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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Follow the lights

Recently, one of the roads near my apartment buildings has seen a long string of red lanterns strung up along one side of it. Out of curiosity this evening on my way home from work, I followed the lights to see where they led. After passing through a brightly lit arch...

...I followed the lanterns (now lining both sides of the street) to this brightly-illuminated temple located near the No. 1 Freeway 中山高速公路:

It seems every twenty years, certain Taoist temples 宮觀 will hold festivals to celebrate...something.

Not seeing the (warning) light, apparently, is the Japanese government, according to this translated article from the Yomiuri Shimbun 読売新聞 ("Taiwan to make factory complex for small, midsize Japan firms", Daily Yomiuri ザ・デイリー読売 http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/business/T110906004170.htm):

"Taiwan has decided to develop its first industrial complex exclusively for small and midsize Japanese companies in a bid to learn from their technical strengths, according to sources.

Interpreters will be stationed at the complex, and local authorities will allow Japanese businesses to complete administrative procedures at one place and develop a comfortable living environment for Japanese workers, the sources said.

Taiwan also will help Japanese companies hook up with local companies and advise them on new business opportunities.

Many Asian countries and regions are looking for ways to team up with Japanese companies to improve the competitiveness of their own firms.

These opportunities will make it easier for many Japanese small and midsize firms, which are currently being buffeted by the super-strong yen and electricity shortages, to venture into overseas markets. However, it also could accelerate the hollowing-out of domestic industries, according to observers.

Christina Liu, who heads Taiwan's Council for Economic Planning and Development 經濟建設委員會, announced the decision about the industrial complex during a recent visit to Japan.

The complex's location has been decided, and the area will open as soon as roads and other infrastructure are completed.

At the end of August, Taiwan sent about 230 delegates from the public and private sectors to Tōkyō 東京 and Ōsaka 大阪 in a massive push to encourage Japanese companies to set up shop in the complex.

Taiwan's effective corporate tax rate is only 17 percent, far less than Japan's about 40 percent. Wages in Taiwan are said to be about 30 percent of those in Japan, which also would help companies cut production costs.

In addition, Taiwan has signed an economic cooperation framework agreement--effectively a free trade agreement--with China. Expanding into Taiwan could be a stepping stone for Japanese companies hoping to enter China's gigantic market."

As I write this, the yen is trading at roughly ¥77.35 to the dollar. Under the postwar Bretton Woods system, the yen was pegged at ¥360 to $1. The first time I went to Japan, in the winter of 1989, the rate was 124. If Japan's policymakers can't find a way to mitigate the effects of the strong yen 円高, the loss of manufacturing jobs could very well be Taiwan's gain.

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