Welcome to this edition of the SUNSTAR PRESS DIGEST and once again thank you for your comments and suggestions. Last week in Etoy we had the opportunity to review the progress of the Press Digest. We will continue publish the Press Digest every two weeks in English, and once a month there will be a special edition which will concentrate on how Japan is seen in the news. This edition will be published both in Japanese and English. All Sunstar employees who wish to can receive the Press Digest, you are therefore very welcome to forward the newsletter to other SUNSTAR colleagues and also ask them to write to either Mr Naito Takahiro (Takahiro.Naito@ch.sunstar.com) or to myself at Giampi.Alhadeff@E4U-Partners.com so that we can add them to the distribution list. As always I welcome your feedback.
With all my best wishes,
In this week’s digest
1 THE BIG US DEBATE: THE FIRST ROUND
2 UK: OPPOSITION IN CHAOS AND PM FIRES BREXIT STARTING GUN
3 JAPAN’S YOSHINORI OHSUMI AWARDED NOBEL PRIZE IN PHYSIOLOGY OR MEDICINE
4 HUNGARY’S NOT SO DEMOCRATIC LEADER
5 OBAMA’S ASIAN PIVOT FAILING?
6 SYRIA: CEASEFIRE IN TATTERS
7 HAS JAPAN FALLEN OUT OF LOVE WITH LOVE?
1 THE BIG US DEBATE: THE FIRST ROUND
The pundits gave the first round to Hillary Clinton, but some of the polls said otherwise. The truth is that no argument will be strong enough to change the mind of Trump supporters, the question is how will the swing voters in the swing states react. The campaign is still too close to call and has already turned nasty and in all probability it will get nastier still. The BBC Report on the First Debate is a good and impartial place to get information and analysis. I particularly enjoyed reading the best tweets on the debate. In this campaign the social media have come of age. Whilst both candidates debated, their teams were busy tweeting, attacking their opponent and rooting for their candidate. Both teams also used psychology in the preparation of the debate, though Clinton by needling Trump got the upper hand and he visibly lost his cool. The TV station’s decision to have a split screen was also interesting showing both Trump and Clinton throughout the debate. It played well for Clinton, but not so for Trump who often pulled faces and looked uncomfortable. Read the Washington Post on how Clinton got the better of Trump. As I write Trump’s financial dealings and tax affairs are once again centre stage with the NY Attorney General ordering him to stop soliciting money for his Foundation. The next two debates are on October 9th and 19th. You can find more factual information about the election, now just a month away, at the official. Election Central website.
It is the UK political conference season. In late September and early October the major UK parties go to the seaside for a week each. This year the Labour Party went first. Membership has grown from 180K to over 500K making it the largest political party in Europe, however this phenomenal increase is not reflected by the party’s fortune in the opinion polls. They have been sliding ever since the left-wing Jeremy Corbyn was elected as their Leader. Since then the “Moderates” and the “Corbynistas” have been fighting each other tooth and nail. In June this year, following Corbyn’s poor performance in the EU Referendum, most of his Shadow Cabinet resigned and 172 MPs (Members of Parliament) voted a “no confidence” motion in their Leader. When he failed to do the decent thing and resign, they triggered a challenge. Corbyn, backed by an army of thousands of young idealists, many of whom had just joined the party, and a few old left wingers, won by a huge margin. So the in-fighting goes on and Labour continues to pose no opposition to the Conservatives and are likely to lose the next two elections (2020 and 2025).You would think this to be music to the ear of Theresa May, the Conservative Prime Minister, but she is far from being home and dry. Of course she has no worries from Labour; her biggest problem is in her own party. With a working majority of only 16 and the Conservative Party still divided on Europe, May has to work hard to keep her troops loyal knowing that most of them are anti-EU. On on the first day of her Conference she therefore announced that she will trigger Article 50 of the EU Lisbon Treaty by the end of March, thus kicking off the negotiations which will take the UK out of the EU. She also announced plans to repeal the 1972 European Communities Act, which gives direct effect to EU law in Britain, but said that all existing EU laws would be transposed into domestic legislation. The passage of this Bill through Parliament may not be as smooth as May would hope. What works well at Conservative Party conference does not necessarily work well in the House of Commons and even less so in the House of Lords. The announcement of this Bill may be a piece of theatre designed to keep the Conservative faithful happy, however what is not in doubt is May’s determination to take the UK out of Europe, control EU immigration and if necessary sacrifice access to the Single Market. The Remain camp is shocked by the PM’s attitude. See the article by Hugo Dixon of INFacts. Her Chancellor (Finance Minister) addressed the Conference on the next day saying that the UK must have contingency plans to deal with any “turbulence” caused by Brexit. The market reacted predictably: sterling came close to a thirty-year low against the USD. See also Kate Allen’s article in the Financial Times of 3 October (Theresa May Sets Brexit Away from the Single Market). As this article is behind a paywall you will have to google the name of the author and the title of the article.
Professor Yoshinori Ohsumi is awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for his groundbreaking work on Autophagy (from the Greek word meaning “eating oneself”). This is the body’s internal system that hunts down scrap cells, strips them down to their useful parts to generate energy or create new cellular components. The process is crucial for preventing cancerous growths, maintaining a healthy metabolism, helping to protect against conditions like type 2 diabetes. Dysfunctional Autophagy, has been linked to type 2 diabetes, cancer, Parkinson’s disease and dementia. Professor Ohsumi’s work has been hailed by medical scientists worldwide. Intense research is already underway to develop drugs that can target Dysfunctional Autophagy in various diseases. This is the 25th Nobel Prize won by Japan and the 4th for medicine. This tally puts Japan in 6th place together with Switzerland, behind the US, UK, Germany, France and Sweden.
Yoshinori Ohsumi wins Nobel Prize (The Guardian) Yoshinori Ohsumi awarded Nobel Prize (Japan Times)
List of Japanese Nobel Prize Winners (Wikipedia) List of all Nobel Prize Winners by Country
Viktor Orban, the Hungarian PM, has a long reputation as a populist and a demagogue. Even before Trump, Le Pen or Nigel Farage, he was railing against ‘liberal elites’ and decrying that their policies were harming ordinary citizens. Last year, at the height of the EU migrant crisis, he accused Germany of ‘moral imperialism’ and erected razor-wire fences to prevent migrants from entering Hungary. His response to the EU proposal that Hungary help out Italy and Greece with the tens of thousands of migrants they are hosting by admitting a mere 1,294 was to hold a Referendum on the matter and recommend rejection of the EU’s proposal. The Referendum was not necessary, it was just theatre, and the people of Hungary stayed away from the polls. Turnout was a mere 43%, well short of the 50% required for the result to be law. However 98% of votes cast were in support of Orban’s position, and the Prime Minister, not one to be stopped, has chosen to focus on the high vote in support of his policies. Reuters article and photo of Hungarians in national costume going to the polls. Vicktor Oban Profile.
I am highlighting here two important articles: the first by Simon Tisdall which appeared in the UK Guardian on September 25 and the second in the Financial Times by the excellent Gideon Rachman. Tisdall focuses on China’s desire to “reunify” Taiwan, its increasing military and economic might and the US having to face up to the fact that its Asian policy is not working. TTP, the free trade deal for the Pacific region, seen by Japan’s Shinzo Abe as a “crucial pillar” of US influence in the region and a major plank of Obama’s Asian policy, is in big trouble and does not look like it will fly during Obama’s term.
Trouble in the Pacific, is ignored by Europeans, focused on Syria and migration, but the US getting its policy on China wrong would have major global consequences.
OBAMA’s Failed Asian Pivot. The Guardian, Simon Tisdall
Gideon Rachman in the FT of September 19 America’s Pacific Pivot is Sinking. (Once again the FT article is behind a paywall, please google the title of the article and the name of the author.)
The tragedy of Syria continues. The civil war has been going on for 5 years. The ceasefire of two weeks ago barely lasted 48 hours. The bombing by Syrian and Russian planes of civilian targets is escalating. No end to the suffering is in sight. Barrel bombs, burst through hospital walls, the killing and the maiming is indiscriminate. The Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov seems to have no shame and no morals, and Europe and the US seem powerless to halt the massacre we are witnessing. At the UN they talk, but can’t reach a deal to stop or even halt the killings for a short while. US and Russia relation are at an all time low, while food and medicines are running out. Not since Bosnia or Rwanda have we witnessed such atrocity. In the middle of this mayhem there are heroes: the WHITE HELMETS, ordinary men and women, who have volunteered to save lives from the rubble and the destruction. Their motto “better to save a soul than take a soul”. Netflix has just produced a documentary on the work of the WHITE HELMETS (see the NETFLIX trailer here). They have also been nominated for the Nobel Prize and on Friday we will know the result of the Norwegian jury. My hunch is that the White Helmets will be the 2016 Nobel Peace Winners. THE WHITE HELMETS ARTICLE IN THE GUARDIAN.
Japan’s population is declining: currently at 126 million it is likely to fall to below 107 million by 2050. Low birth rate and longer life expectancy will have a negative impact of Japan’s prosperity. A BBC Radio investigation had a look at young people’s attitudes to relationships and family life. Traditionally, working husband and the stay-at-home housewife defined a Japanese family. Now, with society changing, young people are choosing independence over ‘troublesome’ relationships. At the same time Japan’s life expectancy 84 (men) and 87 (women) means that in 2016, 33% of the population is over 65 and it set to rise to 40%, The result is an uncontrolled decline in population, where a decreasing birth rate and rapidly aging population paints a bleak outlook for Japan’s future. The BBC takes a look at Japan’s falling birthrate and the pressures on young people. Can the government reverse this trend by changing public attitudes and its own social policies? BBC RADIO 4 How Japan Fell out of Love with Love. This is a 28 minute radio programme. Japan’s population in 2050.