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Japanese girl group links economy to their hemlines

Japanese girl group links economy to their hemlines

Forget love songs, Machikado Keiki Japan is making a name for itself by crooning about financial and stock market issues.

By Bruce Kennedy Apr 30, 2013 7:27AM
Japan's new girl group Machikado Keiki☆JAPAN (© Machikado Keiki☆JAPAN via Facebook)

Madonna may have sung about being a material girl, but that was decades ago. And can you imagine a Justin Bieber ballad about currency fluctuations? Or Lady Gaga warbling about the debt ceiling?

This just goes to show how different things can be in Japan. In a country overrun with pop singers and teen idols, one girl group is standing out from the crowd by ignoring love songs and focusing on national economics. It’s also tying the length of their skirts to the rise and fall of the Nikkei Index ($JP:N225 -6.35%).

The group is called Machikado Keiki Japan — which Tokyo-based website RocketNews 24 says translates into English as “Street Corner Conditions Japan.”

Machikado is apparently a big supporter of what’s being called “Abenomics” — the term some observers use to describe the dramatic government stimulus and money printing recently implemented by Japan’s new Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

After decades of economic doldrums, not to mention the financial blow Japan took from the 2011 triple disaster of an earthquake, tsunami and nuclear reactor meltdown, Abenomics is apparently having some benefits. According to CNNMoney, the International Monetary Fund has given its blessing to Abe’s economic plan.

Meanwhile, the yen has depreciated, the Japanese market for luxury goods is reviving, consumer confidence is up and the Nikkei stock index is rising, which means the girls in Machikado are showing more leg as they sing and dance to such catchy lyrics as, according to Reuters:

Monetary easing, construction bonds!

Let’s revise the Bank of Japan Law!

Let’s aim for 3% economic growth!

Abe bubble – let’s go!

Yes, sex sells. But RocketNews 24 says the connection between skirt length in Japan and the national economy also has some historic precedents. Miniskirts were big in Japan — and elsewhere — during the go-go 1960s. “But then, with the oil crisis of 1973,” the website notes, “miniskirts saw a definite decline from fashion trends, only to surge back into the mainstream in the 1980s, with the disco boom and an unprecedented economic bubble.”

Reuters noted that Machikado has a very bullish near-term target of 15,000 for the Nikkei. That could get more Japanese singing a happy tune.

Now fraught with job insecurity and low pay, there was a time when the work was steady and salaries were high for those who taught English in Japan.

One only has to contrast the birth of the eikaiwa (English conversation) business in the late ’80s, marked by the rise of private chain schools and the start of the JET Program in 1987, to the current state of the industry to see how it has contracted in size and scope.

While the English teaching industry in Japan has shown resilience by surviving recessions, financial crises and occasional bankruptcies, there is no denying it has seen better days.

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3月のお菓子ひな祭りの生菓子『春の舞』(左)と薯蕷饅頭『花つづみ』(右)です。花の舞い散る中、鼓や笛の楽人が奏でる能のお囃子にあわせ、舞を舞う貴人を表現しました。お水送りも終わり、春はすぐそこまで来ています。お茶席でこのお菓子をいただくとき、本格的な春の訪れへの期待感とともに、古式豊かな美しい能の舞が頭の中で思い起こされることでしょう。(店頭価格: どちらも 231円)

3月のお菓子

ひな祭りの生菓子『春の舞』(左)と薯蕷饅頭『花つづみ』(右)です。花の舞い散る中、鼓や笛の楽人が奏でる能のお囃子にあわせ、舞を舞う貴人を表現しました。お水送りも終わり、春はすぐそこまで来ています。お茶席でこのお菓子をいただくとき、本格的な春の訪れへの期待感とともに、古式豊かな美しい能の舞が頭の中で思い起こされることでしょう。

(店頭価格: どちらも 231円)

Harajuku glimpse

the swordmaker

AKB48 Member shaves head for the crime of “dating”

LDP returns

(CNN) — Japan’s prime minister conceded defeat in parliamentary elections Sunday, signaling the return to power of the Liberal Democratic Party and ending the brief rule of the disappointing upstart Democratic Party of Japan.

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda pledged to step down as party president after exit polls showed a smashing loss in lower house voting. The party, once seen as a breath of fresh air in Japanese politics, came to be regarded as increasingly ineffective.

"We got a regrettable result," Noda said. "The result is everything in the politics. The biggest responsibility lies on me. I will quit as the partly leader of DPJ."

The move clears the way for the return to power of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the current leader of the conservative-leaning Liberal Democratic Party, or LDP.

"The Japanese people will be keenly looking whether the LDP can meet with their expectations," Abe said in interviews after the polling.

The LDP ruled the country almost continuously since its establishment in 1955 until it was forced from power three years ago by the DPJ.

Public broadcaster NHK said the LDP and its coalition partner, the new Komei party, gained at least 302 seats in the 480-seat lower house. CNN’s main affiliate, TV Asahi, reports the LDP/Komei coalition gained at least 312 seats.

The official count is expected to be released Monday.

The LDP is inheriting a struggling economy, regional tensions and questions over Japan’s role in Asia.

"The economy is at the bottom. It’s our first mission to turn it around," Abe said.

Abe said plans to take a strong stand Japan’s territorial disputes with China and its other neighbors but also seek to improve relations with Beijing.

The LDP didn’t necessarily regain all Japanese voter confidence, Abe said, adding that voters rejected the “political confusion” spawned by the DPJ. But the results of the poll show voters decided to again embrace the LDP and its many years of governing.

"Because the Liberal Democrats have been in power traditionally for quite a long time they’re seen as more a competent governing party," said John Lee, an adjunct associate professor at the Center for International Security Studies at Sydney University.

Softbank Seeks to Sidestep U.S. Investment Minefield With Sprint

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-10-12/softbank-seeks-to-sidestep-u-s-investment-minefield-with-sprint.html

Sprint said yesterday that it’s in talks to take a “substantial” investment from the Japanese carrier. Softbank, Japan’s third-largest mobile-phone company, also plans to buy MetroPCS Communications Inc. (PCS) through Sprint, the Nikkei newspaper reported. Softbank stock plummeted today amid concern that turning around unprofitable Sprint will prove costly.

Foreign companies, including Deutsche Telekom AG (DTE)NTT DoCoMo Inc. (9437) andFrance Telecom SA (FTE), have struggled to profit from investments in the world’s largest economy — whether because they overpaid or lacked sufficient oversight of assets. Deutsche Telekom’s T-Mobile USA is worth one-fourth less than it was a decade ago, and NTT DoCoMo wrote down most of the value of its stake in the predecessor to AT&T Inc. (T)’s wireless business.

“The track record hasn’t been great,” said Christopher Watts, an analyst at Atlantic Equities LLP in London. “The history is littered with examples of telcos that tried to enter the U.S.”

Softbank tumbled as much as 17 percent in early trading today in Tokyo, the biggest decline since March 2000, on speculation that the costs of the deal will outweigh benefits.

“Investors tend to worry more about the financial burdens initially when it comes to any major purchases, rather than hopes for growth,” said Takashi Oba, a senior strategist at Okasan Securities Co.

Japanese Alternative band, LÄ-PPISCH. Present as”Gift”.