Saturday, March 21, 2009

Sakura in Washington

Friday, March 20, 2009

Suicide Forest

AOKIGAHARA FOREST, Japan (CNN), By Kyung Lah -- Aokigahara Forest is known for two things in Japan: breathtaking views of Mount Fuji and suicides. Aokigahara Forest is known as the "suicide forest" because people often go there to take their own lives. Japan's Aokigahara Forest is known as the "suicide forest" because people often go there to take their own lives.
Taro, a 46-year-old man fired from his job at an iron manufacturing company, hoped to fade into the blackness.

"My will to live disappeared," said Taro. "I'd lost my identity, so I didn't want to live on this earth. That's why I went there." (Bold letters: Taro added)

Taro, who did not want to be identified fully, was swimming in debt and had been evicted from his company apartment. He lost financial control, which he believes to be the foundation of any stable life, he said. "You need money to survive. If you have a girlfriend, you need money. If you want to get married, you need it for your life. Money is always necessary for your life."

...He started to wander, he said. He collapsed after days and lay in the bushes, nearly dead from dehydration, starvation and frostbite. He would lose his toes on his right foot from the frostbite. But he didn't lose his life, because a hiker stumbled upon his nearly dead body and raised the alarm.

....Japan's suicide rate, already one of the world's highest, has increased with the recent economic downturn. There were 2,645 suicides recorded in January 2009, a 15 percent increase from the 2,305 for January 2008, according to the Japanese government.

The Japanese government said suicide rates are a priority and pledged to cut the number of suicides by more than 20 percent by 2016. It plans to improve suicide awareness in schools and workplaces. But officials fear the toll will rise with unemployment and bankruptcies, matching suicide spikes in earlier tough economic times.

"Unemployment is leading to this," said Toyoki Yoshida, a suicide and credit counselor."Society and the government need to establish immediate countermeasures to prevent suicides. There should be more places where they can come and seek help."

Yoshida and his fellow volunteer, Norio Sawaguchi, posted signs in Aokigahara Forest urging suicidal visitors to call their organization, a credit counseling service. Both men say Japanese society too often turns a cold shoulder to the unemployed and bankrupt, and breeds a culture where suicide is still seen as an honorable option.

Well, many Japanese choose to kill themselves if they have some difficulties. I think it comes from "Samurai culture" and it is out of date. It should be revised and reconsidered.

However, I am always wondering why many Japanese people are unable to enjoy their modern affluent life with joy. The life in Japan is very enviable and pleasant to many international people, because in many countries the freedom of speech and idea and belief is restricted and some democratic people are in jail. It's unbelievable here in Japan.

Anyway, we should feel much happier than we now do. For me, my life is always good enough to enjoy.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Japan's Beauty

Keynesian beauty contest: I am not sure if she is hot to international people. I like her best as an actress.

She is a very famous movie actress, Fujiko Yamamoto, in Japan and the above photo("From the world of Yuji Hayata, STAR", Bungei-Shunju, 1989) is my favorite one.

Ha~, I want to have a drink with her at a little quiet bar...

It's a well-known episode: After Ms. Yamamoto graduated from high school, she applied for the Bank of Japan, BOJ. She did well in the paper exam, but she failed in the interview. A few decades later, the interviewer confessed the reason to one magazine: "She was so beautiful that he couldn't employ her for fear that many male workers couldn't concentrate on their own duties."

Ms. Yamamoto then thought that the coming age was for women to get their own jobs, so she decided to take the way to movie actress. She was one of the first independent professional women in Japan.

By the way, if this BOJ interviewer had decided to hire her, we now could never see and feel in love with her. So I' m not sure if I should appreciate this interviewer, but as a result we could be proud that we have a greatly respectful Japanese woman who has great beauty and intelligence.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Spam Report

Today I had a spam report: This blog was reported as a spam.

This blog is neither for the purpose of hurting and insulting some particular people nor of blaming you for some particular, especially, political or religious, ideas.

This blog is for the purpose of giving you and me a nice and fresh opportunity of exchange of different opinions. Recently I've tried to give you some beautiful photos.

I hope anybody will talk to me about what he or she is thinking and interested in.

I might have had something to say or to show that someone doesn't like or feels bad about.

I would like to say to someone who reported this blog as a spam, "sorry, sorry, please forgive me. I know I am so ignorant!!"

I wanted to say that it was a great challenge to sound democracy and freedom of speech or idea, but now I feel so sorry about this happening. :(

Sunday, March 15, 2009


I was surprised at this very long maki (seaweed-rolled sushi).

When I went shopping at, say, Whole Foods and other grocery stores in the US, I found them selling a variety of makis. In the US, maki looks more familiar sushi than I thought before. Maybe it is much easier for them to eat and I think it is the Japanese version of fast food like hot dog and hamburger in the US.

I like both hamburger and maki very much.

We never make maki as in the above photo but sometimes for local community advertisement some people do like that.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Romer on the Great Depression

I have found the recent must reading. Christina Romer gave us 6 lessons from the Great Depression. Here's just the summary:

(1) A small fiscal expansion has only small effects.

(2) Monetary expansion can help to heal an economy even when interest rates are near zero.

(3) Beware of cutting back on stimulus too soon.

(4) Financial recovery and real recovery go together.

(5) Worldwide expansionary policy shares the burdens and the benefits of recovery.

(6) The Great Depression did eventually end.


We will be soon able to see sakura like the above.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Krugman on Japan

Krugman of Princeton, an economist whom I've loved and respected ever, talked about the recent Japan.

For a decade or so Japan’s lost decade has been the great bugaboo of modern macroeconomics. Economists constantly warned that you mustn’t do X or you must do Y, because otherwise we’ll turn into Japan. And policymakers congratulated themselves in advance for not being like their Japanese counterparts, who dithered and drifted, refusing to make hard decisions.

Well, I’m sure I’m not the only person to notice this: Japan doesn’t look so bad these days.

For one thing, the famed sluggishness of Japanese policy — the refusal to face up to banking system losses and pour in the funds needed to recapitalize the system, the refusal to let zombie banks die, the stop-go nature of fiscal policy, with concerns about rising debt warring with concerns about the economy — all of that seems entirely comprehensible now, doesn’t it? Even with the knowledge of what happened to Japan to motivate us, so far we’re following exactly the same path.

And given what the next couple of years are likely to look like, Japan’s lost decade — yes, growth was slow, but there wasn’t mass unemployment or mass suffering — is actually starting to look pretty good. We may or may not be about to face our own lost decade, but the sheer misery millions of Americans will face in the near future probably exceeds anything that happened in Japan during the 90s.

I still hope we can do better than the Japanese did, but it’s not at all obvious that we will.

I hope so too:)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Seeing is Believing

I had a big smile...:)

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Is Macroeconomics Really True?

When the economy is down, people always say that it’s the time when it needs the governmental expenditure like tax cut or large public programs. This discussion is based on "the theory of multiplier effect".

However, is there really a multiplier effect?

Ono Yoshiyasu of Osaka University says an interesting thing, "there's no multiplier effect in the world": An increase in government purchases leads to an even greater increase in income,…the ratio is called the government-purchases multiplier. Mankiw (2003), pp262.

It doesn't look at what the government purchases are, but how much dollars are paid for the government purchases.It says that building a large pyramid and beginning a war is more effective on demand than letting the unemployed do nothing with unemployment insurance.

Is that true? No!!!

(1)Illegal parking

If the government hires the unemployed as a parking guardian, it pays wages to them and in result there's no increase in demand because the wages would be the same as the unemployment insurance paid to them if they weren't hired as a parking guardian. The difference is a decrease in illegal parking in the street.

From the viewpoint of government budget, the government just transfers money from one to the other group of people in the nation. Neither increase in demand nor stimulus to demand.

A balanced budget has no effect on people's consumption and income. A balanced budget multiplier is said to be 1, and there's no increase in income and demand.

(2)Numerical example

Assume GDP is $500 and the government collects $50 from people as a tax and builds a large pyramid for the $50. In this case, the government hires them and the national income is now counted as $550.

However, the people paid the tax of $50 to the government and were just paid back $50 for the construction of large pyramid; they never became wealthy.

A debt-financed government purchases has no effect on income and demand either because people know that today's government purchases should be tomorrow's tax increase.

(3)Summing up

In every case there's no multiplier effect on the economy; the effect of the government purchases on income and demand, which is based on Keynes's theory, is a seeming increase in income in the national income account, but not a real increase in income in the real economy.

However, at the time of recession, some people are unemployed and it would be worth while the government hiring them to do some large public projects because the government projects are valuable in the economy.

The resources (goods and labor services) aren't used well at the time of recession and the government could lose nothing when it used such resources even though the cost was very high.The above opinion seems reasonable to me, but somewhat different from what many textbooks of macroeconomics tell us. What do you think of this discussion?


(1) Mankiw, N. Gregory (2003), macroeconomics, 5th edition, worth publishers,

(2) Ono, Yoshiyasu (2006), logically paradoxical "multiplier effect", Nihon-Keizai-Shimbun (only Japanese)

Taro in Madison

I went to Madison,WI: It's a very beautiful city. I want to go there again. These pictures are my short memory. I do want to go back again to USA, the country I love best. (The above picture is one of the youth hostel in Madison.)

This is a hamburger that was sold in a shop near the UW-Madison. To my surprise, it was not greasy, rather very tasty.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

A Bad Idea?

The centerpiece of Prime Minister Taro Aso's big stimulus package has been a one-time cash handout of 12,000 yen, or about $120, to each resident. The idea has been widely panned by political foes, economists and the public alike as a wasteful, ineffective idea. (Mainichi Japan) March 5, 2009

We will soon be able to have a cash handout of around $120 and I am wondering what I should spend it on.

Some economists suggest that such money should go to the most needy or to the more public programs like reforming school and hospital buildings and roads and bridges.

I think there're pros and cons in the viewpoint of, say, morality (is it good for us to be given money without any effort?), but I don't think that a one-shot helicopter cash is so a bad idea as to stimulate and to revive the economy, but it's on the condition that we'll definitely spend it on something sold in the economy. It doesn't make sense if we don't spend but save it instead, I mean, if so, the cash will just be moved from government's to people's safe; It won't result in anyone's further income and then further expenditure.

So we have to use this cash to eat, to drink, to buy the clothing that we've wanted, and so on. The economy now needs stimulating the consumption first and investment second, as many econ textbooks tell. However,the impact of this stimulus policy is thought to be temporary, not permanent so we won't be able to expect that the economy will strongly recover forever.

(In the above picture, a man is handing in the envelopes of the cash. The time to spend is coming soon.)

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Black; Group Psychology?

When I read a newspaper, one reader's column caught my eye:

I've seen many students looking for job recently and wondered why they all are wearing black suits. Asking my neighbor about it, I was explained that it was a common trend and if anyone wore a different suit, he or she would be conspicuous. .... I think the way of dealing with everything in the same way should be thrown away... (Yomiuri, 02/03/2009)

Well,..I agree and that's just what I wonder when I see students hunting for job in a city this season. I know the reason also(and the neighbor is almost right.) and maybe that's kind of one of the Japanese behavioral characteristics.

The Japanese people have been taught to listen to others first and not to say words that may hurt someone, or to say what they want to after thinking over what impact they will have on others by saying it. Therefore, it is, I am not sure, the reason why many Japanese people are likely to look around before expressing themselves.

Hmm,...I don't know if the above behavior is very similar to that seen in other countries, say, USA or Germany, but, of course, I agree on the idea that people should say what they want to after thinking about whether or not it is appropriate; It's one of basically social manners regardless of which country we live in.

However, it seems to me that it's the very Japanese-like social and conventional behavior. I don't know if this trend should be modified, but, as this reader puts, it may make us somewhat suffocated. Well,... I like much brighter scenery, though.