Friday, October 09, 2009

Press freedom: great step forward of DPJ Okada

Katsuya OKADA, Japan Foreign Affairs Minister of the new
DPJ administration greeted by 200 members of the Foreign
Correspondents' Club of Japan for his open door policy
of his ministry to the press ending the Kisha Club privilege.
A fluo green frog color Press Club's T Shirt was offered to
Minister OKADA with a 1 year Press Club Honorary

Mainichi reporting, quotes:

"Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada was true to his word; he
opened up press briefings at the Foreign Ministry to all
media outlets, domestic and foreign, as he had earlier
promised. About 30 foreign correspondents and other
reporters not belonging to press clubs were among those who
attended a press conference at the ministry on Sept 30
thanks to the new open-door policy. Prior to the briefing,
Okada announced that he decided to open press conferences at
the ministry to all media representatives in principle.

Although Okada had made a similar announcement on Sept. 18,
he had withheld the implementation of the new policy, saying
that he needed to consult with the ministry's press club.
"Since it has been a while (since the Sept. 18
announcement), I have decided to open (press briefings to all
media outlets) from now on," Okada said on Tuesday.

To this day, reporters eligible to attend the ministry's
briefings include members holders of the Foreign Press
registration Card delivered by Foreign Affairs Ministry, of
the Japan Newspaper Publishers and Editors Association; the
National Association of Commercial Broadcasters in Japan; the
Japan Magazine Publishers Association; the Internet News
Association of Japan; and the Foreign Correspondents' Club of

In addition, holders of the Foreign Press Registration Card
(the accredited press) and freelance journalists are also
allowed access to the ministry briefings. Reporters who wish
to attend the press conferences are required to sign up in
advance through the ministry's Web site."

✍ Other issues to come on this subject as foreign media often
suffer from refusal from some Japanese public or private
institutions and we hope to see an end to the preferential
practice of dissemination of news through the existence of
bodies that run contrary to the idea of the free flow of

Eurocopter Awarded in Tokyo

Over 200 VIPs of Japan and French business, trade and
industries gathered at the Roppongi Hills for the French
Financial Agency Award who gave the palm of honor to
Eurocopter Corporation.

Before giving the prices to the four prizes winner, Trade
Minister Idrac recalled that France and Japan “share not only
many values on the economics but also agree on fundamental
questions such as the innovation, research, reasoned practice
of finance and environmental protection”. Idrac called for
the multiplication of the partnerships and alliances between
the companies of France and Japan.

The Japanese companies member elects of the prices of the
investment in France this year are OTSUKA Holdings Co., Ltd
and TORAY Industries, Inc. French companies preceded for
theirs investments in Japan are EUROCOPTER (Helicopters)
and FIVES (Engineering).

The ceremony was enclosed by a speech of Mr. Fukuhara,
honorary president of SHISEIDO, ex KEIDANREN Vice Chairman
of the Board of Councillors, and copresident of the club of
businesses France - Japan, who congratulated the four prizes
winner and carried a toast in their honor in the name of the

Eurocopter-Hermes designed helicopter

Eurocopter, the world's leading helicopter manufacturer
and a division of EADS, received the 2009 French-Japanese
Investment Award, presented by the French Agency for
International Investment (AFII) in Tokyo today.

The agency's mission is to promote Foreign Direct Investment
by targeting potential investors and assisting them in the
investment process.

Since 2004, the French-Japanese investment awards have been
attributed each year by the AFII to companies that have made
outstanding contributions to the economies of Japan or France
through Foreign Direct Investment. The 2009 ceremony was
attended by Mrs. Anne-Marie Idrac, French Secretary of State
for Foreign Trade.

Anne-Marie Idrac

Eurocopter has been present in Japan for forty years. The
Group has captured a 57% share of the Japanese civil and
parapublic helicopter market, with 360 Eurocopter helicopters
currently in service in the country. In April 2009, Eurocopter
decided to reinforce the activities of its local subsidiary,
Eurocopter Japan, by acquiring an additional 80% of the
shares in its former distributor, the Japanese Euroheli
Corporation, thereby increasing its total holding to 90%.

Eurocopter also acquired a 60% stake in the newly formed
maintenance company Eurocopter Japan T&E. The remaining 40%
is owned by the Group's Japanese partner All Nippon Airways
Maintenance (ANAM). These two acquisitions have
significantly increased the Group's industrial presence in
Japan. Through the two deals, which were negotiated in
complete transparency with the respective Japanese partners,
Eurocopter has become the first foreign manufacturer in the
aeronautics sector to possess its own industrial capacity in
Japan, and to receive this prestigious award.

Eurocopter UH-72 Lakota US forces

Eurocopter Japan (ECJ) has approximately one hundred and
sixty employees and is directly responsible for sales and
customer support activities for the full range of
Eurocopter's civil and military helicopters. The Group has
made considerable progress in both the civil and military
sectors on the Japanese market over the past few months.

Eurocopter 135

In the beginning of this year, the Japan Maritime
Self-Defense Forces decided to replace the training aircraft
for its pilots with a fleet of 15 EC135 helicopters. In the
civil sector, the commercial version of the EC135 is being
used to fly EMS (emergency medical services) missions,
commonly known as "Doctor Heli" in the country. Buyers have
also been found for the VIP Hermès version of the EC135 for
whom it is now performing shuttle flights between downtown
Tokyo and Narita International Airport

Philippe Harache, Executive Vice-President Customers in
Eurocopter : “Eurocopter is extremely honored to receive the
6th edition of the French investment award in Japan. For our
company, this award underlines the recognition of the efforts
we have made in the country for more than 40 years. By
significantly increasing the portfolio of our value-added
services locally, we are confident that we will better
improve customer satisfaction and ensure our continued

Eurocopter Super Puma EC225

About Eurocopter

Established in 1992, the Franco-German-Spanish Eurocopter
Group is a Division of EADS, a world leader in aerospace,
defence and related services. The Eurocopter Group employs
approx. 15,600 people. In 2008, Eurocopter confirmed its
position as the world’s No. 1 helicopter manufacturer in the
civil and parapublic market, with a turnover of 4.5 billion
Euros, orders for 715 new helicopters, and a 53 percent
market share in the civil and parapublic sectors.

Overall, the Group’s products account for 30 percent of the
total world helicopter fleet. Its strong worldwide presence
is ensured by its 18 subsidiaries on five continents, along
with a dense network of distributors, certified agents and
maintenance centers. More than 10,000 Eurocopter helicopters
are currently in service with over 2,800 customers in more
than 140 countries. Eurocopter offers the largest civil and
military helicopter range in the world.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Could a scandal crush the reformer?

Crushing blow

The top-selling Yomiuri newspaper reported that Tokyo
prosecutors had started hearings with people on a donors'
list for Mr Hatoyama, who took office last month after his
party's crushing election victory.

Prosecutors have launched a probe into the fund-raising
activities of new Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama's office.
Hatoyama's lawyer, Mr Yoichi Ioroi: "An investigation into
the case of a (possible) violation of the political funds
control law has begun".

In June, Mr Hatoyama admitted keeping sloppy accounts for his
fund-raising association, which reported the donors' list
including the names of dead people and those who had denied
giving money.

Mr Hatoyama said his former accountant was solely responsible
for the problem. Amount involved? 21 million yen recorded
incorrectly since 2005.

Mr Hatoyama's government downplayed news of the
investigation. "Our prime minister has repeatedly made
apologies and explanations about what he knows," says Chief
Cabinet Secretary Hirofumi Hirano. Better wait for results
of investigation by prosecutors the new prime minister said.

His predecessor in breaking LDP rules early 90s also fell for
incorrect political funding. Time, 1994 April 18 :

"A popular reformer who came to power last August pledging to
sweep out "money politics" was outrun by a scandal of his own
making... "Hosokawa confessed that his previous explanations
of a questionable 1982 loan had not been candid... The
suspect loan, worth $960,000, came from the Sagawa Kyubin
trucking company. Hosokawa claims that he repaid the money,
but critics say he kept it to fund his campaign to become
governor of Kumamoto prefecture the following year. When
pressed, the Prime Minister first asserted that he used the
cash to purchase an apartment in Tokyo and to repair the
roofed gate and plaster wall of an ancestral home. Opposition
legislators charge that he bought the apartment before he
received the loan. They tracked down the construction
workers and determined that they charged only $67,000 for the
repair -- and did the work a year after Hosokawa received the
loan... Despite his downfall, Hosokawa will be remembered
for his role in prying Japanese politics free from the
hammerlock of the L.D.P. But he leaves behind an awkward
governing coalition, which includes highly conservative
former L.D.P. barons widely viewed as corrupt, as well as
pacifist social democrats and disparate smaller parties."
End of quotes.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Nakagawa Shoichi, a cruel twist of fate

Shoichi Nakagawa at a press event at
Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan

When fate strikes relentlessly...

Following his father Ichiro Nakagawa* in dramatic death,
Japan's former vice minister Shoichi Nakagawa was found dead
in a bed in his house in Tokyo, Japanese media reported on
Sunday, citing Tokyo Metropolitan Police. No external
injuries were found on his body, Kyodo News Agency reported.

Former Finance Minister Shoichi Nakagawa has been found dead
at his home in Tokyo's Setagaya Ward, Nakagawa, 56, was lying
face down on a bed on the second floor of his home without
any apparent external wounds, according to the Tokyo police.

He was among the big Liberal Democratic Party members who
lost in the Aug. 30 House of Representatives election, in
which the Democratic Party of Japan clinched a landslide
victory over the LDP to oust it from power. Nakagawa, who
won his first lower house seat in 1983, stepped down as
finance minister and financial services minister in February
after appearing to be drunk at a press conference of a Group
of Seven financial leaders meeting in Rome.

He was a Japanese conservative politician in the Liberal
Democratic Party (LDP), who served as Minister of Finance
until February 17, 2009. Nakagawa was born in Tokyo and
attended Azabu High School, graduated from the law faculty of
the University of Tokyo in 1978 and entered the Industrial
Bank of Japan.

His father was prominent Hokkaido politician Ichiro Nakagawa.
Ichiro Nakagawa was the late director general of the Science
and Technology Agency, who mysteriously committed suicide in
a hotel in 1983 although he was to be assigned to a high
position at the LDP... Nakagawa was first elected in that
year as a House of Representatives member, succeeding his
father in a Hokkaido district. He served eighth terms.

Although Shoichi was born in Tokyo and had lived there his
whole life, he ran to replace his father and succeeded him.
At that time, he had a widely publicized conflict with his
father's secretary, Muneo Suzuki, who also ran for a seat in
a neighboring district. (Suzuki was forced to resign on
corruption charges in 2002.)

In 1998, he became Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries
under Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi, and in 2003, he became
Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry in the cabinet of
Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. He served as Agriculture
Minister from October 2005 to September 2006, when incoming
prime minister Shinzo Abe appointed Nakagawa as chairman of
the Policy Research Council of the LDP.

In December 2006, Kyodo News Agency quoted Nakagawa as having
said the Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were
"truly unforgivable on humanitarian grounds" and reported the
politician's concerns over the possession of nuclear weapons
by North Korea.

Shoichi Nakagawa, was named chairman of the LDP's Policy
Research Council, he had a political stance close to LDP ex
party President Shinzo Abe, sharing his hawkishness on North
Korea and desire to revise the Constitution. But his
appointment to one of the party's three top posts to support
Abe invited jealousy from party colleagues, as he has served
in key party and Cabinet positions throughout the 5 years of
Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi mandate.

Nakagawa and Abe had jointly led a group of lawmakers of
their generation promoting nationalist views on history
education, and were also on friendly terms with each other.
Nakagawa, like Abe, called for economic sanctions on North
Korea and a new Constitution to replace the one instituted
while Japan was under U.S. Occupation.

Serving as minister of economy, trade and industry and then
as agriculture, forestry and fisheries minister, Nakagawa
promoted trade liberalization, taking advantage of his career
as a kingmaker in farm policy. As farm minister, however, he
did not budge in rejecting U.S. pressure to lift the beef
import ban imposed due to concerns over mad cow disease.

During the G7 meeting of finance ministers in Rome on
February 14, 2009, Nakagawa then minister of Finance was seen
to be slurring his words and exhibiting other odd behavior,
which some attributed to alcohol. However, he stated that
the reason for his drowsiness and slurred speech was that he
had taken too much cold medicine before the meeting.

Despite calls for his resignation by opposition parties at
the time, Nakagawa did not immediately resign. Prime
Minister Taro Aso supported him and called for him to
continue his duties as Finance Minister. However, on
February 17 Nakagawa announced that he had chosen to resign,
and his resignation was accepted by Prime Minister Aso.

(Shoichi Nakagawa interviewed by RTL , AFP, Le Monde at LDP Nagatacho Nov 2006, 27th arranged by Foreign Press Center Japan)

As a journalist I knew Nakagawa Shoichi-san for years, since
he became a major VIP in LDP, we did not share the same views
on Japan politics but established trustful working
relationship and I knew he committed so much to his politics.
His father tragic death in the 80 s' were uncontrollable
stigmata of a relentless pain. In addition to his drinking
problem he also had a weak myocardial condition. Politics is
cruel and we must never forget it as media and I offer my
sincere condolences to his widow.

* Nakagawa Ichiro, "politician (1925-1983) born in Hokkaido.
Elected to the Diet in 1963, he created a secret
ultra-conservative group, the Seiran-kai -the Society of the
Blue Storm- (other members were Ishihara Shintaro, Watanabe
Michio, Fujio, Masayuki) in 1973, in an attempt to
destabilize the party in power, the Jiminto (LDP). Distraught
at not being able to take over the presidency of that party,
he committed suicide (by hanging)." In : Japanese
Encyclopedia by Louis Frederic and Kathe Roth Harvard
University Press 2005.

And this:

"In 1973, the first oil shock occurred, causing wholesale
prices to jump by 31.4 percent. At the same time, the dollar
was devalued. Reforms in the international monetary system
floated the yen and created a sudden influx of available
money that fueled real estate investment. This in turn
fueled a runaway inflation spiral that deeply hurt the
nation's salaried workers. Domestic affairs had been
considered Tanaka's greatest forté; ironically it turned out
to be his weakest ability. His public image took a severe
beating in 1973. Further upsetting the public tranquility in
this year was the right-wing, intra-party formation of
Seirankai (the Blue Storm Group). The thirty-one-member
group, which included such notable politicians as Michio
Watanabe, Ichiro Nakagawa, Masayuki Fujio and Shintaro
Ishihara, created a public sensation when they sealed a
written pledge of unity in Yakuza style, with their blood.
The group was staunchly anti-communist and deeply opposed to
Tanaka's opening of China. The existence of such a group
within the LDP was very frightening to the nation's union
members. The Seirankai success was followed in March of 1974
by the presentation of a bill that would have officially
sanctioned Yasukuni Shrine as a memorial to the war dead.
The Shrine seemed to symbolize, at least to a lot of
Japanese, a return to prewar policies. Insofar as the young
men who died for their country had little say in the
government logic that lead to their deaths, a shrine to them
wouldn't seem to be a horrible thing, but in Japan it was
still an emotionally charged issue that cost Tanaka a lot of
support, even though the bill was discarded before it reached
the House of Councilors."