Japan and South Korea stir up an old, odd rivalry.
By Ian Buruma
Mr. Buruma is a writer and a professor at Bard College.
“In a rational world, South Korea and Japan ought to be the best of friends. Their cultures and languages are closely linked. Their economies are deeply entangled. And as the only liberal democracies in East Asia (along with Taiwan), they have to contend with the threat of North Korean belligerence and Chinese domination.
But the world is not so rational, and so the two American allies have recently become engaged in a flaming economic row, ostensibly sparked by historical wrongs. Late last year, the South Korean Supreme Court ruled that Japanese companies should compensate Koreans who were forced to work in Japanese factories and mines during World War II. Assets of major Japanese companies, such as Nippon Steel and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, have been seized in South Korea, and they could soon be sold. The Japanese government protested that this matter had already been resolved in 1965, when the two countries reached an agreement claiming to settle “completely and finally” all colonial-era claims in exchange for financial aid and loans from Japan worth $500 million.
“There has been an emperor in Japan for more than 15 centuries, making the Chrysanthemum Throne the world’s oldest continuous monarchy. On Tuesday, the emperor stepped down, yielding to his eldest son in the first abdication in 200 years. This is the family’s story.
We know him as Akihito, the emperor of Japan, a gentle figure who championed peace in a nation devastated by war. But she called him Jimmy.
It was the autumn of 1946, a year after the end of the Second World War, and he was a 12-year-old boy, the crown prince of a defeated land, sitting in an unheated classroom on the outskirts of Tokyo. There, a new American teacher insisted on a more prosaic name for his highness. His father, the wartime emperor, Hirohito, had been revered as a god, but she made clear he never would be.
“In this class, your name is Jimmy,” declared the teacher, Elizabeth Gray Vining, a 44-year-old librarian and children’s book author from Philadelphia.
“TOKYO — Carlos Ghosn and his lawyers are laying out the most comprehensive case yet for his innocence, nearly two months after his arrest shook the auto business and tarnished the reputation of an industry titan.
Still, it may not be enough to free him from jail for months, as prosecutors try to build a case against the ousted Nissan Motor chairman and onetime leader of an automaking juggernaut that builds more than 10 million cars annually.
Mr. Ghosn’s chief defense lawyer in Japan said on Tuesday that prosecutors had no basis for holding him in jail on allegations that he improperly transferred personal losses to Nissan’s books, saying that board members had approved the transactions.
Late Tuesday, that lawyer, Motonari Otsuru, submitted a request to the court to release Mr. Ghosn from detention on the grounds that Nissan did not ultimately bear any losses and that he was not a flight risk.”
“Carlos Ghosn was tired. At 64 years old, the chairman of an auto empire that spanned several continents and included Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi wasn’t bouncing back from jet lag the way he used to. Melatonin wasn’t working anymore, and he had bouts of insomnia, phoning his children in the middle of the night or going on long walks around his Tokyo or Paris neighborhood. He planned to retire soon, stepping back from spending his life on an airplane, albeit a luxurious one paid for by Nissan.
Last month, just before Thanksgiving weekend, Mr. Ghosn headed to Tokyo to meet his youngest daughter and her boyfriend and attend a board meeting. He was scheduled to land at Haneda Airport at 4 p.m.
The daughter, Maya Ghosn, 26, had spent most of her childhood in Japan and wanted to introduce her boyfriend, Patrick, to her favorite places. Bringing a boyfriend home is a common rite of passage, but a particularly intimidating prospect when growing up Ghosn — a child of one of the most romanticized and ruthless chief executives the global business community has ever seen.
Ms. Ghosn had made a 7:30 dinner reservation at Jiro, the Michelin-starred sushi counter hidden in a basement in the city’s Ginza district.
On the tarmac in Beirut, Lebanon, Mr. Ghosn opened WhatsApp and texted his four children on a group chain labeled “Game of Ghosns,” for his favorite TV show, “Game of Thrones,” the bloody HBO drama about dynasties under siege. “On my way to Tokyo! Love you guys!” Mr. Ghosn texted as his jet lifted off.
He never made it to dinner.
On Nov. 19, Japanese prosecutors surrounded Mr. Ghosn’s Gulfstream after its arrival and arrested him on allegations that for years he had withheld millions of dollars in income from Nissan’s financial filings.”
David Lindsay: This is a fascinating tragedy for Carlos Ghosn. I have just scratched the surface. It appears, he never understood Japanese culture or values, and insulted both. He also did a great job turning around Nissan, when it needed a dose of change.
Mr. Wu is a law professor who specializes in antitrust.
“Over the last year or so, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and other American tech leaders have issued a stark warning to those who want to see more competition in the industry. It goes something like this: “We understand that we’ve made mistakes. But don’t you realize that if you damage us, you’ll just be handing over the future to China? Unlike America, the Chinese government is standing behind its tech firms, because it knows that the competition is global, and it wants to win.”
This — Big Tech’s version of the “too big to fail” argument — has a superficial nationalistic appeal. It’s certainly true that the Chinese technology sector is growing and aggressively competitive, and that many of its companies are embraced and promoted by the Chinese state. By one count, eight of the world’s 20 largest tech firms are Chinese. That would seem to suggest a contest for global dominance, one in which the United States ought not be considering breakups or regulation, but instead be doing everything it can to protect and subsidize the home team.
But to accept this argument would be a mistake, for it betrays and ignores hard-won lessons about the folly of an industrial policy centered on “national champions,” especially in the tech sector. What Facebook is really asking for is to be embraced and protected as America’s very own social media monopolist, bravely doing battle overseas. But both history and basic economics suggest we do much better trusting that fierce competition at home yields stronger industries overall.
That’s the lesson from the history of Japanese-American tech competition. During the 1970s and into the ’80s, it was widely believed that Japan was threatening the United States for supremacy in technology markets. The Japanese giant NEC was a serious challenger to IBM in the mainframe market; Sony was running over consumer electronics, joined by powerful firms like Panasonic and Toshiba. These companies enjoyed the support of the Japanese state, through the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, which pursued a nationalistic industrial policy thought to be infallible.”
“TOKYO — Suicides by young people in Japan rose to their highest level in three decades in 2017, according to new figures released by the government.
Japan has a persistent problem with suicides, although the number has been declining over all. But child suicides have risen recently, with experts pointing to school pressures and bullying as likely triggers.
Last year 250 children in elementary, middle and high schools committed suicide, the highest number since 1986, according to data released last month by the Education Ministry.
According to the Education Ministry survey of schools, most of the students did not leave any explanation for why they decided to take their own lives. Of those who did, the most frequently cited reason was worries over what path to take after graduation. Other reasons included family problems and bullying.”
BRUSSELS — From trade to regulation to security, America’s traditional allies are accelerating their efforts to buttress a global system that President Trump has seemed prepared to tear down.
After months of stunned indecision, they have undertaken a flurry of efforts intended to preserve the rules-based order the United States created after World War II and championed ever since.
The most obvious example came on Monday, the same day a stunned world watched Mr. Trump praise President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia as a competitor after having dismissed Europe as an economic “foe.” A few thousand miles away, in Beijing, the leaders of the European Union and China held a long-scheduled meeting of their own.
In the past, expectations for such meetings were low, given the conflicts on trade and human rights between the Europeans and the Chinese. But while those differences remain, this summit meeting produced an unusual joint declaration and a common commitment to keep the global system strong.
The next day, the Europeans traveled to Japan and signed the biggest free-trade agreement in history, just the sort of deal the Trump administration has criticized.
SANTIAGO, Chile — A trade pact originally conceived by the United States to counter China’s growing economic might in Asia now has a new target: President Trump’s embrace of protectionism.
A group of 11 nations — including major United States allies like Japan, Canada and Australia — signed a broad trade deal on Thursday that challenges Mr. Trump’s view of trade as a zero-sum game filled with winners and losers.
Covering 500 million people on either side of the Pacific Ocean, the pact represents a new vision for global trade as the United States threatens to impose steel and aluminum tariffs on even its closest friends and neighbors.
Mr. Trump withdrew the United States from an earlier version of the agreement, then known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a year ago as one of his first acts in office. It will undeniably be weaker without the participation of the world’s biggest economy, but the resuscitated deal serves as a powerful sign of how countries that have previously counted on American leadership are now forging ahead without it.
“Only free trade will contribute to inclusive growth of the world economy,” Taro Kono, Japan’s foreign minister, told a group of ministers from Southeast Asian countries in Tokyo on Thursday. “Protectionism isn’t a solution.”
“While American beef farmers will have to pay 38.5 percent tariffs in Japan, for example, members like Australia, New Zealand and Canada will not.”
I’m sure that most in the beef industry voted for Trump. Well guess what, More expensive steel is going to mean your costs are going up and the tariffs mean your income is going down. America First? Much more of this and it will be America Last.
An aerial view shows Japan Coast Guard patrol ship, fishing boats from Taiwan and Taiwan’s Coast Guard vessel sailing side by side near the disputed islands in the East China Sea, known as Senkaku in Japan, Diaoyu in China and Tiaoyutai in Taiwan, in this photo taken by Kyodo in this file photo dated September 25, 2012.
RELATED NEWS Japan to provide planes, ships for Philippines amid sea dispute with China Japan eyes record defence budget to develop anti-ship missiles Japan protests after Chinese navy ship sails near disputed islands Japan pledges support for Southeast Asia security to counter coercive China Japan considers providing new ships to Vietnam’s coast guard.
The Japanese government said on Wednesday it is ready to provide Vietnam with new patrol ships, in its latest step to boost the maritime law-enforcement capabilities of countries locked in territorial rows with China.On Tuesday, Japan agreed to provide two large patrol ships and lend up to five used surveillance aircraft to the Philippines, another country at odds with China over sovereignty issues in the South China Sea.Japan itself has been at loggerheads with China over a group of tiny, uninhabited East China Sea islets.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told his Vietnamese counterpart, Nguyen Xuan Phuc, of Tokyo’s intention in their meeting on the sidelines of ASEAN-related meetings in Vientiane.Japan has already provided six patrol ships to Vietnam, but they were all used ones, a Japanese foreign ministry official said, adding that details such as the timing of the delivery and the number of ships to be provided have yet to be fixed.Japan plans to extend a low-interest loan under its official development assistance program to Vietnam to facilitate the acquisition.”