In this edition: Japanese Demise, Twists of Logic
I notice the Minister of Tourism Mark Burton flies to Japan today as part of a concerted New Zealand effort to encourage Japanese to start travelling again.
He states that "Many Japanese have reacted to the September 11th terror attacks by putting off travel plans and staying home". He goes on to say "I have already written to Japanese travel wholesalers advising them that New Zealand remains a welcoming, secure and quality destination."
This may well be true. However, a little research on behalf of the Minister and his advisors would have made him aware that the problems of the diminishing Japanese tourism market go rather more deeply than the effects of 911 and a fear of travelling.
Just reading recent issues of "Monthly Reports of Recent Economic and Financial Developments" issued monthly by the Bank of Japan would have identified rather more deep seated problems.
The following are just a few of the more significant ones gleaned from the Bank's Report dated November 20, 2001:
Adjustments in economic activity are becoming more severe, as the substantial decline in production is beginning to have an adverse effect of private consumption through decreases in employment and income.
Corporate profits are deteriorating, particularly in manufacturing, and the weakness in household income is becoming evident amid the decrease in the hours worked and the rise in unemployment.
Private consumption will also continue to be weak along with deteriorating employment and income conditions and the more cautious consumer sentiment.
Credit demand in the private sector is declining.
Private banks' lending continues to decline at about 2 percent on a year-on-year basis.
Public investment is on a downward trend.
Real exports continue to decline substantially.
Real imports also continue to decline sharply.
Private consumption seems to be weakening gradually reflecting the increasingly harsh employment and income conditions.
Outlays for travel plunged in September as individuals continued to refrain from travelling, particularly overseas, after the terrorist attacks in the U.S..
Meanwhile, according to the latest consumer survey, consumers were becoming even more cautious due to the deterioration in employment conditions.
Private consumption will continue to be lacklustre, mainly reflecting employment and income conditions.
As for employment and income conditions, with the prolonged adjustments in economic activity, the supply-demand condition in the labour market is easing further, particularly in manufacturing, and household income is weakening more evidently.
Nominal wages per employee, both overtime and regular payments continued to decline, mainly reflecting the decrease in the hours worked.
I am afraid Mr Burton, your visit is likely to fall on less than enthusiastic ears. Anyone knows that when incomes come under threat, the discretionary spend dollar is one of the first things to be cutback.
No matter how safe the destination may be, if there is no money or the threat of reduced income is real, then people will not travel.
Twists of logic
It is pretty bizarre that Keith Locke from the Green Party should compare the al-Qaeda terrorists in Kunduz with the thousands of innocent civilians killed by the fascist Milosevic.
This must be an example of the sort of twisted reasoning that led him to support the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.