Editor's Message

It’s spring already and many within Japan’s business and political arenas are probably as confused as the trees that blossomed after all the strange weather in winter. In the wacky world of Japanese politics, the LDP had the unenviable task of keeping the yen from rising and Prime Minister Taro Aso’s approval rating from dropping. At the time we went to print, the PM’s approval rating was down to 9.7 percent— quite a feat to hit single digits. Meanwhile, ex-prime minister Junichiro Koizumi was sounding off at Aso for making “laughable comments.” He also questioned the LDP’s proposed stimulus package which seems to be yet another desperate attempt by the government to buy votes. Meanwhile there was talk of creating a second currency, a radical plan that was aimed to combat the hyper-deflation the country faces…and finance minister Shoichi Nakagawa was forced to resign after accusations of being drunk at a G7 summit news conference.

Michael CondonMichael Condon
Please send letters to the editor to michael@japaninc.com

If anything could drive you to drink, it would be the state of the economy—Japanese bond risks rose to a record level due to concern that companies would continue to fail as the economy worsened. The Nikkei 225 index was down 15 percent from 2008 and that was just after a couple of months. Companies continued to go bankrupt and thousands of layoffs brought the reality of the recession home to those who had only seen it on their TV screens.

So, as the cherry blossoms come out, is there some hope on the horizon? For some, yes. This quarter we’re running on the front cover one of the great success stories of the foreign entrepreneur in Japan— James Gow from Internet forex trading company FXOnline. The company made headlines in the financial press around the world when 87.5 percent of it was sold for 21.9 billion yen to IG Group late last year. Now Gow, who stayed on as CEO, is ready to launch the company’s new contract for difference (CFD) platform with the backing of IG. It could be a big year for FXOnline as it continues its conquest of the Japanese market. It’s a great story of a company built from the ground up in a foreign land. Turn to Cutting Through the Storm for that. Also this month, our regular readers may notice that J@pan Inc has switched to a journal style for our new quarterly format. This change is to complement the all-new www.japaninc.com which features blogs and articles written by our network of Japan experts and a social media hub for the business community. You can subscribe to our RSS feeds to get the best analysis of everything going on in the Japanese business world. JI



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