Re: A news item and subject which I just want to check out (81)  February 24, 2023

 Total four pandas, that are Xiang Xiang at Ueno Zoo popularly known as “idol panda”, and Eimei and twin daughters at “Adventure World” of Shirahamacho, Wakayama prefecture, were returned to China in accordance with the treaty this month. A lot of fans flocked there in order to say a final goodbye, and some of them started crying. So called pet loss is a concern.
On the other hand, the number of pet abuse arrests in 2021 hit a record high. And according to the National Police Agency, the number of children, under 18 years old, where national police suspected child abuse and notified the Child Guidance Center in 2021 was 108 thousand, the highest number ever. Moreover, the number of cases identified as bullying according to a survey of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology was 615 thousand, also the highest number ever. Besides, there have been a lot of unpleasant incidents like wide-area serial robberies lately. Apart from circumstances, the situation in which contrasting events such as patronage and abuse are observed seems to symbolize modern complexity.

■■Things I was interested in over the past week.
■An unannounced visit to Kyiv by President Biden:
The most impactful event of the week would be an unannounced visit to Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, where Russian attacks are sporadic, by President Biden in the morning on February 20 local time after all. President Biden said, “he thought that it was really important to visit historically just before February 24, the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion”. It is said that the plan has been conducted in strict secrecy between a very small number of close advisers for several months. Thorough information management accomplished the objective, and it is stunning just like watching a suspense drama. He gave Russia a last-minute notice of this visit to Kyiv, but the date and time of the visit was just before the State of the Union Address, first speech by President Putin after the invasion into Ukraine, on February 21, and it was good timing.
What I felt through this event suggests how important it is for a person with ultimate responsibility to behave calmly and boldly at a turning point in history or at a time of national existential crisis like President Zelenskyy. Looking back over the history of the United States, when Cuban Missile Crisis occurred in October 1962, the then President Kennedy boldly enforced “the maritime blockade” on the blink of nuclear war, and the crisis was averted as a result.
By the way, Japanese government will be the one which is bewildered and scratching its head by President Biden’s visit to Ukraine. Because who has not visited Kyiv among G7’s members is only Prime Minister Kishida. On top of that, he is a chairperson of G7 which will be held in Hiroshima in May this year. But I can’t shape the impression that “it is still happening”.
The Gulf War which began with a military invasion of Kuwait by Iraq in August 1990 was the first international crisis that the post-Cold War world experienced. At that time, Japan took a lot of time to respond, and funded nearly two trillion yen. Nevertheless, it is said that it had a low reputation in the world and the prestige of Japanese diplomacy declined.
What I thought about through my life in the United States is that Japan is “still better” looking partially at cross-section of society such as flooded guns and bad security in the United States, drug contamination, racism, and the large gap between rich and poor. However, comparing at level of “the state of the country” and “the shape of the country”, I feel the difference over “between adults and children”. 
Of course, the authority between directly elected president and Japanese prime minister elected by parliamentary cabinet system may be different. But if that is the case, Japan should simulate the expected situation in advance and think about ways to compensate for weakness and shortcoming of political system. This is the risk management and it is too late to go back and forth after a crisis as it is now and consider countermeasures.
Japanese government declared “it is no longer termed postwar” in 1956 economic white paper, because previous year’s GDP surpassed pre-war levels. 67 years since then, looking at the current situation of Japan calmly, I have to say that “Japan is no longer the world’s leading country”. At this time, we humbly acknowledge such reality, and it is time to think about how people and government together can rebuild in the future.
■Japan’s GDP that is the world No.3 spot is putting in jeopardy, according to the Nikkei:
Multiplying nominal Japan’s GDP in 2022 and annual average exchange rate, Japan’s GDP priced in dollars was 4.23 trillion dollars. On the other hand, Germany’s GDP which is the fourth in the world after Japan was 4.06 trillion dollars, and the difference was 0.17 trillion dollars. Incidentally, there was a 1.15 trillion-dollar difference in 2020 and a 0.67 trillion-dollar difference in 2021, and the difference is getting tighter and narrower. Japan surpassed Germany in terms of GNP in 1968, and was the second in the world after the United States. But Japan was surpassed by rapidly rising China in 2010, and the third in the world in terms of GDP.
Comparing GDP priced in dollars to 20 years ago, the United States is twice, the world No.1, China is 12 times, the world No.2, and Germany is twice, the world No.4. Japan is the world No.3 but has only 1 % increase, and moreover India is approaching behind Japan. According to the UN estimates, India has already surpassed China in terms of population and is the world No.1. And the IMF expects that India will surpass Japan and Germany in terms of GDP in the late 2020s. In order to maintain a certain position in global economy for Japan, it is essential to break out of a deflationary economy completely and restore the earning power of the company or international competitiveness.

≪P.S.≫ In the United States, there seems to be a growing movement to review a balance of “hybrid work” combining in-house and telework that has been expanded under new coronavirus conditions. According to private investigation agency, an average attendance rate of major cities in the United States exceeded 50% for the first time in late January. Mr. Elon Musk of Tesla who has been often controversial declared in June last year that “persons who don’t want to work at office at least 40 hours every week should find other jobs”. He must have felt the impact of telework on corporate management in his own way.

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