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Number 1 Shimbun


NUMBER 1 SHIMBUN 2018 (116)

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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.

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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

No1-2018-08 03

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.

Associate Members (July 2018)

Reinstatement (Regular)
Anthony Trotter, ABC News

Professional/Journalist Associate Members (Japanese)
Hiromi Higurashi, The Electric Daily News

Associate Members
Humayun Akhter Mughal, Pakistan TV Corporation Kenneth Reilly, AIG General Insurance Co., Ltd.
Megumi Kumabe, Mylan Seiyaku Ltd.
Shinichiro Tsuchida, Nippon Interpublic Co., Ltd.
Takashi Terano, Oosaki Iin Clinic
Hiroshi Hayashi, Hayashi Jimusho

Reinstatement (Associate)
Russell Saito, Touchdown K.K.
Isamu Kajino, Citigroup Global Markets Japan Inc.


Biography of Mr. Anthony Trotter:
Anthony Trotter has been living and working in Tokyo since arriving in 1996. Working mainly in
journalism and communications, his working credits include Reuters TV and Fuji TV, where he was
producer for a TV program called News Japan. Eventually forming his own company, his assignments
have taken him around the globe, covering everything from G7 meetings to missile launches. Currently
working with ABC News as their Tokyo bureau producer and cameraman, Trotter is also the proud father
of a two-year-old boy.

New in the Library (July 2018)


New book list for Number 1 Shimbun
<July 2018 issue>

Aru oranda jin no [Showa Japan] ron: futashikana heisi kara mita tashikana showa
Hans Brinckmann ; Hiromi Mizoguchi (trans.)
Random House Kodansha
Gift from Hans Brinckmann

Moto isuraeru taishi ga kataru shinkoku Nippon
Eli-Eliyahu Cohen ; Hiroyuki Fujita (Comp. and trans.)
Gift from Hiroyuki Fujita

A Tokyo Romance: A Memoir
Ian Buruma
Atlantic Books

China at War: Triumph and Tragedy in the Emergence of the New China 1937-1952
Hans Van de Ven
Profile Books

A World of Empires: The Russian Voyage of the Frigate Pallada
Edyta M. Bojanowska
Harvard University Press


Land of Clouds

No1-2018-07 10

An Appreciation: Susumu Awanohara, 1945-2018

No1-2018-07 09

An Appreciation: Susumu Awanohara, 1945-2018
By Tracy Dahlby

Susumu Awanohara didn’t fit the image of the impulsive, daredevil foreign correspondent you see in Hollywood movies. Not by a long shot. Susumu was a big-hearted, beautifully rumpled man, who observed the world from behind smudged glasses, his incisive mind working to crack its puzzles with the instincts of a great detective.

A respected former denizen of the FCCJ, Susumu spent two decades covering Asia and its role in global affairs for the Far Eastern Economic Review, alternating between editing turns in the Hong Kong newsroom and bureau chief postings in Tokyo and Jakarta in the 1970s and Singapore and Washington in the 1980s and '90s.

Armed with a Ph.D. in economics from Yale University (and an undergraduate degree from Tokyo University), Susumu immersed himself in transformative, large-canvas stories. What would China’s economic awakening mean for the world? How would rising economies in Southeast Asia alter the face of business and politics? Whither sprawling, complicated Indonesia? A dogged field reporter with a knack for languages, Susumu loved to repair to a desk strewn with newspapers and reference books and tease out clues to the shape of things to come.

In the mid-1990s, Susumu embarked on a second career as a financial policy maven. After a stint at the Nikko Research Center in Washington, he moved to a New York job as analyst of Asian business and economic trends for Medley Global Advisors. He lived in Manhattan’s East Village with his wife, Mary- Lea Cox. He had been retired for several years when he died of pancreatic cancer at Calvary Hospital in the Bronx on June 11, at 72. In addition to Mary-Lea, he is survived by children from a former marriage: son Gen (and Gen’s wife Meagan) and daughters Mika and Yuri; two grandchildren, Max and Elle Awanohara; an older brother, Kan Awanohara; a nephew and two nieces; and many friends across the globe.

My own debt to Susumu is profound. In 1976, when he opened the Review’s first stand-alone Tokyo bureau in the Nikkei Shimbun’s infamous “Gaijin Ghetto,” he hired me as his back-up reporter. New to journalism, I knew neither how to do it nor why it was done. Susumu pulled double duty teaching me the craft. He showed me how to block a story and fashion those pesky ledes and nut grafs. He also taught me that a good reporter covers not just the “what” of the news but also the “why”—and is a tireless student of any beat, inhaling its history, politics and the intricacies of its social fabric.

Susumu was expert in looking out for his friends. When the Review asked Bradley Martin, then of the Baltimore Sun, to replace Susumu as Jakarta bureau chief, Susumu advised him not to come — Jakarta was no place to take a wife who was recovering from a serious illness. “Besides being one of the best- educated journalists I’ve ever met,” said former Review colleague Mike Tharp, “Susumu was one of the nicest ... not in a saccharine sense ... but in caring about people both individually and in sum.”

If Susumu covered Asia at a transformative time, he was born into a turbulent one – August 1945, in Japanese-held Manchuria. His maternal grandfather, Tsutomu Nishiyama, had been serving as president of the Central Bank of Manchou. With Japan’s defeat, the Russian army swarmed across northern China. In the chaos, Susumu and his twin brother, Shinji, were spirited back to Japan, where Shinji soon died of malnutrition. The dramatic circumstances of Susumu’s birth contributed to his desire to get to know Asia, in all its complexities.

Susumu was a man of charming eccentricities who modeled himself after the artfully fumbling 1970s TV detective Columbo. A Medley Advisors colleague fondly recalls him carrying a hardboiled egg in his suit pocket; he won office prizes for “most bad hair days” for his prodigiously spiky mop. Yet his unflappable, cerebral demeanor also masked a courageous spirit. When right-wing extremists phoned in threats to the Tokyo bureau over a Review cover of Emperor Hirohito, Susumu didn’t flinch.

Former Review editor-in-chief Philip Bowring recalls a hard trek through Kalimantan in the early 1980s with Susumu’s “relaxed good humor overcoming innumerable obstacles.” When the two were ready to fly on to Manado in Sulawesi, “the plane we were supposed to take crashed on landing at Balikpapan and after three days waiting in vain for a relief plane we had to return to Jakarta. Susumu kept me sane and smiling.”

When I visited Susumu’s hospice in the Bronx, a pilgrimage other Review alumni made, as well, he and I reviewed the magazine’s gallery of memorable characters for a last time and traded a few laughs and barbs. Mary-Lea, watching us from across the room, said it best: “There will never be another Susumu.”


Tracy Dahlby, a former FCCJ member, reported from Tokyo in the 1970s and 1980s for the Far Eastern Economic Review, The Washington Post and Newsweek, respectively. He now teaches journalism at the University of Texas at Austin.

Marcus Fishenden - The FCCJ’s New General Manager

No1-2018-07 08

Marcus Fishenden
The FCCJ’s New General Manager
By Haruko Watanabe

In April, after half a year without top management, the Club hired as General Manager Marcus Fishenden, a 51-year-old Canadian resort and hospitality industry veteran. Marcus was formerly the director of operations in Asia for Troon, the world’s largest golf course management, development and marketing company. He later worked as second in command at Acordia, Japan’s biggest golf resort development and managing company.

Marcus has enjoyed a very versatile athletic and international life since his childhood in the small village of Revelstoke, British Columbia, which is now considered a sanctuary of snow sports in Canada. As a boy, he enthusiastically challenged rock and ice climbing and skiing. He still wryly recalls watching ten inches of snow accumulate on the edge of the window by the couch where he rested while a broken leg mended. But above all sports, fishing remains Marcus’s life-long hobby and passion.

His relationship with Japan started during his high school days. In 1985 he won a Rotary Club Student Exchange Scholarship and studied at Mitsuda High School in Kure City, Hiroshima. Upon graduating from the University of British Columbia, he joined Troon. For that company the young Marcus took part in projects ranging from land reclamation to the establishment of country clubs and commercial and residential districts in Hong Kong, Vietnam, China and other Asian countries.

His job experience includes consultations and negotiations with contractors and government agencies and with financial institutions such as HSBC, Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank. He learned the hard way in how to deal with delinquent accounts.

In Hong Kong, his major commitment was to develop 410 acres of an eighteen-hole golf course landscaped by Nicklaus design and a residential area. He brought an American school to the project to meet the needs of prospective residents.

Fifteen years after his Hiroshima stay, in 2000, Marcus Fishenden returned to Japan. He administered and managed more than a hundred golf courses, with hotels and restaurants, of Acordia Golf Company in Japan as number two in the company’s management.

“Number two works harder than number one,” he said. “People misunderstand me as a kuromaku (wire- puller) because I do not seek the number one position. But what I want is privacy rather than unnecessary publicity.”

Press Club is scheduled to move from the present Yurakucho Denki Bldg. to the New Fuji Building in Nakadori in mid-October. Major furniture and interior designs have been completed already but Marcus’s decision to introduce temperature controlled food carts and changes of floor layout leading from the bar to the dining room are the touch of a professional, which no architects had suggested.

Khaldon Azhari, President of the FCCJ, said, “All the Board and the Human Resources Committee members agreed Marcus was the best choice among ten candidates.”

A young journalist praised him, saying, “His friendly smile is a complete presentation of hospitality.”

Of course, the board may change with the annual election – and journalists often prefer to criticize rather than to develop employees. Besides, the salary levels of a public interest press organization are much lower than those of golf course developers. Fishenden’s motivation to work for the Club is a mystery to many members.

When Marcus heard about the job opening at the Press Club, he said, he thought about renovation of management and infrastructural changes. “Let FCCJ shine again!” To achieve that goal, he wants to appeal to younger and digital journalists in addition to traditional print, television and radio groups.

Although he prefers not to talk about himself, some FCCJ members and employees observe that his welcoming facial expression and his imposing figure (he’s 190 cm. tall) symbolize the social status and professionalism of the Press Club. They are already impressed by him even before completion of his three month probation.

As a fishing enthusiast, he boasted, his biggest catch was his Japanese wife, a 178 cm tall former Waseda University volleyball player he met in Hong Kong. They have a nine-year-old girl and a six-year-old boy. “I hope she would never change her spectacles – or else she would find all my faults.” He whispered, with his usual smile. Marcus-san gambatte!


Haruko Watanabe started working for the Mainichi as a student contributor. Upon receiving her master’s degree from the University of Missouri in 1964, she joined the Chicago Sun-Times. Later she was Tokyo bureau chief for the Press Foundation of Asia. In 1976 she produced the path-breaking video Women Pioneers. During the 1980s and ‘90s she worked on United Nations women’s conferences. She trained Japanese, other Asian and African journalists as UNESCO media development consultant and lecturer at Sophia University. Haruko-san joined the FCCJ in 1981 and has served on the board as vice president, director and kanji. She is the Special Projects Committee chair and a life member.

Coming Attraction: Kim Jong-un on Wall Street

Coming Attraction: Kim Jong-un on Wall Street
By Anthony Rowley

(Pyongyong, August 1, 2020) Pyongyang stocks closed higher on news that North Korean "B" shares are to be listed on the Seoul Stock exchange and that a raft of recently issued North Korea mutual funds are proving popular. Investors have been beating a path to Pyongyang's door lately.

Speaking on the trading floor of the Pyongyang Stock Exchange, Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un recalled a sentiment often attributed to the late Chinese paramount leader Deng Xiaoping: "To get rich is glorious." Socialism "with North Korean characteristics," Kim boasted, “can give capitalism a run for its money any day."

The news item above is fiction, for now, but the day when North Korea opens its mineral-resource rich economy to an outside world that is eager also to tap into the country's cheap and well educated labor pool and its potential for joining global supply chains may not be too distant given recent developments.

Some see North Korea as the next big thing for investors now that the Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un summit in Singapore has ended with a walkabout (rather than a walkout) by the two leaders. Denuclearization may be some way off yet but outside interest in the economic potential of North Korea is rising.

The general verdict on the extraordinary Singapore summit (from "war war” to “jaw jaw" within the space of a few months) is that there is still a way to go before it can be said that Trump's art of the deal has paid off. But the economic and financial implications of the summit are more immediate.

Unless there is a reversal of the Singapore agreement (not impossible, given the volatile nature of the two summiteers) the emphasis now in Pyongyang and Seoul will be on economic as well as military matters. Kim Jong-un has emphasized his desire to modernize North Korea's economy but he cannot afford to do so alone.

Nor will South Korea be able to pick up the tab in the same way that West Germany did for East Germany several decades ago when the two halves of the divided nation were reunified. Outside aid and investment – a great deal of it – will be needed from governments, multilateral agencies and private investors.

Providers of bilateral official aid, in addition to South Korea, will include China, Japan and maybe the United States and European countries. Multilateral aid, too, will flow in time. But the more intriguing question is how private investment -- whether of a business or portfolio nature – will flow into the hermit kingdom.

Fund managers, who usually like to be ahead of the game, will likely approach investment in North Korea initially via an indirect route – targeting stocks of outside companies that are likely to be doing more business with North Korea as, presumably, the denuclearization process begins to unwind.

South Korea's Hyundai, already involved in cross-border ventures with the North, along with other South Korean chaebol – industrial conglomerates – will very likely attract fund manager interest in coming months, as will Japanese giants like Mitsubishi Heavy Industries or construction giant Komatsu, not to mention listed Chinese enterprises.

It would not be surprising if, in addition, investment houses should start churning out Korea Funds – not of the kind that proliferated in the 1980s and early 1990s to invest in South Korea's export boom but new ones designed to capitalize on the prospective opening up of the North Korean economy.

In the same way that North Korea's economic development from here on is likely to reflect the Chinese model of foreign company-invested special zones, so the evolution of portfolio investor exposure to the North could mirror the Chinese model of "A' and "B" shares – the latter being listed in Seoul and elsewhere.

There are myriad potential opportunities in North Korea for outside investors. Apart from a vast need for new infrastructure in the form of highways railroads, energy and communication networks, etc. – all of which suggest opportunities for foreign contractors and suppliers – North Korea is rich in minerals.

The country's mountain ranges conceal not only nuclear testing sites but also, according to some estimates, 200 varieties of minerals, including gold, iron, copper, zinc, magnesite, limestone, tungsten, and graphite, Some of these stocks are said to be among the largest in the world, with a total value of perhaps up to US$10 trillion.

As it happens, that is perhaps around the same sum of money that it will require to modernize North Korea's economy and bring it onto a par with that of the much more highly developed economy of South Korea. And, exploiting this vast mineral wealth will obviously require foreign finance and technology.

As Jesper Koll, head of investment house Wisdom Tree, Japan, in Tokyo, has noted, "As North Korea prepares to emerge slowly but surely from decades of isolation, an enormous potential investment opportunity is about to unfold." Japan for one has the wherewithal to benefit from this, if only its political relations with Pyongyang can be strengthened.

The reason why North Koreans cannot turn to their cousins in the South of the country to take care of the cost of economic modernization, in the same way that that the East Germans were able to from their West German counterparts is a matter of scale, as Koll has pointed out.

East Germany's modernization required some $2 trillion of public sector support and $3 trillion of private sector investment, mainly from West Germany. That was doable in terms of the relative size of the two economies. North Korea could require up to $10 trillion of investment – way beyond the ability of South Korea alone to provide.

It is by no means beyond the resources of China and Japan, acting together with South Korea, however, not to mention potential US and European investment. Then there are the multilateral institutions – the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, etc. – once Pyongyang shows serious interest in joining those bodies.


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.



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