By Ken Worsley
Back and Forward is a new column that takes (a slightly irreverent) look back at some of Japan’s largest business stories while thinking forward about what they may mean for the future.
YouTube and Japan
On August 3, YouTube officially rolled out a Japanese localization of its massively popular website. Despite continued demands from the Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers that YouTube remove all copyrighted material from its site, six Japanese firms have decided to enter business partnerships with YouTube, which is owned by Google.
Mixi and Casio
Notable amongst those firms are social networking giant Mixi and consumer electronics firm Casio. Casio intends to begin selling a digital video camera that is able to upload videos directly to YouTube by connecting to the user’s home computer. The release of this product will surely corner the market for amateur up-skirt video makers, who must be thrilled about upgrading from the mirror-on-the-shoe business model.
Some firms, however, may be hesitant to partner with Google, whose online advertising services are reported to cause nervousness at Japan’s giant ad firms, including Dentsu and Hakuhodo. Dentsu recently projected that revenue from Internet advertising in Japan, which stood at JPY363 billion in 2006, will more than double to JPY750 billion in value by 2011.
Tired of those late night calls?
Of course, all of those Internet ads must be pushing something on the public. Now that the Financial Services Agency (FSA) has banned marketers from hawking certain financial products over the phone during weekends and evenings, we wouldn’t be surprised to see more of their advertising budgets move online. No word yet as to whether the FSA intends to prevent your ex from phoning at inappropriate times.
Corporate profits up
According to a Nikkei survey, slightly increased household spending, along with brisk exports and a weak yen, has helped Japanese firms see a 19.5% increase in pretax profi t for the April-June quarter of 2007. We’re watching to see if a revival of the much-dreaded “company trip” materializes at firms now awash with cash that needs to be wasted somehow, and fast.
In June, average wages fell 1.1% against last year, according to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare—the seventh consecutive month for which the ministry has reported a decline. Including summer bonuses, the average employee at a Japanese firm walked away with JPY465,174 in June, of which JPY251,763 was listed as “scheduled cash earnings.”
In a separate report, MHLW recommended that companies begin sharing more of their profits with employees in the form of pay rises. No mention was made of raising dividends for the nation’s long-suffering shareholders.
Consumers can take solace in knowing that at least YouTube is free. Then again, so is getting calls from marketers in the middle of the night.