Japan Real Time Charts and Data

Edward Hugh is only able to update this blog from time to time, but he does run a lively Twitter account with plenty of Japan related comment. He also maintains a collection of constantly updated Japan data charts with short updates on a Storify dedicated page Is Japan Once More Back in Deflation?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Another high-value export possibility for Japanese manufacturers

Financial Times Deutschland posted a report recently that describes how "China's introduction of locally assembled Japanese "bullet trains" shows that the country has completed the transfer of foreign world-class high-speed rail technology, Beijing's Ministry of Railways has claimed. Lightly modified versions of Japan's E2-1000 Shinkansen went into service on lines around Shanghai recently but the rail ministry and official media have played down the trains' origins and instead stressed China's success in ‘‘ digesting'' foreign technology." According to the same report, China is planning on building "5,400km of high-speed lines in the four years from 2006." If Japanese firms can get a significant portion of that business, it would provide a good boost to the exports side of Japan's GDP books.

There is a potential stumbling block, however. As the above quote mentions, the fact that the high speed train technology came from Japan has been kept as low key as possible. The reason for this as described in the FTD article is that"Lingering Chinese anger at Tokyo's 1931-45 invasion means that purchases of Japanese technology are particularly sensitive, in spite of a recent thaw in bilateral diplomatic ties. Reports of the 2004 Shinkansen deal prompted internet protests and street demonstrations, and an initial batch of trains exported from Japan was shipped without the customary public ceremony."

So politcal relations between Japan and China represent a significant hurdle to increased exports from Japan to China. It is remarkable to me how the Japanese occupation of China remains such a sticking point. Relations between Japan and the United States have been very warm since World War II in spite of the fact that on the US side, Pearl Harbor and the massive number of deaths in the Pacific theater could be sore spots; and on the Japanese side, the nuclear bombings of two of its cities plus catastrophic bombings of other cities could provide fodder for discord even now.