Re: A news item and subject which I just want to check out (98) July 7, 2023

 Today, July 7, is the Star Festival. According to Wikipedia, the Star Festival is a festival originating in China, and a day celebrating the annual meeting of Vega and Altair. According to legend, it is said that the Milky Way separates these lovers and a couple is allowed to meet once a year on the seventh day of the seventh lunisolar month on the lunisolar calendar. It is August 22 this year. A celebration or festival is held on various days from July to August across the country.
I have seen the Star Festival in Sendai before. This festival has been passed down as a traditional event continuing since the original forefather of the domain, Masamune Date, and it is known throughout the country as a festival blessed with an ancient Japanese elegance of the star festival and gorgeous decorations these days. The streets are filled with colorful decorations, and I heard that two million people visit every year.
The Star Festival in Sendai, the Aomori Nebuta Festival and the Akita Kanto Festival are famous nationwide as Tohoku’s three major festivals. I joined the tour visiting the Yamagata Hanagasa Festival in addition to three major festivals 5 years ago. Each of them has a charm having a long history and carrying on the tradition, and the magnificence was impressive.
Due to the influence of the corona infection lasting more than three years, most events including festivals have been forced to cancel or downsize. The whole country will regain its former vitality this year, because regulations relaxed on May 8. It has long been said that “the economy is out of mind”. I think that the effect of the festival’s bustle on Japanese economy is very big.

■■I had a lot of thoughts this week.
■ “The basic policy” in 2023 was decided by the Cabinet on June 16:
The official name of the so-called “basic policy” is “basic policies for economic and fiscal management and reform”. According to the HP of Cabinet Office, it is said that “it stipulates the basic stance of the government’s economic and fiscal management, and importance and direction of reforms in the field of economy, finance, administration, and society”. Key points of this year’s edition are ①labor market reform ②countermeasures to the declining birthrate ③economy and food security ④income growth.
I have unforgettable memories of “the basic policy”. In fact, I had chaired a committee of “special committee for early connection to Osaka of the Linear Central Shinkansen” installed in Kansai Economic Federation for five years from 2012 to 2017. The Linear Central Shinkansen was originally a purely private project promoted by a private company, JR Central.
According to the published business plan, it was said that between Tokyo and Nagoya will open in 2027 and the extension to Osaka will be 2045 18 years later.
Incidentally, the reasons for JR Central to rush to build the Linear Central Shinkansen are ①It has been 59 years since the opening of Tokaido Shinkansen that is playing the role of the aorta of Japanese economy now, and it is significantly deteriorating and requiring large-scale repairs ②It is estimated that Nankai Trough earthquake that can occur at any time is about magnitude 9, and the number of deaths and missing persons could reach up to about 320 thousand. Once tsunami occurs, railways and roads will be utterly destroyed and Japanese economy will sink. In order to prepare such risk, a route moving through the middle of the Japanese islands like Tohoku Shinkansen is urgently needed. It can be said that these two points are matters that all citizens should understand and share.
However, the economic world in Kansai had a strong sense of crisis about the plan where the extension from Nagoya to Osaka will be 18 years later from the opening between Tokyo and Nagoya, and set up the special committee aiming for “the opening at the same time” of Tokyo-Nagoya-Osaka, and I served as the chairman.
And the grounds for an argument that I started my activity were that “Japan is in a state of excessive concentration in Tokyo now. In this situation, once various disasters and incidents including direct type earthquake occur in the Tokyo metropolitan area, capital functions could be lost and national crisis might occur. In order to avoid such various risks and to aim for national resilience or strengthening national power, a twin engine called Tokyo and Osaka is needed. To do that, the opening at the same time of Tokyo-Nagoya-Osaka is essential.” In regard to this point, I directly asked or petitioned the departed Mr. Kasai, former chairman of JR Central, who came to a seminar held by a political commentator as a guest speaker, during the questions and answers in May 2014. From the exchange at that time, I learned that it is essential to incorporate this into “the basic policy”, in order to make this project “a national project” and have the government and administration take it up. Otherwise, no matter how much I appeal to the necessity, it sounds like a sore loser where there is no basis legally, and not taken up as a government policy. Of course, no budget measures are taken. After that, I held seminars and rallies many times and appealed for necessity. And at the same time, I repeated petitions in various directions in order to incorporate it into “the basic policy” in 2014 drawn up in June. In particular, I appealed Mr. Toshihiro Nikai that “I would like you to include even just one letter《L》of the linear. Otherwise, it becomes a matter of life and death for Kansai”. Through these processes, the policy of the government clearly stated that “promoting the maintenance of the Linear” in “the basic policy” drawn up in June 2014. After all, “the opening at the same time” of the entirety of the line did not happen, but after that, 3 trillion yen of fiscal investment and financing to JR Central was decided, and the extension to Osaka was decided to move it up by eight years from the original plan to 2037, 10 years after the opening of Nagoya. In regard to moving forward of schedule of the opening, it is not particularly important to say personally and as a company where I worked before, but it was out of my determination “not to further sink the ground in Kansai”. It is a nostalgic memory now.

■Official announcement of issuing new banknotes in July next year:
The Ministry of Finance and the Bank of Japan announced that new banknotes will be issued   in around early July 2024. The renewal of their design is for the first time in 20 years. It is said that the face of 10,000yen note will change from Yukichi Fukuzawa to Eiichi Shibusawa, the face of 5,000yen note will change from Ichiyo Higuchi to Umeko Tsuda who founded Tsuda University, and the face of 1,000yen note will change from Hideo Noguchi to Shibasaburo Kitazato. Hologram technology that makes the portrait look three-dimensional is introduced in new banknotes.
It is said that Japan has a large amount of paper money in circulation, and according to BIS, the United States and the United Kingdom are below 10 % compared with GDP, but Japan is cash-based country over 20 %. Currency symbolizes the authority of a country and counterfeiting is a serious crime because it disrupts the economy. It was a long time ago, when I tried to pay for a taxi in China, I was surprised when I was told that “this is counterfeit money. Use it where counterfeit money can’t be detected”. China is a cashless society with the improvement of electronic payment technology now, and this can also be said to be a rampant countermeasure against counterfeit money.

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