Wednesday, May 30, 2012

WSJ: Cash-Rich Japanese Firms Go On Global Buying Spree

Wall Street Journal May 30, 2012, p. A1.

"....Japanese companies are in the midst of the biggest boom in overseas investment the country has ever seen."

The article notes that a Japanese trading house, Maurbeni Corp. is purchasing U.S. grain handler Gavillion Group LLC for around $5.6 billion.

Japanese tobacco is purchasing Belgian tobacco maker Gryson for $600 million

Japan's Takeda pharmaceutical is acquiring a Brazilian drug maker.

The Wall Street Journal attributes this buying spree to "fear, as a shrinking home market and stagnant economy threaten earnings."

I happen to think that it is not simply fear of domestic economic conditions that is driving this spree.

Much of northern Japan is extensively contaminated by Fukushima.

There are areas of Japan that are not contaminated, but northern Japan possesses rich agriculture. Fukushima may pose a problem for domestic food production.

Furthermore, Japan's practice of incinerating radioactive debris is spreading fallout.

Recall that Gorbachev attributed the collapse of the Soviet Union to Chernobyl?

The worry I would have if I was Japanese is that the wealth and power will pull out of the country leaving the rest of the population to address contamination areas that far exceed the exclusion zone conditions in the Ukraine after Chernobyl.

Chernobyl’s Evacuation Zone was 5 millisieverts a year. Japan has set their evacuation zone at an incredibly high 20 millisieverts per year

Japan Times reported in June that Greenpeace measured 9 microsieverts per hour in many public spaces in Fukushima with a high of 45 microsieverts an hour near a school yard

“Whole body doses received from external radiation from the Ukrainian part of the 30-km exclusion zone showed an average value of 15 millisieverts.” (source OECD, 1995)

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