Japan from the inside out

Kyushu companies

Posted by ampontan on Saturday, September 26, 2009

HERE’S HOW Nippon Keidanren, or the Japanese Business Federation, describes itself:

Nippon Keidanren (Japan Business Federation) is a comprehensive economic organization born in May 2002 by amalgamation of Keidanren (Japan Federation of Economic Organizations) and Nikkeiren (Japan Federation of Employers’ Associations). Its membership of 1,609 is comprised of 1,295 companies, 129 industrial associations, and 47 regional economic organizations (as of May 28, 2009).

The mission of Nippon Keidanren is to accelerate growth of Japan’s and world economy and to strengthen the corporations to create additional value to transform Japanese economy into one that is sustainable and driven by the private sector, by encouraging the idea of individuals and local communities.

Kyushu Keidanren, or the Kyushu Economic Federation, has 736 corporate members. It sent a questionnaire to its members asking for their opinions regarding 21 policies of the new Hatoyama Administration. They received responses from 150.

The respondents had their choice of two answers: (1) “Definitely want (them) to do it,” and (2) “Definitely want (them) to rethink it” (i.e., We don’t like this at all).

While the survey subjects are businesspeople at larger companies and not citizens at large, the results are worth examining because it highlights a potential disconnect between what the public wants the Government to do, and what the Government thinks it should do.

Here are the three questions that received the most favorable responses, and the three questions that received the most unfavorable responses. Let’s start with the nays first.

* Eliminating tolls on expressways
Yes: 6.7%
No: 54.7%

* Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels by 25%
Yes: 5.3%
No: 35.3%

* Paying child-rearing subsidies
Yes: 8.7%
No: 32.0%

It might come as no surprise to see they’re opposed to the “global warming” policies, but I didn’t expect that answer for the other two. Some might think corporations would welcome toll-free expressways because it would reduce overland delivery costs, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Here’s what they liked:

* Reducing personnel costs for national civil servants by 20%
Yes: 35.3%
No: 2.0%

* Drastically revising the system for formulating national budgets
Yes: 32.7%
No: 2.7%

* Devolving authority and financing sources to local governments
Yes: 28.7%
No: 3.3%

It seems clear that people consider the priorities to be smaller, more local, and more efficient government. It remains to be seen whether the new Government understands that.


Speaking of corporate surveys, the Fukuoka branch of Tokyo Shoko Research conducted a survey of companies in Kyushu and Okinawa that are at least 100 years old. There’s a word in Japanese for old, established firms with a good reputation: shinise. TSR thinks companies that have been around that long are good investment risks.

They found a total of 1,470 centenarian corporate citizens in the region. The oldest is Kawaguchi Bunten of Nagasaki, a food products retailer that opened in 1470. In other words, it had already become established by the time Columbus sailed the ocean blue. Of the 10 oldest companies, the youngest is Toyo-kan, a ryokan, or Japanese inn, which opened in 1614.

Three date from the 16th century. One is a Fukuoka City shop that’s been selling handmade calligraphy instruments since 1501.

A breakdown by business sector shows that 46.9% are in retail or wholesale sales–not surprising–and 28.2% are in the manufacturing industry.

Tokyo Shoko Research, incidentally, is an old-timer too. It was founded in 1892.

3 Responses to “Kyushu companies”

  1. Kevin said

    Can someone please explain to me why there are so many people against eliminating tolls on expressways?

    I’ve heard complaints from drivers that they don’t want to deal with the extra traffic, but is this really the only reason? It’s great that tolls are cheaper on weekends, but I find it kind of appalling that we have paid, paid, and paid a million times over for those roads, but yet still get charged to use them. Where does this money go, and if the money is being used for those countryside bridges-to-nowhere, why aren’t people more pissed about this? Is it just me?
    Kevin: Thanks for your note.

    Tokyo Deputy Governor Inose Naoki points out that only 10% of Japan’s registered motor vehicles ever use expressways. I don’t know where he gets his information, but I’ve never seen him challenged on it.

    Might it be that people don’t want to pay for something they don’t use, including its upkeep?

    – A.

  2. Kevin said

    Thanks for the response.  I’m not sure if this half-column sheds any light on the subject, but the author apparently believes that privatizing screwed the possibility of making the expressways free. That doesn’t explain popular opinion, but the column gives some more information on the topic.

    Also, this article was written in 2007; I wonder if anything has changed now that DPJ is in power?

    * Sorry for the incomplete article. You need to register to see pages 2 and 3.

    Also, after reading your comment and this column, the whole situation kind of makes me laugh. It seems people driving cars are already paying for the expressways with gasoline tax. The tolls from the expressways are, in reverse, being used to fund all of the other roads.
    I don’t see how they can be operated any more by privatized firms if there are no tolls. In other words, they’re enlarging the bureaucracy.

    The gas tax revenue now goes into the general fund after the brouhaha during the Fukuda adminstration.

    – A.

  3. ponta said

    Here is a discussion between yamazaki and Inose
    09 8 17 討論! 高速道路無料化政策 (1 of 3)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: