TT-423 -- Whaling Debacle

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A weekly roundup of news & information from Terrie Lloyd.

General Edition Sunday, June 3, 2007 Issue No. 423


- What's new
- News
- Candidate roundup/Vacancies
- Upcoming events
- Corrections/Feedback
- News credits

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Last week the International Whaling Commission (IWC)
wrapped up its annual session with a resounding defeat for
the pro-whalers. At stake was a Japanese-sponsored proposal
to allow small-scale whaling for four Japanese whaling
towns and the taking of Humpback whales. The Japanese
delegation was sufficiently upset at its reversal of
fortunes, coming as it did after a small victory in 2006
which hinted the pro-whalers might regain control, that
there was talk of their forming a whole new body
specifically for the purpose of promoting whaling.

The Japanese left the IWNC shaking their heads and
wondering how an association established to manage whale
harvesting had wound up becoming a conservation group. At
the same time, the world media is scolding Japan for being
so out of touch with world opinion on whether or not one
should kill and eat whales. "What is wrong with the
Japanese?" the journalists ask. "Don't they realize the
extent of the negative public relations every time
Greenpeace photographs them bloodily taking a whale?"

Indeed, we have asked ourselves the same question many
times. It is well known that the current taking of 863
whales for "scientific purposes" is nothing but a sham, and
that in an ironic compliance with IWNC regulations about
not wasting resources, most of the meat taken from these
catches winds up in supermarkets and restaurants around the

Now, we know of very few Japanese who actually like the
taste of or who want to eat whale meat. It seems that of
those who do, either they had no choice during and after
WWII, when protein was hard to get, or they had it fed to
them at school lunches when they were kids. Most people say
that whale meat, which we presume depends on the cut, is
either succulent or very oily and chewy. What we do know is
that the schools have to turn it into hamburger and crumbed
cutlets in order to get the kids to eat it. And, given the
high market price, there are other much better substitutes.

[Continued below...]

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For more details, email David Wells at

[...Article continues]

So what is going on? Why is the Ministry of Agriculture,
Forestry, and Fisheries (MAFF) and its Fisheries Agency,
so single-minded about not only increasing the hunting of
whales but also the promotion of whale consumption in a
modern-day Japan that doesn't really care for it? We put
it down to one of 3 possible things: 1) Food security,
2) Nationalism, or 3) a bargaining chip.

Food security. Japan has one of the lowest food
self-sufficiencies in the OECD, just 40%, due to its lack
of land area relative to the population. As a result,
traditionally most food has come from the sea and this is
reflected in the size of the fishing industry. It may well
be that the super-conservative MAFF, emboldened now by
the super-conservative government of Shinzo Abe, is trying
to rebuild the nation's ability to supply itself with a
high-volume source of readily available meat should its
traditional land-based international suppliers decide not

Concern for food security implies that there may come a
time when Japan cannot depend on the USA and Australia for
supplies -- perhaps the nationalists have some politically
sensitive plans afoot?

But more likely they're just acting from experience. It is
often said that the soybean shock enforced by Richard Nixon
in the 1970's traumatized Japanese bureaucrats. Whatever
the reason, the cynical side of us leads us to think that
food security is an excellent means of manipulating public
opinion and looking after local vested interests at the
same time. Foreign threats always make good paper

Nationalism. In June 1979, the Japanese envoys to the IWC
meeting in London were splashed with red paint by
anti-whaling conservationists and this was deeply offensive
and shocking to those involved. The incident marked the
rise of the conservationists, specifically Greenpeace, and
eventually led in 1986 to the IWC imposing a global
commercial whaling ban and the establishment of a number of
sanctuaries in the Southern Oceans. These two events led
Japanese conservative politicians to start accusing the
international community, and certain Western nations in
particular, of food source "imperialism".

But then it would only be imperialism if the Japanese
actually had a tradition of eating whales, to protect. The
Japanese Whaling Association says that local harpoon whaling
began in the 12th century, but the truth is that apart from
whaling towns the mammal was seldom eaten until post-WWII,
when it became a cheap source of protein for a
near-starving nation. This initial popularity quickly
disappeared once people could afford regular fish and
eventually land-based meat. These days, less than 1% of the
population eats the annual production of 4,000 tons of
whale meat, about 1/200th of the market for beef. It
doesn't appear that the whale meat industry is big enough to
warrant protecting.

Local politicians have given heated xenophobic speeches
over the last 20-30 years, with some speculating that there
is a conspiracy by western nations wanting to change the
Japanese diet and thus control the food supply. They also
raise the inevitable question of whether killing and eating
non-endangered whales constitutes a significantly greater
"evil" than killing cows, pigs, and other mammals. Our
take is that it doesn't really matter whether they have a
logical argument or not. The reality is that world opinion
on this topic, just like pollution and the Kyoto Accord, is
changing and Japan can't afford to ignore that. Maybe
someone should start a whale calf well-being trading
market (like carbon trading) for trading firms to
speculate in?

Bargaining Chip. Lastly, perhaps a more logical reason for
the whaling is that the Japanese are building for
themselves a bargaining chip. With one of the world's
smartest bureaucracies, they must realize full well what
effect they are having on the international stage. We have
seen that North Korea has its quite effective "nutty nukes"
diplomacy, so maybe the Japanese are angling for some form
of whaling (or overall agriculture and fisheries)
diplomacy? It's hard to see now just how they might use
this to advantage, but when you're a bureaucrat hoping for
rising nationalist sentiment, a game plan of 20+ years
would not be so surprising.

Whatever the reason, one thing is for sure, Japan's whaling
obsession is expensive. In order to swing the IWC 2006
meeting vote of 32 nations in favor of calling the 1986
moratorium "temporary", Japan by some estimates spent
upwards of JPY80bn on international lobbying, foreign aid,
and debt relief for small countries such as the Caribbean
island nations of St. Kitts and Nevis. It is surprising
that this kind of spending has not come up on the domestic
political radar, because it is clearly wasted money.

We leave you with an amusing retort to the Japanese claim
that the Minke whale is now in such abundant supply, as a
species it is consuming 5 times the volume of fish that
humans do. A foreign environmentalist said that this was
like blaming the woodpecker for the destruction of the
Amazon rainforests...!

We'd be interested in hearing from readers why they think
Japan feels it has to engage in whaling. Is it an obvious
conspiracy or just some egotistical politicians? Write us
at with your take.

Next, just a reminder that we have two events coming up.
Firstly the Entrepreneur's Handbook Seminar on June 9th
about how to set up, run, and eventually sell a company in

Then, separately, Hong Kong business-establishment
specialist David Wells will be in Tokyo from June 11th,
and will be available for obligation-free consulting
sessions during that week. If you have business or tax
interests in Hong Kong, this would be a good chance to get
some advice on how to go about it. Contact him at:

Lastly, if you're looking for a chance to move up to a
country manager position, and you're bilingual, see this
week's Candidate Round-up section below. Non-Japanese with
appropriate marketing/sales experience are welcome.

...The information janitors/


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+++ NEWS

- No hybrid Accord from Honda
- Seawater desalination costs drop dramatically
- SMBs to be exempt from lending limits
- Nomura to increase rents 20%
- Citigroup to list Japan unit?

-> No hybrid Accord from Honda

In a sign that Honda's hybrid technology may not yet be
ready for prime time, the company announced that it will
not introduce a hybrid version of the Accord when it
switches to its new hybrid platform later this year in the
USA. Instead, only the Civic will get the hybrid engine,
and from 2009 the mid- and large-sized models will get a
clean diesel plant based on Honda's European engines.
***Ed: There will be a lot of disappointed customers, and a
strong risk that Honda customers will defect Toyota and
other hybrid manufacturers.** (Source: TT commentary
from, Jun 3, 2007)

view source

-> Seawater desalination costs drop dramatically

Global warming may be bad news for some, but for Toray
Industries, the future looks bright. The company makes
reverse osmosis membranes, plastic sheets impregnated with
millions of tiny 1 nanometer holes that permit the passing
of water but not salts and impurities. The company has said
that its installation in one of Asia's largest water
desalination plants, in Singapore in autumn 2005, has been
a success and that the plant is now producing 136,000 m3 of
fresh water a day, about 10% of Singapore's daily
consumption. Toray says that its membranes can produce
water at a cost of JPY60/m3, compared with reusing waste
water, which costs JPY30/m3, or purifying river water at
JPY25/m3. (Source: TT commentary from, Jun 1,

view source

-> SMBs to be exempt from lending limits

With the FSA now looking at imposing cumulative lending
limits on individuals, as part of its ongoing effort to
eliminate predatory consumer financing, there has been some
concern about the ability for small companies to borrow.
The FSA has countered that concern by stating that it will
exempt loans to SMBs from the lending limits. The new
limits should go into effect at the end of 2009. (Source:
TT commentary from, Jun 2, 2007)

view source

-> Nomura to increase rents 20%

You've gotta love those REITs. Nomura Real Estate Holdings
has just announced what others have been doing for some
time now, that they will be increasing across the board
their tenants' office rents, some by as much as 20%. ***Ed:
Some analysts say that 20% may be too aggressive and that
5-10% is more realistic. However, if Nomura is sitting on
real estate that hasn't had a rate increase for some years,
they may in fact be able to argue that the underlying asset
value/cost has risen by the same amount, creating a very
powerful legal argument for raises to at least match those
underlying rises.(Source: TT commentary from,
May 31, 2007)

view source

-> Citigroup to list Japan unit?

An online financial publication called Facta has been
widely quoted as saying that Citigroup may list its Japan
banking unit on the Tokyo Stock Exchange as early as July.
Citigroup is not commenting on the report. This is the
second media story indicating that something is afoot,
after the Nikkei reported in February that Citigroup was
planning to list depository receipts on the Tokyo exchange.
Facta says that instead of depository receipts, an IPO is
more likely. (Source: TT commentary from, Jun
1, 2007)

view source

NOTE: Broken links
Many online news sources remove their articles after just a
few days of posting them, thus breaking our links -- we
apologize for the inconvenience.


================ Start a Company in Japan =================

Entrepreneur's Handbook Seminar 9th of June, 2007

If you have been considering setting up your own company,
find out what it takes to make it successful. Terrie Lloyd,
founder of over 13 start-up companies in Japan, will be
giving an English-language seminar and Q and A on starting
up a company in Japan. This is an ideal opportunity to find
out what is involved, and to ask specific questions that
are not normally answered in business books. All materials
are in English and are Japan-focused.

For more details:


=> LINC Japan Ltd., an affiliate of the LINC Media group,
is actively marketing the following positions and customers
for market entry customers setting up in Japan.


A major dental instruments manufacturer in the USA is
looking for a country manager. They are willing to consider
someone from outside the dental sector, as the entire
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Japan. Office of 5 staff, located near Ueno. This position
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* Capital introduction sales manager, bilingual -- JPY50-60m
* Medical instruments CEO, bilingual -- JPY15-18m
* Medical instruments salesperson, bilingual -- JPY10-12m
* Software company CEO, bilingual -- JPY15-18m
* Experienced software salesperson, bilingual -- JPY10-12m
* Financial data analyst, bilingual -- JPY6-9m
* Network engineer, bilingual -- JPY5-8m
* IT sales trainee, bilingual -- JPY4-5m
* Help desk analyst, bilingual -- JPY4-5m
* Java software developer, bilingual -- JPY6-7m
* Freelance market entry consultants, bilingual -- Neg.


* Senior IT Sales
38-yr old male IT salesperson, both hw and sw experience,
native J + good E, wants senior sales role or country
manager, available June-July, target JPY12-14m base plus

* Senior Marketing
39-yr old female Marketing/Sales manager, mainly media
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JPY10-12m base plus commissions

Interested Japanese or foreign candidates may e-mail
resumes to:


----------------- Tokyo PC Club Meeting -------------------

June 7, 7:00 pm - Secrets in an IT Consultant's Toolbox

Jason Winder, President, Webnet IT demonstrates tools that
improve your productivity, such as The Google Revolution,
Windows Mobile and Push Email, Wireless Headsets and Voice
Recognition, Docking Stations, Asterisk/Trixbox,
and Bit Torrents.

Tokyo Union Church
See for details.

=========== Entrepreneur Association of Tokyo =============

4th Year Anniversary Seminar - June 11

Speaker: Yoshito Hori, Chairman and CEO of Globis Group

Join us in celebrating our 4 year anniversary at the Globis
Head Office in Kojimachi with Yoshito Hori of the Globis
Group. Founded in 1992 the Globis Group has five lines of
business: Globis Management School (GMS), Globis
Organization Learning (GOL), Globis Management Institute
(GMI), Globis Management Bank (GMB), and Globis Capital
Partners (GCP) which manages 3 funds with commitments
exceeding JPY38bn (US$360m).

Date/Time: Monday, June 11, 7:00 pm
Location: Globis Head Office
Language: English


---------------- ICA Event - June 21 ----------------------

Speaker:Peter Butterfield
Vice President and General Counsel, KVH Co., Ltd.
Speaker:M.S. Rangaraj
Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, KVH Co., Ltd.

Topic: Off-shoring to India, Key Factors to Consider

Details: Complete event details at Required)
Date: Thursday, June 21, 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


IT events announcements are priced at JPY50,000 per week.
For more information, contact sales at



In this section we run comments and corrections submitted
by readers. We encourage you to spot our mistakes and
amplify our points, by email, to

-> No corrections this week.

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