Re: A news item and subject which I just want to check out (78) February 3, 2023

 This is the first blog in February. January feels like a month long, but it is said that February is “running away” because February has only 28 days, and March is “leaving”. It feels like it is passing in the blink of an eye every year. I want to cherish every single day.
It has been a long time and I went to a classical concert performed by Kansai Philharmonic Orchestra at Sumitomolife Izumi Hall near Osaka Castle on Monday this week. The conductor was Mr. Sachio Fujioka, and the piano was Mr. Yukio Yokoyama. And the programs were an opera called “the abduction from the Seraglio” overture K.384 by Mozart, concerto for piano and orchestra No.2 c-moll Op.18 by Rachmaninoff, and symphony No.9 e minor Op. 4 “from the new world” by Dvorak. I listened to the wonderful performance on the day of the concert, and two hours passed in the blink of an eye, because I usually live a life that has little connection to culture and art. In particular, Mr. Yokoyama’s piano performance was a masterpiece.

■■This week was another week full of thoughts.
■The IMF revised up global economic growth:
The IMF announced that global overall economic growth rate in 2023 would be 2.9 % raised by 0.2 % compared to 2.7 %, the forecast as of October last year. As a reason for that, it is pointed out that downward risks to the economy will ease due to global inflation calming and recovery of Chinese economy. The managing director of the IMF says that every time the economic growth rate in China goes up by 1 % there is 0.3 % ripple effect on other countries in the world. Chinese presence is increasing.
On the other hand, the World Bank announced on January 10 that the global overall economic growth rate in 2023 would be 1.7 % compared to the previous year, lower by 1.3 % compared to the forecast as of June last year while positive growth. As a reason for that, cooling of the economy with inflation and interest rate hike by central banks is pointed out.
Like this, the IMF and the World Bank have different views, but major impacts on the global economy in the future are inflation, interest rate trend, and economic recovery in China.
However, a matter of concern overturning these prospects is the situation in Ukraine. Providing tanks from the West is inevitable, but I feel like Russia and Ukraine do not yield to each other now, and things have moved to a new stage. The request for help from Ukraine is escalating further, and it is beginning to look like a critical moment or chicken game. Some expect a mediation of Xi Jinping, the President of China, but I think it is less likely, because the strategy for the Taiwan issue will be tied up or he will lose his freehand in the future.
■The labor shortage and passing the cost on to the selling price:
According to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, average jobs-to-applicants ratio last year was 1.28 times and surpassed the previous year for the first time in four years since 2018. And according to labor force survey by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, average complete unemployment rate last year was 2.6 % decreased by 0.2 % compared to the previous year, and improved for the first time in four years. Having said that, job advertisements are on the rise these days, and the labor shortage is visible and becoming apparent.
On the other hand, the jobs-to-applicants ratio of driving jobs which include common use and part-time including truck drivers in November 2022 was 2.54 times, and five consecutive months of increase since July. According to the survey, it is said that 70 % of small and medium-sized transportation operators feels a lack of drivers. In the trucking industry, the reasons for an increase in costs such as fuel cost, cost of electricity, part-time job and so on are crowded. Nevertheless, according to the survey by Teikoku Databank, “all prices can be passed on” is stuck at 4.1 %, and “ prices can’t be passed on at all” is 15.9 %. The top reason why it is difficult to pass on costs is “lack of understanding from the business partner” (39.5 %), and the second is “negotiation power within the company” (20.1 %). According to Tokyo Shoko Research, the number of bankruptcies due to “high prices or high costs” in 2022 was 282, and “transportation” stood out with 76 by industry and accounted for 26 % of the total.
The bottom of such reality is that there are too many operators. Unless such structural oversupply is corrected, receiving “appropriate fares” is “pie in the sky”. This is not unique to the trucking industry, and this is a problem for the entire Japan industry. According to Teikoku Databank, the number of “zombie companies” all over the country in 2021 is estimated to be about 188 thousand. Incidentally, transportation communication industry is estimated to be 17.2 % among them.
■ “Tokyo centralization” is reaccelerating:
According to the report of migration 2022 published by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications on January 30, it became clear that moving into Tokyo weakened after the new coronavirus epidemic activated again. I used to serve as the chairman of “special committee for early connect of Linear and Hokuriku Shinkansen” of Kansai Economic Federation for five years. I made a direct appeal to the late Mr. Kasai adviser of JR Central about Linear on occasion. The main point was that “excessive Tokyo centralization is extremely vulnerable to all risks including natural disasters like direct type large earthquake. I would like to ask for simultaneous opening of Tokyo-Nagoya-Osaka in order to achieve balanced development in Japan”. Concentration to Tokyo at present in terms of politics, administration, economy, culture, education and mass communication is outstanding in the world. Regional revitalization is making very slow progress. We must take this issue more seriously from the perspective of risk management not influenced by convenience.

≪P.S.≫ I hear that Mr. Jun Seki former CEO of Nidec Corporation, who was actually replaced by chairman Inamori the other day, changed his job to CSO of EV division at Hon Hai Precision Industry in Taiwan. Hon Hai Precision Industry is a global company about 13 times bigger than Nidec Corporation. On top of that, Hon Hai is a major customer for Nidec Corporation. Isn’t this the case that “when one door shuts, another opens”?

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