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Thursday, August 18, 2016

CIRCLE PACIFIC ADVENTURE 2016: Day # 10 --So What is Happening in Asia?

China is buying up the world:

However, two days ago local (in Japan) newspapers headlined:  China Approves Foxconn's Acquisition of Sharp.  Your first thought would be, okay, what next?  A few surprises:
  • Foxconn is a Taiwanese company,.
  • Why is China even involved with the approval process?
  • Sharp is the very first foreign takeover of a major Japanese electronics producer.
Prime Minister Abe will soon  seek a constitutional amendment, currently limiting Japan to spend less than 1% of its GDP on war, a constraint imposed by General Douglas MacArthur after World War II.  I've long thought that this restriction, also applied to Germany, is what spurred the economic re-development of those two former enemies.  As far as annual defense spending:
  • #1  USA  $570 billion
  • #2  China  $191 billion
  • #3  United Kingdom  $67 billion
  • #4  Russia  $53 billion
  • #5  France  $53 billion (yes, same as Russia!)
  • #6  India  $50 billion
Where are Japan and Germany?  Well, Japan is at $41 billion, although the desired increase to 2.5% could boost future budgets to more than $100 billion/year.  What a waste!!!    Sure, there is concern about China and North Korea, but there is the USA to protect the country.  Unless, of course, Abe wants to cite Donald Trump as the reason.

These funds should go to education, the environment, Fukushima and a dozen other more needed causes.  The surprising thing to all this war-mongering is that the voters of Japan seem not to care much.  Sure there might be a few protests, but these are weak, very weak.

So right on the heels of President Barack Obama visiting Hiroshima  in May for the sake of peace, Donald Trump threatens he would consider ending the U.S. commitment to Japan's defense and encouraging the country to build its own nuclear arsenal.  

The cascade of what happens next could well induce a future world war.  No one here actually asked me about the idiocy of Trump, although the Asian media seem to be concerned.

I just read an article by Boye Lafayette De Mente (who has written more than 40 books) on Why the Japanese are a Superior People, the title of one of his books.  Interesting man, actually, for he graduated from a Japanese university and worked for a U.S intelligence agency.

To summarize:
  • Genetics have made the Japanese brain right sided, meaning that feelings dominate over facts.
  • In other words, aesthetics pay an equal role with functionality.
  • Fuzzy (holistic) thinking versus linear thinking.
  • Quality over profit.
  • Striving for daily improvement.
  • This use of the whole brain gives Japanese an advantage over, say, Americans.
  • He sites Tadanobu Tsunoda, author of The Japanese Brain, a respected authority in this field.
I approached this article with amused dubiosity, but being only two generations removed from those living in Japan, it occurred to me that my success, in fact, came from everything indicated above.  I should add, though, that he has also written Mistress-Keeping in Japan and Some Prefer Geisha.

Switching to my next stop, Thailand is a monarchy (the King is 88 years old and has been so for 70 years--although there have been 19 coups during this period) ruled by the military.  The country just voted yes to a new Constitution, but this was not exactly civilian leaders from throughout the nation reaching a reasoned compromise.  This document mostly reinforces martial law.  Read an editorial from The New York Times, which just about says it all.

Their current prime minister is Prayut Chan-o-cha, former Commander in Chief of the Royal Thai Army.  There is now no public dissent.  There is order.  Shopping centers are safe.  So I arrive at a time of relative peace, at least in Bangkok.

There are six ocean storms.  The only one showing signs of gaining hurricane strength is Tropical Depression 12, which seems to be going the wrong way.

Normally, a typhoon heads toward Japan from Okinawa.  

In the Atlantic, Tropical Storm Fiona is not expected to attain hurricane status:


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