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Warning: This blog entry is quite a long one. It is about Japan, but I need to talk about my own country first.

Like many of my countryfolk I was saddened by the recent death of HM Queen Elizabeth the 2nd. May she
rest in peace. What I was definitely not saddened by was the recent departure of that blonde buffoon Boris
Johnson, a man sadly lacking in the qualities Her Majesty displayed in spades throughout her reign and for
which she was widely respected, even by people like myself who are skeptical about the monarchy.
I’m talking about dignity, self-sacrifice, discretion and plain class. Anyway, to the point…

In his farewell speech Johnson rattled off in his usual machine gun style a long list of his government’s
positive achievements (more Foreign Direct Investment, more wind-power, more nuclear reactors to
help us solve our energy issues, more trains…..more of everything except crime). Had I believed it
I think I might have taken the next plane home! Unfortunately, though, Johnson inhabits a parallel universe.
What he failed to mention, but what both he and the British people know full well, is that the nuclear plants
will be built by French companies - hopefully with finance from China; the wind turbines are made mostly
abroad; trains (which Britain invented but doesn’t make anymore) are made for us by foreign companies like
Hitachi. I could continue in the same vein for a long time, but I think you get the point.

He also knows that the Foreign Direct Investment he is so proud of attracting is simply a euphemism for
British companies no longer being able to provide jobs for British workers, so we have to rely on foreign
companies to do it. Related to this, anything worth buying has been sold off to foreign buyers: Mini Cooper
cars, top football clubs, prime real estate in London, new IT start ups that look promising and are quickly
snapped up by holding companies in the Cayman Islands…..you name it. And it doesn’t matter who the
buyer is. It might be ‘Sovereign Wealth Funds’ (often shorthand for middle-eastern petrostates) that are
looking to ‘sportswash’ their human rights records (Manchester City football club). It might be Putin’s
kleptocratic cronies, who apparently own mansions all over the posher parts of the capital (it is no
accident that London is called Moscow-on-Thames or Londongrad). It might also be foreign billionaires
who wouldn’t know the difference between football and cricket (Liverpool FC, Chelsea FC and
Manchester United). The list is endless. The whole country is for sale, and of course it hardly needs
saying that it’s people like Johnson who benefit most from it.

You may wonder what all this has to do with Japan. Well, it’s the contrast! Sure, we live in a globalized
economy, but I just cannot imagine a Japanese prime minister standing up in Parliament and boasting
about this kind of ‘Foreign Direct Investment’, or acquiescing to Japanese companies being bought up
en masse by foreign buyers. And I cannot imagine the people of Japan thinking of the situation in Britain
as anything other than humiliating. Would Japanese workers be comfortable if a foreign buyer interested
in nothing but a quick profit (so-called vulture capitalists) made a bid for their company? I don’t think so.
Would the Japanese people be ashamed if they no longer made their own trains, nuclear reactors and big
ships? I’m sure they would. Would the fans of Tokyo Giants be pleased if their team was bought by foreigners
with no interest whatsoever in baseball and who saw the club purely as a commercial enterprise? No, I am
positive they wouldn’t. Actually, given that most people in the world have no interest in baseball (it seems
to be on a par with Sumo as a global sport) such a takeover is very unlikely to happen. Who would want to?
But you know what I mean, and I think I’ve made my point. I just can’t imagine any of this here.

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