From the Editor

Back to Contents of Issue: December 2001

ASIAWEEK RECENTLY CALLED FORMER J@pan Inc editor in chief Steve Mollman "Zen-like." We agree -- he's a pretty cool customer. But now he's passed the torch to a more caffeinated sort, the type with a messy desk, a deep love of dictionaries, a filing system that reduces coworkers to tears, and a mild dislike for ringing things -- yes, even cellphones. Perhaps Mollman represented Japan's New Economy aspirations, while I represent its rough-and-tumble reality.

That's why J@pan Inc will begin poking its head into places it hasn't gone before. This month senior editor Sumie Kawakami looks at whether the Financial Services Agency has a thing against foreign securities analysts. In the future, we'll look at other industries that a more IT-centric J@pan Inc may have avoided. Why the change in focus? There are simply too many interesting stories in Japan that need to be told, and -- let's face it -- there are very few publications that can tell them well and in depth. As international publications devote less and less of their editorial space to Japan news and more to the war against terrorism, our mission becomes even more important. Those with a thirst for news from Japan need somewhere to turn.

But IT fans, don't worry. We're still dedicated to being the best on IT coverage in Japan. In this issue, David McNeill looks at how the race to sign up broadband subscribers has the Softbank empire teetering on shaky ground. And our man in Kansai, Alex Stewart, reveals the robust venture economy growing in Kyoto. Also, Allen Miner, CEO of venture habitat SunBridge, tells us that the Japanese tend to reveal their creative side during times of economic downturn. Technology opens the door for change, and technology coupled with a hint of desperation could create the right environment for some new ventures to flourish, he argues. We hope he's right.

Finally, though this year has brought more than its share of woe, that doesn't mean we can't enjoy ourselves a bit during the holiday season. J. Mark Lytle has prepared a Christmas shopping list filled with the best of Japan's new gadgets and inventions over the past year. As our readers know, Japan is the world's gadget kingdom, so there's some pretty cool stuff on the list.

It's a wild time to be doing business in Japan. The economy is so much more open than when I first visited the country in 1985, yet there is so much more risk to go with that openness. Foreigners are bringing new ideas and technology here on a scale unmatched since the postwar period, and Japanese are facing -- and sometimes coming up with innovative solutions for -- some very big problems. We promise to bring you news from the frontlines of the Japanese economy, keeping our focus on the technology and people forging change in Japan. No amount of coffee will change that.

  --   Bruce Rutledge

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