Elections in Osaka brought a new radioactive waste incineration top supporter in the person of M. Hashimoto, in line with the previous government and closer to achieving their plan. Foreigners are leaving Japan for both economical and radioactive contamination reasons and some of the lingering companies are looking to the west to seek refugee but local politicians do not understand that they are planning to kill Osaka and reject foreign investment in their city and the whole Kansai region – and accelerate the overseas shift of major domestic manufacturers based in the area. Downsizing in foreign companies in Japan – starting with the repatriation of expats – may not be obvious in statistics yet, but the situation is incredibly tense and this kind of “atmospheric intelligence” will become supported by hard economic data next year. Therefore, the Osaka Governor should guarantee the security of international staff and take all necessary measures to ensure that radioactive waste is refused if only in order to keep foreign companies in Kansai and attract more of them.
According to the Kansai Bureau of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), the Kansai region accounts for approximately 20% of Japan’s economy, the equivalent to that of the Netherlands (ranking 17th in the world) – Source: 2009 Kansai Keizai Hakusho (Economic White Paper). The website of the German Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Japan states that:
“Apart from Tokyo, the Kansai region in western Japan is the most important economic centre. The Kansai region groups the seven prefectures of Fukui, Shiga, Kyoto, Osaka, Hyogo, Nara and Wakayama, and covers 8.3% of Japan’s surface area. Its approximately 24 million inhabitants produce 16% of Japan’s GDP. Its share of total Japanese exports to Germany is 22.6%, and of imports from Germany 17.4%.
The Kansai region boasts a gross regional product of $US770 billion, which corresponds to an economic strength on a par with Canada, or with South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore combined.”
Kansai is the only large economic region in Japan striclty outside the no man’s land and previous Prime Minister Naoto Kan once considered the possibility of moving the Japanese government to Osaka – yet Osaka Governor decided to destroy it anyway.
US and Germany represented respectively 33 and 16% of all foreign-affiliated companies in Kansai by country in 2008, according to The Foreign Investor CD-ROM 2009, by Toyo Keizai Inc. – that is a combined half of all these foreign companies. As soon as the radioactive disease comes to Osaka, these companies will shrink like their Greater Tokyo sisters. Furthermore, the latter will cancel any plan they might have had to move at least part of their staff over there.
If you are a potential expat from the US, Germany and any other English-fluent national, I strongly caution you against accepting any position in Japan at the moment, since Tokyo is actually within the real no man’s land – except that it is officially miraculously spared from Fukushima, much like Minsk is supposed to be from Chernobyl, within similar distances; Osaka is on the verge of falling into the shadow and Nagoya will surely follow its path once Osaka is taken. The Osaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry may well issue some reports that the situation is safe and organize special events to promote it, it will not be safe and foreigners know it. Indeed, would you accept working in Minsk or Kiev (no offense to residents and victims of these cities)?