From the Editor

Back to Contents of Issue: February 2003

Tatsumi's struggle to rebuild the OSE is one of many recent examples of change percolating in Japan. The odds may be against him, but I wouldn't count him out.

by Bruce Rutledge

FOR THOSE OF YOU who have written off the Osaka Stock Exchange after the exit of Nasdaq, here's a challenge: Read our piece on the OSE this month, The OSE Is Not Dead Yet starting on page 14, and see if you still feel the same way about the Osaka bourse's chances. We think Goro Tatsumi's plan to rebuild the world's sixth biggest stock market will at least make you think twice about the OSE's future.

Tatsumi is on a mission, and despite the bad economy and the pullout of Nasdaq, he has built a pretty efficient market. He's cut costs, made it easier to list, set up what is arguably the most internationally minded stock market in Japan and yet now, with the exit of Nasdaq, he's forced to scramble to reinvent the market or face becoming a small regional market dedicated mostly to futures trading. What I like is that his response to all this isn't just damage control -- instead, he's got plans to build a global market by joining forces with Jasdaq and applying what he learned from his short marriage to Nasdaq. The odds may be against him, but the odds are against just about any business leader who's not playing in a fixed game. I wouldn't count him out.

Tatsumi's struggle to rebuild the OSE is one of many recent examples of change percolating in Japan. Another significant change is the slow death of the sogo shosha, or the comprehensive trading house so famous in an earlier era of economic growth. Sumie Kawakami's story, Goodbye to the Glory Days beginning on page 8, uses the recent Nichimen-Nissho Iwai alliance as a window on the industry and finds that the whole trading house culture is changing. Gone, or almost gone, are the days of the trading house elite working across the globe and across all sorts of sectors. Today's trading houses are forced to specialize or perish. Their influence is on the wane, and it seems that the more arrogantly they cling to the past, the less influence they have these days. Expect more realignment in this industry.

We're also taking an in-depth look at wireless gaming and how the American market is trying to emulate Japan's success (The Art of Killing Time Online beginning on page 34). It won't be easy for the US to be as successful as Japan has been in wireless entertainment -- in fact, it's not even likely -- but it's interesting to see how companies in the world's No. 1 economy are copying Japan as much as they can.

On a lighter note, February is time for Valentine's Day, and with that in mind we bring you Love in the Age of Spam beginning on page 20, a story about how companies are finding success by offering dating services on the Web. The piece is by Debbi Gardiner, a living example of how these dating services work: She found her partner on one.

Note: The function "email this page" is currently not supported for this page.