J@pan Inc magazine presents:
The 'JIN' Japan Inc Newsletter
A weekly opinion piece on social, economic and political trends
Issue No. 421 Wednesday July 11, 2007 TOKYO
*****OUT NOW J@PAN INC MAGAZINE'S SUMMER ISSUE*****
Featuring our Real Estate Special, Web 2.0 Marketing and more!
In the early seventeenth century the Tokugawa Shogun banned
tobacco cultivation and imposed strict penalties for violators.
Such policies eventually turned to ash: by 1725 the Shogunate
unrestricted the industry in order to bail them out of financial
dire straits. The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare reported
that in 2005 Japan had roughly 30.2 million smokers—around 25%
of the population. Indeed, Japan has become one of the smokiest
nations in the developed world. In 1999 the Health and Welfare
announced its ambition to cut the number of smokers by 50% by
2010—they have so far managed a reduction of roughly 7%. A look
at the social, commercial and legal landscape of Japan reveals
why this target was unrealistic.
Most obviously there is the fact of Japan Tobacco—the third
largest tobacco company in the world that most recently acquired
Britain's Gallagher Group for $15billion, the largest ever
international acquisition ever made by a Japanese company.
From 1904 until 1985 the Ministry of Finance had a monopoly on
domestic tobacco companies and still remains the largest
shareholder in Japan Tobacco. In the past 10 years Japan Tobacco
has come under the same pressures that other tobacco companies
have faced in the US and Europe. Some civil movements have grown
more vociferous and powerful and, despite the best efforts
of Japan Tobacco and its government allies, more and more
restrictions have come in. However, the pace of regulation has
been slower and implementation has often been half-hearted, at
least in part due to the government tie-in with profits from
cigarette sales whether it be from tax revenue or dividends from
their financial stakes in the industry.
Japan joined the WHO's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control
in 2004. This obliged the government to free public health policy
of influence from the tobacco industry as well restricting its
ability to have any say on attempts to diversify away from
tobacco production in agriculture at a global level. However,
the wording of the convention failed to tie Japan to any real
financial or legal commitments—regulations concerning health
warning labels is much weaker here than in other countries.
Additionally, although the legal age for buying cigarettes in
Japan is 20, the ubiquity of cigarette vending machines means
that there is little to prevent even very young children from
getting their hands on tobacco. To be fair, we approached Japan
Tobacco on this issue and they told us that they are very much
involved in developing an adult identification system that could
be fitted to vending machines in accordance with their firm
belief that 'minors should not smoke.' On the other hand, a
cynic might point to the elementary school education programs
it runs on salt (http://www.jti.co.jp/Culture/museum/) and
question the motives of their involvement.
According to various media reports, Japan Tobacco apparently
tried to block moves by the government to restrict smoking in
public places by asking its employees to oppose such action in
an Internet opinion poll (see this article). In a sense the media should not
really be surprised by this and Japan Tobacco told us quite
openly that 'While JT believe appropriate and proportionate
regulation on smoking is necessary, the company has made great
efforts toward promoting a society in which smokers and
non-smokers can coexist in harmony'—such as helping create
designated smoking areas. It is easy to be cynical about such
moves (the company also advertise 'tidy smoking': see here)
but really the debate is a social and legal one—
corporations do what they can to survive and in a democracy such
as Japan, citizens are ultimately accountable for the social and
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And this context is changing. In an article for the American
Journal of Japanese Law, Eric A Feldman wrote that 'the tobacco
establishment expresses alarm at the prevalence of 'tobacco
bashing' in Japan, and at least anecdotally smokers are
increasingly apologetic when they light up'. Advertising has
been restricted, litigation has taken place and smoker numbers
have fallen. It seems that slowly Japan is following US and
European trends in this regard. But there are of course some
unique trends that are of interest. Having always had a much
lower proportion of female smokers than in Western countries,
this figure seems to be on the rise as the parameters of
masculine and feminine undergo change. In this sense smoking
is gaining a new glamor and sexiness. While smoker numbers are
slowly decreasing, social norms in Japan seem to evolve over
different time scales and should not be presumed to fall into
US or European teleology. One writer has depicted the growth in
young female smokers as a perception change of smoking from
a 'social taboo' to a 'torch of freedom'.
Last week the United Kingdom implemented legislation banning
smoking in all enclosed spaces and places of work—could such
a thing happen in Japan? The answer must be yes, but that it
would take a much longer time for it to come about because of
the persistent differences in perceptions of smoking. The
question also forces us to revisit the paradox that for all its
homogeneity and apparent inclination for uniformity, not to
mention the links between the government, industry and
bureaucracy, Japan is an extremely free country to live in. By
contrast British and US citizens face much higher levels of
surveillance and as the recent terror plot in the UK shows—
where there is no smoke there may still be fire.
Smoking may quite literally be a social cancer but in the case
of Japan the responsibility for this must lie as much with
society as it does with Japan Tobacco—and if choosing to smoke
is a freedom, then it is a choice that must be respected. And, for
better or worse, there is little government targets can do to
By Peter Harris
Chief Editor, J@pan Inc magazine
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----Environmentally Friendly Fishing Tackle----
Yamashita Inc has developed a pig skin bait that can be
attached to a Lure. It was developed 3 years ago at Lake
Kawaguchi. The pig skin is boiled and transformed into an
oily jelly that dissolves after 10 days; and it's very cheap!
We currently sell this product in Japan but are keen to
take it overseas, are you interested?
-------------------- Tokyo Sinfonia--------------------
Under director Rober Rÿker
Tokyo Sinfonia, Tokyo's premier chamber orchestra, is to
treat audiences to a series of performances at Oji Hall, Ginza:
17th July - Saxophone & Strings - Otis Murphy's exquisite sax
joins Tokyo Sinfonia for renditions of Tchaikovsky, Glazunov,
Debussy and Ibert (Also at Munetsugu Hall, Nagoya on 20th July)
14th September - Symphonies for Strings - Beethoven
Grosse Fugue for Strings, Op. 133
Symphony in C Major (from Op.29)
12th December - Symphonies for Strings - Mozart
Adagio and Fugue for Strings, KV 495
Symphony for Strings in D Major (from KV.593)
Place: Oji Hall, Ginza
Price: Y6000 (single) Y10,000 (pair)
Tel: (03) 3588 0738
-------------------- ICA Event - July 19 --------------------
Speaker: Richard S. Keirstead, CTO,
Ascendant Business Solutions K.K.
Topic: The Best of Both Worlds: A Practically Secure Network
Details: Complete event details at http://www.icajapan.jp/
Date: Thursday, July 19, 2007
Time: 6:30 Doors open, Light buffet and Open Bar included
Cost: 3,000 yen (members), 5,500 yen (non-members)
Open to all - location is Ristorante Conca d'Oro
--------------- Red Herring Japan 2007 --------------------
July 22 - 24
Red Herring Japan 2007 Technology Summit is fast approaching.
This dynamic, two day event will be true to the innovative,
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corporate presentations by hand picked entrepreneurs from
around the world, RH Japan will feature some of Japan's
biggest, most provocative names in Japan-tech including NTT
DoCoMo's Takeshi Natsuno, eMobile's Sachio Semmoto, J@pan
Inc's own Terrie Lloyd and Sony's Nobuyuki Idei.
Contact Jason Sausto today at firstname.lastname@example.org
for more information or visit Red Herring's website at
JIN 420 - The Other Okinawa
The Yume Dono onsen is in Yamanashi, not Yamagata.
JIN 421- Whale Riders vs. Whale Eaters
ValueCommerce was founded by Tim Williams and Brian
Nelson is it's CEO. It is not 'Tim Nelson's' as we reported!