phobos and Deimos, land on one of them, collect samples and return to Earth in 2029. Such samples could help astrophysicists understand how these moons originated.

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John Boyd covers the SciTechBiz scene in Japan as well as current events.

Sadaharu Oh—Home-Run King

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Sadaharu Oh—Home-Run King


Sadaharu Oh of the Yomiuri Giants, whose prowess in hitting home runs brought him baseball fame, spoke at a Club luncheon on October 17, 1977. That was the year he hit 50 homers following on his earlier 51 in 1973 and his record 55 in 1964, the seasonal highs in a career that would total a lifetime world record of 868 home runs. Another high point was a 1974 home-run derby with Hank Aarons, the man who had just broken Babe Ruth’s record of 714 career home runs (Aarons 10, Oh 9). Shaking Oh’s hand at the luncheon is Frederick “Ted” Marks (UPI), FCCJ president.

The son of a Chinese (Taiwan) father and a Japanese mother, Oh was born on May 20, 1940, in Tokyo, where he was also raised and educated. While still a high-school student, he made news nationwide as the pitcher who won Japan’s annual Koshien tournament in 1957 by continuing to hurl balls over four days despite painfully injured fingers. In 1959, the Yomiuri Giants signed him on as a pitcher, but soon switched him to first base and a focus on batting skills that saw his home runs jump from seven in 1959 to 17 in 1960. Although 1961 was an off-year at 13 homers, Oh’s hitting prowess rebounded to figures of 38 and then 40 over the next two seasons. These were followed by his record 55 homers in 1964, making him Japan’s home-run king. Seasonal homers during his career were mostly in the mid to high-40s range, marred by an off-year of 33 in 1975 and then in the 30s range in his final three years as a player.

Retirement as a player in 1980 saw Oh’s transition to assistant manager for the Giants in 1981, then manager in 1984, with a pennant win in 1987 before he retired in 1988. Although controversy had arisen in 1985, when his pitchers repeatedly walked Randy Bass of the Hanshin Tigers to prevent Bass from tying or breaking Oh’s seasonal home- run record, Oh denied any involvement. He returned to baseball in 1995 to manage the Fukuoka Daiei Hawks and lead that team to three pennants and two titles. Controversies resurfaced in 2001 and 2002 when his pitchers, contrary to his orders, repeatedly walked foreign batters who threatened to break Oh’s seasonal record of 55 homers. He managed that team (re-named the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks in 2005) until his retirement in 2008.

Although his seasonal record was broken by Wladimir Balentien of the Tokyo Yakult Swallows with 60 home runs in 2013, Oh’s career total of 868 home runs remains a world record.

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Charles Pomeroy is editor of Foreign Correspondents in Japan, a history of the club that is available at the front desk.


Concern about Health of Japanese Journalist Held Hostage in Syria

Concern about Health of Japanese Journalist Held Hostage in Syria


The Japanese phone and Internet company Nifty said in a note on its website today that a newly emerged video of Jumpei Yasuda, a Japanese journalist kidnapped in Syria three years ago, has fueled hopes that he is still alive, although a comment has raised concern about his health. 

Nifty, which has not posted the video itself, said it was filmed last month, is 15 seconds long and contains a comment suggesting that Yasuda’s health has deteriorated.

“If the video’s existence and the date it was filmed are confirmed, it reinforces our hope of seeing Jumpei Yasuda alive again,” said Cédric Alviani, the head of the East Asia bureau of Reporters Without Borders (RSF). “More than ever, we urge the Japanese authorities and the international community to work to obtain this journalist’s release before it is too late.”

On 6 July, the Japanese TV channel Nippon News Network broadcast a video dated 17 October 2017 showing Yasuda in apparently good health and saying that he was “doing OK” and hoped “to see his family again soon.” 

According to various sources, Yasuda was kidnapped in 2015 by an armed Islamist group, the same group that held three Spanish jour- nalists who were kidnapped the same year and were freed after ten months.

Ranked 177th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2018 World Press Freedom Index, Syria is the world’s most dangerous country for journalists.

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