“It could become the most expensive waste of money in history”

Marina Barberá Matías

All the actions done by the president Donald J. Trump have been done to “make America great again” but despite of what people may say the intention is not what matters. Those political moves may produce different outcomes of those sought by Mr. Trump.

One of the f086c412irst decisions when he arrived to his actual position and one of the well-known promises done during the presidential campaign of Mr. Trump was the withdrawal of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Charles Kushner program director of the Bachelor in International Relations at IE University in Madrid Spain, sees it like the perfect opportunity for Canada to step into America’s leadership role in order to facilitate better trade, as Canada largely avoided the 2008 financial crisis by avoiding the risky banking practices that were responsible for the collapse, thus they are well poised to step into this leadership role.

Mr. Trump said “now American workers will be protected against competition from low-wage countries like Vietnam and Malaysia.” but the reasons established by experts for the manufacturing jobs decline differ from his. The central cause is the automation, which has developed into the decline of human labour. It is a fact that despite the decline in manufacturing jobs, the productivity in American factories has been increased. We are producing more while employing fewer. “This is exactly why Donald Trump’s plan to pull out of trade deals won’t only not bring back jobs to the American economy, it will actually hurt the economy further, as products exported by America would undoubtedly suffer with less trading partners.” Mr. Kushner said. The economic position of the U.S. as the world leader can be at risk by the isolationist strategy followed by Mr. Trump as affects their international image in the free market. Mr. Kushner said that in order to maintain its status as the beacon of the free world, America in fact needs to be a part of the world. It cannot afford to shut itself in behind pointless and costly walls.

Also, the acts done by the new president will without discussion cause changes on the relation between the U.S. and the countries from all around the world. The TPP was a pact in which the United States, the world’s largest economy and Japan, the third world largest economy, were together in a free-trade pact. The end of this agreement could cause some differences in the relation between Japan and the U.S., but the reality is that their relation despite the event from the past is better than the one that Japan has with its neighbours. “The dismantling of the TPP doesn’t affect current trade deals the U.S. and Japan share. Currently Japan is the United States 4th largest trading partner”. The relation among them will remain as usual but it is a fact that the withdrawal of the U.S. from the TPP will cause an economic vacuum that China will look forward to fill. It will be matter of time see if the relation between other members and the U.S. is enough to prevent China of fulfilling that position.

The relation with Mexico is the most affected by the actions of Mr. Trump as one of the most polemic orders is the construction of the wall in the frontier between Mexico and the United States. The main cause of its controversy is the dispute about who is going to pay for it, as the president of the United States has affirmed from the campaign that his country will not pay and the president of Mexico also declared that no Mexican money will be used for the construction of that wall, Mexico is face to face against the multimillionaire Donald Trump who has promised to find the way to make them pay and one of the ideas is through taxes. This will not be a good option as Mr. Kushner says that Mexican exporters would likely just raise taxes on American products as well as the prices of their own exports, resulting in price increases in the U.S. and ultimately the cost of the wall would be paid by Americans, not Mexico. Moreover, the construction of the wall will be unproductive as there are another ways through which the immigrants arrive to the U.S. so “it could become the most expensive waste of money in history as most undocumented immigrants in America fly into the country and overstay a valid visa.”

What do you know about trading with Japan?

I must confess that when I arranged my appointment with the Head of the Chamber of Hispanic -Japanese trade, I was not disappointed, but sad. I am not really interested in trade, but as long as the interview unfolded, the Head of the Chamber managed to raise my interest about the issue. I can say that those two hours of listening an expert were amazing and I hope that all of you really enjoy as much as I did.

First of all mention that the interview was divided into two different but related parts. The first one was about how to work with Japanese; meanwhile the second was related to several tips or curious Japanese issues.

As I said above this line, my interview turned around a course that will take place throughout the Chamber of Hispanic – Japanese trade next month in Madrid. The course will be called “work with Japanese”. And thus, it could not be otherwise, my first question was related to how do Spanish enterprises work with Japanese.

Mr Miguel A. Martínez Massa, whom I have forgotten to introduce his self, is the Head of the Chamber. He began the interview by presenting the Chamber and by telling me how did it work. –I must tell you I had not idea about its existence!

Mr. Miguel Martínez Massa.  Head of the Spanish-Japanese Chamber

Mr. Miguel Martínez Massa.
Head of the Spanish-Japanese Chamber

Thus, in order to let you know a bit about the institution just mention that it was created 61 years ago in Barcelona and that its main aims were to bring knowledge of codes and protocols to Japanese trade relations, shortening distances and recommending which steps must be followed in relation to each situation. The Chamber does not have any physical office, but it is enough for them to work through Internet.

Then, our next point –and probably the most important- was related to cultural differences between both countries. He suggested that culture is the main fact that is provoking that Spanish companies do not obtain desired results in Japan.

As happens in each culture, Japanese people have their own cultural code. Thus, without a slightest notion of it, our business objectives within the Japanese market will be delayed. Therefore, highlight the importance of seeking advice as well as the figure of the intermediary in order to avoid backfire provoked by direct contact without having a good preparation.

So, what should we know in order to trade with Japanese? Easy.

Mr Martínez said that exporters must not only know about the consumers to whom the product is addressed, profiles, requirements but also they should take into account what we can call “obsessions”. What did he means by obsessions? Perfect, here is where we can include the second part of the interview.

First tip! Be patient! Japanese do business with a long-term view. They first have to trust on you. They do not touch each other, even less in public. Also, do not forget “Ringis system”. This concept defines a collective, holistic and harmonious decision-making process that starts with a written proposal that circulates to all people within the company –tateshakai. In conclusion, every negotiation is not only hard but also long because they try to avoid any margin of error.

Second tip! They do not think they are so clever. Do the same. They all like to go unnoticed. Do not boast. Show yourself transparent. In case of errors in our relations with them, it is extremely important to recognize the mistake quickly without blaming others. Just apologize and offer good solutions. They will not judge you.

Regarding this issue and as an anecdote mention that he told me, just say that Japanese are not conflictive. They solve problems by talking. Even traffic accidents end in bars –they love beer! Because of that, there are lesser lawyers in Japan that in Manhattan Island!

            What else? Forget about Japanese myths! Japanese strike? They do not even know about it. However, they do give importance to forms. They wear dark suits, always distinguishing between sport and business. Take care of the visiting card. They define them as their selves. Attach it properly; translate it into Chinese in order to facilitate communication.

Take also care of documents and catalogues. Try to submit them in Japanese. Also, it is important to prepare a Japanese version of the website of the company.

Do you all know about the inclination as a greeting? It is called “ojiki”. The more that you lean your body, the more respect you show. Do not forget to do it!

After all and not related with the above I asked him about what was Spanish doing different from Japan to tackle the economic crisis. His answer was clear and concise. I easily understood him and I hope you also do it.

Obviously corruption is everywhere, even in Japan –overcoat in multinationals. The main difference is that when someone is accused for corruption in Japan, resign, and even commit suicide. Here in Spain is… still there”.

Finally, Mr Martínez ended interview by saying that trading with Japan could be a success by taking into account the following words: preparation and prior negotiation; commitment; quality control; personal relationships; and last but not least originality.

Japan is a difficult market to enter at an early stage because of the severe competition. However, it is a misconception to believe that doing business with Japan is completely different from other countries.

Interesting documents related to Japan that Mr. Martínez gave to me!

Interesting documents related to Japan that Mr. Martínez gave to me!

Just say thank you to Mr. Martínez! It was a pleasure for me to meet you!

Do not hesitate to take a look at the Chambers’ web!


María Martínez Gutiérrez










Talking about the conflict between China and Japan means directly thinking about the Senkaku-Diaoyu conflict. Senkaku-Diaoyu Islands are apparently a set of five uninhabited Islands and two reefs. However, to be located within the Eastern China’s Sea means not only a military and security geostrategic point, but also to be bordered by a rich fishing potential. This facts aroused the interest of several countries over the Islands such as the both aforementioned or even Taiwán.

This interest overSenkaku-Diaoyu turned even more important after the United Nations speculations (1968) about the oilfields located within them. Even, destabilizing Sino – Japanese relations.

Nowadays, there is no clear holder of the Islands. But then, we will see the justification of both parties.

In one hand, China considers Diaoyu Islands as part of their territory since ancient times and they base this position on historical evidence and legal basis.

We are strongly committed to safeguarding the country’s sovereignty and security, and defending our territorial integrityChinese president Xi Jinping

China argues that the historical evidence indicates that they not only discovered, but also named and explored this group of islands before the 15th century.

On the other hand, Japan suggests that according not only to International Law, but to historical facts, there is no doubt that the Senkaku Islands are clearly an integral territory of the Japanese country. The arguments are based on the fact that the Islands were not included within the territory that Japan renounced under art. 2 of the San Francisco Treaty –it legally defined the territory of Japan after the 2nd World War.

Due to that fact, Japan decided to inspect the Islands and declared them “terra nullius” (land belonging to nobody). according to the accurate procedure. Thus, Japan recognized sovereignty over the Islands exercising the effectiveness control over them.

It all seems to be an overlap of sovereignty. How could it be solved? Obviously, the best way to resolve any international conflict in a peaceful manner is by the ruling of the International Court of Justice and under International Law. Even more, when there is an undisputed existing economic interdependence among interested parties that would be unconditionally affected by an armed conflict.

However, China does not want to lead the case to a Court. It sounds weird, isn’t it? Also is extremely curious that China wants to solve the dispute throughout a diplomatic way. Probably the country thinks that an international ruling would go against their sovereignty justification. On the contrary, Japan doesn’t want to attend to an International Court because the country believes that there is no existing conflict.

Thus, according to the principles of corpus occupandi and animus occupandi of International Law, the country which has demonstrated the intention of occupying effectively the island, in this case Japan, has enough evidence to proclaim sovereignty over the Senkaku-Diaoyu Islands. Adding this to the previous rulings of the International Court of Justice over similar cases, we can conclude saying that the ownership of this islands belongs to Japan.

Japan approves its largest defense budget in response to China’s strength

Japanese Government approved the largest defense budget in their history in response to the rise of Chinese military power.

Japanese Self Defense Force destroyer

Japanese Self Defense Force destroyer. Source: The Telegraph

Last Wednesday, 4th of February, it was approved by the Japanese Government the largest defense budget in Japan’s history.

The Japanese Government is going to spend 4,98 billion yen -36.000 million euros- in its defense budget, 2’98% more than last year. This would help Japan to reach position eighth of the world’s biggest defense spending country.

This is the third consecutive year in which the Japanese Government has increased its defense budget. However, this growth is still waiting for the approval of the Japanese Parliament. If this budget is approved, it will represent 5% of the national budget (2015).

The aim of this incensement of the defense budget is to strengthen aerial and maritime surveillance. They want to buy aerial surveillance aircraft and fighter jets to help the alertness system in some specific places of the country.

The Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs said that it is going to be useful for Japan as it is going to be seen as a force of peace and stability in East Asia.

The Japanese constitution was born after the Second World War when the Allied forces occupied Japan. They considered that the new constitution should not let Japan have a military force to avoid any chance for this country to enter again into a war. This mandate can be seen in Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution of 1947, where it prohibits Japan to enter into a war and to maintain war potential, even though it does not specifically forbid self-defense military capability.

The policy of demilitarization of Japan changed when, for the sake of peacekeeping of the international community, it was allowed to increase its military potential only for self-defense purposes.

Article 9 has been very popular since the end of the Second World War, but it was not until recently that Japan has begun to take its security more seriously.

Japan’s rearmament is just a decision to face what the country believes that belong to them. In an Asian context: China is modernizing its navy and acting with growing assertiveness within territorial disputes –most of them tense relations within the China Sea- as well as challenging U.S. military access to Asia. Similarly, Vietnam and Indonesia are constantly growing.

Because of all that facts, Japan is just responding to Chinese behavior.

As a last issue, mention that China should rethink their own steps in order to contain not only India, Vietnam and US through the pearl necklace, but also to Japan itself.

China’s Industrial Mess Pollutes Mount Fuji

"Mercury Rising" at iconic Mt. Fuji  Source: Kyodo, Japan Times

“Mercury Rising” at iconic Mt. Fuji Source: Kyodo, Japan Times

China’s decisions not to take precautions when burning Mercury, and their denial of its effects on the environment are signs of a reckless disregard to the health and environmental dangers of this type of pollution.

Tensions are high between China and Japan over the pollution occurring at Mount Fuji, due to China’s primary role in the mercury levels rising.  China’s high mercury levels and pollution are damaging Mount Fuji in a very bad way.  The polluted air is affecting this UNESCO world heritage site terribly. Burning coal and high mercury levels are considered to be strong causes for the damage.  The higher-than-expected readings are likely due to Chinese factories burning coal, which releases mercury and arsenic, which, according to Taipei Times, also had elevated readings.

China's mercury burning is causing a great deal of pollution the the beautiful Mount Fuji.  Source: UNEP News Center

China’s mercury burning is causing a great deal of pollution the the beautiful Mount Fuji. Source: UNEP News Center

After industry showed a great amount of growth in development in China, it seems like environmental causes don’t matter to them anymore, as they are earning more money. Since they don’t take any of the necessary precautions to prevent these high levels of pollution, we can say that the environment does not seem to be important to China.

A Japanese research shows that most of the pollution in the air has been coming from china’s direction.  “Whenever readings were high, winds were blowing from the continent [China],” said Osamu Nagafuchi, the lead scientist on the study (Taipei Times).  As China continues recklessly ruining one of the world’s heritages, Japan, along with many other countries, has decided to give them a warning by way of United Nations action.

This issue creates quite a bit of tension between the two important Asian powers, China and Japan. Although Japan appears to be of the right mind set on the situation, it seems as if China has no plans of backing down or taking caution of their pollution.  Local media in China was flooded with angry Chinese citizens’ online comments, while Japanese readers registered their protests as well.

As a solution to this pollution problem, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) designed an agreement to reduce the burning of heavy metals such as mercury to prevent emissions and releases of mercury, which will hopefully reduce its dangerous effects on health and the environment.  According to the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) Reporting Services, 109 countries signed the deal, which has been named the “Minimata Convention on Mercury”.  It seems like China needs to make peace with nature, otherwise tensions between other countries and them will continue to rise over the pollution to this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In our opinion, China needs to consider a great change in what they are doing.  Strong precautionary measures need to be taken when dealing with strong pollutants, such as mercury.  This type of pollution not only ruins our world’s natural beauties, like Mount Fuji, but it also affects changes in our earth’s climate, which can contribute to natural disasters.  These disasters can happen anywhere, anytime. Therefore, China needs to make strides in cleaning up their pollution levels, because when disaster strikes, their industrial success is not what is going to save them. Love your world; protect it.


Saudi Arabia: The expression of international interests

Saudi Arabia is an independent state located in the Middle East, north of Yemen, bordering the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea. It has a population of 26,534,504 and its oil based industry has ensured a $740.5 billion GDP in 2012. Politically, it is organized as a constitutional monarchy under King Abdullah. The Saudi legal system is based on Islamic (sharia) law and it includes Egyptian and French elements.

In the international news, Saudi Arabia makes headlines with its multi-billion dollar oil industry, international investments in other countries and its constant human rights abuses. Only this Tuesday, Saudi Arabia executed five Yemenis under sharia law despite international pressure for reform in the legal system. The UN condemned these executions under the assumption that “they violate international standards because the bodies were left in public” as an example of the severity of the law in this country. This serves as a realistic reminder of the speed at which changes take place in a highly conservative and religious society.

Women are still treated as minors and they are not allowed to travel, study or work without permission from their male guardians. The King did announce that they will enjoy the right to vote in the 2015 municipal elections however, the harsh restrictions continue to cause international debate over whether or not the government will uphold its promise to reform the country. Detainees, including children, commonly face systematic violations of due process and fair trial rights, including arbitrary arrest and torture. Also, authorities leave very little space for public criticism of officials or government policies in the wake of the pro-democracy Arab Spring movements. The Saudi Ministry of Culture adopted policies of heavy censorship regarding printed press and broadcasted media.

This brings into focus the nature of the political class of Saudi Arabia considering the rather hypocritical attitude adopted with regards to Human Rights. The Saudi government openly condemned the H.R. violations in Syria despite its own obvious problems, having arrested a woman for driving.


Courtesy of Mario, A. (Setyoufreenews.com)


The reason for this controversial Saudi attitude can be found in the economic and political relationships that it developed over time. At the end of the Second World War US President Franklin D. Roosevelt extended American protection to Saudi Arabia, saying “the defense of Saudi Arabia is a vital interest for the defense of the United States of America”. Having such an influential ally in the international arena has its benefits, the U.S. being highly supportive with the Saudi regime. Japan is another important ally of Saudi Arabia and their joint statement related to the H.R. violations in Syria proves that both parties’ national interests are intertwined.  These interests revolve around the Saudi oil industry as Saudi Arabia exports a very large quantity of crude oil to the U.S, Europe, Japan and many other countries.

This brings into question the strength of the American resolve to stand against oppressive, non-democratic regimes which it has condemned since before the beginning of the Cold War. An interest based resolve of the American political class would imply that the rhetoric against non-democratic regimes can be brought into question.

Japan observes tsunami’s first year anniversary

One year ago, on the 11th of March 2011, Japan experienced a 8.9 magnitude earthquake. It was the sixth biggest earthquake since 1900, and it triggered a Tsunami with 10m-high waves that engulfed the northern port of Sendai and it’s islands. The aftermath of the disaster amounts to over 15 thousands killed, 5 thousand injured and the same number of disappeared, whereas the displaced sum up to 130 thousand people. Not to mention the economic losses estimated to 309 billions US$, the nuclear crisis and the huge leaks of radiations it set off.

On sunday the 11th of March, one year after this devastating experience, the Japanese survivors pay their tribute to the thousand of victims: they stood in silence, their head bowed, while sirens sounded in the centrals and trains came to a stand still.

and those few privileged attended a ceremony in the capital’s national theatre.

The main memorial ceremony took place at the National Theatre, in Tokyo, by Japan’s Emperor Akihito, Empress Michiko and Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, where they spoke in memory of the victims and the ones that gave their lives in the rescue missions.

“We shall not let our memory of the disasters fade”, states the Emperor, and then adds: “I hope all the people will keep the victims in their hearts.”

The big attention, though, shall go to the japanese citizens the are currently trying to rebuild their lives: “We want to make the city even more clean and attractive than it was before” said a retired woman resident of Ishinomaki. Even with the crises going on in the world, Japan has shown that everything is possible: in just a year it has achieved the impressive result of reconstructing 85% of the total affected zones.

One of the most prominent initiatives, “Ishinomaki 2.0”, brings young shopkeepers who lost their businesses together to ri-consider the future of the town: these entrepreneurs reunite resources, ideas and people from across Japan to invest in the regeneration of Ishinomaki’s district. Everything wouldn’t be possible just with the government’s work: citizens not just from japan, but from all over the world were an essential part to help rebuild the japanese life.

The prime minister Yoshihiko Noda of Japan has continuously given support to the japanese citizens to overcome the emotional impact the natural disaster caused. He has united the Japanese successfully with a spirit of “the rebirth of Japan through reconstruction”, especially now, after one year has passed.

Grief and regret of the lost lives is impossible to overcome, however it is important that they feel supported and have the will to improve and progress within the situation. Secondly, Yoshihiko Noda has make a pledge to “pass on the lessons and knowledge we have gained from this disaster to future generations” as the Japanese archipelago is bound to frequent natural disasters. Nevertheless, the most important aspect, as Yoshihiko Noda has pointed to his people, is to is to continue with a spirit of “mutual assistance” and “appreciation”.

As a house of cards, our world is interconnected. If one of those cards falls or is eliminated, the whole structure collapses. Japan’s catastrophe has shown the world that what affects a country or a region, concerns the whole world, a world that needs cooperative action and organization. These two remarkable characteristics were exemplary put into practice by the Japanese people whose unbreakable philosophy joined their forced together to repair the damages of the disaster in their lands. We can conclude saying that they are the example of how a nation can be raised upon the shoulders of unity and hard work.