Japan-India agreements aimed at countering China
NEW DELHI--Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda confirmed wide-ranging cooperative relations with his Indian counterpart, Manmohan Singh, in the fields of security and economy on Dec. 28 in the Indian capital.
Noda apparently intends to strengthen cooperation between Japan and India to counter China's emergence as a military power, while increasing Japan's presence in the huge Indian market.
During a lecture in New Delhi, Noda emphasized that Japan and India have vital interests in marine security in Asia.
India faces sea lanes on the Indian Ocean that lead to the Middle East. Strengthening relations with India is important for Japan's security as China is intensifying its activities in the South China Sea.
In an interview with an Indian newspaper before visiting New Delhi, Noda showed a sense of caution regarding China.
"The strengthening of China's national defense capabilities that lacks transparency is a common concern in this region," Noda said.
India has also grown concerned about China's increased involvement in Sri Lanka, Nepal and Pakistan in recent years. Because of this situation, India has been expanding military exchanges with the United States, Australia and Southeast Asian countries. They all have a common objective to keep China in check.
In 2008, Japan and India agreed to create a comprehensive framework for cooperation in security. In 2012, the two countries will hold their first joint exercises on the sea.
"India has no historical problems with Japan. There are no obstacles for strengthening relations. Such a country is rare for Japan," an aide to Noda said.
However, intensifying bilateral relations to counter China is risky.
In early December, China suddenly postponed the dates of Noda's visit to China, which was scheduled for around Dec. 12 and 13. Later, Beijing proposed changing the dates to Dec. 28 and Dec. 29--the days planned for Noda's visit to India.
"Beijing intentionally sounded out the dates of Noda's visit to India as those of his visit to China. China has begun to pay attention (to the growing relations between Japan and India)," a high-ranking Japanese government official said.
The government led by the Democratic Party of Japan regards "infrastructure exports to emerging economies" as one of the pillars of its new growth strategies. It wants to expand Japanese companies' businesses in India by extending loans to infrastructure projects in the country.
Due to chronic fiscal deficits, the Indian government lacks budgets to construct infrastructure for industrial use.
However, companies from China, South Korea and some European nations are also working hard with their governments to win orders for Indian infrastructure projects. In such a situation, Japanese companies are struggling to obtain orders because their personnel costs are high and they lack the know-how to make products of average quality at low costs. This know-how is indispensable for businesses in emerging economies.
The metro railway construction project planned in Chennai in southern India is subject to the Japanese government's official development assistance. However, French company Alstom SA won the orders in the bidding for train cars.
Japan and India are also cooperating in the construction project of an industrial corridor stretching from New Delhi to Mumbai. However, Japanese consulting companies have lost repeatedly in the biddings held by state governments for urban planning programs.
"If Japan offers only monetary assistance, all the orders for the project will be won by Chinese and South Korean firms," said an official of a major Japanese construction company.
In the Dec. 28 summit between Noda and Singh, Japan and India also decided to expand their currency swap arrangement, in which both governments put up foreign currencies to each other when they face shortages of those currencies.
Due to the Europe's sovereign debt crisis, the growth of India is slowing. In such a situation, the expansion of the currency swap arrangement is expected to play the role of "sea walls" to prevent economic confusion in advance, said an official of the Japanese Finance Ministry.
Lex_Women on boards
More women is better. Well, that's the theory. Studies conducted by the likes of Goldman Sachs, the UN and McKinsey have suggested that greater gender balance in the boardroom improves financial results. That, in turn, has encouraged various countries to consider quotas. Norway went first, requiring listed companies to reserve 40 per cent of board seats for women from 2008. Spain and France have followed, setting targets for 2015 and 2017. Germany and the UK are now considering the idea. Even the European Union might consider mandatory measures if its call for voluntary action does not catch on. So how are women doing when it comes to steering companies through choppy recessionary waters? That's not so clear.
Take the UK. Thirteen companies in the FTSE 100 and 250 indices have female chief executives. Seven of those have outperformed the FTSE All-Share, on a total return basis, over the past year (to December 22). That happens to be the average.
Spreading the exercise into Europe is more difficult. There are no female bosses at France's CAC 40 companies and the best-known torchbearer there was Areva's Anne Lauvergeon. She left in July and her (male) successor quickly announced a very large asset writedown. In Germany, Ines Kolmsee runs steel and iron refiner SKW Metallurgie but that has been a sorry underperformer against the broad CDAX index.
在歐洲進行類似的分析就比較困難了。法國CAC 40指數的成分股公司中，沒有一家由女性掛帥。該國最知名的“火炬手”是阿海琺(Areva)的羅薇中(Anne Lauvergeon)。她已於7月離職，繼任者（男性）則迅速宣布了數額龐大的資產減記措施。在德國，伊奈斯•科爾姆瑟(Ines Kolmsee)掌管著鋼鐵冶煉公司SKW Metallurgie，但令人遺憾，這家公司的表現遜色於大盤指數CDAX。
How about Norway, that bastion of enlightenment, where the female share of board seats is double that in the US, France or Germany? In a Bloomberg ranking of 91 world equity indices, the Oslo All Share index was outside the top two dozen, beating the French and German markets but still outshone by the FTSE All-Share. True, this is a rough exercise compared with McKinsey's work, but still food for thought. Sorry, sisterhood.
在開明的堡壘、女性董事比例為美法德等國兩倍的挪威，情況如何呢？在彭博社(Bloomberg)對世界各地91個股指的排行中，奧斯陸全股指數(Oslo All Share)排在24名之後，比法國和德國的股指靠前，但落後於英國的富時全股指數。和麥肯錫的研究相比，本文只是一個粗疏的分析，但仍可以作為思考的“食糧”。得罪了，女同胞們。