* * * * * * * * * T E R R I E 'S T A K E * * * * * * *
A weekly roundup of news & information from Terrie Lloyd.
General Edition Sunday, May 26, 2013, Issue No. 711
- What's New -- Who Will Survive in Print?
- News -- Demographics of gloom
- Upcoming Events
- Corrections/Feedback: megawatts not gigawatts
- Travel Picks -- Kyoto guesthouse, Arita Ceramics in Saga
- News Credits
SUBSCRIBE to, UNSUBSCRIBE from Terrie's Take at:
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+++ WHAT'S NEW
Tuesday, June 26th, 2013, marks our final issue of the American
Chamber of Commerce in Japan magazine, the ACCJ Journal, published
since 2008 by Japan Inc. Communications ("JIC"). JIC is nearing the
end of its 4-year contract, and it is with some regret that we have
decided to pull out of print, leaving the Journal to someone else. The
Chamber has not yet announced who the replacement
publisher will be, but given that it is such an important outreach
tool, we believe it will be put in good hands. A big thanks to the
folks at the ACCJ for their support over the years, especially Sam,
Darren, and Jeff.
The decision to give up the Journal has not been an easy one, but it
comes on the heels of three major trends that are causing a sea-shift
not just for niche English publishers in Japan, but for publishers
across the world. We see these 3 trends as steadily choking off the
air supply for many mid-tier publications (newspapers in particular),
leaving the market to those with leadership positions and strong
brands, and niche players. We also note that while this article is
about publishing, in fact, several of these trends also loosely
connect to and to some degree affect all small international
businesses in Tokyo, forcing their owners to come up with new
strategies to navigate the changing markets.
The first and most discussed trend is the impending death of print.
This topic became popular a couple of years ago, as Amazon announced
that it sold more Kindle books in 2010 than hard covers, and then more
digital titles than all paper books in 2011. Indeed, logic would tell
us that it seems just a matter of time before printed books (other
than childrens' and specialty books) die out all together. And yet,
the UK Publishers' Association 2012 annual statistics show that while
physical book sales did decrease slightly, it was by just 1%, and
actually childrens' book sales rose. Whether a publication is fiction
or non-fiction also seems to matter. Apparently in the UK, while 26%
of all fiction sales are digital, for non-fiction it's just 5% and for
kid's books 3%. Look, feel, and smell obviously still matter.
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The UK stats are good news for magazines in particular, since almost
all of them are non-fiction. Yes, there are many smaller publishers
are going out of business or morphing, but not necessarily because of
digital consumption but rather for economic or other reasons. Indeed,
print magazines and other non-fiction print media have some intrinsic
advantages by virtue of their physical nature that we think will
ensure their survival.
* High Impact: print publications feel, smell, and look good. High
impact colors, glossy ads, high-resolution photos... these all mean
paper is still desirable to the consumer.
* High Immediacy: consumers can walk in, see, and pick up magazines to
browse. They do not need to deal with a paywall or have to guess what
the content is, and they don't require the publisher to be an expert
with search engine rankings. Furthermore, as long as we inhabit
physical bodies, search engines don't provide air conditioning and
caffe lattes, either.
* Better at Defining Niches: effective marketing online to a niche
audience requires serious investment to break through the
high-traffic/high noise of dominant sites. A small publisher placing
magazines in the key bricks and mortar locations where their readers
go can get much better exposure at more reasonable cost (this is also
the reason of why distributing print flyers will continue for some
time to come).
* Balanced Coverage: by its very nature, all content and all sponsors
get at least a cursory glance by the reader as they page through the
volume. This increases the value of advertising to sponsors.
* Credibility: because of the lasting and obviously public nature of
print, magazine publishers tend to be more careful with their content
and readers know they can trust this.
* Long Life Span: print magazines are substantially passed along and
can become collectors items.
The second trend, which is little discussed in our community but which
is clearly evident to us, is the continuing influence of the Lehman
Shock on companies and their customers, particularly those located in
Japan. By this we mean the continuing high level of caution and
pessimism about Japan's ability to right itself economically and the
subsequent impact on corporate and personal spending. Expanded beyond
Japan's borders, we see similar pessimism in other economies which are
having slow-downs -- Europe in particular.
Abenomics notwithstanding, the lack of enthusiasm in the commercial
world is palpable -- especially when you compare it to 4-5 years ago.
Remember here in Tokyo how the foreign banks and their entourages were
the most rambunctious and free-spending employers? Then with the Shock
and high yen, not 12-18 months later they were transferring hundreds
of employees and their families to HK and Singapore and firing several
tens of thousands of others. This exodus is fresh in the minds of
many, and it wasn't just the banks who suffered collateral damage. As
a result, conspicuous consumption other than for the top 1% has
disappeared and that continues to hurt advertising spending.
Then in a 1-2 punch, the calamity of 3/11 reinforced the lack of
interest by foreign companies to return. Maybe this will change if
Abe's government gets past the end of the year without a meltdown --
which after last Thursday's scare, is not a guaranteed event.
The third trend is the democratization of content production and the
off-shoring of knowledge sector work. This makes it difficult for
local publishers to justify the cost of a dedicated local workforce to
produce high-grade media. As a result, many people trained in
traditional content development jobs, such as journalism, research,
consulting, design, development, composition, etc., are being forced
to migrate to other sectors and they leave a vacuum behind.
As an example, to be a productive journalist in Tokyo these days, you
either work in one of a handful of multinational media companies, who
require the highest of qualifications; at a low-cost niche publisher;
as an under-employed stringer for foreign publications; at a
government organization; or at a non-publisher's marketing or research
department. The good news is that we think this trend will work itself
out over time (3-5 years?), and that advertisers will come to realize
that social media is all very well, but they also need to associate
with quality content in order to get attention, and so will return to
conventional media or a hybrid of it.
So while we are no longer going to be involved in paper publishing, we
will be continuing to support in the English-language content industry
by offering software to other publishers, including paper publishers.
Our direction is now to harness the properties of the Internet --
being connectedness, group effort, and low-cost tools -- and put them
in the hands of the public to help create new portals and genres of
fresh content. The www.JapanTourist.jp travel portal in conjunction
with Japan Partnership (publisher of Metropolis) is a perfect example,
with more than 1,000 contributors creating 7-10 articles every day
about tourist attractions all over japan. We will be announcing more
such portals with other publishers over the coming months.
As for the future for print publishers? We think the survivors will
fall into three categories:
* Those serving customers wanting a physical experience with their
magazines and books -- such as kids, cooks, fashionistas, home
maintenance buffs, collectors, designers, art, etc.
* Those with strong brands and thus lasting audience loyalty.
* Those with markets that are cheaper/easier to intersect physically
than digitally -- such as tourists just getting off aircraft,
shoppers, and others.
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- Tourist numbers hit record 923,000
- Exports still not responding
- Demographics of gloom
- Daiichi Life and invest in Indonesia
- DIC cuts ink production by 30% abroad
=> Tourist numbers hit record 923,000
The intake of foreign tourists hit a record high 923,000 people in
April, exceeding the previous July 2010 record of 879,000. At this
rate, Japan may come close to meeting its inbound tourist target of
10m people for 2013. By country, South Korea provided the biggest
inflow, with 204,000 people, followed by Taiwan, China, USA, Hong
Kong, and Thailand. Chinese tourist numbers are still down by 33% over
the same period last year, because of the Senkaku islands dispute. Why
are tourists coming? Apparently the biggest reason is the cheap yen.
(Source: TT commentary from yahoo.com, May 23, 2013)
=> Exports still not responding
Japan's exporters are seeing their shares jump dramatically on the
stock market, but the actual level of exports is less than stellar.
Apparently exports for April were up just 3.8% compared to last year
despite predictions by analysts that they would be up around 5.9%. In
fact, for the whole year through to March, exports were up just 1%.
The less-than-hoped-for performance was blamed on weak demand from
Europe and China, coupled with the fact that many Japanese
manufacturers have already moved their production offshore and
therefore are not benefiting from the weak yen. ***Ed: Uh oh.**
(Source: TT commentary from reuters.com, May 22, 2013)
=> Demographics of gloom
We came across an excellent doom-and-gloom piece on Japan that we
thought readers might like. Very rational and introduces some
important concepts about the direction of Japan bond prices and
interest rates over coming months. Essentially the author says that
Japan's demographic slide is irreversible and the resulting debt
burden will become crushing within 15 years. Yes, we've seen these
analyses before, but the author makes some very clear extrapolations
concerning the aging population, ability to support these people, and
the reducing the demand for goods (and corresponding excess production
capacity forestalling more infrastructure investment). He also
accounts for the equities boom of the last 6 months, saying it has
been more of a fleeing by domestic capital from the
soon-to-be-deflated bond market, rather than a fundamental belief in
equities themselves. He then goes on to point out that in any case the
increase in Japanese equities will only be temporary. (Source: TT
commentary from theglobeandmail.com, May 24, 2013)
=> Daiichi Life and invest in Indonesia
Evidence that Japanese services firms are now following the footsteps
of their manufacturing colleagues is starting to come thick and fast
in the press, with the latest news being an Indonesian investment
announced by Daiichi Life Insurance. The insurance company will invest
JPY30bn to buy 40% of Panin Life in Jakarta. The deal is highly
priced, with Panin Life only having sales in 2011 of JPY25bn and
assets of JPY40bn. ***Ed: Indonesia has a life insurance market of
JPY760bn, so maybe Daiichi thinks the price will be softened by the
extent of future dividends...?** (Source: TT commentary from
e.nikkei.com, May 24, 2013)
=> DIC cuts ink production by 30% abroad
Just how bad is the decline in print media abroad? According to DIC,
the world's largest ink maker, the company plans to cut production
capacity in both the USA and Europe by around 30% by 2015. Currently
the firm's US plants are only running at 60% capacity, so it will shut
two factories in the USA down first. In case you are wondering, the
market for printing inks in the Americas and Europe is 1.1m tons a
year and is expected to contract 15% further over the next 3 years.
(Source: TT commentary from e.nikkei.com, May 24, 2013)
NOTE: Broken links
Some online news sources remove their articles after just a few days
of posting them, thus breaking our links -- we apologize for the
+++ CANDIDATE ROUND UP/VACANCIES
=> BiOS, a leading bilingual IT services and resourcing company, 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 Support Engineer with
experience providing office IT support to a predominantly Japanese
language environment, at our client’s office in the Koto-ku area. The
candidate will be responsible for user support for 300 to 400 Japanese
end-users both in company’s main office on-site and stores remotely,
as well as server maintenance/support (HP-UX, LINUX, Windows, etc.)
and Network support/VoIP system setup. You will also be responsible
for communicating with the company’s headquarters in U.S. for weekly
meetings, incident reporting, etc.
Due to the technical nature and demanding work environment, this
position is suitable for someone with solid experience in desktop
support to Japanese-speaking end-users with technical knowledge of
server/network maintenance. In addition, since this role requires
direct communication with bilingual staffs and clients in English and
Japanese, conversational English and fluent Japanese will be required.
Remuneration is JPY4.5m - JPY5.5m, depending on your experience and skill level.
** POSITIONS VACANT
- HR/Office Manager, global licensing services provider, JPY5M - JPY7M
- Project Manager, global payment services provider, JPY8M - JPY10M
- Corporate Assistant, BiOS, JPY3M - JPY3.5M
- Service Delivery Manager, global IT services provider, JPY5M - JPY7M
- Junior Cabling Engineer, BiOS, JPY3.5M - JPY4M
** 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 featured entries
containing a short job description and every job being linked 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
+++ UPCOMING EVENTS/ANNOUNCEMENTS
------------------ ICA Event - June 20 --------------------
Speaker: Jean-Denis Marx , Lawyer for Baker & McKenzie
Title: "Practical Japanese Labor Law Guide for Employees"
Details: Complete event details at http://www.icajapan.jp/
Date: Thursday, June 20th, 2013
Time: 6:30 Doors open, Buffet Dinner included and cash bar
Cost: 4,000 yen (members), 6,000 yen (non-members)
Open to all. No sign ups at the door!!!!!!!
RSVP: RSVP by 5pm on Friday, June 14th
Venue is The Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan
**************** South Africa Embassy Event ***************
The South African Embassy in collaboration with SA Tourism is
organising the South African Food and Wine Weeks in Osaka and Tokyo,
in May and June respectively, to capitalise on the Official Working
visit of our President, H.E. Mr Jacob Zuma to Japan, as well as his
attending the Tokyo International Conference on African Development
(TICAD) V. The Food and Wine promotion weeks will create awareness of
South Africa’s culinary delights, firm up the friendship between the
peoples of South Africa and Japan, and, establish South Africa as a
preferred investment and holiday destination.
The Promotional week in Osaka will be from 29 May to 03 June 2013 and
the Promotional Week in Tokyo from 05 - 09 June 2013.
Hospitality Partner in Japan: Hilton Hotels
Hospitality Partner in South Africa: TSOGO SUN Hotels (Executive Chef,
Mr Lindsay Venn and 2 other chefs from South Africa will visit Japan
to cook authentic delicious culinary delights)
Airline Partners: South African Airlines (SAA) and All Nippon Airlines (ANA)
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 email@example.com.
=> In TT710 we covered a news item about several new major solar power
plants being built/commissioned in Oita. A couple of sharp-eyed
readers pointed out to us a mistake in the stated power rating of the
*** Reader: I always enjoy your Sunday night news round-up. Great food
for thought! This time I stumbled across the 26.5 GW megasolar plant
in Oita. I guess you meant to write 26.5 MW. Otherwise, Japan’s
nuclear power plants could stay shut down for good...! [Ed: Very true.
We'll have to wait a few more years for Japanese EV cells to reach
that level of efficiency... :-)]
+++ TRAVEL DESTINATIONS PICKS
=> Kyoto Guesthouse Roujiya at Nijo, Kyoto
Housed in a renovated Kyoto Merchant’s townhouse (Machiya), this
Guesthouse combines the minimal sense of Geneva with the hospitality
of Kyoto, especially downstairs in the lounge, where the soothing jazz
background music blends in with the quiet friendliness of well
mannered thirty something travelers reading or chatting from Europe
and around the world.
Owned by a lovely young couple who left their job to open this new
venture, they were inspired so much by the kindness and hospitality
they received on their travels that they wanted to bottle it and take
it to Kyoto. “I want to provide independent travelers from all corners
of the globe with a place for encounters that will be theirs to have
forever,” says Kaori Bushimata, who after much thought opened this
guesthouse in 2010.
=> Arita Ceramic Fair, Saga
There are thousands of ceramic items on sale, from cheap tea cups to
large expensive vases and decorative plates. Located in western Saga
prefecture, Arita is a small town of white-walled 1930s buildings and
picturesque narrow streets. Surrounded by mountains and forest, it is
a sleepy place with a population of just over twenty thousand. Every
spring, however, its usual tranquility is briefly disrupted when the
town plays host to the massive Arita Ceramic Fair, which attracts up
to a million visitors over the course of a week. So, what exactly
makes Arita such an important centre for ceramics?
In the late sixteenth century, Toyotomoi Hideyoshi, the ‘great
unifier’ of Japan, attempted to increase his power by invading Korea.
Although this mission was not a success, one result was that many
Koreans were taken prisoner, with some forcibly relocated in Japan. Ri
Sampei was a skilled Korean potter brought to Kyushu at this time. He
settled in Arita, where he discovered clay suitable for making
porcelain. He is now widely considered to be the father of Japanese
porcelain production, and there is a monument commemorating him in
Arita’s Toyama-Jinja shrine.
Japan isolated itself from the rest of the world during the Edo period
(1603-1868), choosing to trade with just three nations: China, Korea
and the Netherlands. Porcelain produced in Arita was exported to
Europe by the Dutch East India Company, where it became very popular
during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
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+++ ABOUT US
Written by: Terrie Lloyd (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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