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Saturday, October 21, 2017

FABULOUS FALL FANTASY: Day 9--Some Interesting Things about the Orient

I hesitate to say this might be My Last Great Brunch, as I've more recently been commemorating a range of final activities, but to end my stay in Japan on a positive note, here was my fabulous morning meal just before leaving the Tokyo Westin:

1.  The Japan Nikkei, now at 21,458, has increased for 14 days in a row.  There is a general sense that the economy is good.  I believe this is mostly delusional.  The Nikkei was at 38,062 late in 1989.  Depending on what economic comparative parameter you use, that value today would be between 65,900 and 125,000.  Say the purchasing power calculator is utilized.  Then, that high today  to exceed the Nikkei all time high would need to be 73,700.  Thus, the 21,458 is a pale shadow on what Japan's economy was when their bubble burst.  Right is the inflation-adjusted American Dow Jones.

2.  Japanese Emperor Akihito's abdication, at the age of 85, will probably occur on 31March 2019.  He will have held that position for 30 years.  Amazingly enough, he is the 125th Emperor of his line, going back to 660 BC.  In comparison, Queen Elizabeth II is 91 and has reigned for 65 years.  The first Monarch was Alfred the Great going back to 899 AD.  But there have been different Houses and other complicated ascendency adjustments.

3.  The Japanese vote on Sunday to replace the lower house (which is the only body of any worthiness).  Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Liberal Democratic Party will easily retain power.  At one time Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike of the new Party of Hope showed promise of challenging.  However, there seems to be general satisfaction with Abe's performance.  Remember that the Liberal Democratic Party is equivalent to the American Republican Party and is known to be conservative.  Oh, President Donald Trump arrives in Japan on November 5.

4.  Various Japanese companies are in assorted stages of scandal, bankruptcy, takeover and general ignominy:  Kobe Steel, Nissan, Toshiba, Takata, Sharp, Olympus, Sanyo, Tokyo Electric Power, and more.  However, Toyota has recovered, and should be #1 in the world this year, with Volkswagen at #2.  This is their fuel cell car, the Mirai.  I asked Professor Osaka yesterday...why?  We are of the same opinion that the effort seems mostly public relations.

5.  The latest fear is a new H7N9 bird flu strain with pandemic potential.  This version has been circulating in China.  However, it seems that the largest threat will be to the poultry industry.  The last global outbreak, of the H1N1 swine flu, was in 2009, killing more than 200,000 globally.  Four vaccines are being developed for the H7N9 version.  The flu shot you got this fall?  Only protects against influenza A (H1N1 and H3N2) and one type of B.

6.  CIA Director Mike Pompeo was quoted to say:

With respect to, if Kim Jong-un should vanish, given the history of the CIA, I'm just not going to talk about it.

No wonder then that the North Korea chubby leader vents, but at least somewhat more colorfully.  Regarding President Donald Trump (September 2017):

I will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged US dotard with fire.

And (December 2014):

Obama always goes reckless in words and deeds, like a monkey in a tropical forest.

7.  I thought my one-hour presentation to Mensa last week was a bit long.  Xi Jinping spoke for 3.5 hours to the the Community Party Congress, effectively kicking off his second 5-year reign.    He put former President Jiang Zeming to sleep,  However, this was nothing compared to Fidel Castro addressing the UN General Assembly for 4.5 hours in 1963 and Ted Cruz mesmerizing the U.S. Senate for 21 hours and 19 minutes on Obamacare in 2013.

8.  Fred Armisen of Saturday Night Live fame thought he was a quarter Japanese.  His Oriental root, Masami Kuni, was a legendary dancer from Japan, who, during the 1930's and '40's, staged performances throughout Europe, had a brief affair with a German woman, who gave birth to Armisen's father in 1941, all the while serving as supporter of the Third Reich and spy for the Emperor of Japan.

Turns, that his grandfather was born Park Yeong-in in 1908 Korea.  Here is a clip from PBS Finding Your Roots.

Super Typhoon Lan is now up to 155 MPH, and still projected to make a direct hit on Tokyo from the Pacific Ocean:

Lan has picked up speed to 26 MPH and will now be arriving even earlier.  The few hours of safe time before my flight departs at 6:25PM is now a concern.

....The road to Narita Airport seemed to be on the verge of flooding.  However, my bags and I got to the ANA check-in desk and all seems well.  I had a feast in the ANA lounge...just in case of a bad case scenario.  According to sources here, it will get a lot worse in a few hours.  

Whoops, just heard an announcement in the lounge that all flights are delayed because of the typhoon.  Not sure what that means.  Hope to send you my next from Bangkok on schedule.  Tokyo has now been raining, quite hard, for eight straight days.  The weather in Bangkok and Seoul over the next week show no precipitation.  It will be 90F in Bangkok, but Los Angeles will hit 100F on Tuesday.  Seoul looks to reach a high of 70F when I get there in six days.


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