Re: A news item and subject which I just want to check out (136) May 17, 2024

It is already the middle of May. I am not sure, but maybe because in Kansai unseasonable weather continued and there were many days with large temperature fluctuations, I had a cold for the first time in a long time. Initial symptom was that my throat was sore and I felt dull somehow, even though I did not have a fever. It was not serious enough to be in bed, but it was hard to speak and then I went to my regular doctor. The PCR test taken just in case was negative, but I was diagnosed that my throat was inflamed. After I took antibiotics and cold medicines that I was prescribed for 3~4 days, I am fully recovered now. I realized once again the effects of the medicine. After that, I knew that there were a lot of people who suffered from similar symptoms. Therefore, please take care of yourself.
By the way, it is said that overdose of over-the-counter medicine such as cold medicine and cough medicine has recently become a social issue among young people. We have to realize that reading “kusuri” (medicine in English) backwards is “risk” (risuku in Japanese) and it is necessary to take them correctly following the instructions from the doctor and pharmacist.

■I think of Mr. Yasuo Shingu, former chairman of Sumitomo Metal Industries and former chairman of Kansai Economic Federation:
Mr. Yasuo Shingu, who has held numerous important positions and responsibilities such as former chairman of Sumitomo Metal Industries (present Nippon Steel Corporation), former chairman of Kansai Economic Federation, and former chairman of Kansai Association of Corporate Executives and so on, passed away aged 98 on May 10. I omit his background and achievements, because they have been already reported in detail in the news. I mention his memorable personality here through the kindness that he has shown me for nearly 40 years.
For my previous company at which I got a new job when I came back from New York to Osaka aged 40, Sumitomo Metal Industries was the biggest customer. And Mr. Shingu was in the top position and a prominent figure in the Kansai business community and 17 years older than me. Therefore, he was “out of my league”. I had the opportunity to meet him sometimes, because I was indebted to him at work, but he did not like drinking and as a newcomer, I was confused about how to come in touch with him. In the meantime, I don’t know where he heard that I liked mahjong but one day he talked to me “Mr. Tsuji, let’s play mahjong”. It was exactly that “if you have a skill, you will always be able to earn a living”. When interacting with him up close, he spoke warmly and tailored to the other person’s point of view. For instance, he was attentive talking to me “Mr. Tsuji, don’t hesitate” when I was nervous at first. A person’s character shows in competition, and he played mahjong aggressively and very bullishly. I nostalgically remember that I played mahjong everywhere I went when I accompanied Kansai Economic Federation’s visit to Asian countries in 1997 and we were together in Karuizawa, Okinawa and so on. I did not ask him about his military experience in detail, but I learned a lot about his viewpoint and way of thinking towards the state of the world at the time from his joke “soldier inspection where someone is adopted after he is praised” during playing mahjong and every word he said at intervals. “It is only mahjong, but it is still considered important”. He may probably play mahjong with mahjong companions who passed away before him in the other world.
I hope young people having rationalist mindsets also learn something from the above. And he has a very well-organized character and I am not sure, but maybe because he had developed a habit of storing military uniforms and so on in a backpack without any gaps in the military years, the figure that he folded clothes after playing golf neatly and stored them in a bag remains in my memory. And he had a good memory and insight and he was good with figures. By the way, as far as I know, it seems to me that he didn’t read much and learned entirely by ear. For that reason alone, he enjoyed connecting with people without discrimination, and on holidays, he accompanied his wife for shopping and his daily routine seemed to involve sensing the movements of the world.
He was that kind of person and an existence like “a village chief”. Therefore, he successfully played the role of mediator in various issues that the Kansai business community faced with.
Among them, as a result of his hard work about realization of phase 2 project of the Kansai International Airport, the second runway started operation in August 2007. And the said airport is a civil airport that is capable of 24-hour operation and adequately handling an increase of inbound customers, about 16.8 million in 2019, and an essential pillar for the economic development of Kansai.
Like this, my encounter with him remains a great asset in my life. It is truly unfortunate that I have not had a chance to meet with him in the past few years, due to the corona disaster and his advanced age. I would like to express my heartfelt thanks for the kindness he has shown me over the years and I offer my deepest condolences. I put my hands together in prayer.

■Extreme weather that we can watch worldwide:
 To the extent that “abnormality seems normal”, extreme weather has been occurring around the world lately and there has been a big impact. In Southeast Asian countries, heat wave seems to be having a severe impact, and average temperatures in each major city of this region are exceeding the average across the board, and in Manila, Philippines, the temperature at the end of April reached 38.8 degrees the record high since 1915. And Vietnam and Cambodia were hit by record-breaking heat wave over 40 degrees and it reached 48.2 degrees in the central part of Myanmar and reached record highs in April. For that reason, it seems that power shortage and significant impact on the economy including agricultural production are beginning to appear everywhere.
It is said that this rise of temperature is caused by overlapping climate change and El Nino Phenomenon where sea surface temperatures off the coast of South America, near Peru, increase. Light rainfall due to this effect brings water shortage and the Panama Canal connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans is also facing operational restrictions and the volume of navigation has decreased by more than 20 %. Maritime transport is taking a role of more than 80 % of world trade. In the Suez Canal and Red Sea supposed to be an alternative route of the Panama Canal, attack on merchant ships by Islamic extremist group Houthis has intensified since December last year and many ships are circling the Cape of Good Hope. Therefore, from the East Coast of the United States and Mexico to Japan via the Panama Canal, it takes about 30 days, but via the Cape of Good Hope, it takes about 50 days and at the same time, fares are soaring.
By the way, because seawater of the Arctic Ocean is decreasing due to global warming, the said route that has surfaced as another international route is under the jurisdiction of coast country, Russia undergoing economic sanctions from Western countries. And both the United States and China are embarking on securing interests as “the countries that border the Arctic Ocean”. Therefore, there are unresolved issues politically and economically, and it will take a long time to use the Arctic Ocean as full-scale international transport route.
In any case, in addition to geopolitical risk, extreme weather brought by climate change blocks smooth supply chain and shocks world trade and at the same time, triggers inflation. It is also a big risk factor for Japan and necessary to keep a close eye on it.

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