TT-540 -- Medicines online after all, ebiz news from Japan

* * * * * * * * * T E R R I E 'S T A K E * * * * * * *
A weekly roundup of news & information from Terrie Lloyd.
(http://www.terrie.com)

General Edition Sunday, November 1, 2009 Issue No. 540

+++ INDEX

- What's new
- News
- Candidate roundup/Vacancies
- Upcoming events
- Corrections/Feedback
- News credits

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+++ WHAT'S NEW

On June 1st this year, the government passed a mystifying
piece of legislation banning the mail order and Internet
sale of Over-the-counter (OTC) drugs. Mystifying because
while the move was ostensibly to protect the public from
the side effects of improper drug usage, yet to our knowledge
there had not been a single consumer complaint about ill
effects from taking an OTC drug due to it being bought in this
manner.

We are sure that sooner or later there would have been
someone who'd take their drugs wrongly and blamed the
Internet or mail order company involved. However, until
June 1st 2009, tens of thousands of people around Japan
were happily buying and taking OTC drugs from Rakuten and
others. They could buy online and within 1-2 days the order
would show up conveniently at their home, anywhere in the
country. But now they have to make a trip in to town -- not
so easy for the disabled, new mothers, and the elderly, just
so they can be told by a semi-trained retailer how to take
a drug they've likely bought many times before (else they'd
have gone to see a doctor first) -- which doesn't sound like a
step forward to us.

Instead of public safety, it is easier to believe that the
Health Ministry changed the rules in order to protect
established OTC retailers, who no doubt were starting to feel
threatened by the rapid build-up of business by Rakuten,
Kenko.com, and others. Indeed, before the law changed,
Rakuten's Mikitani reckoned that the non-retail store drug
market already was worth about 79.7 billion yen ($866 million dollars) 2007,
of which 36.3 billion yen ($394 million dollars) was being sold over Internet.
That sales channel all but disappeared on June 1st.

Such is the power of Japan's bureaucracy.

[Continued below...]

-------------- Start a Company in Japan -------------------

Entrepreneur's Handbook Seminar 14th of Nov, 2009

We had such a great response to our October seminar, we
decided to run a second one in November. So, if you have
been considering setting up your own company, let us give
you some tips on what it takes to make it successful.

Terrie Lloyd, founder of over 17 start-up companies in
Japan, will be giving an English-language seminar and Q&A
on starting, operating and selling a company in Japan.

This is an ideal opportunity to find out what is involved,
and to ask specific questions that are not normally
answered in business books. All materials are in English
and are Japan-focused. Seminar price includes lunch.

For more details:
http://www.japaninc.com/entrepreneur_handbook_seminar
-----------------------------------------------------------

[...Article continues]

The winners in this tug-of-war were not just the drug store
chains, but also supermarkets and convenience stores that
agreed to hire and/or train suitable staff to advise
customers on the usage of OTC drugs. With such para-medical
staff on hand, these types of stores can sell about 90% of
OTC drugs registered in Japan. Of course, getting these
staff trained is time-consuming (i.e., costly), so another winner
is APO Plus Station company and other temp agencies
specializing in medical information staff.

One wonders why the government couldn't have allowed the
Internet companies to simply set up call centers for
consumers wanting advice on drugs. Whether or not you talk
to a customer buying drugs in person or talk to them over
the phone, that fact remains that you still don't have
control over their actual usage of the drugs once they
leave the store -- so having modestly trained people on
the premises looks like a smoke screen for a piece of
protective legislation.

Perhaps as just deserts, while the mom and pop dispensaries
and drug store chains thought the new legislation would
protect them from the low overheads and cost-cutting of the
internet retailers, in actual fact, a price war has been
unleashed among retailers over the supply of OTC drugs.
Less than a month after the rules changed, Daiei said it
would cut prices on 280 OTC remedies by as much as 55 percent.
Others such as Ito-Yokado and Aeon responded by cutting
their prices by 20 percent or more as well.

But possibly the best form of revenge of all comes from
Kenko.com, which announced last week (October 27th), that,
well if it couldn't sell OTC drugs online in Japan, then it
would offer them to self-importers online from Singapore.
Kenko.com has assembled an impressive line-up of 2,500
products, including many Japanese OTC drugs, and is making
them available with rapid and sometimes free shipping from
Singapore, for payments in Japanese yen.

Kenko.com is taking advantage of the informal "personal
import" allowance that the Japanese Health Ministry has
made available to residents who want to use foreign drugs
and can't get them in Japan. No seems to know why Japan
has this personal import allowance, but we assume that its
a safety valve for people who might otherwise have to
break the law to get needed remedies. Japan's very strict
OTC product testing regulations appear to be designed to
protect local manufacturers, and the Health Ministry has
probably rightly assumed that a safety valve is much more
desirable than some high profile court cases over personal
rights and freedoms.

We think it's a great system -- self-import is so easy to do.

Currently the Health Ministry allows anyone using the post
office and/or a proper courier company to self-import from
foreign mail order and web retail companies: 1) drugs and
quasi-drugs, up to 2 months' supply; 2) poisonous/powerful
or prescription drugs, up to 1 month's supply; and 3)
external-use drugs, up to 24 pieces. The definition of a
"piece" is very open to interpretation, but basically seems
to mean 24 separate jars or bottles of the drug. Cosmetics
are also allowed in 24-unit lots.

Kenko.com is not the first company to sell drugs to
Japanese from abroad using the personal import allowance,
but it is the first to do so on a mass level and for the
specific purpose of subverting the nation's health rules.
The company reckons that it is keeping the Health Ministry
up to date on its activities, and that it has legal advice
that it is allowed to market the drugs domestically so long
as it doesn't actually sell them here.

While that may well be, we think that if Kenko.com's
response proves popular, it will be seen as a threat to the
new legislation and could well provoke a negative reaction
from the Health Ministry, causing them to change the rules
on self-importation and thus damaging this very convenient
supply route for everyone else. We sincerely hope that
Kenko.com moderates its marketing activities and in
particular takes care not to stimulate an extreme reaction
from the bureaucrats.

On the other hand, we have to admit that if Kenko.com is
successful, and if the Health Ministry decides not to
react, then this will pave the way for other local online
players and for foreign firms who otherwise could not sell
their products in Japan, to start a similar sales model
themselves. Indeed, this could be the start of a massive
change in the availability of drugs and cosmetics that
otherwise can't be sold in Japan. All it will take is an
on-the-ground marketing organization, quick and convenient
shipping, and a means of dealing with customer complaints
in Japanese.

Interesting times...

**************

For over 20 years we have watched the good works of The
Japan Helpline, run by Ken Joseph. Always there 24 hours a
day, 365 days a year, they have been there for the
International Community with help ranging from emergency
assistance to help with day to day problems.

Ken regularly copies us on the many appeals they get from
foreigners all over the country, having personal crises and
begging for help. Ken selflessly responds to each person
and works through their problems -- seeing the police,
talking to immigration, landlords, and embassies, arranging
repatriation of coffins and belongings, and much more
besides.

It's a thankless task, and recently with the financial
crisis the donations to The Japan Helpline have fallen
dramatically. In times like these when things are tough, we
need The Japan Helpline even more. But they rely 100 percent on
private donations to keep going.

So we appeal to our readers to join us in being one of
their "One Hundred Club" members. If just 100 people sign
up to give 3,000 yen per month to Ken's team, they will be
able to cover their costs.

To donate:
https://www.lincmedia.co.jp/jhelp?lang=en
Your support keeps The Japan Helpline going.

...The information janitors/

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-----------------------------------------------------------

+++ NEWS

- Unemployment insurance costs to go up
- Spongy material hardens on exposure to magnetism
- Nomura Q2 results improve
- HK gets working holiday deal with Japan
- Major new lithium battery plant

-> Unemployment insurance costs to go up

Of the two things in life we can be sure of, death and
taxes, the government's Labor Policy Council has
announced that in 2010 the tax part, unemployment
insurance premiums from workers and their employers
will go up. The premiums will increase from 0.8 percent to 1.2 percent
next year, meaning that a person earning JPY300,000/month
will now be paying JPY3,600 instead of the current
JPY2,400. (Source: TT commentary from nikkei.co.jp, Oct
29, 2009)

http://www.nni.nikkei.co.jp/e/ac/tnks/Nni20091028D28JFA14.htm

-> Spongy material hardens on exposure to magnetism

The "Blob" has competition, in the form of a sponge-like
material invented by a Yamagata University research team.
The new material hardens dramatically when exposed to a
magnetic field. The degree of hardening can be controlled,
meaning that the substance can "dialed up" for specific
levels of dampening and cushioning, by changing the
strength of the magnetic field applied to it. The material
will be used for furniture and vehicles, to adjust
vibration versus firmness. The material contains iron
oxide granules that align and stiffen the material when
magnetized. (Source: TT commentary from nikkei.co.jp, Oct
29, 2009)

http://www.nni.nikkei.co.jp/e/ac/tnks/Nni20091028D28JSN01.htm

-> Nomura Q2 results improve

Nomura Holdings has announced that its international
revenue exceeded its domestic revenue for the first time,
and that as a result of improving financial markets, it was
able to record a net profit of 27.72 billion yen in Q2 versus a
loss of 72.87 billion yen in Q2 last year. Most of the foreign
revenue apparently came from wholesale banking rather than
brokerage, although Nomura played up its Lehman connections
in getting several major M&A mandates. ***Ed: While we were
sceptical of Nomura's ability to be able to buy and
properly absorb the Lehman acquisition, it looks like they
are indeed getting over their early indigestion. We notice,
though, that the WSJ article doesn't clearly identify the
Nomura bounce back to profit as due to the Lehman business
and instead just implies it did. Do we detect a bit of
spin-meistering here?** (Source: TT commentary from
wsj.com, Oct 28, 2009)

http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20091028-707672.html

-> HK gets working holiday deal with Japan

Japan and Hong Kong have agreed to start a Working Holiday
program between the two countries from January 1st, 2010.
This will be HK's fifth working holiday deal after New
Zealand, Australia, Ireland, and Germany, and will provide
for 250 young people a year from HK to travel and work
legally in Japan. According to Xinhua, already 9,200 HK
youths have participated in the program with the existing
four nations. ***Ed: The Working Holiday program is in our
opinion is the single most important means of interchange
between young people of the various participating nations.
Many Australians and other nationals traveling to live and
work in Japan in the 1980's and 1990's wound up staying,
marrying, and working here long term. Indeed, yours' truly
(Terrie) was one of the first wave to do so back in 1983.**
(Source: TT commentary from xinhuanet.com, Oct 27, 2009)

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-10/27/content_12342528.htm

-> Major new lithium battery plant

We have lost track of how many major new lithium battery
plants are being built in Japan and which will come on
stream in 2010, but we believe that the value of
investments would easily surpass 300 billion yen ($3.26 billion dollars). The
latest big factory announcement comes from Toshiba, which
says that it will invest 25 billion yen ($274 million dollars) in a new lithium
battery production facility in Niigata. The company expects
to produce around 500,000 battery cells a month for
electric vehicles. Toshiba will be producing its SCiB
battery, which can be recharged to 90 percent of its capacity in
just five minutes. ***Ed: Who says that Li-ion batteries
"aren't there" yet?** (Source: TT commentary from
expansionmanagement.com, Oct 30, 2009)

http://tinyurl.com/ygztkzu

NOTE: Broken links
Many online news sources remove their articles after just a
few days of posting them, thus breaking our links -- we
apologize for the inconvenience.

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-----------------------------------------------------------

***------------------------****-------------------------***

+++ CANDIDATE ROUND UP/VACANCIES

=> BiOS, a Division of the LINC Media group, is actively
marketing the following positions for customers setting up
or expanding in Japan, as well as other employers of
bilinguals.

** HIGHLIGHTED POSITION(S)

BiOS is recruiting an Account Manager and Senior Sales
Account Manager on behalf of our client, a European
software company. Dealing with decision makers from manager
all the way up to director and CxO-level, you will be
responsible for bringing the client's products to various
target markets, in particular the automotive industry.
Between these two roles, the successful candidates will be
responsible for re-energizing, leading and building the
sales force in Japan. The Senior Sales Account Manager role
will in particular require a hands-on approach to all
aspects of the sales cycle.

In order to exceed our client’s expectations in this role
you will need to already have extensive sales experience,
as well as the drive and energy to succeed as would be the
hall mark of a high-performing sales person. In addition to
this you should be well versed in identifying and
approaching the decision makers within an organization and
have the skills and personality to quickly build effective
relationships with the customer. Further, you should have
some experience selling CAD, ERP, SAP, CRM and/or
Oracle-type solutions.

Remuneration is 10 million yen – 15 million yen, depending on your
experience and level, with additional commission on top

** POSITIONS VACANT

- Product, Business Manager, large IT Vendor, JPYnegotiable
- IT Engagement Manager, teleco equipment co., 6 million yen – 8 million yen
- Various Helpdesk and Desk side jobs! – 3.5 million yen – 5 million yen
- FileNet Architect, European Insurance co., 6 million yen – 7.5 million yen
- Marketing Specialist, European sw co., JPY negotiable

Interested individuals may e-mail resumes to:
stuart.gibson@biosjp.com

** BiOS Job Mail

Every 2 weeks BiOS sends out a regular communication to its
job seeking candidates, called BiOS Job Mail. Every edition
carries a list of BiOS's current and most up-to-date
vacancies, with each entry featuring a short job
description and a direct link to the main entry on the BiOS
home page. Regardless of whether you are unemployed and
searching, thinking about a career change, or just curious
to know if there is something out there that might suit you
better, the BiOS Job Mail newsletter is an easy and
convenient way for you to stay informed. If you would like
to register for the BiOS Job Mail, or to find out more,
please email stuart.gibson@biosjp.com.

Interested individuals may e-mail resumes to:
stuart.gibson@biosjp.com

-----------------------------------------------------------

+++ UPCOMING EVENTS/ANNOUNCEMENTS

--------------- CCH Labor Law Seminar ---------------------

Labor and Employment Law Update seminar.

1.Review of provisions of the current statute
- Basic regulations on working hours and holidays
- Overtime work and overtime work allowances
- Annual paid leave

2.Update
- Increase ratio of overtime work allowances
- Unit of the annual paid leave
- Substitute holidays
- Child care and Family care leave

Date: Thursday, November 19, 2009 1:30PM-5:00PM
Venue: Happo-en (5F, Linden) (1-1-1 Shirokanedai Minato-ku)
Fee: 20,000yen +Tax

Please register from following URL:
https://www.cch-japan.jp/contents/register/form
Number of seats: 50 seats
Language: English
Speaker: Hideki Kano (Anderson, Mori & Tomotsune LLP)

For more details, Please Contact us at: support@cch.co.jp,
or 03-3265-1161, www.cch-japan.jp
-----------------------------------------------------------

-------------------- MIDEM Event --------------------------

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MIDEM & MIDEM+: 23-27 January 2010
-----------------------------------------------------------

------------- iWine Tasting Gala in November --------------

en.iwine.jp presents its Winter Wine Gala
- Come try 100 wines for only 3,980 yen on Nov 25!

Want to find a favorite wine?

Why not do it the way the pros do: by tasting lots of wines
at once! en.iwine.jp is proud to present a large-format
wine tasting event, featuring over 100 wines from all
around the world. Take your time and taste a variety of
flavors from the varietals and styles you enjoy most... or
branch off on a new journey of exploration. Lots of new
wines will be on offer and some fantastic deals and
discounts on pre-orders will be available on the night,
just in time for Christmas!

Other beverages and food available as desired, order and
pay at the bar.

Wednesday Nov 25, 2009, 7:30-10:30pm (cash bar after 10:30)
Venue : 57 Fifty Seven
http://www.fiftyseven.co.jp/jp/access_j.shtml

Tickets limited to only 250 and only sold online.
Click here: http://en.iwine.jp/wintertasting
to find out more information and purchase tickets !

http://en.iwine.jp/
-----------------------------------------------------------

------------------- ICA Event - Nov 19 --------------------

Speaker: David Sweet, Ph.D., Senior Manager
- Specialized Group K.K.
Topic: Secrets of Headhunters: Best Practices in
Recruitment for Finding a Job in a Tough Market

Details: Complete event details at http://www.icajapan.jp/
(RSVP Required)

Date: Thursday, November 19, 2009
Time: 6:30pm doors open, buffet dinner included, cash bar
Cost: 4,000 yen (members), 6,000 yen (non-members)
Open to all-venue is Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan
http://www.fccj.or.jp/aboutus/map

-----------------------------------------------------------

-------- Global Entrepreneurship Week Japan 2009 ----------

'Entrepreneur = Change Agent'
Date: November 11-23, 2009

Join hundreds of entrepreneurs, business leaders,
government officials, educators and other stakeholders to
discuss innovation and entrepreneurship in Japan -- and
find ways to boost both -- at GEW Japan 2009!

The GEW Japan website, www.entrepreneurshipweek.jp,
has details on all events.
Please use code TT001 to sign up for the 11/16 (Japanese)
and 11/20 (English) programs. The 11/17 EA-Tokyo event is also
in English.
-----------------------------------------------------------

***------------------------****-------------------------***

+++ CORRECTIONS/FEEDBACK

In this section we run comments and corrections submitted
by readers. We encourage you to spot our mistakes and
amplify our points, by email, to editors@terrie.com.

*** No feedback this week.

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-----------------------------------------------------------

***********************************************************
END

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+++ ABOUT US

STAFF
Written by: Terrie Lloyd (terrie.lloyd@japaninc.com)

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