J@pan Inc Magazine Presents:
T H E J @ P A N I N C N E W S L E T T E R
Commentary on the week's business and technology news
Issue No. 156
Wednesday, November 7, 2001
++ Viewpoint: McDonald's Japan Stores to Open Fuji Bank ATMs
++ Noteworthy news
- Sony Bares Its Teeth at Aibo Hacker
- 35th Tokyo Motor Show Draws to a Close
- Individuals Do 40 Percent of Stock Trading Online
++ Only in Japan: Meet the Beef Ambassador
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++ VIEWPOINT: McDonald's Japan Stores to Open Fuji Bank ATMs
The nightmare of mad cow disease isn't over for hamburger titan
McDonald's Japan, even if it does import its beef from Australia. For
the first half of October, its same-store-sales plunged 10% compared
with the same period in the previous year. For a company that had
posted average annual sales growth of 11.1% over the past five years,
this is a big hit.
As the Japanese government ensures that domestic beef is safe,
McDonald's Japan stresses that its beef is all from the Land Down
Under. "We import beef from Australia. We are stressing this
fact in our handouts and posters so our customers will know," says
Miwako Sen of McDonald's IR division. But that hasn't been enough to
stop sales from dropping.
Of course, McDonald's Japan -- ever the innovator -- is not just
sitting there and taking it. The company is hoping to get more
customers by turning its stores into little financial centers. The
company will open Fuji Bank ATMs at eight stores in Tokyo on November
16. The goal of the move, explains Sen, is to attract more customers.
The company already has two Yokohama Bank ATMs and one Sanwa machine
in the Kanto area. Depending on how the eight Fuji ATMs work out,"we
are considering expanding the number to several hundred stores soon,"
Considering the fact that McDonald's Japan had 3,598 stores in 2000,
and has opened an average of 280 stores a year over the past decade,
setting up ATMs at McDonald's would be a good move from the banks'
point of view, too. Will the marriage between McDonald's and Fuji
Bank boost a further unification of food and money?
-- Sumie Kawakami
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++ NOTEWORTHY NEWS
(Long URLs may break across two lines.)
** Sony Bares Its Teeth at Aibo Hacker
Extract: Sony has pushed a popular Aibo Web page to shut itself down
because of copyright infringement. The site, listed below, is run by
someone with the Internet handle of AiboPet, and until recently it
offered software that would make Aibo disco dance and do other
tricks. AiboPet broke Sony's encryption to make the free software,
but defended the action by saying he (she?) had built programs that
would not let users break Sony's copy protection.
Commentary: AiboPet subsequently said he has been in touch with Sony
officials and feels an agreement of some sort will be reached. This
comes on the heels of the Sesame Workshop people threatening legal
action against the maker of the Bert is Evil Web site after the evil
Bert popped up in a poster with Osama bin Laden in Pakistan.
These kind of clashes are inevitable when corporate culture comes
face to face with a more underground culture. One is about profit,
the other about expression. Sony and others would be wise to tread
softly. Why not offer AiboPet a job? If he can make those little
robotic dogs disco dance, he's obviously thinking along the same
lines as Satoshi Amagai, president of Sony's Robot Entertainment Co.,
who said in the November issue of J@pan Inc, "We welcome competitors
to grow or expand the market together." The problem is that this time
the competitor wasn't out to make money.
From The New York Times:
The Aibo Hacker's page:
Letter from Sony to the hacker:
The Bert is Evil Web site:
J@pan Inc interview with Satoshi Amagai:
The KWR International Advisor highlights the real implications of
important economic, political and financial trends as they appear on
the global horizon. The August edition contains articles concerning
the U.S. economy, Japan, Latin America, Thailand, Turkey, Emerging
Europe, India, derivatives, insurance and trade. To access your copy
and obtain a free subscription, Go to:
** 35th Tokyo Motor Show Draws to a Close
Extract: The 35th Tokyo Motor Show, with 272 corporate exhibitors
from 13 countries, is set to close this evening, after a run of two
weeks. The show featured a wide array of new cars and car technology,
including the pod, built by Toyota and Sony to explore the
possibility of people and cars communicating (no joke), and the
hybrid Daihatsu UFE, which has gotten 55km per liter of gasoline (or
roughly 200 miles per gallon) in road tests.
Commentary: The show was exciting, but we couldn't help but feel some
of the new models were forced to try to get us consumers excited. The
supposedly futuristic cars often fell flat, and made this writer long
for the cars of his childhood (Mustangs, Shelbys, Camaros). Let's
face it, cars aren't getting sexier (with the exception, perhaps of
Honda's NSX-R and S2000), they're just getting weirder.
Daihatsu caught our attention because the truck maker was really
pushing its green technology. Most of the other hybrid and electric
cars were tucked into the corners of displays or relegated to a
different hall that was noticeably void of all the young male and
female models so prevalent in the main arena. Oh well. We guess being
environmentally friendly isn't sexy either. But 55km per liter? We
like the sound of that.
The official Tokyo Motor Show home page:
Article from Salon.com: "A Hello Kitty You Can Drive:"
** Individuals Do 40 Percent of Stock Trading Online
Extract: The Japan Securities Dealers Association said on Tuesday
that 40 percent of the trades made by individual investors in Japan
are done online. In the fiscal first half through September,
individual made a total of JPY11.17 trillion in online trades, up
more than 38 percent from the same period of the previous year, the
Commentary: The article goes on to say there are 2.5 million online
accounts in Japan. The cheaper commissions are the big draw. Online
trades can be as much as 90 percent cheaper, the article said. And if
more companies allow smaller lots of their stocks to be traded,
expect the number of online traders to keep rising.
From Yahoo (via Nikkei):
++ Only in Japan: Meet the Beef Ambassador
Extract: Hokkaido appointed singer Chiharu Matsuyama as the
prefecture's "beef ambassador" to quell fears over the outbreak of
mad cow disease in Japan. Matsuyama, who is from Hokkaido, was told
by the prefectural governor that Hokkaido is "pinning high hopes" on
him to persuade people to eat beef. The governor then gave Matsuyama
a serving of local beef and a glass of milk.
Commentary: And the singer promptly dropped dead. No, he was OK. But
really, beef ambassador?
Report from Kyodo:
Internet World Japan 2001
All Internet, All Business: Expanding the e-business world over
Dates: November 20 (Tue.) - November 22 (Thu.), 2001
Venue: Makuhari Messe, Chiba Prefecture, Japan
More than 130 in-depth conference sessions and workshops address
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For more details and registration, please see