From the Editor

Back to Contents of Issue: September 2003

The Editor's page

by Roland Kelts/Leo Lewis

We were on the spot in July when the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, dropped in for a bite to eat in Tokyo. His visit was completely overshadowed by the unfolding drama of suicide, spying and the BBC, and few people really noticed the reason he came over here in the first place.

Could tourism be the breakthrough
"service industry" Japan has been searching
for since the bubble burst?

When Blair finally took his shoes off to chat with his Japanese counterpart, Junichiro Koizumi, the hottest topic they had on the card was tourism. It makes a kind of zany sense. Britain has not yet taken the full force of the downturn that has hit Europe and the US, so consumers have plenty of cash to blow on big holidays. America, the favorite long-haul destination for Brits, is looking a bit dicey on the security front, so peaceful Japan seems a good place to head. From Japan's point of view, tourism could be an economic lifeline. The country is already beautiful, rich with fascinating culture and well groomed; Japan has loads of hotels and restaurants, runs a great public transport system and has plenty for the kids to do.

Could tourism be the breakthrough "service industry" Japan has been searching for since the bubble burst? We at J@pan Inc believe it is probably a better bet than some of the other schemes the Japanese government has come up with. In this "Tourism issue" we take a look at what is happening now in Shikoku and what is going to happen nationwide with this potentially vibrant industry.

Of course there is one service industry that Japan mastered long ago. In a probing feature on the subject, David McNeil takes a rare inside look at Japan's sex industry -- and the extraordinary personalities making a fortune navigating its darkest corners.

On an apparently more innocent subject, we also go inside Sanrio, the Japanese company that brought the world Hello Kitty and her pantheon of cute friends. Under all that cuddliness is a marketing genius that knows exactly how to press the right buttons.

This month -- from Kitty to Kabukicho -- we've got you covered.

-- The Editors

Correction: On page 40 of our August issue, we mistakenly identified Caroline Pover as a former participant of the JET program. She came to Japan alone and struggled independently to earn her current status. We apologize for the innocent error.

-- The Editors

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