Japan factory output at 3-year low; A New Zealand town has too many jobs; Referendum hara-kiri

1 Japan factory growth at 3-year low (Straits Times) Japan’s industrial output slid in May at the fastest rate in three months to its lowest level since June 2013, highlighting concerns about falling exports and weak consumer spending.

May’s 2.3 per cent fall in industrial output considerably exceeded the median estimate for a 0.1 per cent decline forecast in a Reuters poll.”The decline in industrial output is directly related to the decline in exports,” said Hidenobu Tokuda, senior economist at Mizuho Research Institute. “Another factor is the slow recovery in domestic consumer spending. The government should consider some measures to improve domestic demand.”

Japan’s government plans to announce more fiscal stimulus spending this autumn to revive Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s economic agenda. Strengthening domestic demand has become even more urgent as gains in the yen further threaten exports.

Separate data due on Friday is forecast to show core consumer prices fell at the fastest pace since the BOJ began its quantitative easing programme in April 2013, further vindicating the argument that efforts by the government and the BOJ to kindle inflation have failed.


2 A New Zealand town with too many jobs (Eleanor Ainge Roy in The Guardian) A tiny New Zealand town has a unique problem – too many jobs, too many affordable houses and not enough people to fill them. So the 800 residents of picturesque Kaitangata, in the South Island, have launched a recruitment drive to lure new residents to the town.

The scheme involves offering house and land packages in the rural community for an attractive NZ$230,000 (£122,000) in the hope that Kiwis struggling with life in big cities will be tempted to relocate. Bryan Cadogan, mayor of the Clutha district, which includes Kaitangata, estimates there are upwards of 1,000 jobs vacant in his district and local residents are unable to meet demand.

He said: “When I was unemployed and had a family to feed, the Clutha gave me a chance, and now we want to offer that opportunity to other Kiwi families who might be struggling. “We have got youth unemployment down to two. Not 2% – just two unemployed young people.”

The major employers in the Clutha distract are linked to primary industries – including a dairy processing plant and freezing works – and for many years they have been forced to bus in workers from the provincial hub of Dunedin, which is over an hour away.

Dairy farmer Evan Dick is a third-generation resident of Kaitangata and he is spearheading the town’s recruitment drive. He is offering house and land packages and has the bank, lawyers and local community services on stand-by to streamline the relocation process for any blue-collar workers interested in shifting to the town.

“This is an old-fashioned community, we don’t lock our houses, we let kids run free. We have jobs, we have houses, but we don’t have people. We want to make this town vibrant again, we are waiting with open arms.”


3 A referendum hara-kiri (FS Aijazuddin in Dawn) In Japan, ritual suicide is known as hara-kiri. In Great Britain, the equivalent is a referendum. On Wednesday, June 22, the United Kingdom stood confidently astride the Channel, with one foot in the British Isles and the other in the European Union. At 9am the morning after, the referendum called by Prime Minister David Cameron opened.

It asked 46.5 million of his British electorate whether Britain should remain in the EU or opt out. It was suspected that the real reason for his decision was to pre-empt a coup within his own Conservative party. By early Friday morning, just over 17.4 million Britons had decided the future of 65 million of their fellow citizens. They voted to leave the European Union.

Suddenly, dramatically, everything changed. The Britain where a week ago one would be driven around by a Bulgarian in Penzance or for an interview with the BBC by a Lithuanian or served by a Polish waiter in Leeds is now ethnocentric. Xenophobia from being a British pastime has hardened into national policy.

What was the need for a referendum? That is a question millions of Britons are asking themselves. It is a question only they can answer, for they have no government left to interrogate. They have only themselves to blame, and the blame game in the UK has begun in earnest.

The Brexit juggernaut has begun its doleful journey, pulled by spurned members of the EU. Germany would like Britain out sooner than later; France wants to see a British prime minister — any prime minister — take the first, inexorable step to give formal notice of withdrawal.

Tradition requires Mr Cameron to tender his resignation to the Queen in private audience. It is not the 90th birthday present she expected from her 12th prime minister. With her sharp sense of history, she must feel like King Canute, seated on a throne of sand, watching the tides of secession erode her once united kingdom.


About joesnewspicks

This blog captures interesting news items from around the world for those strained by information overload and yet need to stay updated on global events of significance. The news items displayed are not in order of merit. (The blog takes a weekly off — normally on Sundays — and does not appear when I am on vacation or busy.) I am a journalist for nearly three decades.
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