Marketing Japan: Will Tokyo Tower Go Bankrupt?

I just got a photo sent to me of the new Sky Tree Tower that is nearing completion in Tokyo. The Sky Tree Tower was originally to be called the “New Tokyo Tower” but Tokyo Tower owners did not like that at all and protested so the name was rejected. You’ll understand why when you’ve finished reading this article.

Tokyo Sky Tree

Wikipedia says this about Tokyo Sky Tree:

The project is being led by Tobu Railway and a group of six terrestrial broadcasters (headed by public broadcaster NHK). Construction of the tower is scheduled to be completed by December 2011, with the public opening in spring 2012.

The Tokyo Sky Tree will be taking over basically all of the broadcasting duties for all major Tokyo broadcasting stations. This is because the Tokyo Tower, which was built in 1958, is not tall enough to handle digital duties as there are too many tall buildings around it. Tokyo Tower is 333 meters tall and a landmark of Japan. The Sky Tree tower is almost twice as tall at 638 meters! The Sky Tree not only dwarfs the Tokyo Tower in height but will also dwarf it in revenue. Tokyo Tower has been losing money for years now, I think Sky Tree will be the final nail in the coffin. (Read more about the digital conversion and how that will kill off some major Japanese broadcasting stations here and here.)

According to Wikipedia, the Tokyo Tower’s main sources of revenue are antenna leasing for broadcasting stations and tourism. They claim that over 150 million people have visited the tower since its completion.

Considering that the Tokyo Tower is vey conveniently located in Tokyo, near tourist trap Roppongi, they might still be able to do some tourism business, but I think that’s a pretty poor business for them. The last time I went there, the shops were deserted and the place definitely felt run-down.

I also heard some insider information about Tokyo Tower management that I wasn’t supposed to tell to anyone, so I will write it down here for you. In the 1980, during the massive growth that was the Japanese bubble economy, the management of Tokyo Tower put millions and millions of dollars into very poor investments and now those bad investments have come back to bite them in the ass. Some of the worst – and stupidest – investments were spending tens of millions of dollars on, are you ready for it? Investments in golf club memberships!

In the heyday of the bubble, people would buy golf club memberships as investments, and many made good money off of them. But, as with any Ponzi scheme, when the scam runs out of suckers, the ones left holding the bag lose their shirts. Unfortunately for them, it seems that Tokyo Tower was one of the last into the game so they were left holding millions of bags.

Now those investments are now worthless.

I hate to keep saying doom and gloom for many Tokyo companies but, once again, I predict that after the digital conversion in July, 2011, Tokyo Tower will be insolvent within a very short time.

Who knows what will happen to it after that? One thing is certain, in future Godzilla movies, you won’t be seeing Godzilla kicking over Tokyo Tower anymore. It will be Sky Tree… And in that symbolism there will be volumes spoken about what has happened to Tokyo and Tokyo Tower.

Thanks to: Tatsuyaman


Keywords: Tokyo, Tokyo Tower, Marketing Japan, Mike Rogers, Sky Tree, Tokyo Sky Tree, Mike in Tokyo Rogers

186-Year-Old Man Found in Japan!…

Well, you couldn’t make this stuff up. The government of Japan says they have a man in Hofu (near Hiroshima) that is listed as alive and now 186 years old.

Congratulations to the man who, if he is still alive, will be the oldest person on the earth… The birthday boy was born in 1824!

The Mainichi article reads:

According to the Yamaguchi Regional Legal Affairs Bureau, among 17 cities and towns in the prefecture, there are 9,414 people over 100 listed on family registers as alive but without a resident registration showing where they live. The 186-year-old Hofu man is one of them.

Possible reasons for the discrepancies are people moving and not updating their resident registrations, or the entirety of a family perishing in World War II, according to municipal governments.

No, I think the best reason for the discrepancy is that the government is full of a bunch of incompetent idiots.

But there really is a 120-year-old man alive in Japan…

His name is Shigechiyo Izumi of Isen on Tokunoshima. Read about him here.

Largest Record Store in the World Goes Bankrupt!…

The headlines read: World’s Largest Record Store Goes Bankrupt!

The largest record store in the world, a world-famous landmark building in Tokyo Japan; a store that has been visited by millions of Japanese and is a must-see for visitors to Tokyo from all over the world, Tower Records Shibuya, has gone bankrupt and will soon close shop doors.

Tower Records Japan Flagship store: Shibuya

No, it hasn’t been officially announced. In fact, it hasn’t been announced at all by anyone involved in the management of that company. But it is happening soon. All the signs are there plain as day.

I have worked in the music business in Japan for years. I watched that store – and even worked with Tower Records during its heyday. I even ran huge events at that store! In 1996, I was the first person in the world to organize an Andy Warhol event that placed all 13 of his Mick Jagger works in the same place, on display, for the first time in history. So, I know this business and I know what Tower Records used to be and what it is now.

Tower Records Shibuya is bankrupt. You can be sure that what I have written here is as true as the fact that the sun is sure to rise in the east tomorrow morning; Tower Records Shibuya is closing due to bankruptcy and it is going to happen sooner rather than later.

Using the same very slow listening booth equipment for over a decade

The shopping there isn’t anything like it used to be. Ten years ago, Tower Records Shibuya was a fun shopping experience. Today it is a crap shopping experience and quite unsatisfying. They aren’t going to make it to Christmas of 2011.

I’d like to tell you what I saw when I went to this store yesterday for the first time in a couple of years, …

But first, let me tell you that I do not rejoice, I am saddened – but not surprised – to be breaking the news of the bankruptcy of this Tokyo landmark to you for the first time today. It has been rumored for a while now, and people like me, have been wondering how they were surviving in this world when sales of physical product (albums) have experienced a cataclysmic decline for brick and mortar retailers between the years 2000 and 2009. The New York Times reported:

Total album sales, including CDs and full-album downloads, were 428 million, a 14 percent drop from 2007, according to data from Nielsen SoundScan. Since the industry’s peak in 2000, album sales have declined 45 percent

The other day, HMV Shibuya, the flagship of the HMV stores in Japan, closed its doors forever last week. The Asahi newspaper reported:

Shibuya, a Tokyo district normally associated with the under-20 crowd, attracted hundreds of middle-aged people Sunday to witness the closing of HMV Shibuya, a CD store that became a cultural icon during the 1990s.

Now, it is just a matter of time before the largest record store in the world closes its doors forever. I’d also like to point out that the above article mentions that middle-aged people came to see the store closing… Tower Record’s motto is, “No music, no life.” I think, in this case, it should be, “No teenagers, no business.”

You would have thought that HMV closing would have sent formerly loyal shoppers of HMV Shibuya to Tower Records Shibuya… Well, you would have thought that but when you realize that HMV Shibuya only had six or seven loyal shoppers to begin with (and they were all over 48 years old!) then you’d know that it wouldn’t matter to the world’s largest record store if they came to shop or not.

Only a few shoppers (although an exaggeration) wouldn’t much help the local mom & pop shop stay solvent… They certainly wouldn’t help the world’s largest record shop stay afloat… Especially since any of the toilets in Tower Records Shibuya can hold more than six or seven people.

That is, excepting the men’s toilet on the third floor of Shibuya Tower Records, which has a urinal in disrepair; it is a urinal that, I think, best represents what has happened to Tower Records Shibuya in the last few years; it is falling apart. This urinal is covered with tape and cardboard like something you’d see in a public railway toilet in a third-world country; not Japan. It is a urinal that also smells somewhat like a public railway toilet.

I expect to see urinals broken and left un-repaired in a government run malaise like a public train station. I do not expect to see this sort of thing in a privately-run retail store. The government is expected to take months to take action in repairing damaged items like this. The government is a boondoogle that has no customers. A private company is supposed to worry and be concerned about the “customer’s  experience;” A private company has to make sure the shopper has an enjoyable time inside the store from even before the point of entry to after check-out. That is how retail gets return customers.

I think the owners of that building have a responsibility to fix things like broken toilets to their tenant… Unless, of course, tenant is late on rent payments…

Or, perhaps, I miss the bigger picture? Perhaps today’s Shibuya Tower Records is a faithful representation the falling apart of the Japan economy as a whole?

But, I digress…

Though bankruptcy is not officially announced at Shibuya Tower Records, it is surely being discussed behind closed doors at the company that owns Tower Records Shibuya, Tower Records Japan (TRJ), as I write this blog. Further evidence of this lies in one of the reasons why anyone would ever visit a large record store in the first place; and that is the CD listening booths.

At Tower Records Shibuya, the CD listening booths are all in need of maintenance and headphone replacement.

Some of the headphones were disgusting. Of twenty listening booths I visited and tried, eighteen were quite a bad experience. Eighteen of twenty headphones I tried were bent and you had to hold them on your head with both hands or they didn’t stay on your head at all; they were ratty and falling apart; and many times, even when pressing the tracks to “play” it took more than ten or fifteen seconds – sometimes never – for the tracks to play. Only two of the headphones sets were new and fit well.

Putting on those bent and ratty headphones was like wearing someone else’s dirty socks or brushing with someone else’s toothbrush. Ugh! No thank you. It’s no wonder teenagers don’t go there – like with a toothbrush – with their own iPods, all kids today have their very own headsets.

Most all of them were ripped up like this

Besides these problems; bad toilets, poor listening booths, there were very few customers and of the ones I did see, I didn’t see anyone who looked to be teenagers. No teenagers in CD store!? I even went on a summer vacation Friday, two days after payday, and of the twenty or so customers that I did see, it looked like there was only one guy under 30. The rest looked in their 40′s.

No teenagers? In a CD shop? No, I wasn’t on the classical music floor; I was on the floor that sells Rock and Pop music. I’m sure that, if there were very few customers on the Rock and Pop floor, then the classical music floor must have seemed like a funeral.

To make things even more dismal, coincidentally, Tower Records Shibuya was celebrating their 15th anniversary that day. My, how far the mighty have fallen! I dare say that there won’t be a 20th anniversary… There won’t even be a 17th. Like, I said, I doubt that they can make it to Christmas of 2011.

If you come to Japan soon, visit Tower Records Shibuya to see an old friend before she dies and is gone forever… I’m not asking you to buy anything, just visit… Please just visit! That’s all I ask. Visit and do what everyone else is doing; finding music that they like, writing it down, then ordering it online through iTunes or Amazon. But at least visit and see a relic of the past.

The queen is dead. Long live the queen!

They say at Tower Records in Japan, “No music, no life.” There is music, on the racks, at Tower Shibuya, but there is no life or vibrancy at the store or amongst her staff. What a depressing and quite disenchanting experience.

Tower Records Shibuya is dead and bankrupt… It hasn’t been announced and she hasn’t laid down yet. But she is gone… See her while you can.

(Thanks to my good friend, Keith Cahoon, from me and millions of others, for many fun and great memories of good times in Tokyo).


Keywords: Tower, Tower Records, Tower Records Shibuya, Shibuya, CD, CDs, record, record shop, Shibuya, Tokyo, HMV

Chabudaigushi! Japan’s Newest game Sensation!…

Pissed off at the world? Yeah. There seems to be lots of other people who share your feelings. Now, the good folks at Taito games in Japan have come out with a game that’s just perfect for you.

The game is called Chabudaishi. “Chabu” is an old-fashioned, very small Japanese style dining table. “Daishi” means flipping over that table.


It’s a game where you can take out your frustrations on the world as well as your family or friends. Wow! Sign me up!

At home, during dinner, do the kids talk constantly on their cell phones or play hand-held computer games when all you want is to sit down and have a nice quiet family dinner together and spend some quality time? Well, don’t put up with it. Show your wife and children that you are just as dysfunctional as they are by screaming and slamming your fists on the table and then, finally, throwing the table over and spilling everything on the floor in a fit of rage!

What enjoyment!

Or, you are out at a bar or restaurant with friends just wanting to have a nice time with a few drinks and laughs reminiscing about old times. What’s that? The waitress keeps screwing up your order or the service is too slow? Don’t put up with it. Why call the manager when you can slam your fists on the  table and dump it over to make a public scene and get your ass kicked out of the restaurant!

What fun!

The best part of it all is that you score points and get better scores for the more outrageous your uncontrolled outbursts are.

Why take a tranquilizer and have a nice cup of tea to calm your nerves when you can really act like an idiot with an uncontrollable temper and make a complete fool of yourself.

Chabudaishi by Taito Games. It is so Japanese and, if you fancy, it can also be so you!

Your wife and kids will thank me.

Check out the website where there are many videos of the game that you can watch. It’s pretty funny!

Thanks to my friend Lacarmina

In Japan’s Economic Collapse Even Samurai are Out of Work…

The economy is getting really bad here very quickly. Today the Nikkei 225 declined for the 4th day in a row. The yen is nearing an all-time high.

On top of all this bad economic news, the thing that is even worse is the mood of the people. I spoke today with a young 27-year-old company worker who works in the music industry and he told me that there was talk at his company that they weren’t going to last the year.

Later, I spoke to the vice president of a large Japanese music publishing company and even he told that, “Things are bad. Everyone is cutting staff and budgets… And it’s only going to get worse.”

Certainly, the economy is bad and there is no good news on the horizon but, it’s also the mood of the people that makes things worse. A vibrant economy needs people with confidence and a positive attitude. Japan certainly doesn’t have that now.

It’s gotten so bad that even Japan’s modern samurai are out of work and that is not a joke.

This report from Al Jazeera:

Samurai movies once made Japanese cinema famous worldwide.

In the 1950s, films such as the Seven Samurai by Akiro Kurosawa were extremely popular both in Japan and abroad.

But waning interest is now leaving many of Japan’s silver screen swordsmen out of work.

See video:

Cinema and music are escapes for people. They are a cheap way for people to forget their cares.

When people working in these industries start screaming for help then it’s probably long past the “canary in the coal mine.”

Travelers Do Not Prefer Japan’s Airports…

I wrote before about Japan’s coming financial disaster and how Japan is missing out due to inept policies by the Japanese government and indecisiveness by Japanese business… Then, when the businesses finally do decide what action to take, it is often the wrong one.

Japan is now is seriously bad shape. 15.7% of the people are now below the poverty line. The Nikkei 225 has lost nearly 1,000 points in the last three months (will be much worse, you’ll see). Now those fools in the government want to spend more money and get us more public debt – our debt is already 190% of GDP! The only country with a higher debt problem is Zimbabwe (I am not making that up).

Now, Japan has fallen to #3 after China and there is no good news on the horizon. I must say that I no longer see any Japanese companies with the zeitgeist or gumption (or even desire) to want to be top of the world anymore.

Today, Japanese companies are taking to long to make important decisions, and then, when they finally do, it’s the wrong ones.

The only companies in the world who are now inspiring young people are Google and Apple.  It wasn’t that long ago that Toyota and Sony were inspiring today’s young people. Remember?

Now, here comes some more bad news… This, after 40 years of government infighting and incompetence and indecision concerning Narita and Haneda airport and their bungling of the entire affair. Now, it seems that international passengers are preferring to fly into Inchon, South Korea rather than Japan.

Inchon? That isn’t even convenient to Seoul! Read on.

The government’s civil aviation administration has been criticized for failing to make a clear-cut distinction between the roles of Narita and Haneda airports, while other airports are financially strapped due to cuts in flights and deteriorating government finances. ..

Incheon Airport has strengthened its position as an Asian hub to such a degree that travelers flying from local Japanese airports often prefer to use the South Korean airport to transit to other cities rather than use Narita and Haneda airports.

….Incheon can hardly be regarded as convenient, considering it is 50 kilometers from Seoul. So why is it so popular?

“During the four hours we have to wait before boarding our flight, my wife can surf the Internet free of charge and I can play with my son at the airport’s kids room…“This airport has plenty of facilities, so I prefer flights via Incheon [to those using Japanese airports].”

Sure, it makes sense to me. I live in Japan and I hate going to Narita. Narita is a good 1.5 ~ 2 hour trip from Tokyo. It was a government boondoogle to build that mistake of an airport in the 1970′s. Today, Haneda (which is 15 minutes from Tokyo) can handle most of our International flights, but NO! Now, just like every other government in the world, the government  cannot admit their mistakes and have to keep a messed up project going to save face.

Yes, they save face and get kick backs… The people get the raw deal, lose money and have to pay for it with increased taxes.

Original article from Yomiuri Newspaper:

Keywords: Haneda, narita, Marketing Japan, Mike Rogers, Inchon, Seoul, airport

Marketing Japan: Japan Bans the Cove and Other Atrocities…

By Mike in Tokyo Rogers

Once again, Taiji, the small village that holds dolphin hunts is headed to the news for the coming annual dolphin hunt. regardless of the fact that in Taiji less than 10% of the annual catch of dolphins are killed, it has become to focal point for protests. This is my take on this subject.

The award winning movie about the killing of whales and dolphins, the Cove, has been censored in Japan. More and more movie theaters have bowed to nationalist and suspected Japanese government pressures to cancel the showing of this movie.

I come out as one person who protests this assault on free speech and the free market and condemn actions to block this movie from public view. This movie should be made available to anyone who wants to watch it.

I also come out, as a person who thinks this subject about whether or not Japan hunts whales or dolphins is none of anyone else’s business. I, for one, especially do not want to hear anything on this subject from hypocrites who reside in select countries in the west. I think the average Japanese person would agree with me.

Maybe whale and dolphin hunting isn’t ideal, but, I assure you, we have other problems that are much more pressing than this. I would think that most westerners, if they stopped to think about it, would agree. That’s the problem. Most people don’t stop to think about it.

This “hunting the whales and dolhins business” is now returning as the new flavor of the week. Is this because global warming is now out of favor? Remember that problem? Or remember when we were all going to die because of Swine Flu, Bird Flu, SARS, etc.? Ah, yes. I remember when AIDS was the big problem a few decades ago….

And who could forget the movie, “China Syndrome”? Right after that movie came out, I remember my silly friends getting all excited about that and going out to protest at San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant in California and doing stupid things like demonstrating by chaining themselves to the fence of the power plant. I guess people don’t do that anymore. I was unaware that nuclear power had been made 100% safe. When did that happen? Or is it because it is no longer trendy to protest nuclear power?

My foolish Hippie friends, in the 70′s, used to wonder why I refused to go with them to protest nuclear power. I wouldn’t go because I believed that my friend’s were just tools being manipulated by the mass media to follow the “trend of the week.” They all failed to realize that they were being used as a promotional weapon for Social Media Marketing of a product way before it was ever called, “Social Media Marketing.” I also told my friends that if they truly wanted to protest nuclear power, that they’d throw out their TV and refrigerators. Interestingly, none of them took me up on that.

Another Hollywood actress sheds real tears for the dolphins, or Brazilian rainforests, or Amazon something-or-others, blah blah… Or is this just a promotion?

The nationalists and those in Japan who have been accused of pressuring the movie theaters into not showing the Cove have actually done a favor to the promoters of this film. Why? You couldn’t buy promotion this good. Think of how well the Sex Pistols did because the British government banned them. The people, who made The Cove, and their advocates, actually think that, if they show this movie to the Japanese public, the Japanese will somehow rise up and demand that whaling be stopped. What a bunch of simpletons. There’s no way that that would ever happen. The Japanese won’t protest the government printing them into debt that is 200% of GDP. This debt is going to bankrupt this country and ruin the lives of half the nation. But there are no protests about this.

Do people actually think the Japanese are going to protest what a tiny village in eastern Japan does? That’s laughable.

Either way, there’s no way that masses of Japanese people would ever go see the Cove, as it is about a disgusting subject. I’m sure Americans, too, would be rushing to theaters this weekend to spend their leisure time and money by watching a movie that deals in subject matter like the slaughter of animals with all the blood and gore. My, can you imagine? What a fun first date or family outing that would be. I’m sure my wife and kid would be thrilled… “Let’s go watch the cute dolphins gets clubbed… On second thought, honey, let’s go see Toy Story 3…”

I’d like to add here that, if the makers of The Cove were truly sincere about their motivations in protecting the whales and dolphins, and how, if they truly believed that if the Japanese saw the movie, they’d demand the end of this whaling and dolphin killing, then they’d make the entire movie free on Youtube. Other people with a message have made theirs free, why doesn’t the makers of The Cove do the same? Trust that Youtube has hundreds of millions more viewers than the movie theaters in Japan ever could hope to have. But, you know what? The Cove is not available on Youtube; only trailers for sales promotion are available. There goes their credibility.

And don’t tell me that they can’t give the movie away for free because then they won’t make any money; just look at Google. Google gives away almost everything for free and they are one of the biggest money making companies in the world.

So just keep that in mind when you think about this problem and are bursting veins in your neck screaming about how evil these Japanese fishermen are.

Face facts, even if the average Japanese did see the movie, it wouldn’t alter their thinking so much. They still couldn’t really care less about this, as they don’t see it as a problem. And, no, it hasn’t anything to do with “Westerners eat cows, don’t they?” I think you’d find that almost all foreigners who have lived in Japan for any length of time believe that western reaction to this problem is way overblown.

It has to do with the hypocrisy of the west and westerners. Let me explain it how I see it.

I gather that, because Japan was such a desperately poor country for so many centuries, that it is ingrained into the Japanese psyche that the #1 priority for people is survival. Until you’ve walked in your neighbor’s shoes, then you shouldn’t judge what they do in order to survive, as long as they do not harm other people.

My dear deceased father-in-law used to tell me, “American people worry about how they will spend their vacations. Japanese people worry about how they will survive.” I gathered that this saying has been around in Japan for over 100 years.

The hypocrisy of the west lies in the fact that westerners and western society (Americans, British, Australians, especially) will spend their time pointing fingers at the Japanese for fishing practices while they conveniently ignore little things like invading the countries and dropping bombs on the homes of dark skinned people, most recently children in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, etc., You know, killing and maiming two-year-old girls, boys, old people and pregnant women…

This disconnect makes people with common sense wonder “What the heck are these people who get furious about whaling and dolphin hunting, etc., thinking about?” And “Where the heck are their priorities?”

When people begin to love their fellow human and quit the wars, then perhaps, they can have a believable pulpit to complain about the slaughter of whales or dolphins. Until then, it is nonsense.

Let me give you some facts. The people in question in the movie The Cove are from a tiny fishing village in eastern Japan called, Taiji in Wakayama Prefecture. The Taiji people have been hunting whales and dolphins since the 17th century. Taiji is the traditional whaling village in Japan. They’ve been doing this for centuries and even have whaling festivals. The dolphin hunt is an annual event. The dolphins that are killed are not an endangered species. I certainly think that the activities of a small fishing village in Japan will probably not hurt the population of dolphins or whales. They have, after all, been doing this fishing for 300 years.

Woodblock print of Whaling in Taiji from the Edo Period (at least 150 years ago)

Further research shows that Taiji is a minute fishing village with a total area under 4 square miles in size with a population of something like 3,400 people…. If the total population of Taiji is 3,400, how many able bodied fishermen are there? 300? 400? People don’t actually think that the fishing practices of this group of villagers are going to destroy the global population of whales or dolphin population, do they?

Some advocates of the Cove claim that the dolphin meat is pumped full of mercury and that these people in Taiji are poisoning themselves eating the dolphin meat. So we have to stop them. Well, which is it? Are these “Cove folks” worried about the people of Taiji getting mercury poisoning or are they worried about the dolphins getting killed? Get the story straight. Japanese people, on the average live seven years longer than Americans; do you hear the Japanese complaining that Americans are pumping themselves full of processed food poisons and sodium-laden fast food? No, you don’t.

I’d like to think that Japanese adults are able to decide their own diet menu by themselves, thank you very much.

If people are stupid enough to want to eat food that is high in mercury, then that is their choice. If people are stupid enough to eat processed food constantly and walk around 50 ~ 100 kilograms overweight, well, then that is their choice too.

A good analogy is: if people want to drive a car without a seatbelt, then let them do that too.

How can anyone from the USA, Canada, Oceania or NATO country complain about the killing of whales and dolphins in Japan when that person does nothing to stop their own government complicity in the bombing, maiming and killing millions of innocents, children, old people and women?

The killing of these animals is seasonal, but the killing of children by the US government (Australian, NATO, etc.) goes on around the clock, around the world, 365 days and nights of the year in a slaughter that continues even to this very day.

What right do these people have to say anything about the killing of whales and dolphins in Japan?

I think none.

But, I am against the censorship of the Cove, or any other movie for that matter.

Debt! Who is better off, Japan or the USA?…

When it comes to public debt and the coming economic turmoil, who is better off Japan, or the USA?

I received a letter from a friend who asked me this question. It read;

Just a quick question. When it comes to debt, I wonder which is really worse off. I read somewhere that Japan’s debt basically comes from the Japanese public, where as the US debt is from various countries. Therefore, when analyzed who is worse off? (Sic)

My answer: Thanks for the question. But, please do not get the debt issue confused. Japan’s debt is not “from” the Japanese public. Nor is USA debt “from” various countries. The debt is Japanese or USA government created. The governments created this debt through public spending on projects, war and social welfare with money they do not have.

Remember that the government does not have any money.  The government can only take money from business and the public by borrowing it or taxing the people (they can also print and debase the currency which is a backdoor tax on the public)… Later, someone has to pay back this debt.. In the case of Japan, the public bought the debt as investments… In the case of the USA, foreign governments have bought the debt as investments…

Regardless of the confusion as to who created this debt, I understand the basic question and think it is a great one.  Instead of me just making my remarks I decided to ask someone who I definitely look up to for advice when it comes to this kind of subject and that is my friend, Mike “Mish” Shedlock. Mish Shedlock runs one of the most-read economic blogs in the world and is a registered investment advisor representative for SitkaPacific Capital Management.

I slightly rewrote the question to Mike:

When it comes to debt, I wonder which is really worse off; the USA or Japan? Japan’s debt is basically held by the Japanese public, where as the US debt is owned by China, Japan, Saudi Arabia, etc… (various countries).  Therefore, when analyzed, who are worse off? The average Japanese or the average American?

Mike’s answer:

Japan is worse off – Their problem hits first (Japan already has debt at 190% of GDP – USA debt 87.6% as of May 15, 2010). Also Japan is much worse off because of demographics – a much older population… Timing is the key! The USA actually has some time to do something (even if we know they won’t)

Me: To sum up; the USA is better off than Japan, for now, because Japan’s debt percentage to GDP NOW is larger and because the percentage of the Japanese population that is no longer in the workforce is larger.

Another person wrote and asked me “What should we do?” Now, that’s a great question too! (realize that most people still, to this day, are not thinking about one or two years into the future when this entire situation is really going to start hitting home).

I answered:

So, what do I recommend? Get out of debt, live within your means… Fight anyway that you can government spending and increased taxation. Get the government warfare and welfare state off our backs. Allow the free market to shake out the sick parts of our economy…

Own gold and silver and oil. Try to become self-employed or to start your own business for tax purposes.

If you want good advice on this subject… I suggest reading Mish Shedlock everyday!

Keywords: Mish, public debt, USA,

Incense That Kills Mosquitoes Represents East vs. West…

There is a kind of incense that the Japanese (and many Asians) burn that wards off or kills mosquitoes and flies. It’s called “Katori Senko” in Japanese. “Senko”means “incense.” “Ka” means “mosquito” and “tori” means “to take or kill.” Hence the name Katori  Senko, “Incense for killing mosquitoes.”

Eastern method of handling mosquitoes: incense

I think that Katori Senko is wonderful. When I first came to Japan, I was so surprised to see such a product for the first time in my life. It was very pleasant smelling (I love the smell of incense) and it really worked! It was so pleasant not to have to spray chemicals on my body and face or spray them around the area where the children were playing.

I remember just hating the idea of things like “Yard Guard” that my father would spray around the yard when we were having a barbeque or the medicinal taste of some spray that my mother would spray on our faces to keep the mosquitoes off. Off course spraying chemicals on your children’s bodies or in the area they play in cannot be good for their health!

Western method of handling mosquitoes: chemicals

With Katori Senko, none of that is necessary. Just light a few coils and place them around the area where you plan to be outside and no more mosquitoes!

Katori Senko was first made in 1885 and is made of natural ingredients. It is wonderful and it represents, for me, some of the wonderful things about Japan that I love.

I also think that there is something else; a microcosm of the entire world represented in this small package. It is a mirror of our world and it greatly represents the difference in thinking between western and eastern peoples. Whereas, in the west, if there is a problem with food, health or insects, western philosophy and medicine are quick to react with chemicals; while in the east, a more holistic approach is taken to many of our problems. This is why things like Acupuncture, Tai-chi, and, of course, Katori Senko come from the east.

Of course, I believe that we westerners have much to learn about patience and a more holistic approach to our troubles from our eastern brothers and sisters.

I believe “Katori Senko type of thinking” – eastern philosophy – being more utilized in the west, especially in the United States, could greatly go to help cure many of our ills.

For more go to the company web site:

This is a great way to kill mosquitoes, a “mosquito killing incense” that kills them by blocking their air ducts, or whatever the nasty bugs breathe through. A famous brand since 1890!

KINCHO KATORI SENKO with Original Gold Cock Retro Package ~ Since 1890 KINCHO KATORI SENKO with Original Gold Cock Retro Package ~ Since 1890

As an alternative to the ubiquitous citronella anti-bug candles, these incense-like bug repellent coils (known as katori senko (or mosquito killing incense) will actually kill the annoying bugs by blocking their breathing holes with smoke particles. Has a nice blend of herbs and floral deterrents, including eucalyptus, that give off a pleasant aroma that is mild and non-irritative. This purchase is for a kit that includes 10 incense coils and a coil stand (burning it on a plate away from flammable materials is recommended). A great Japanese item with a cool retro Gold Cock packaging!

OYou just gotta love the retro packagaing AND the retro English! Very typical and cool 1980′s Japan! (Of course, for English, I suppose we could teach these good folks a thing or two!)

I love Katori Senko! Try it! You will too! The smell is summer in Japan!



Katori Senko, mosquitoes, incense, Mike Rogers

Marketing Japan: Number of US Companies Using Blogs for Marketing Rising…

I just ran across an article that made me feel a bit vindicated. I often meet people who think that the meaning of the terms “Social Media” or “Social Media Marketing” extend to things like Twitter, Facebook, Myspace and Pick and stop there. I do not agree at all.

I think that if you believe that just putting information out on Twitter is good enough for Social Media Marketing (SMM) then you are not even doing 1/4 of what needs to be done.

I firmly believe that a solid, well-written, interesting blog, that is updated at least once a day with useful and free information, is critical to the success of any Internet marketing program. Whenever climbing any great mountain (your marketing target) any expedition team will need a good base camp (your blog).

Now, Adweek data seems to come out and confirm what I have suspected. It is estimated that, by 2012, 43% of all US companies will be using a blog for marketing. That’s smart. From the article:

In many studies, company use of social networks and Twitter outpaces the use of blogs, but the platforms are not mutually exclusive. “Companies are finding that blogs fill a specific niche that other forms of social media do not,” said eMarketer senior analyst Paul Verna.

“Marketers perceive blogs to have the highest value of any social media in driving site traffic, brand awareness, lead generation and sales — as well as improving customer service,

So, it seems to me that the lesson here is obvious: Twitter, etc. is good as a snack (but has many problems on the horizon), but somewhere down the line, people need to sit down to a proper meal. It’s going to take at least two years of dedication to build a reputable and credible blog… I reckon it’s best to get started ASAP.

For further information on this subject, and how you can find help for yourself, click here. As always, it’s all free and there are no signups or surveys!

Keywords: Blog, Twitter, Pick, Myspace, Facebook, Adweek, Mike Rogers, Marketing Japan, Mike in Tokyo Rogers