JIN-210 -- Riding through the Tokyo Streets in Style

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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
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Issue No. 210
Wednesday, January 8, 2003
Tokyo

CONTENTS

++ Viewpoint: Riding through the Tokyo Streets in Style

++ Noteworthy News
- Konica, Minolta Merger Plan Gets Mixed Reviews
- Why Japanese Entrepreneurs Often Get Just One Shot at Success
- Secom, Chiba Police Use GPS Technology to Nail Stalkers

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- Anime in America
Japan's animated movies have risen from cult status to cultural force
in the US. Now the moviemakers are out to win approval from Mom and
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- The Year Ahead
A host of writers and analysts peer into their crystal balls with us
and make predictions about everything from Takenaka's remedy for
economic revitalization to medical care in 2003.

- Dr. Oh No! The name is Bomb. James Bomb.
Suffering scribe Mark Schreiber frees the world's favorite secret
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++ Viewpoint: Riding through the Tokyo Streets in Style

This is the week of *aisatsu mawari*, when businesspeople pay visits
to their clients and wish them a happy new year. There's a lot of
*ocha* being consumed, a lot of small talk and, salespeople hope, a
lot of seeds being planted that could grow into business later in the
year.

But anyone who's been through a few days of the new year's greeting
season knows it can get pretty old pretty fast. That's why we
recommend two types of alternative transportation this new year to
spice up those cross-town trips to visit clients.

First, try the velotaxi, a German creation that has been seen in Kyoto
since May and on Tokyo streets since October. Basically, it's an
aerodynamically designed bicycle-taxi -- it uses no gas and travels
solely by pedal power. Fares start at 300 yen for the first half
kilometer, then go up by 50 yen for each additional 100 meters. The
velotaxis are funky, environmentally friendly and definitely
eye-catching (check out the link below).

Once night falls, try a tour of Tokyo in one of the jazz taxis, a
fleet of three Hyundai XG 300s with top-of-the-line sound systems that
include a Russian-made amplifier in each car, German-made speakers and
a Panasonic CD player. These cars are the brainchild of taxi driver
Toshiyuki Anzai, 60, a lifelong jazz fan. Since he started his jazz
taxi service a few years ago, he's driven jazz greats Chick Corea,
Mulgrew Miller, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Randy Brecker, Ray Bryant and Curtis
Fuller through the Tokyo streets at one time or another. The taxis run
from 6pm to 4am Monday through Saturday and can be reserved by a phone
call to the number on the Web site below.

So next time you consider giving money to another surly cab driver who
can't understand your directions, give Anzai or the velotaxi people a
call and enjoy your ride.

-- Bruce Rutledge

Sources:
The velotaxi (in Japanese)
http://www.velotaxi.jp/new-new.html

The jazz taxis (in Japanese)
http://homepage2.nifty.com/jazztaxi/

=============================EVENT====================================
3GMOBILE WORLD FORUM 2003
14-17 January 2003, Tokyo, Japan
As with our hugely successful 2002 event, 3GMobile World Forum 2003
will aim to present a realistic view of the 3G opportunity, and to
provide a platform to transform 3G technology and demand for new high
value services into revenue across Asia-Pacific, Europe and the US.
For further information, visit: http://www.3gmobileforum.com
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++ NOTEWORTHY NEWS
(Long URLs may break across two lines, so copy to your browser.)

** Konica, Minolta Merger Plan Gets Mixed Reviews

In Brief: Konica and Minolta's plan to merge by this August in order
to catch up with Japan's big three in office equipment and digital
cameras -- Canon, Fuji Film and Ricoh -- got mixed reviews from
analysts this week. While most analysts agreed the merger would help
the two companies cut costs, they debated just how much synergy could
be expected through the union. Others wondered whether Minolta's heavy
debt burden would end up weighing down Konica, the dominant partner in
the merger because of its much larger market capitalization. Also, the
race to catch the top three will be a hard one -- even after the
merger, the Konica-Minolta entity's revenue of 1 trillion yen a year
would be just about one-third Canon's annual revenue and less than
two-thirds that of Ricoh and Fuji Film, Reuters reported.

Source:
Reuters
http://www.reuters.com/financeNewsArticle.jhtml?type=mergersNews&storyID...

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** Why Japanese Entrepreneurs Often Get Just One Shot at Success

In Brief: A story in the Nikkei this week details how tough it is to
rebound from a failure as an entrepreneur in Japan. The reason: Many
banks still require personal guarantees of business loans. Bank
officials often say that the personal guarantees are "just a
formality," the story says, but once a company fails, the executives
who signed those guarantees are held responsible by the banks.

Commentary: As the story points out, Japanese banks just aren't doing
proper risk analysis on these loans to startups. Asking for personal
guarantees on business loans just makes matters worse. It shows that
the banks are incompetent and if they do back a loser, they'll keep
that person from being able to rebound. No wonder being an
entrepreneur in this country is so hard.

Source:
The Nikkei Net (subscription required):
http://www.nni.nikkei.co.jp/AC/TNKS/Nni20030107D07JF106.htm

Link:
"Bringing Women Together," a story about a female entrepreneur trying
to make it in a male-dominated society, from our October issue.
http://www.japaninc.net/article.php?articleID=907

** Secom, Chiba Police Use GPS Technology to Nail Stalkers

In Brief: The Chiba police have begun using a system developed by
Secom that allows the victims of stalkers to press a button on their
PDA or cellphone when being stalked. The police would then be notified
via GPS technology of the victim's whereabouts, the Yomiuri Shimbun
reported. So far the police have lent out three handsets to women
reporting trouble with stalkers.

Source:
The Yomiuri Shimbun (in Japanese)
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/00/20030108i201.htm

Link:
"Safety Zone?" about technology used to keep schools safe, from our
May issue.
http://www.japaninc.net/article.php?articleID=797

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STAFF
Written and edited by J@pan Inc staff (editors@japaninc.com)

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