Hello from Tokyo. Last weekend, I had the privilege of attending a meeting of the mysterious secret society known as the Trilateral Commission as an observer, along with two of my colleagues.
It was an exciting experience for me, because according to some conspiracy theorists, the group's members are associated with Freemasonry, the Illuminati, Knights Templar and even extraterrestrials.
In our Big Story this week, we make a deep dive into this enigmatic group of global elites. It was the first time in its five decades that a reporter has been allowed to sit in on all of the two-day sessions.
I met multiple future prime minister candidates there, as well as some members of the so-called "Currency Mafias" whom I covered at many Group of Seven meetings in the past, and even a relative of the Japanese Imperial family.
Many of the participants seemed sick and tired of the decoupling with China imposed by the U.S. under the name of "Democracy vs. Autocracy" dualism. Some of them worried about the arbitrary and unpredictable nature of trade sanctions and their implementation by the U.S.
It's not simply anti-Americanism. In fact, most of the participants had attended higher education in the U.S., and they really have strong attachment to such American values as liberty and justice.
Still, their anxiety over the confrontation between the two strongest hegemonic nations is serious, and they firmly believe that their arguments and views should be heard by their American and European counterparts. Multiple members stressed that Chinese participation was indispensable if the commission is to deal effectively with global issues.
The Indian presence and that country's anti-Chinese stance were quite impressive at the meeting, as is reported in our story this week. The next plenary meeting is to be held in mid-March next year in Delhi, India. I hope they will again invite Nikkei Asia to the meeting and give us a chance to report their discussions on global issues to the world.
The FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 has begun, and Asia has been surprising the world. Following Saudi Arabia's victory over Lionel Messi's Argentina, Japan beat four-time World Cup champion Germany. Business Spotlight this week focuses on sponsors of this massive sports event. Asia-based companies make up nine of FIFA's 14 partners and World Cup sponsors, according to the story. In the context of the soccer business, Asia is already prominent.
Asia Insight this week has an update of Japan's political scandal related to the Unification Church. As the story relates, more than 200,000 people have signed a petition on the website change.org asking for the church to be dissolved. Backed by the support of such public opinion, it seems that the Kishida administration is starting to examine the possibility of dissolving the Church.
Market Spotlight has a unique Asian angle on special purpose acquisition companies. SPACs have been listed predominantly in the U.S. and South Korea, and Singapore and Hong Kong startups are sidestepping local markets. As an analyst points out, "Valuations in the U.S. are generally higher than in Asian markets." This may explain the phenomenon.
Lastly, I would recommend our review of Makoto Shinkai's new film "Suzume no Tojimari" ("Suzume Locking Up the Door").
"Looking back, I feel like I have continued to make films over the past decade with the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in mind," Shinkai said.
His films seem to be universally popular, but his comment suggests that Japanese viewers with deep scars from their experience of the quake might see the film a little differently.