Category Archives: BUSINESS

Savings In Japan: How To Get Smart With Your Yen

Saving In Japan: How To Get Smart With Your Yen

Picture this: You’re living in Japan—maybe even far away from your family and friends back home. You have a wonderful life now, a stable partner, a job with the right income, security, and fulfillment. Not to forget: access to every seasonal Starbucks or Tully’s latte you’d ever want. But you wake up the day after and suddenly this is all gone.

What are you going to do and will you be able to protect yourself financially? Do you even know how much you spend each month?

Now, forgive me if I sound like your grandma back home, but these are important stuff to keep in mind—especially when you live abroad in a country where no job is really that secure.

Savings in Japan: starting with the basics

As the late Carl Sanburg said, “money is power” and while these words usually get associated with politics, the actual meaning lands much closer to home. Having your own stash of cash means that you will be able to weather any kind of situation: from divorce to death or even disaster.

Money allows you to save yourself from abusive situations. A lack of independent funds is often a reason why many women stay in unhappy relationships. It allows you to walk away from a soul-crushing job. To negotiate raises or tell your handsy boss to go to hell with no fear of starving. Most importantly for me, it is also the ticket to retiring several decades early to pursue your passions. And this, I believe, is the ultimate freedom.

Having your own stash of cash means that you will be able to weather any kind of situation

However, like all worthy endeavors, it requires a few lifestyle changes and joining a simple three-step program. Reducing your expenses, saving up and then making your money work for you. Here’s …continue reading


G20 leaders fail to step up

Video conference of G20 leaders, 26 March 2020 (Photo: Marcos Corrêa/PR via Agencia Brasil; Creative Commons).

Author: Editorial Board, ANU

A US$1 trillion increase in the IMF’s crisis-fighting war chest, US$5 trillion in coordinated fiscal stimulus, US$250 billion to support trade finance, US$100 billion of additional lending by the multilateral development banks, the creation of new international institutions and reforms to existing ones, a commitment to reform global finance and a pledge not to impose any trade protectionist measures.

It’s an impressive list of G20 outcomes. It’s a shame that this is the list from the 2009 meeting of G20 leaders not the emergency G20 leaders’ meeting held last Friday to deal with the COVID-19 crisis.

Friday’s commitment from leaders to do ‘whatever it takes’ rings hollow when the G20’s announcements are compared to those of the past.

The meeting was big on rhetoric, but short on substance. G20 leaders promised to strengthen the global financial safety net, but gave no details on how or by how much they would do this. They promised a global initiative on pandemic preparedness but gave no details on how this initiative would work. They promised resources for the World Health Organization without quantifying how much they would give. They promised to cooperate on the global supply of medical equipment but gave no details on what that would involve.

The things leaders didn’t say were just as troubling.

The G20’s commitment from times past to refrain from trade protectionism was nowhere to be seen. The commitment to refrain from competitive currency devaluations was conspicuously absent. The commitment to the multilateral trading system was missing. This is deeply worrying as more than 50 governments, including the EU, have restricted exports of medical supplies, 33 of which acted after the beginning of March.

The most significant practical action announced by leaders, albeit buried in paragraph 10 of the communique, is the line which said ‘we are injecting over $5 …continue reading


The coronavirus crisis calls for novel economic policy solutions

A worker sprays disinfectant on a street during the movement control order due to the outbreak of the coronavirus disease in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 28 March 2020 (Photo :Reuters/Lim Huey Teng).

Author: Shiro Armstrong, ANU

To help save the economy in the coronavirus crisis, governments need to target and design financial assistance at different phases of shutdown, lockdown and recovery and they need to do so urgently and responsibly. The strategy needs to be simple, communicated clearly and use tried and tested Australian policy innovations to succeed longer term.

The emergency health measures of many governments have taken out a huge chunk of national economic activity. The impact on employment through the shutdown on large swathes of economies has already seen the unemployment rate rise rapidly in many countries. It could start to approach levels not seen since the Great Depression in the 1930s in some countries. Without special help, many will become long-term unemployed.

While many stay home during a shutdown or lockdown, assistance has to be targeted to individuals to keep them fed and housed, and businesses to keep them from laying off staff and collapsing. That was the aim of the Australian government’s first two stimulus packages. The British government is paying 80 per cent of wages of many employees to achieve the same goals. Other governments are deploying similar policy strategies.

Until the health crisis is under control, assistance has to freeze parts of the economy so that it can be jump-started for rapid economic recovery when it’s over. In the recovery phase, governments will need to pump up spending quickly when it’ll be desperately needed.

Targeted assistance and then rapid stimulus needs to be deployed in a way that helps budget repair when the economy starts to recover, without slowing the recovery.

Now is not the time for complicated rules and formulas to fine tune incentives. That slows down and will ultimately foil the effective response that many economies will need. The threat to the economy from the COVID-19 health crisis is …continue reading


Looking beyond Tsai’s big election win

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen listens to a speaker in New Taipei City, Taiwan, 26 December 2019 (Photo: REUTERS/Ann Wang).

Author: Gerrit van der Wees, George Mason University and George Washington University

President Tsai Ing-wen and her Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) momentous election victory on 11 January 2020 represents a significant turning point for Taiwan. It marks the culmination of a democratic transformation that started with the end of martial law in 1987 and the commencement of democratic reforms by former president Lee Teng-hui in the early 1990s. Since then, the government has changed hands three times. But a persistent public fear exists that a return of the Kuomintang (KMT) will cause Taiwan to backslide away from democracy and towards China.

This happened in 2008 when Ma Ying-jeou regained the presidency. His pro-China stance led to the 2014 Sunflower Student Movement, which changed the political landscape, and led to major defeats for the KMT in the local 2014 and national 2016 elections.

The overwhelming mandate received by President Tsai and her party significantly reduces the danger of such a pro-China agenda. The KMT candidate Han Kuo-yu lost by a margin of almost 20 per cent, demonstrating that the KMT’s pro-China approach is losing ground, especially among younger voters. In its recent search for a new chairman, the candidate elected on 7 March 2020, ‘Johnny’ Chiang Chi-chen, campaigned on the theme that he would ‘bring back’ the young voters. It remains to be seen whether he can bring about changes that appeal to young voters.

As Mark Harrison and Huong Le Thu wrote, ‘Han’s campaign machine was dysfunctional and the KMT was beset by an identity crisis. In the second half of 2019, the protests in Hong Kong left few in Taiwan under the illusion that Beijing would honour any arrangements that would respect any form of autonomy. The younger generation in particular saw an urgency to …continue reading


TOD’S Omotesando Building sold to Kering

Gucci owner and global luxury group Kering has purchased the Tod’s Omotesando building through a special-purpose company. The seller was a subsidiary of Tod’s.

The 7-story Tod’s building was designed by Toyo Ito and built in 2004. It has a total floor area of 2,546 square meter (approx. 27,395 sq.ft). This was the brand’s flagship store in Japan. It fronts onto Omotesando Avenue – a tree-lined street lined with boutiques from the top luxury brands and housed in buildings designed by top international architects.

The monthly rent for shop space fronting onto this street can easily go for between 45,000 ~ 60,500 Yen per square meter (approx. US$38 ~ $51 per square foot).

Back in early 2014, Kering acquired the former Benetton Omotesando building across the street. It is now the Saint Lauren store.

Nikkei Business Publications, March 18, 2020.
Japan Real Estate Institute, 2019 Retail Rental Market Report for Omotesando.

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