World Opinion

November 10, 2012 • Editorial

Japanese electronics makers

It is extremely rare for the top executive of a large, well-known company to publicly admit his organization is a loser.

Panasonic Corp. has said it will likely report a gargantuan loss of more than $9.3 billion for the second year in a row.

In a recent news conference, Panasonic President Kazuhiro Tsuga said his company is not operating in “normal” conditions.

“We need to start by recognizing this,” he said.

Sharp Corp., another troubled Japanese electronics maker, has sharply raised its projected annual loss for the year through March 2013 to 450 billion yen. Sony Corp. is also struggling to bring its core consumer electronics business back into the black.

The [auth] bottom lines of all these once-powerful electronics manufacturers have been battered by sluggish sales of their flat-panel TVs, once their core source of business and profits.

They had also expected to carve out profitable futures by manufacturing lithium-ion batteries and solar panels, but these operations are facing rough going, too.

Clearly, Japanese makers need to reassess their technologies and markets from a global perspective. They also need to be more willing to buy technologies from anywhere in the world and step up efforts to sell their own technologies.

The very fact that the earnings results of companies like Panasonic and Sony still attract much media and public attention is, in a sense, clear evidence of the difficulty of nurturing new businesses in this country.

Guest Editorial

The Asahi Shimbun, Tokyo

U.S. presidential election

Barack Obama has crowned his re-election with a victory speech that embodied all his old, inspirational rhetoric. “We are an American family and we rise and fall together,” he declared. Yet the invocation of a nation united despite its differences is at odds with the bitterness of the campaign and the closeness of the outcome.

This vote was an affirmation of U.S. democracy.

Obama in his victory speech reminded us that this election was all about the power of citizens to bring about change. It’s easy to forget that politics is about big things. The campaign was often negative but the parties did address, head on, very important issues about the role of the state and the way government should respond to economic challenges. Defeat for the Republicans on such fundamental issues does not bode well for the party: there is likely to be fierce debate now about where it goes next.

But a great thing about any U.S. election is that it reawakens our own democratic instincts. The razzmatazz that Americans bring to the campaigns may be different from our approach but it is still infectious. A presidential election is a great democratic event — for them and for us.

Guest Editorial

London Evening Standard

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