Monday, 14 January 2019


I don’t often quote from the Bible but I noticed this from Isaiah and it seemed to sum up the mood in Westminster last week.

For darkness shall cover the earth and thick darkness the peoples

Not just darkness but irremediably stupid, impenetrable darkness - “thick darkness.”

So many angry faces, so many rageful eyes, so many brains switched to zero reception. Meanwhile we, the passive electorate for whom, notionally, these jokers work, we eat, sleep, yawn and lose interest in the debate which has stopped being about Brexit and has turned to kindergarten tribal warfare. Watch our MPs and the Tutsi, Hutu conflicts which were so difficult to comprehend begin to become clearer.

And then on Friday a soft, resonant voice spoke on the Today programme. It was a grown up at last.  Koji Tsuruoka is the Japanese Ambassador to the UK. As usual John Humphrys tried to elicit the Armageddon response from his opposite number

So if there’s no deal  that’ll be the end of our relationship with Japan?
No I don’t think so.

And the Ambassador patiently explained the relationship between the two countries had always been fruitful and Japan was still betting on the UK economy. He said that a no deal would need to be avoided because if the current deal on the table failed it would hurt the global economy as well as the Japanese and of course the British economy.

He explained the concept of Just-in-Time production (the idea of a minute by minute arrival of key components flabbergasted John)
Minute by minute!!!
No not minute by minute”…
No. More like second by second

He then proceeded to explain calmly that Japanese Industry was prepared for all contingencies and would adapt in an orderly way when the situation was clearer.

I loved the way he called Theresa, “Prime Minister May” reducing her to the same status as say Signalman Arkright. Someone doing a menial job. The dignity of Downing Street was then punctured by his calling it “Downing 10” a bit like “Cell Block H”. He was wonderful - so imperiously in command.

I recall when working with Panasonic years ago that they had a 250 year plan and that there was a patience about their marketing that we sometimes just didn’t get. We couldn’t understand their tentative launch into the battery market in the UK. We – all advertising short termists – wanted to create the “kill Duracell” advertising campaign. They waited. Today 20 years later they are in partnership with Tesla to produce next generation automotive batteries.

The Japanese economy has flatlined but it’s still the 3rd largest in the world  and the country is still one of the cleanest, most dignified, punctual and charming in the world.

I agree with film maker Roman Coppola.

Japan is the most intoxicating place for me. The culture fascinates me: the food, the dress, the manners and the traditions. It’s the travel experience that has moved me the most.

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