JIN-226 -- Japan Becoming a Land of Special Zones

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. 226
Thursday, May 15, 2003


++ Viewpoint: Japan Becoming a Land of Special Zones
++ Noteworthy News
- Mori Building Looks to Finance Debt through Real Estate Fund
- Internet Protocol Version 6 Not Just for PCs Anymore
- Sharp's Solar Battery Most Efficient in World

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++ Viewpoint: Japan Becoming a Land of Special Zones

Japan is becoming a crazy quilt of special deregulation zones now that
the government has approved more than 60 to go with the previous 57.
No matter where you travel -- Okinawa, Kyushu, Tohoku or Hokkaido --
you'll soon find zones that offer business incentives of one form or
another. The Koizumi administration is desperate to revitalize its
ailing regional economies and has taken a chapter from China's
playbook: If the old system isn't working, experiment with a new
system in a restricted area.

Japan's latest group of deregulation zones cover laws related to
everything from dock work to English teaching. Some examples include:

- Promoting Ehime prefecture as a biotech center. To do this,
the government will allow university professors and
researchers to hold all sorts of side jobs.

- Loosening restrictions on hiring teachers in Saitama

- Making a 24-hour port in Kita-Kyushu (while just about every
other major port system in the world operates on a 24-hour
schedule, Japan has been notoriously unwilling to adapt to
that schedule due to the strong influence of dockworker

- Creating an all-English public school in Ota city, Gumma

These national plans combine with local plans that offer breaks to
call centers or high-tech industries to create a quilt of special
zones across the Japanese archipelago. But while some of the ideas
will probably add a little spark to local areas, many of the more
ambitious zones that have been talked about are not on the current
list. It would be exciting to see zones dedicated to offering
high-tech, cross-border medical care, for example, but so far, medical
associations have been strong enough to keep those proposals from
becoming reality. Also, the zones don't seem to have been created to
woo foreign capital -- they don't come with tax exemptions or other
perks that businesses look for. So, all in all, it's an interesting
quilt, but not one that is likely to do enough to breathe life into
Japan's many depressed zones.

-- Bruce Rutledge

Nikkei Net (subscription required)

The Foreign Press Center

"Okinawa: A Troubled Island Has Visions of IT Paradise," from May 2002

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** Mori Building Looks to Finance Debt through Real Estate Fund

In Brief: The Mori Building's latest development, Roppongi Hills,
which opened this spring, towers over Tokyo's most famous nightclub
district. Now the company is looking for ways to pay off the $900
million or so in debt that it has accumulated while building the
structure. The company plans to sell more properties into a fund it
created in March, Bloomberg reports, in hopes that investors think
Tokyo land prices have bottomed out.

Commentary: With so many other investment options in the doldrums
these days, Mori, Japan's largest private developer, is bound to get
some nibbles from investors. But have prices really bottomed out?
They've been dropping for more than a decade, but of course, they were
inflated into the stratosphere before that. Something tells us that
land prices may still have further to sink.


"First Tokyo, Then the World," a profile of the Mori family from 11/02

"Searching for the Bottom," a feature on land prices from March

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** Internet Protocol Version 6 Not Just for PCs Anymore

In Brief: Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) is beginning to spread
beyond computers and into home appliances as electronics makers like
Sony and Matsushita race to get ready for the home network boom that
some insiders expect as early as next year, industry magazine Nikkei
BP explains. Appliances given IPv6 addresses can be remotely
controlled via the Internet.

Commentary: This July, look for a feature in J@pan Inc explaining what
IPv6 is, how it works and why Japan is leading the world in
implementing it.

Asia Biztech

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** Sharp's Solar Battery Most Efficient in World

In Brief: Sharp has developed the world's most efficient
single-crystal solar battery, according to Nikkei BP. The battery can
convert 20.5 percent of solar energy, well above the average of 17
percent for this type of battery. The company plans to sell the
battery for home use from this autumn.

Commentary: The battery can fit in a space of 16.4 sq. meters, the
smallest in the industry, but still way to big to fit in your average
Japanese home. Still, this is a development worth noting since
alternative energies like solar power and fuel cells are quickly
evolving from the ideas-only-leftists-could-love stage to practical,
smart ideas that make sense on every level. And, as usual, Japanese
companies are at the forefront of the battle to turn these ideas into

Asia Biztech

J@PAN INC magazine -- the journal of business, technology and people
in Japan -- invites you to participate in a "WIRELESS IN JAPAN"
special ad section scheduled for the July 2003 issue.

The July 2003 special ad section will feature the major companies that
are actively responding to this competitive industry.
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ICA May Special Roundtable Event


The ICA is pleased to announce a major networking and business
development roundtable event on May 20. The event will include an
executive networking cocktail party, a gourmet stand-up buffet and a
roundtable discussion with three of Tokyo's top Mobile Technology

TED MATSUMOTO - President - Qualcomm Japan
TOSHI IWATA - Vice President - Cybird Co Ltd.
DANIEL SCUKA - Wireless Watch - Editor in chief

If you would like to attend please RSVP on our sign-up page at:
by 17:00 Monday May 19, 2003.

Location- Yurakucho Denki Building, Foreign Correspondents' Club
Cost: 3,500 yen (members) 6,000 yen (non-members)
SUBSCRIBERS: 6,960 as of May 15, 2003

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


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