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. 179
Wednesday, May 8, 2002
++ Viewpoint: Japan's 'Silver' Set Wants the Teaching to be Fun
++ Sponsor of the Month: Interview with Japan Registry's Mr. Darshaun
Nadeau -- Leading the Way for .jp Domain Names
++ Noteworthy News
- Finance Ministry Sends Salvo to Rating Agencies
- ATMs more Common in Convenience Stores than Banks
- Yanai to Make Way for New Leader at Fast Retailing
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This year, we're teaming up with Wireless Japan -- the only
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++ VIEWPOINT: Japan's 'Silver' Set Wants the Teaching to be Fun
I met one of Japan's most promising markets over Golden Week: a
classroom full of 60- and 70-year-old women. I spoke to them in
broken Japanese about the Internet, technology and the business of
retirement homes and they responded with a semi-standing ovation
(some had trouble getting up) and promises to cook me a meal if I
ever returned to Ichikawa city.
There were nearly 50 women in the Ichikawa community hall classroom
when I arrived. And this was just one of Ichikawa's 16 community
halls, all bustling with senior citizens eager to take part in
lifelong learning courses.
All over the country, senior citizens are hitting the books, taking
craft classes or even donning grass skirts to learn Hawaiian dance.
They want to learn how to use computers, send email and make their
own Web sites. They're not rich, but they're willing to pay, and
they've been sitting on mountains of cash for far too long.
Of course, Japan's greying society has been widely publicized. Most
people have heard that one in four people here will be 65 or older by
2020 and we've heard about how the Japanese love to study. But
here's some advice from someone who has met the market face to face:
Elderly education in Japan is the equivalent of the Oprah Winfrey
book club in the US. Oprah would pick a book to talk about on her US
TV show, and thousands of housewives would buy it, often sending it
shooting up the ranks of the New York Times best-seller list. The key
was Oprah entertained as she informed.
Japan's elders are looking for the same sort of
education-entertainment mix. Their eyes glazed over when I got into
the details of J@pan Inc magazine and I feared the onset of a mass
after-lunch nap. But they responded with verve as one of the Japanese
teachers mistakenly told them I was married to the granddaughter of
movie and vaudeville star Kenichi Enomoto, better known as Enoken (I
didn't have the heart to tell him my wife is a distant relative).
The senior students asked a couple of questions related to retirement
homes in the US, but then followed with questions about my ability to
eat sushi, natto and other Japanese delicacies. What's to make of all
this? If you're planning to teach the elderly how to use the Internet
or make a Web site, remember, make the class entertaining. This is
the leisure set, with time and money on their hands -- and while
they say they want to learn, the onus is clearly on the teacher to
keep the paying customers in their seats.
-- Bruce Rutledge
========================Sponsor of the Month==========================
Darshaun Nadeau is Founder and CEO of Japan Registry
(http://www.japanregistry.com), a leading registrar of .jp and .co.jp
domain names. He tells J@pan Inc why the .jp domain name market has
grown dramatically over the past year.
J@pan Inc: We thought .jp domains were restricted. Have the rules
Darshaun Nadeau: This is one of the biggest surprises for almost
everyone we talk to. For years, only restricted .co.jp domains were
available. However, last year, JPNIC/JPRS rolled-out .jp as an
unrestricted extension. Now, any registrant around the world can
register a Japanese domain.
JI: Aren't .com domains more useful? Why would a company need a .jp?
Nadeau: Recently, we've seen that .jp domains are not only becoming
commonplace, but are the most rapidly growing domain extension on the
net in Japan. Consumers in Japan want easily identifiable names in
.jp as well as .com when they search for a site. While most desirable
words in the .com extension have long been spoken for, these words
are likely still available as .jp domains.
JI: Are .jp domains popular overseas?
Nadeau: This is the most amazing part of the whole equation. Many
foreign entities that have long wanted to set up shop in Japan but
were kept out because of regulatory restrictions are now able to use
.jp domains. These firms are using .jp domains to promote themselves
-- whether simply to protect their trademarks, reinforce their local
presence, or as a prelude to entering the market.
JI: We know there are a number of companies selling .jp domains in
Japan. What makes Japan Registry different?
Nadeau: Our site is in English. Our English registration process is
unique in the market and shows that we are the only firm focused on
both the overseas and domestic markets. Second, we have built a
state-of-the-art reseller API that allows partners both in Japan and
overseas to automatically resell .jp domains -- no other company that
we know of has built this technology. Third, we have an easy-to-use
management panel that allows our customers and resellers to manage
their domains online and in real-time. Fourth, our customers are able
to host and use their .jp domains with any hosting service anywhere
in the world.
Japan Registry is a leading JPNIC/JPRS-accredited registrar of .jp
and .co.jp domain names, and a brand name of Nippon Solutions KK.
++ NOTEWORTHY NEWS
(Long URLs may break across two lines, so copy to your browser.)
** Finance Ministry Sends Salvo to Rating Agencies
Extract: Vice Finance Minister Haruhiko Kuroda sent a stinging letter
over Golden Week to ratings agencies that have lowered Japan's credit
status to the level of Slovakia. "Considering the strong fundamentals
of the Japanese economy, the current ratings of Japanese government
bonds are already too low and any further downgrading is unwarranted,"
Kuroda wrote. "Your explanations regarding rating decisions are mostly
qualitative in nature and lack objective criteria, which invites
questions about the larger issue of the reliability of the ratings."
He also said that "defaulting on local-currency denominated debt is
unimaginable" in Japan. He chided the agencies for focusing too much
on fiscal indicators and missing the bigger picture. He mentioned
that because Japan has the largest savings surplus in the world, it
can finance debt domestically at low interest rates, and that ratings
agencies tend to forget "Japan has the largest current account
surplus, is the largest creditor country and has the largest foreign
exchange reserves in the world."
The target of his anger was, of course, Standard and Poor's and
Moody's, two US-based rating agencies that have lowered Japan's
credit ratings several times over the last couple of years.
The Finance Ministry
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** ATMs more Common in Convenience Stores than Banks
Extract: Convenience stores are quietly becoming the place to find an
ATM in Japan. More than 3,000 Seven Eleven stores have ATMs, reports
the business daily Nikkei, while commercial giant UFJ only has about
2,000. As many as 16,000 convenience stores have ATMs, the paper says.
Tokyo Mitsubishi Bank has already announced that it will reduce its
800 ATMs by 100 and has made alliances with Lawson and Family Mart so
that customers won't have to pay fees when they withdraw money from
ATMs in those convenience stores. Tokyo Mitsubishi Bank will pay these
stores 150 yen per transaction, making it cheaper than maintaining its
own ATMs, according to bank calculations.
UFJ is taking a different path. The bank plans to keep all its ATMs
and plans to make handling fees more expensive at convenience store
Nikkei Shimbun, May 8, 2002
"The Ever Evolving Convenience Store" from the J@pan Inc newsletter
The latest issue of J@pan Inc magazine is now available online!
Click here for the lowdown:
Subscribers can access our hot-off-the-press features, including:
- Okinawa: A troubled island has visions of IT paradise
- Running On Empty: Gregory Clark, the president of Tama University,
says prime minister Junichiro Koizumi spends too much time tinkering
with supply when it's demand that is the problem.
- The Final ShowDown: Digital technology is rapidly replacing
traditional film in the movies -- a move that has serious
implications for both the nature of film production and its
** Yanai to Make Way for New Leader at Fast Retailing
Extract: The man behind the phenomenal growth of the casual clothes
brand Uniqlo is stepping down after several months of bad financial
news at the parent company. Tadashi Yanai is stepping aside to make
room for 39-year-old Genichi Tamatsuka, a company director who has
been in charge of the company's subsidiary in the UK.
Yanai was the retail darling of Japan for several years as Uniqlo
posted outstanding numbers and the casual look swept Japan. He once
said that "the bigger the casual brand market in a country, the more
advanced the society is as a democracy." If that's the case, democracy
has taken a beating in 2002. Fast Retailing announced that April sales
dropped 43 percent year on year, the biggest decline ever and the
seventh straight monthly decline.
Tamatsuka will take over after a shareholders' meeting in November,
but his promotion to vice president will be effective from June 1.
He's a former rugby player and Keio University graduate who previously
worked at IBM Japan.
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