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Tokyo Digest # 6
From: Dave Farber <farber () central cis upenn edu>
Date: Sun, 28 May 1995 06:39:12 +0900

It has been a dry hotish week in Tokyo. Mike Nelson was in town to give a
talk as part of a GII high level get-together and Mike and I had a
marvelous dinner and talking with NEC execs on the top of NEC Supertower --
their corp hdq building.

The more I talk with folk over here the more I am convinced of the following:

o the strong yen is very good for Japan. The hollowing out caused by it --
the overseas production of goods for latter export has lowered their costs
a lot; the jobs lost may not be all that much of a problem since the
Japanese birthrate is low, there is a future labor shortage due to it and
so while in the short range there will be some problems for specific
industries, the high Yen is a win for Japan. BTW there is very little end
user price reduction in goods imported to Japan so the profits for
importers etc. is great. Lower costs and no end price reductions for
consumers. (there are a few more sales then I used to see but not nearly as
much as you see in the US).

o the computer industry is in bad future shape over here in that what is
here seems to be using foreign designs (from Asia) and Asian parts. I see
so far little that suggests real advanced future research efforts that will
be required for the 2000s. Maybe they intend to hire cheap Americans in US
labs to do that for them. By the way Hitachi has said they will have to
increase the price of memory due to the high Yen but all their production
seems to be in dollar countries so their costs went down. Maybe time for
some more profits?

o Tokyo people are among the most helpful I have seen in the world --
equals with Australians, in their willingness to help lost foreigners.
Yesterday three people offered to help us and we were not even lost.

o there is a feeling you see often that the Japanese brain is different.
Koto music is "ideal for the Japanese brain", learning english changes the
Japanese brain and may impare it (this inspite of the fact that their best
science people speak english well). I was told the Prime Minister hides the
fact that he speaks english well since it is a political disadvantage. Each
nation has their strange problems (of course the US does not :-)   )

More latter.


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