TT-659 -- Overcoming Aversion to English, ebiz news in Japan

* * * * * * * * * T E R R I E 'S T A K E * * * * * * *
A weekly roundup of news & information from Terrie Lloyd.
(http://www.terrie.com)

General Edition Sunday, April 22, 2012, Issue No. 659

+++ INDEX

- What's New -- Overcoming Aversion to English
- News -- Rakuten shuts down China online mall
- Upcoming Events
- Corrections/Feedback -- More Fukushima radiation risk
- Travel Destinations Picks -- Ehime and Okinawa
- News Credits

SUBSCRIBE to, UNSUBSCRIBE from Terrie's Take at:
http://mailman.japaninc.com/mailman/listinfo/terrie

BACK ISSUES
http://www.japaninc.com/terries_take, or,
http://mailman.japaninc.com/pipermail/terrie/

---------- PBXL TOTAL TELEPHONY SOLUTION (TTS) ------------

PAYING TOO MUCH FOR MONTHLY CALLING CHARGES?
PBXL's Total Telephony Solution is the answer for unlimited
domestic and international calling. With PBXL cloud
telephony and TTS, enjoy a fully managed solution with zero
variable costs. No office is too big or too small to save
money.

- Unlimited calling within Japan and 23 countries
- Flat-rate calling charges based on number of phones
- PBXL will review your current bills and save you money

Check out our website today at http://en.pbxl.jp
e-mail us at info@pbxl.jp or call us at 03-4550-2557

------------ PBXL is BUSINESS COMMUNICATIONS --------------

+++ WHAT'S NEW

Back in February (TT-651) we discussed the problem of
rigidity in the Japanese school system and how this is
holding back the ability of the country to internationalize
-- a critical issue now that Japanese firms need to expand
abroad to survive. The outcome of such rigidity is that
kids either get hammered with values and processes so often
that they learn to give up OR they learn to hate the
system, and this is what has been happening to those
learning English.

A study released by the Japan Youth Research Institute
(JYRI) survey of 8,000 kids across China, South Korea,
Japan, and the USA found that just 57.2% of Japanese
students are interested in studying abroad and that this
was the lowest level of interest out of the four countries.
This study is relevant because it is generally agreed that
studying abroad is the best way to achieve fluency in a
foreign language, not to mention broadening one's problem
solving skills and general awareness. In comparison to the
Japanese kids, 82.4% of the South Korean kids and 62.5% of
Chinese ones were interested in studying overseas. As a
result, the number of Japanese studying abroad in 2009 fell
to just 59,923, compared with a peak of 82,945 kids in
2004.

Probably what's worse is that the JYRI survey found that a
majority of those not wanting to study abroad felt that way
because: i) life at home is easier (53.2%), ii) the
language barrier (48.1%), and iii) they have a lack of
confidence (42.7%). It's reasons and numbers like these
that scare the pants off the Japanese bureaucrats planning
the nation's future, since Japan has never needed
internationally minded and capable people more than now.
The local economy is headed downwards, and only overseas
expansion will maintain the tax base needed to pay for
future pensions and loans commitments.

Indeed, a knee-jerk reaction by the bureaucracy can already
be seen. The Education Ministry is going to almost double
its scholarship budget for kids studying overseas from
JPY1.9bn to JPY3.1bn. It is also going to allocate JPY40bn
over the next 5 years to share out between 40 universities
to get them to encourage more kids to go overseas. We've
mentioned before that often university professors want to
hold on to their most promising students instead of letting
them go. So just like subsidizing rice farmers, maybe the
money will go straight to the profs for entertainment
expenses...?

Anyway, each university will receive between JPY120m and
JPY160m a year and will be chosen according to the quality
of their plan to increase study-abroad numbers.

[Continued below...]

-- NAGAMINE & MISHIMA - Securing Your Success in Japan ---

Starting a new company in Japan? Looking to streamline
your current operations?

The team of bilingual experts at Nagamine & Mishima is able
to provide high quality accounting, payroll and tax
services that both exceed expectations and fit your budget.
Our services help customers improve their operations and
bottom line results.

To find out more about our services and how we can help
your business in Japan succeed, please visit our website
www.nagamine-mishima.com or reach us directly by telephone
at 03-3581-1975 or by email at info@nagamine-mishima.com.

---------- YOUR BOTTOM LINE IS OUR TOP PRIORITY------------

[...Article continues]

At the current rate of decline, one wonders where Japan is
going to get its English-speakers from, unless companies
follow Rakuten's lead and impose English as a requirement
to stay employed. It's hard to see this, though, when
surveys like one that came out from GABA in February found
that 47.2% of people aged between 20 and 49 years old would
quit their jobs if their employer tried to do what Rakuten
is doing. Interestingly, it was the people with lower
salaries who were more likely to say they'd quit.

What is important from the GABA survey is that only 16.5%
of the 1,000 people polled reckoned that the English they
studied for school was useful in business. A pretty damning
message from the man in the street to the Education
Ministry.

English is such a big psychological hurdle to school kids
that it has become a nationwide inferiority complex. A
recent Education Ministry survey of 3,225 middle school
students found that 70% of kids said that they dislike
English! At the same time, though, 85% agreed that English
was important because it would give them an edge in finding
a job in the future. Clearly there are some very conflicted
kids out there.

The basic problem is that English language learning up to
High School level is there for exams alone, and that those
teaching it as well as the kids coming out of the system
can barely use it on a practical level. This exam-oriented
approach has and will continue to create a huge level of
aversion in students. You might ask why the aversion is a
problem now and not previously, since the school system
hasn't really changed in 60 years? We posit that previous
generations of students felt more compelled to learn
English because the best jobs were in Japan's export
machine. In the twenty years following the Plaza Accord in
1986, however, exports became concentrated to a few major
firms and the majority of jobs were in the domestic market
where English wasn't important.

But now with the forced move abroad by mid- and small-sized
companies, perhaps the pendulum is now swinging back the
other way.

For the adults in the job market, the need to learn English
is more immediate and unavoidable. So while as half of
employees may say that they will quit if forced to use
English, at the same time there was a record number of
2.27m people taking TOEIC tests this year. There has also
been a dramatic take up in web-video and Skype services
that offer low-cost English lessons with teachers in the
Philippines. Hundreds of thousands of people are already
using such services such as the one from Cerego, a
Shibuya-based company run by local entrepreneurs Eric Young
and Andrew Smith Lewis, which charges JPY10,000/month
per subscription. Cerego says it is experiencing heavy
take-up of its offering and expects to have 100,000 paid-up
subscribers within 3 years.

We think this resurgence in interest in private education
and testing clearly demonstrates that in the end it's the
market that will drive people's attitudes to English. It's
not an issue of whether kids these days are wimpier than
they were 20 years ago, or that kids are morally weaker --
which are common points of debate in Japanese media these
days. Rather, we think that kids are commonsense consumers,
and as they see the job market continue to tighten and
English become even more of a prerequisite, then the
numbers of those willing to study abroad will go up again
-- especially if the higher value scholarships mean a
comfortable life abroad... Now if they could only set
things up so a group of kids could all go study in groups
of 5 or 10 best friends, then those kids would have the
best of both worlds. ;-)

*****************

A last call that www.JapanTourist.jp is running a special
promotion for anyone writing travel stories during April.
You can receive one of 70 Solare hotel room nights, for
stays in any one of 68 hotels around Japan. More details
in the ad towards the end of this newsletter.

*****************

And lastly, we are taking next Sunday, April 29th, off.
This is one of 4 weeks a year that we don't publish. We
will be back on May 6th. Please have a good Golden Week.

...The information janitors/

***------------------------****-------------------------***

-------------------- Delta Air Lines ----------------------

TRAVEL FREELY AT DELTA.COM

Make your travel plans anytime from home or at the office,
even within 24 hours of your next desired flight on Delta.
All it takes to save time and enhance your flying
experience is to visit delta.com today.

To book or secure your seat online:
1. Visit Itineraries & Check-in at delta.com
2. Enter your SkyMiles, credit card or eTicket number
3. Choose your favorite seat(s), upgrade or pay for excess
baggage
4. Drop your baggage at the nearest Delta counter

Please visit delta.com for more information.
-----------------------------------------------------------

+++ NEWS

- Tourist numbers close to pre-Fukushima volumes
- Hospitals form buying group
- Rakuten shuts down China online mall
- Government employees to start Cool Biz on May 1st
- NTT DATA to start software co. in Myanmar

-> Tourist numbers close to pre-Fukushima volumes

While there is still concern about future earthquakes and
radiation from Fukushima, it's not enough to keep away
tourists who are interested in Japan. The Japan National
Tourism Organization (JNTO) announced that there were
678,500 visitors in March 2012, just 4.4% less than the
same period in 2010. Tourist numbers have increased from
most countries other than South Korea, which is still down
11%. In a similar trend, a record number of Japanese also
traveled abroad, totaling 1.73m people. ***Ed: No doubt
the outbound folks are capitalizing on the high yen, while
the inbound ones are taking advantage of promotional
discounts -- it's a good time to travel.** (Source: TT
commentary from japantimes.co.jp, Apr 21, 2012)

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20120421b4.html

-> Hospitals form buying group

In what may not be good news for medical suppliers already
under pressure from shrinking government procurement, 60
hospitals around Japan, including the Japan Red Cross
Ishinomaki Hospital, have teamed up to co-buy equipment and
supplies. The group is expected to initially focus on
high-margin products such as pacemakers, catheters, and (we
presume) stents. The Nikkei says that the combined buying
power of the group is around JPY30bn annually. (Source: TT
commentary from e.nikkei.co.jp, April 20, 2012)

http://e.nikkei.com/e/ac/tnks/Nni20120419D1904A08.htm?GID=59

-> Rakuten shuts down China online mall

Rakuten has been aggressively expanding globally, which
means expanding risk as well. To CEO Mikitani's credit, he
knows when to stick around and fight and when to fold. This
has been the case with China, where Rakuten says it will
pull out of an online shopping mall venture with China's
largest online search provider, Baidu. Rakuten says that
tough competition and lots of red ink are behind the move
and that in pulling out it will write off the entire
investment of JPY860m. Baidu has not said what it will do
with the company and staff yet. ***Ed: This has to be a
black eye for Rakuten in China, and particularly given that
they are pulling out from a joint venture with such a major
player as Baidu. We imagine they won't be welcome back
there for a while...** (Source: TT commentary from
e.nikkei.co.jp, Apr 20, 2012)

http://e.nikkei.com/e/ac/tnks/Nni20120420DNJ06EEA.htm

-> Government employees to start Cool Biz on May 1st

The official nod to no ties and short sleeved shirts will
start early this year, on May 1st and run through to
October 31st. The government says that it wants to ensure
minimum power usage (in this case air conditioning) and so
wants people to dress for the warmer weather longer. The
temperatures in Tokyo for next week are expected to range
from 14 to 22 degrees, so not exactly sweat-inducing
weather. (Source: TT commentary from mainichi.jp, Apr 20,
2012)

http://bit.ly/I1Q2at

-> NTT DATA to start software co. in Myanmar

If like us and you've been mystified as to why the generals
in Myanmar have suddenly permitted a political thaw and are
pushing to open up to the world, some of the pieces will
have fallen into place over the last few weeks. On Friday
the government announced that it is forgiving JPY300bn of
loans and debt as well as extending new annual financial
assistance to develop that nation's economy. Hard on the
heels of this development, NTT Data has announced that it
will set up a software company in Myanmar, and will use it
as a base for business directed at (surprise, surprise) the
government and public agencies. ***Ed: Clearly NTT Data is
no slouch when it comes to offering its services to a
country with very little IT infrastructure and fresh
promises of home-team aid. You've got to admire, no matter
how grudgingly, how Japan Inc. works...** (Source: TT
commentary from 4-traders.com, Apr 20, 2012)

http://bit.ly/HWES7p

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.

***------------------------****-------------------------***

----------- Earn a Solare Hotel Room in April -------------

Last call. If you can write 350 words and take 3-5 photos,
then you should try your hand as a writer for Japan
Tourist, Metropolis' fast-growing Japan travel megasite.

www.japantourist.jp is in fact the fastest growing English-
language travel site in Japan, and it's getting that way
because more than 250 people have signed up to contribute.

For April only, Japantourist.jp is a bonus 70 hotel rooms
(offered on a sweepstakes basis) for articles written this
month. This means you have a 1-in-3 chance per article of
receiving a hotel room anywhere in the Solare network in
Japan.

Register at: http://japantourist.jp/register/.
www.japantourist.jp for more information.
-----------------------------------------------------------

***------------------------****-------------------------***

+++ CANDIDATE ROUND UP/VACANCIES

=> BiOS, a Division of the LINC Media group, is actively
marketing the following positions for customers setting up
or expanding in Japan, as well as other employers of
bilinguals.

** HIGHLIGHTED POSITION

BiOS is urgently looking for a Desktop/Branch Support
Engineer to work at our client's office in the Shinagawa-ku
area. The candidate will be responsible for Level 2
Resolver Group Services, IMAC services, Desktop Support for
Hardware and Software, as well as carrying out
hardware/software upgrades and maintenance. You will also
be responsible for providing support for ATM systems at the
client's branches onsite around the Kanto region, and
performing data security tasks.

Due to the technical nature and demanding work environment,
this position is suitable for someone with at least 3 years
of solid desktop or user support experience, and preferably
with experience in finance or banking industry, and IT
asset management. In addition, since this role requires
direct coordination with both regional and global IT teams,
business English and fluent Japanese will be required.

Remuneration is JPY4m -JPY5m depending on your experience
and skill level.

** POSITIONS VACANT

- Web Designer, large hotel/resort franchise, JPY 5M E7M
- Data Center Engr (Break/Fix), global bank, JPY 3M E4M
- Admin Assistant, systems integration firm, JPY 2M E3M
- Asset Management Admin, global systems IT firm, 3.6M E4M
- Bilingual Desktop Engr, global IT firm, 3.6M E4M

** BiOS Job Mail

Every 2 weeks BiOS sends out a regular communication to its
job seeking candidates, called BiOS Job Mail. Every edition
carries a list of BiOS's current and most up-to-date
vacancies, with each entry featuring a short job
description and a direct link to the main entry on the BiOS
home page. Regardless of whether you are unemployed and
searching, thinking about a career change, or just curious
to know if there is something out there that might suit you
better, the BiOS Job Mail newsletter is an easy and
convenient way for you to stay informed. If you would like
to register for the BiOS Job Mail, or to find out more,
please email tomohiro.kimura@biosjp.com.

Interested individuals may e-mail resumes to:
tomohiro.kimura@biosjp.com

-----------------------------------------------------------

--------- BIOS - Bilingual IT Systems and Support ---------

BiOS full-service IT solutions has a new service.

Now the largest independently owned bilingual IT support
company in Tokyo, BiOS offers some of the most competitive
services available to multinationals whether large or
small.

Data Center staff and managed services, Help Desk, desktop,
and network support. Server virtualization, cloud computing
hosting and solutions, general software development.

For more information on these and other SI and IT services,
in English or Japanese:

Phone: (03) 4588-2220, Email: solutions@biosjp.com
Web: www.biosjp.com
-----------------------------------------------------------

***------------------------****-------------------------***

+++ UPCOMING EVENTS/ANNOUNCEMENTS

---------------- Start a Company in Japan -----------------

Entrepreneur's Handbook Seminar 2nd of June, 2012

If you have been considering setting up your own company,
find out what it takes to make it successful. Terrie Lloyd,
founder of over 17 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:
http://www.japaninc.com/entrepreneur_handbook_seminar

-----------------------------------------------------------

--------------------- Operation Tohoku --------------------

Still working assisting the over 300,000 still in temporary
housing. Supplies urgently needed include rice, canned and
instant food, shampoo, towels, used laptop computers, hot
water pots, gas and electric stoves and more. Volunteers
urgently needed for a day or more.
Information at team@jhelp.com to support Postal Furikae
Account 00160 7 162438, The Japan Emergency Team

-----------------------------------------------------------

***------------------------****-------------------------***

+++ CORRECTIONS/FEEDBACK

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 editors@terrie.com.

*** More Fukushima radiation risk...
In Terrie's Take 658 we described how we were
cautiously optimistic that the nuclear threat to Tokyo was
passing, and that there are now trusted foreign reports
coming in that show this. HOWEVER, an alert reader sent us
the link below, which points out that the risk factor from
Fukushima is still very high and will remain that way for a
while to come. Specifically, until December next year, the
spent fuel in Reactor Building 4 cannot be moved as the
gantry crane collapsed into the fuel pool. This means that
if there was a major aftershock and the spent fuel pool
cracked open -- a strong possibility since it would have
been weakened in last year's quake, then there would be
threat of a meltdown of the spent fuel rods and thus a
major radiation release... Hmmm, not good.

See the video or simply read the transcript here:

http://bit.ly/I1Yqb5

***------------------------****-------------------------***

----------- Experienced Biz Dev/Interpreter --------------

Ex-investment banker, venture capitalist and current biz
dev expert seeks part-time work as interpreter and market
development consultant. Knowledgeable in finance, web,
technology, and media sectors, with additional experience
in other areas. Good at analyzing problems, creating
strategies to get into target firms, and just getting the
job done. Native Japanese, high-level English, competent
presentation skills.

Based in Tokyo, available for immediate assignment, OK
with short-term projects. Contacting me for a preliminary
meeting and quotation for services is free.

For more information, contact: bigred461696@gmail.com
-----------------------------------------------------------

***------------------------****-------------------------***

+++ TRAVEL DESTINATIONS PICKS

=> Maegami-ji Temple in Saijo, Ehime-ken

Mt. Ishizuchi, or Ishizuchi-san as it' s known in Japanese,
dominates the scenery of Saijo. Maegami-ji temple stands in
a valley between the foothills of Ishizuchi in Saijo. The
mountain itself is revered as a god or kami, and Maegami-ji
means "the temple in front of god". Buddhism and Shinto
have been closely interrelated over the centuries, and in
layout of the grounds and architectural appearance of its
main hall, this temple has a lot in common with Shinto
shrines. A visit to the nearby Ishizuchi Shrine only
confirms this impression. In fact, Maegami-ji used to be
the headquarters of the Shinto cult of Mt. Ishizuchi before
Ishizuchi Shrine was formed in the Meiji period.

http://japantourist.jp/view/maegami-ji-temple-in-saijo

=> Island Camping at Zamami Beach, Okinawa-ken

Just a short domestic flight from Tokyo, Zamami feels a
world away from the pace of life in the metropolis. Nobody
on the island is in a hurry; schoolchildren and elderly
islanders greet visitors that are passing through.
Surrounding the village, Zamami is a nature lover's
paradise of jungle-covered hilltops, soaring cliffs and
deserted beaches.

Most visitors come to this island for the world-class
snorkeling and scuba diving, as the water is renowned for
visibility and an abundance of coral, fish and turtles.
From January to March Zamami is also a prime spot for whale
watching. Each view-point on the island is punctuated by
observation decks, used for sighting the whales'
movements.

The campsite is just a fifteen-minute walk from the harbor
(maps available from tourist information). Here you can
camp in the shade of the trees for as little as JPY300, or
JPY1,000 if you need to hire camping gear. I recommend hiring
a BBQ set from the campsite and rounding the day off by
cooking up some of the fresh local seafood.

http://japantourist.jp/view/island-camping

***------------------------****-------------------------***

***********************************************************
END

SUBSCRIBERS: 8,080 members as of Apr 22, 2012
(We purge our list regularly.)

+++ ABOUT US

STAFF
Written by: Terrie Lloyd (terrie.lloyd@japaninc.com)

HELP: E-mail Terrie-request@mailman.japaninc.com
with the word 'help' in the subject or body (don't include
the quotes), and you will get back a message with
instructions.

FEEDBACK
Send letters (Feedback, Inquiries & Information) to the
editor to terrie.lloyd@japaninc.com.

ADVERTISING INFORMATION
For more information on advertising in this newsletter,
Contact ads@japaninc.com.

SUBSCRIBE
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:
http://mailman.japaninc.com/mailman/listinfo/terrie

BACK ISSUES
http://www.japaninc.com/terries_take
or, http://mailman.japaninc.com/pipermail/terrie/

Copyright 2012 Japan Inc. Communications Inc.

----------------- Japan Inc opens up Japan ----------------

J@pan Inc is Japan's only independently published English-
language business website. Authoritatively chronicling
online the business trends in Japan, each posting brings
you in-depth analysis of business, people and technology in
the world's second largest economy.

Visit www.japaninc.com for the best business insight on
Japan available.
-----------------------------------------------------------

_______________________________________________
Terrie mailing list
Terrie@mailman.japaninc.com
http://mailman.japaninc.com/mailman/listinfo/terrie

Newsletter:

Tags:

business