It is a truism that Japan is a country of paradoxes but it is one that is impossible to avoid when taking the pulse of the nation at any given time. As a foreigner living in Japan at the start of 2008, one may be forgiven for thinking that the government is sending some very mixed messages. On the one hand, organizations such as JETRO and the Development Bank of Japan are promoting further interaction with the international economy, and FSA Commissioner, Mr Sato, has been making positive noises about equality and reform in terms of financial regulation. However, at the same time, the government has introduced finger-printing for foreigners at Narita airport and many in the foreign business community are concerned over perceived protection on issues such as banned food additives—regulations were officially relaxed in 2001 but implementation is still in the early stages.
This issue of J@pan Inc, our 75th edition, reflects these contradictions. We put the spotlight on disastrous and political risks in what is largely considered to be one of the safest countries in the world. We also take a look at the Japanese healthcare system and how it may be failing resident foreigners. On the other hand, in a market considered to be a tough place for females, our cover story, the article on ‘Perfect Crime’ and our piece on e-trading housewives emphasize the potential for women to prosper and be successful in Japan.
Elsewhere, Willhemina Wahlin’s article on the ‘One Village One Product’ scheme illustrates Japan’s increasingly active role in world affairs. By contrast, Adam P Liff’s piece makes mention of some of the internal resistance to Japan’s assumption of a more prominent global stance.
Another theme of this issue is the new year and we hope that you enjoy Greg Lane’s predictions—anticipating the future is an impossible task but we hope his analysis provides some food for thought at least. Nick Reeve’s summary of changes to European patent application procedures offers some more tangible information about the future of the IP processes in the EU and we ask whether Vietnam will be the next ‘Asian Tiger’ in our Inside Out column.
Finally, on behalf of all our staff, I’d like to wish all our readers a happy and healthy new year!
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