Source: Adam Smith Institute
Written by Anton Howes
Friday, 12 August 2011

As is inevitable, partisan politics has tried to impose simplistic narratives on the phenomenon of nation-wide looting and arson, to the detriment of finding a solution to the real, root causes of the malaise eating at British society. Those on the statist 'left' appear to blame a variety of socio-economic factors, such as unemployment, inequality, and relative poverty. Those on the statist 'right' instead view the problem as nothing but the breakdown of public order, with opportunists clambering into the holes left by the perceived lack of authority and discipline on the streets, in the schools, and in the home. Both views of course hold a grain of truth, but there are other underlying factors that have largely been conveniently ignored.

Unemployment could well be a significant factor. The areas initially hit seem to bear a strong correlation to areas of high youth unemployment. However, this explanation, along with cries of inequality and poverty, is both insulting to the hard-working and law-abiding poor, and offers little answer as to why the kids are having fun rather than expressing anger and frustration at the system. Gleeful malice rather than anger at the system is not the sign of the young person with limited opportunities. It also fails to explain why the looters are attacking their own localities, sometimes without aiming to steal anything, merely to destroy: to loosely paraphrase Brendan O'Neill, they are more than happy to "s— on their neighbours' doorsteps".

The 'break-down of authority' narrative seeks to answer these questions. It sees marriage-less families, communities without cohesion, and a general lack of discipline or punishment within the system. This may well be true, but it seems to focus on these symptoms to the neglect of their underlying causes. After all, why do some immigrant and religious groups maintain their cohesion in the face of public disorder, like the Sikhs and Turks did, and others do not? It also fails to account for the constant complaint of the young looters that they do not receive 'respect', and are too oppressed by authority.

So what is the true explanation? The underlying causes all seem to point to a dangerous mixture of a centralised and impersonal welfare state, along with a surveillance state that seeks to control in small yet demeaning ways. The latter would account for the perceived discrimination and oppression, a major complaint having been the police's use of stop-and-search powers. The former would account for high unemployment by promoting welfare dependency; but most crucially the sense of entitlement and 'rights' that accompanies it. It would account for the breakdown of marriage through distorted incentives, the atomised communities and the resultant lack of social feedback loops that the statist 'right' like to call 'discipline'.

By receiving their benefit from some faceless entity, there is no obligation to justify it to those who pay for it, no punishment when they waste it, and no obligation to stay an integral part of the family or community that cares. Self-reliance and the interdependent relationship with local, family and social communities has been gradually yet drastically replaced with individualised reliance on a single, faceless entity. The misplaced sense of entitlement then seems the natural result of a youth spent only as an unconditional receiver. It is like getting water from a tap in a lone room rather than from a shared lake: the tap-user is then more than happy to defile that lake for whatever reason, having been brought up free of the immediate and damning social consequences. It then falls to the law to punish instead. Once that law is challenged, there is then no social element left to prevent wanton vandalism and theft - this appears to be what has just happened, with the hollowness of social constraints laid bare for all to see.

Identifying the role of the impersonal welfare-surveillance state offers the most comprehensive explanation of the looting. It takes into account the socio-economic concerns of unemployment and welfare dependency, but points out that the cultural element caused by the erosion of basic respect for others, for communities and society must be taken into account too, along with the pervasiveness of the state's presence in everyday life. If we want to solve this problem in the long term, we need to concentrate on the cause, not on the symptoms. Perhaps welfare needs to be more local and personal, rooted in the communities that pay for it; perhaps welfare needs to stop trapping people in dependency. Perhaps we should move to take the state out of welfare altogether and allow the personal, caring and communal element to thrive. Whatever the policy, solutions must be found to the right problems, not those that are simply politically convenient.







Legal Londate





At 5pm Tokyo time (Tuesday 15th March 2011) an telephone briefing was given by Sir John Beddington the UK’s Chief Scientific adviser and Hilary Walker Deputy Director Emergency Preparedness at the Department of Health.

“Unequivocally, Tokyo will not be affected by the radiation fallout of explosions that have or may occur at the Fukushima nuclear power stations.”

The danger area is within the 30 kilometer evacuation zone and no one is recommended or will be allowed to enter this area other than those people directly involved with the emergency procedures currently being undertaken at both Fukushima 1 & 2.

Sir John went on to answer a series of questions including a comparison between Chernobyl and Japan. He said “they are entirely different, Chernobyl exploded and there was a subsequent fire with radioactive materials being launched 30,000 ft into the air.” The maximum height of any Fukushima explosions would be no more than 500 metres.

“The radiation that has been released is miniscule and would have to be orders of 1,000 or more for it to be a threat to humans” This was confirmed by Hilary Walker.

He went on to say that the Japanese authorities are doing their best to keep the reactors cooled and that this is a continuing operation. All workers on site dealing with the emergency are being fully decontaminated at the end of each shift.

When asked on how reliable was the information coming from the Japanese authorities as to radiation levels he said “this cannot be fabricated and the Japanese authorities are positing all the readings on the recognized international inforamton sites which they are obliged to do. Independent verification shows that the data provided is accurate”.

In answer to a specific question from the Head of the British School in Tokyo, Sir John Beddington and Hilary Walker said that there was no reason at all for the school to be closed unless there were other issues such as power outages and transport problems.

David Fitton, First Minister at the British Embassy in Tokyo moderated the teleconference and confirmed that a transcript of the briefing will be available on the Embassy website later today.

BCCJ members are encouraged to regularly check the Embassy website as well as the Chamber website and Facebook sites for the latest information.



In Japan, birthrates are declining but thanks to the improvements in healthcare and lifestyle, people are living longer and longer. This creates something of a paradox in that people will be elderly for more years and are therefore likely to need more care for debilitating health problems later in life. Concurrently, the percentage of the population with taxable incomes will shrink, leaving increasingly fewer workers to pick up the tab for care and support of the elderly. By 2025, the percentage of the Japanese population over 65 is expected to reach 26.7, the highest in the world. Under such circumstances, the Japanese government has been piling up its debts to the twice the size of its GDP. It just sounds scary. Unfortunately, in the hands of bureaucrats and politicians the situation is at somewhat of a standstill. Since it has been generally perceived that the idea of tampering with the social security system is viewed as a political hotbed, with any suggestion of a reduction in benefits likely to result in public furor. As a result, politicians are reluctant to address the issue seriously and instead, they tend to offer only stopgap measures that placate voters but provide no real solutions.

Since 1990s, Japan has been experiencing the following cycle: 1) consumers spend less and borrow less, 2) businesses sell less, so they borrow less, employ fewer people and pay less in wages, 3) falling spending, falling wages, rising unemployment and declining debt levels lead to deflation in prices and reinforce the lower spending cycle. Japan has proved that this cycle cannot be fully broken by spending stimulus policy. The root cause of this cycle lies in “demographics” and “factor price equalization with developing countries”. So basically the government cannot stop the natural decline in spending and the restructuring of unsustainable debts. The Japanese government should manage the downsizing process less painfully and needs to change the social systems accordingly. It needs to overhaul present social systems, tax system, legal systems, judicial precedents, Japan’s unique labour system and others which premise growing population, growing economy and accelerating inflation.

Although we are experiencing unprecedented economic changes and a lot of educated people know that the said drastic reform is inevitable, it is difficult to challenge the vested interests who/which premise the old social system. In Japan, it is said that two of the biggest groups which are enjoying the vested interests are 1) elderly and 2) labour union. A government run Ponzi scheme which is usually called a “public pension system”, is obviously not sustainable since it premises growing population. But the elderly is the beneficiary of the Ponzi scheme and they are the ones who take active voting behaviours. If related reform bills won’t be passed, the so-called “it’s me” fraud might function as a measure to transfer wealth from elderly to younger generations who will be burdened with huge debts created by the elderly, however, no one can support this measure, it disturbs the social order and destroy community. It just causes chaos…..

Labour union is another biggest status quo. They usually object almost everything which takes away their vested interests in any circumstances. It might work well under an inflationary economic environment with fewer legal and legislative supports. But Japan is in the middle of deflation caused by “demographics” and “factor price equalization with developing countries”. And since the number of lawyers in Japan increased drastically, the needs of labour union decreased accordingly. Is a labour union necessary evil? There are not only proper labour unions, but also low quality cheap general unions which act like extortionists and racketeers and abuse the systems. So, at least in Japan, it might be high time to think about this evil which is the major obstacle of social reform. There is an interesting article in The Economist, titled “The Battle Ahead”. Anyway, it is important to protect employees and lead them to transfer from a certain position at a zombie company to new opportunities. It is like bridge the gap between two positions. It is important to protect employees but not jobs.

In any case, the Japanese government needs to face the status quos sooner or later. In the latter case, in Japanese expression, it is “yudegaelu” ゆでガエル現象 (gently and slowly boiling frog alive), which means, “die a slow death”. And the current labour union backed Japanese government seems to have taken the latter case. Let’s read the part of the “Noah’s ark” and see what will happen to Japan from Singapore. We may come back after the flood when a bird brings back a leaf.

Legal Londate



We are currently looking for experienced candidates who can deal with billing procedures of a foreign law firm. This is a substitute role for someone who took a maternity leave.

Please email me if you are interested. Thank you very much.







Legal Secretary S-070





Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe と Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld の合併協議はたったの6日間で終了してしまった。Orrickは過去10年間に渡りいろいろな事務所と合併協議を行ってきましたので、次はどことの話が出るにかが楽しみです。

不況の影響から準大手や中小の事務所の合併が最近は多いようですが、別の動きもイギリスでは見られます。Mayer Brownがイギリスのコーポレートの秘書部門をアウトソース会社である、TMFグループに売却したそうです。サポートスタッフをBPO会社にアウトソースする傾向はClifford Chanceでもあり、ある程度広がっているようです。定型的な作業はインドのBPO会社へアウトソースする法律事務所も多くなっているようです。他方で、インドの法曹業界は規制で守られていますが、Law Societyが、かつて米国が日本に迫ったように、インドの法曹業界の規制緩和を求めていましたが、インドの反発はかなり強いようで、なかなか規制緩和は進んでいない状況です。

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Orrick がダラスからスタートした法律事務所であるAkin Groupと合併の話し合いを始めたところだそうです。Akin Groupは約860人の弁護士がおり世界に14のオフィスを展開しています。Orrickは過去にも多数の合併話をしていましたが、なかなか合併相手が決まらないようです。今回のAkin Group の方がパートナー1人当たりの利益も弁護士1人当たりの利益も上だそうです。今後の動向が注目されます。
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- China construction experience preferred
- Renewables experience an advantage
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The successful applicant will be advising international project sponsors and financiers, as well as Chinese / Japanese construction and engineering groups on construction and commercial contracts across a wide range of industries (incl. energy, mining / resources, petrochemicals etc.). If you are interested in the position, please send your resume to the following address.
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