* * * * * * * * * T E R R I E 'S T A K E * * * * * * *
A weekly roundup of news & information from Terrie Lloyd.
General Edition Sunday, January 20, 2008 Issue No. 453
- What's new
- Candidate roundup/Vacancies
- Upcoming events
- News credits
SUBSCRIBE to, UNSUBSCRIBE from Terrie's Take at:
------------ NEW OFFICE SETUP OR RELOCATION ---------------
SETTING UP AN OFFICE EARLY IN 2008?
PBXL CAN DELIVER!
Don't buy a PBX!
PBXL is a hosted Cisco end-to-end solution that every office
needs for its core business phone infrastructure.
For Terrie's Take readers, PBXL is offering a new office
set-up campaign of up to 10 people for only 98,000 yen,
up to 20 people for only 198,000 yen, for a discount of up
to 270,000 yen!
For complete details on this bundle, click the link below,
or call us at:
Come see PBXL in action at Cisco Japan HQ:
(registration is open for our next event on Thurs Jan 24)
--------- PBXL Hosted Business Communications -------------
+++ WHAT'S NEW
2008 will go down as a memorable year in politics. Of
course we have the US presidential election coming up in
November, but closer to home there will be plenty of
fireworks in Tokyo, and possibly a local general election
as well. The reason why things are heating up here lies
with an ongoing power struggle inside the ruling LDP
between reformers and the old guard, which the old guard
are winning, and which is disgusting the Japanese voting
public. Then at the same time, the opposition DPJ party
is starting to get a feel for how much power it can wield
now that it controls the Upper House of the Diet
This is a historic period for Japanese politics, and we get
the feeling that a cornered LDP will be calling on all its
various vested interests to come out swinging for the
party. This includes the news media. For example, the
Yomiuri has started running heavily biased editorials about
how irresponsible the DPJ is for attempting to spoil the
US-Japan ship refueling legislation which the LDP finally
had to ram through in a second reading of the bill, using
their 2/3 super-majority in the Lower House. We can only
assume that the Yomiuri, representing the right wing views
of the country, must be getting concerned that the DPJ
threat is for real.
Ozawa, the leader of the DPJ, is not a popular person among
Japanese voters, who feel he is arrogant and lacks
commonsense. But with former PM Junichiro Koizumi gone, it
now falls to the DPJ to perform the role of being a force
for change (well, a change of power anyway) and the party
appears to be tapping in to the same fount of consciousness
that Koizumi did when he won a landslide election victory
in 2005. You'll recall that prior to the election he
expelled those opposing his efforts to privatize the
Japanese Post Office, the world's largest financial
institution, and with the subsequent resounding public
endorsement, he was able to move quickly and forcefully in
2006 to push through the privatization legislation.
Koizumi's victory should have taught the LDP Old Guard that
the public has had enough of construction-based pork barrel
politics, at its worst during the public works pump priming
of the 1990's, and that they do in fact understand that
more of the same will bankrupt the country. But for some
reason, with Koizumi then Abe both gone, under PM Fukuda
it's been a race for the feeding troughs.
Well, at least until late last year when the DPJ had a
brainwave and a golden opportunity handed to them...
------------------- Financial Times------------------------
Established in 1888 and published in 23 major cities, the
Financial Times is essential reading for the global business
community, providing news in print and online around the
clock to more than 1.3 million readers worldwide.
In both its print and online versions, the FT has a reputation
for authority, balance and depth of coverage.
With 400 specialist journalists in 70 offices around the
world, and unrivalled access to global business and government
leaders, the FT 's global business intelligence and insight
will help you start the day fully briefed on significant
events in business, politics and finance.
FT newspaper and FT.com (one year subscription - 310 issues)
Normal retail price:
JPY90,720 ( Saving you 54%.)
If you would like to subscribe please call our dedicated
customer service team on 0120-341-468 or
The golden opportunity is petrol taxes. At the end of the
fight over the refueling law, many wondered why Ozawa
walked away from the second vote, in order to stump for a
DPJ candidate in Osaka. The reason was that he realized
that the public don't really care about overseas support
of the US effort in Iraq. They're more concerned with
falling living standards here and the threat to their
futures (i.e., the pensions). Thus, Ozawa decided to make
his stand on something more symbolic and more relevant.
This has turned out to be the removal of a special
supplementary tax on gasoline, which is a cash spigot
for the Old Guard in government. This issue is perhaps
the DPJ's one real chance to cast themselves as the good
guys, and portray the LDP as having sold out to vested
The story behind the gasoline taxes, as you will have no
doubt read in the media, goes back to the early 1960's.
It was then that the initial tax (along with some others)
was set at JPY24.3 per liter of gas. However, back in 1974
the scandal-ridden Tanaka Kakuei government put in place a
special provisional (5-year renewing) surcharge of another
JPY24.3 to fund an acceleration of roading projects. It is
this provisional second tax increase that is the focus of
It appears that Tanaka's team deliberately designed the tax
in such a way that it has remained non-transparent to the
public, and is highly controllable. Nowadays, gasoline
taxes account for 60% of all roading taxes and represent a
huge flow of off-budget cash. Tanaka's government and those
ever since have all used the massive flow of funds to
allocate construction projects to "deserving" rural areas
and thus lock in the support of those local governments and
the companies which feed from those projects. The
politicians behind this funding are extremely powerful,
persistent, and are nick-named the "Doro Zoku", or the Road
Tanaka's efforts weren't all negative, and indeed, he
managed to open up swathes of Northern Honshu which might
otherwise still be locked in a post-war time warp. But the
need for such a system expired several decades ago and the
projects promulgated in the 1990's and ever since have
mostly been unnecessary or an overkill of the problems at
hand. As a result, in 2002 Koizumi mandated a massive
10.7% reduction of public works projects, and he and the
Ministry of Finance planned to use any surplus to pay
down national debts, improve the pension funding, and
cope with the aging of the population. Since that date,
until this year, the government has indeed managed to cut
public works by 4% a year -- bringing the total
expenditure down from a bloated JPY9.4trn (US$85bn) to
JPY6.9trn (US$62bn), a surprising 25% reduction.
Well done Koizumi...
The road tax numbers are truly mind boggling. The
government raises about JPY3.4trn from them, equivalent to
about 2% of the current consumption tax income. The money
is split between central and local governments and by law,
JPY2.8trn is committed to roading. The remaining JPY600bn
comprises surplus funds, and is the object of the political
tussle at present. Previously, Koizumi had the money
allocated to servicing the debts of the four roading
corporations formed after he forced their privatization in
2005. The public was staggered to learn that, mostly during
the 1990's, these entities had managed to incur debts of
The thing that most of the Japanese public understand is
that the use of private automobiles is dropping, there is
a clear mis-allocation (or worse) of funds, and there are
many other government obligations (pensions, consumption
tax, etc.) which have higher priority. Their sense of
fairness and the obviousness of the problems are helping to
elevate the gas tax issue above the manipulations of the
conservative media, and it is this fact that the DPJ is
trying to take advantage of.
But the DPJ has to be careful. They quickly need to gather
facts and figures prove the gasoline taxes are
misallocated, and to show how its elimination won't
endanger the country's transport infrastructure. If they
choose the intellectually cheaper avenue of bluster and
confrontation, they will be painted by the LDP and the
press as ineffective blow-hards unhappy with the fact that
they can't force Fukuda into an election. Under such
conditions, they would be likely to lose an election.
As one example of how poorly thought out the use of funds
has been, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and
Transport back in 1995 OK'd the start of the 320km Dai-ni
(No. 2) Tomei expressway between Nagoya and Tokyo, as well
as the 170km Meishin expressway between Nagoya and Kobe --
even though they knew at the time that road usage by trucks
Conceived as a backup transportation link in case the
existing Tomei was closed or clogged with holiday and
end-of-month traffic jams, in 2005 construction costs for
the Dai-ni Tomei had ballooned to around JPY23.6bn
(US$214m) per kilometer to build! That's a lot of money to
relieve a few days per year of inconvenience.
Indeed, it is about 5 times more than other expressways, due
to the fact that around 60% of the links are above ground
in the form of bridges, or underground as tunnels. The
overall budget was planned to be around JPY10trn - JPY20trn
(US$90bn-US$120bn), but of course that was in 1995 yen,
before China started swallowing global resources, and we
imagine that the final real cost could be as much as double
this amount. Put in proper perspective, this one project
will swallow up between one third and one half of the
nation's entire tax take for this year. Segments of it have
been completed, but no one really seems to know when the
project will finish, and thus, what it will finally cost.
Some suggest that there are indirect economic benefits,
such as savings in traveling times and gasoline
consumption, and that these justify the investments.
However, it isn't hard to see that road usage is going to
continue dropping by wide margins. For example, by at least
the same rate as the population decrease (i.e., decreases
in people available to drive trucks and to consume goods).
Simple extrapolation of a 20% decrease in population by
2050 also helps us see that Japan doesn't need a
second Tomei -- some intelligent discounting of tolls and
letting JR East go ahead with its mag-lev plans (which
would be privately funded) would easily distribute the peak
In the meantime, if the DPJ is successful in stalling a
renewal of the provisional gasoline tax by the end of
March, motorists can expect gas prices to fall about 20-30
days later when the newly de-taxed supplies reach the pumps.
Interestingly, the oil companies are reported to be
thinking about holding tankers off-shore during March, in
the expectation that there will be a temporary slump in
gasoline demand over that month, and dock them in time
for an anticipated April surge once the prices drop.
Consumers will certainly be happy with the cheaper prices,
and the DPJ will see a resurgence in its popularity. But
will it last until Fukuda is finally forced to call an
Lastly, we direct you to the CEO position in our VACANCIES
section below. A mid-size foreign ERP/CRM company is
looking for a CEO to substantially grow it's business here and
wants someone entrepreneurial. Japanese-speaking foreigners
and English-speaking Japanese are both qualified to apply for
What will make the job particularly interesting is that you
will not only have an on-going business to take over and
grow, you will also be asked to get involved in acquiring
several companies over the next 12 months and integrating
them into the operation. Indeed, the firm has already
started the M&A search.
...The information janitors/
------------ MAXIMIZE YOUR IT INVESTMENT -----------------
LET YOUR EMPLOYEES PERFORM TO THEIR BEST!
If you've built a top-notch team, they can't focus when
they're weighed down supporting the day-to-day
operation of your tech infrastructure.
Baytek can augment the functionality of your exiting
IT Department by assisting with their workload or by
taking over specific tasks or projects on a fixed-term,
permanent, or hourly basis.
For smaller companies, we can become your virtual
IT department through our managed services
For complete details about Baytek's offerings, visit:
Phone or mail:
Whether desktop, server, network or database...we've
got you covered in the Greater Tokyo area.
--------- CONTACT BAYTEK DATA SOLUTIONS -------------------
- Herbal producers tracking suppliers
- Goodwill temps in trouble
- Diet stand-off endangers BoJ appointment
- Blu-Ray killing HD-DVD
- Mr Yen says JPY100 to the dollar
-> Herbal producers tracking suppliers
Two herbal medicine companies distributing in Japan but
sourcing ancient remedies from China have decided to start
tracking their sources of supply, so as to increase food
safety, quality, and accountability. The two are Tsumura
and Kracie Pharma, who between them have more than 20,000
suppliers in China and who control about 70% of the
Chinese herbal remedy market in Japan. ***Ed: We've seen
this trend already in the organic produce field, where
photos and even short resumes of the producers can be
called up from 2D barcodes. Next up, western herbal
medicines?** (Source: TT commentary from nikkei.co.jp,
Jan 19, 2008)
-> Goodwill temps in trouble
Well, if you're a government regulator about to suspend the
biggest temping agency in Japan, one would hope that you've
planned for the resulting fall-out. But it doesn't seem
that this is the case with Goodwill-registered temporary
staffers. Apparently, the business suspension of the
company has caused 2.9m (yes, that's a lot of people)
staffers to suddenly be out of work -- and for between 2
and 4 months. Although the Tokyo Labor Bureau is fielding
inquiries, because most of the the temp staffers don't have
unemployment insurance, they're not getting financial help.
***Ed: For some strange reason, probably just an oversight,
the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare neglected to
require Goodwill to register its staffers under a "day
worker" insurance program set up specially for temporary
workers.** (Source: TT commentary from Japantimes.co.jp,
Jan 18, 2008)
-> Diet stand-off endangers BoJ appointment
The Times newspaper reports that the ongoing stand-off
between the LDP and DPJ parties threatens to derail the
appointment of the new governor of the Bank of Japan
(BoJ). Although the position is not expected to be left in
limbo for long, it is both embarrassing and a poor start
for Toshihiko Fukui's successor. Observers are saying that
the new man will probably be even more invisible than
Fukui has been of late (at least since his shares scandal),
and will toe the LDP line rather than run the BoJ
independently as it is supposed to be. (Source: TT
commentary from timesonline.co.uk, Jan 18, 2008)
-> Blu-Ray killing HD-DVD
A BCN store sales report has stated that Sony's Blu-Ray
format high-density DVDs are killing competing Toshiba's
HD-DVD format in the stores. Apparently about 90% of
next-gen DVDs are the Blu-Ray format. Sony has a 60%
market share, followed by Panasonic with a bit less than
27% and Sharp with just under 10%. Toshiba came in at 4%
of overall sales. About 35% of all DVD players are now
next-gen models. (Source: TT commentary from
afp.google.com, Jan 19, 2008)
-> Mr Yen says JPY100 to the dollar
Former vice Finance Minister, Eisuke Sakakibara, has
commented that he thinks that the US Fed lowering interest
rates again will significantly increase the demand for yen,
and the currency is possibly in for a major increase vs.
the US dollar. He says that unlike past years, the
Japanese government is unlikely to intervene if the yen
strengthens past 105, and as this fact is absorbed by
currency traders, they will be likely to push the yen up.
Sakakibara speculates that the yen will hit 100 to the
dollar by summer and could possibly move higher later in
the year. (Source: TT commentary from wsj.com, Jan 19,
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.
------- IT and Administrative Staffing Solutions ----------
Whether you are a company needing to hire, or a candidate
looking for a new opportunity, Choose Skillhouse...
you will see the difference!
Skillhouse provides IT and Administrative Staffing Services
via direct placement, long and short term assignments and
+++ CANDIDATE ROUND UP/VACANCIES
=> LINC Japan Ltd., an affiliate of the LINC Media group,
is actively marketing the following positions for market
entry customers setting up in Japan, as well as other
employers of bilinguals.
** HIGHLIGHTED POSITION(S)
A leading ERP company is looking for a CEO to head up a
substantial planned ramp up in growth of the company in
Japan. The position requires someone with a strong sales
background and strong leadership experience. Fluency in
both English and Japanese is essential.
Expected remuneration is around JPY25m base and
significant incentive bonuses.
Contact email@example.com for more information.
* CRM and ERP experienced Support Manager - JPY12+m
* ERP Services Manager, bilingual -- JPY12-14m
* Enterprise software salesperson, bilingual -- JPY10-12m
* Applications support engineer, SQL experience -- JPY6-8m
* Jr. System Administrator, bilingual -- JPY6-8m
* BPCS work flow analyst, bilingual -- JPY12-15m
No candidates listed this week.
Interested companies may e-mail resumes to:
============= Back Office Support for SMEs ================
If you have a small 5-10 person office in Japan, chances
are that you are employing both an accountant and an HR
person. Chances are, too, that neither of them are working
LINC Media's BPO Division can help you bring your costs
down and improve head office reporting and interaction in
We already support many smaller foreign firms in Japan,
with a range of bilingual back office services, including
accounting, tax, HR, compliance, and even local
Cost-effective, communicative, global standards. LINC Media
BPO. Contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or call
+++ UPCOMING EVENTS/ANNOUNCEMENTS
********** Tokyo Marathon -- Seeking Runners **************
Were you crazy or brave enough to sign up for the Tokyo
marathon which is being run on February 17th? Help is at
hand with a last minute training session from two Olympic
athletes offering some last minute tips.
In return all we want is for you to run for Tyler.
Shine on! www.tylershineon.org
------- Marcus Evans Events - Supported by J@pan Inc ------
Date :22nd-23rd January, 2008 Venue: Hilton Tokyo Hotel
-Clinical Trial and Drug Development Excellence 2008
Date :23rd-24th January, 2008 Venue: Hilton Tokyo Hotel
The event features case studies and expert presentations by
Taiho Pharmaceutical Co., Pfizer, Eli Lilly, Bayer, AstraZeneca
and Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co.
'J@pan Inc readers are entitled to a 10% discount upon
registration with Ms. Esther Wong.'
For further details and brochures, please contact:
Ms. Esther Wong
Tel No: +603 2723 6736
Fax No: +603 2723 6699
Email add: email@example.com
------ Metropolis Magazine Valentine`s Glitterball --------
Glitterball is back!
Tokyo's favorite party makes its triumphant return on
February 14, 2008-Valentine's Day. An institution for
nearly a decade, the Metropolis-hosted Glitterball was on
hiatus this year due to the closing of Velfarre nightclub,
but 2008's version promises to be better than ever.
Roppongi hotspot A-life will host over 1,000 V-Day revelers
for a night of eating, drinking, dancing, making friends --
and who knows what else?! Prize drawings, swag bags, and
Tokyo's funnest crowd will make the reborn Glitterball the
highlight of the Tokyo social calendar.
CORPORATE SPONSORS WELCOME
------ Entrepreneur Association of Tokyo - Feb 5th --------
Title: 'Presentation Zen: How to design and deliver great
presentations in today's world'
Speaker: Garr Reynolds
Start off the year learning an essential skill for any
entrepreneur or business person with presentation designer
and internationally acclaimed communications consultant
Garr Reynolds. He will be sharing his experience in a
provocative mix of illumination, education, and guidance
that may change the way you think about making
presentations with PowerPoint.
Date/Time: Tuesday, February 5, 7:00 pm
Location: Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan
--------------------- MIDEMNET FORUM ----------------------
MUSIC BUSINESS IN THE DIGITAL AGE
26/27 January 2008, Cannes, France, at MIDEM, the world's
music market. MidemNet Forum brings you an invaluable
update on how digital is driving the music business
forward, changing it rapidly and radically. Over 2 days of
intense conference sessions and serious networking
opportunities. You will debate and engage with more than
1,300 key international executives and play an active role
in shaping the future of the industry.
Speakers: Janus Friis, Co-Founder, Joost, Kazaa and Skype;
Jean-Bernard Levy, CEO, Vivendi; Tero Ojanpera, EVP & CTO,
Nokia; Kevin Roberts, CEO Worldwide, Saatchi & Saatchi.
The earlier you register, the less you pay. Hurry, seats
are limited! www.midem.com
Events announcements are priced at JPY50,000 per week.
For more information, contact sales at japaninc.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
-> In TT444, Baby Machines, we speculated as to the reasons
for the falling birth rate in Japan.
*** Reader's Response:
I have been curious/interested in this issue as well, and
have a couple more items to add to the low birthrate cause
1. Unsuitable diet
In addition to the additives in processed foods, one can
also mention the heavy emphasis on simple carbs (sugar,
white rice, white flour) in the modern Japanese diet, a
type of diet which has been shown to negatively affect
fertility (there was a major article on this topic in the
US edition of Newsweek in December, 2007. Also mentioned
in this article is the negative effect of transfats on
fertility. It amazes me the lack of awareness in Japan of
the dangers of transfats and their widespread use – even
many ostensibly "health" foods boast of margarine
and/or shortening in their ingredients.
2. High levels of mercury
This has been been shown to lead to infertility.
The heavy consumption of tuna and other seafood in Japan
means that there is likely a lot of elevated mercury levels
among the Japanese. A recent study in NY city, where
people also eat a lot of sushi, showed high levels of
mercury among many people, so it's safe to assume that the
situation in Japan is same or worse.
3. No opportunities to date
But more importantly, a couple of steps earlier in the
process From my observation of my single 30-something
Japanese girlfriends, one of the biggest issues is the
difficulty finding a mate. I know quite a few Japanese gals
who would love to marry and have children, if only they
could find a guy! These are attractive, intelligent women
with good personalities. But there is no way in their daily
lives (commute, work, hang out with other single
girlfriends) for them to have a chance to meet eligible
men. And even if they "get out there" to activities, there
are no men attending because they are all working. None of
them would ever do something like online dating
(considered dangerous and unsavory, not something a
respectable girl would do). The old ways that Japanese used
to meet their spouses have largely gone away, but no new
ways have come into being to take their place.
------------ Translation/Marketing Service ----------------
The J@pan Inc Translation/Marketing team now offers
translation and marketing services for companies to help
them enhance their performance internationally. Our
- Professional translation
- Catchy copy writing
- Strategic design
- Effective PR
- Direct marketing
Our achievement includes:
- Corporate report translation and desktop publishing
- In-house magazine translation and desktop publishing
- Annual report translation
- Company legal document translation
- Government PR brochure copy writing and design
- DM service targeting senior executives
Contact email@example.com for more details.
SUBSCRIBERS: 12,021 as of January 20, 2008
(We purge our list regularly.)
+++ ABOUT US
Written by: Terrie Lloyd (firstname.lastname@example.org)
HELP: E-mail Terrieemail@example.com
with the word 'help' in the subject or body (don't include
the quotes), and you will get back a message with
Send letters (Feedback, Inquiries & Information) to the
editor to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on advertising in this newsletter,
Get Terrie's Take by giving your name and email address at
http://www.japaninc.com/newsletters/free_sign_up, or go
straight to Mailman at:
Copyright 2008 Japan Inc. Communications Inc.
________________Japan Inc is worth every penny!____________
J@pan Inc is Japan's only English-language business magazine.
Authoritatively chronicling business trends in Japan, each
beautifully designed full-color issue brings you in-depth
analysis of business, people and technology in the world's
second largest economy. Don't miss another issue! JPY 3,600
for 1 year (six issues) JPY 6,000 for 2 years (twelve issues)
Visit http://www.japaninc.com/mgz_subscriptions to subscribe.