Monday, January 01, 2007

2007...The Year of The Pig

Shinen omedeto gozaimasu.
Happy New Year.
Under the Chinese twelve year astrological cycle we are now in the year of the pig or boar.The pig is associated with fertility and virility.People born during these years are said to be gallant,loyal and studious.They are also somewhat reticent,tolerant but also can be quick-tempered.People born in the year of the pig include Elton John,Borat and Stephen Harper, the current Canadian Prime Minister.

People born in the last of the twelve year cycle,(the year of the rat being the first,the pig the last), are also said to possess great honesty.Looking back over 2006 there seemed to be an honesty deficit in Japan.Three major stories last year concerned fraud or dishonesty.
Firstly, theres the trial in progress of Horie Takafumi, LiveDoor Company founder. Arrested for securities fraud and fraudulent accounting practices the demise of his company led to a spectacular if temporary fall in the Tokyo Stock Exchange.
Secondly,linked with the LiveDoor action is the trial of prominent fund manager, Murakami Yoshiaki,accused of insider trading after allegedly receiving a tipoff from the company.
Thirdly, architect Aneha Hidetsugu was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment for the falsification of building documents linked to their earthquake resistance.

And dont forget both local and national politicians when considering the subject of honesty and legitimate business practices.At least three Prefectural Governors were forced from their posts in the last year due to financial irregularities or bid rigging.

On the national stage there was the recent resignation of Government Tax Commission Chief Masaaki Honma.He was picked by Prime Minister Abe because he was in favor of selling off state assets in line with Abe's views.Abe replaced his predecessor as Abe didnt share his view the consumption tax needs to be raised to cope with rising social security costs.
Unfortunately for Honma,a local weekly magazine reported he was living with a girlfriend in a government funded condominium. The same type of state asset he favoured selling off.While his resignation may have been for political reasons I felt there was also a certain "moral outrage" concerning his personal life.He denied he was living with the woman merely "dating her" and was divorcing his wife.
Finally in the last week of December Genchiro Sata, Administrative Reform Minister resigned due to alleged false funding reports submitted by some of his political support groups. Following on from the Tax Commission Chiefs resignation this one will put more pressure on Abe's government both in terms of pushing ahead with reforms and the upcoming Diet elections in 2007.

One can only hope that 2007 proves to be a more transparent honest year...

No comments: