TT-434 -- Aojiru in your tank, ebiz news from Japan

* * * * * * * * * T E R R I E 'S T A K E * * * * * * *
A weekly roundup of news & information from Terrie Lloyd.

General Edition Sunday, August 26, 2007 Issue No. 434


- What's new
- News
- Candidate roundup/Vacancies
- Upcoming events
- Corrections/Feedback
- News credits

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Health foods are becoming a big business globally, perhaps
in the not too distant future threatening the dominance of
pharmaceutical companies, especially in the area of
functional foods, or nutriceuticals. The US market for
functional foods and supplements is estimated to be around
US$40bn and growing. In Japan the industry is around
JPY3.3trn (US$28.6bn), and growing around 10% a year.

According to Wikipedia, the term functional food, i.e.,
foods consumed to achieve some specific health benefit, was
a food segment established by the Japanese in the early
1980's with the popularization of "Aojiru" (Green juice).
Aojiru is typically a reconstituted juice made from the
powders of dried vegetable leaves such as Kale, Barley,
Wheat, and Komatsuna sprouts.

The "inventor" of Aojiru is conventionally deemed to be
Doctor Niro Endo, who was trying to create a nutritious
concoction of vegetable leaves and wild plants to
supplement his hungry family's diet during the dark days of
World War II. In 1943 he discovered that juices of the
discarded leafy tops of daikon, sweet potato, and other
vegetables not only took the edge off the hunger pains, but
in fact imparted various health benefits at the same time.

Endo quickly became a dedicated nutritionalist and in his
role as an army doctor, frequently tried out his aojiru
concoctions out on patients. In several cases, his
experiments saved members of his own family. For example, in
1944 when his son contracted pneumonia as a student, due to
a shortage of penicillin, Endo successfully treated him with
mitsuba (Japanese wild parsley). Later, his wife's acute
nephritis, a dangerous disease even today, was cured in a
similar manner.

After the war, Endo expanded his experimentations with
various herbs and vegetables and in 1949 identified tree
kale as being the most efficacious of the plants he'd tried
out. Over time he was able to dry/refine the kale leaves
into a powder without losing the plant's health-giving
properties, but which could be used out of season or when

Fast-forward to 1983 when the owner of a food delivery
company, a certain Tsuneo Hasegawa, suffered a stroke and
was researching remedies which might help him recover.
Company history has it that he came across a mention of
the Kale-based aojiru and started drinking it religiously.
He subsequently recovered and went on to run his company,
Q'Sai, for another 24 years, growing it to JPY42.5bn
(US$366m) in revenues in 2006.

Impressed by his self-treatment results, Hasegawa moved his
company into the Aojiru business the same year he
recovered, 1983, commercializing the potion and building
sales to 30% of the company's revenues. It didn't hurt that
in 2000, a competitor, the highly respected cosmetics
company Fancl, released its own recipe with packaging
targeting fashionable young women in their 20's and 30's,
thus establishing the product sector across a broader base.

[Continued below...]

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[...Article continues]

Japan is the second largest market globally for
nutraceuticals, especially in the functional foods segment,
spending around US$17bn a year in 2005. Perhaps because of
the intensely competitive work environment, the nation is
in fact Number One per capita in terms of its spending on
nutriceuticals, with a per head consumption of US$166,
versus US$136 for the USA and US$92 in Europe.

The thinking of many salarymen and working women seems to
be that so long as it doesn't cost more than JPY200-500 a
day and it gives you a performance edge, then buying a tube
of yogurt, deodorized garlic drink, or Maca drink is worth
it. You can now go into any convenience store and these
natural drinks are available in greater volume than the old
standbys, the nicotine-laced "genki drinks" such as
Oronamon-C and Yunker.

They taste good too. Our favorite is the House Foods Royal
Jelly as a pick-me-up after a heavy lunch, and Meiji Milk's
Probiotic LG21 drink yogurt first thing in the morning. We
can also confirm that Softbank's supremo Masayoshi Son has
LG21 with a sprinkling of green tea as his morning starter
-- sometimes at the board room table during his first

Although at first glance in a supermarket, the Japanese
functional foods business seems to be a free-for-all, it is
also one of the world's safest markets thanks to some
groundbreaking legislation in 1991 which established a
functional foods standard -- one of the few in the world.
It is called the Food for Specified Health Use (FOSHU)
standard. And although FOSHU is criticised as being
more focused on the safety of ingredients rather
than the efficacy of them, nevertheless in 2005, 8 of the
top 10 functional foods products were FOSHU certified --
showing that consumers at least value the mark.

It should be noted, too, that since FOSHU is voluntary,
in 2005 there were more than 1,000 functional food products
on the market there were not FOSHU-approved. This has led
to some smaller firms making outrageous claims for their
products -- such as a certain mushroom extract producer
who advertised in 1996 a cure for cancer, Aids, and aging
-- all in the same bottle! A more recent case was a
Chinese slimming tea that caused several deaths.
Although the government regulators may be overworked,
it seems that these more blatant examples are quickly
shut down.

Despite the few shysters in the bunch, most of the
nutriceuticals products are earning their fan followings
the hard way, by proven results and write-ups in fashion
magazines and online. The producers know if they mess up,
the market is so information driven that a few negative
remarks on Internet bulletin boards could kill years of
hard work. This is a great environment for consumers.

The original aojiru market is still going gangbusters. It is
estimated to be worth around JPY50bn-JPY60bn
(US$430m-US$517m) a year, and is highly competitive,
with more than 200 companies in the space. Old man
Endo managed to live to a venerable age of 92, and his
son still lives at the address with the original garden
where the research was done.

In 2003, Q'Sai sponsored research into kale-based
aojiru with the Yamaguchi Prefectural University and
confirmed that aojiru suppresses the metastasis of
cancer cells. It did further research with the Kyushu
National University and found that aojiru also promotes
the excretion of environmental contaminants such as
dioxins and PCBs.

What's in kale, the main ingredient? It's a rich source of
some 40 vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients, including
vitamins A, B1, B2, C, E, and K, calcium, iron, sodium,
magnesium, potassium, fiber, anti-cancer flavonoids, MSM
(essential mineral sulfur), anti-oxidants, polysaccharides
and polyphenols, and chlorophyll.

Although Aojiru has a reputation for tasting foul, try
drinking it in powder form with apple juice. The result is
a taste remarkably similar to Matcha (Green Tea), which
you may find easier to get used to.


Check out the ongoing commentary about the pending
lay-judge system and jury duty from a reader in the
Corrections and Feedback section at the end of this

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...The information janitors/


--------------- Niseko Cricket Tournament -----------------

RidgeRunner Niseko International Cricket Competition
15-17 September 2007

This is your invitation to three days of fun at an
international cricket tournament in Niseko being held to
the benefit of the Tyler Foundation for Childhood Cancer.

Cricketing legend Dennis Lillee will be attending the event
which is being co-hosted by the Higashiyama Prince Hotel
and includes two days of cricket, a golf match and charity
dinner dance and auction. For more information, and the
chance to win a dinner with Dennis,

Please visit
or contact Simon Jackson
(, 011-876-3704)

+++ NEWS

- New records for electricity demand
- Income disparity increasing
- Bad Nokia batteries cost JPY20bn
- Secret aircraft carrier?
- Largest department store

-> New records for electricity demand

This year's sweltering summer has produced record demand
for electricity. Six of the nation's 10 utility companies
say that they had peak electricity consumption this last
week. National consumption last Wednesday was 179.29
gigawatts, the third highest overall peak. Analysts say
that the surge in consumption is also due to the increase
in commercial usage as the economy expands. (Source: TT
commentary from, Aug 25, 2007)

-> Income disparity increasing

In a trend that is sure to provoke more political
mudslinging, the disparity in personal incomes,
measured by something called the Gini coefficient, was
released by the Government for the year end of 2005.
The Gini number is now 0.5263, up substantially from
the 0.379 level in 2000 (CIA figure) and about 7%
greater than the USA in the same year. According
to the MHLW, the number is skewed by the fact
that pensioners are excluded from the statistics. Thus an
increasing number of households are registering zero
income. The Ministry says that the average age of the head
of a household is now 57.8 years. (Source: TT commentary
from, Aug 25, 2007)

-> Bad Nokia batteries cost JPY20bn

In a recall reminiscent of Sony's battery bust, Matsushita
has said that it will replace all 46m batteries sold inside
Nokia cell phones. Apparently there have been about 100
instances of overheating outside Japan and two within
Japan, including one where the device caught fire. Analysts
say that the recall will cost Matsushita around
JPY10bn-JPY20bn (US$86m-US$172m). Matsushita shares lost 5%
after the announcement. (Source: TT commentary from, Aug 24, 2007)

-> Secret aircraft carrier?

The military website says that it thinks
Japan's new Hyuga helicopter-carrying destroyer could well
be a mini aircraft carrier in disguise. The site's editor
says that the ship appears to be a suitable platform for
carrying F-35B STOVL or Harrier-type VTOL aircraft, similar
to how the British did it in their successful re-taking of
the Falkland islands back in 1982. ***Ed: Perhaps
significantly, the site states, "The Hyuga means that Japan
is back in the power projection business."** (Source: TT
commentary from, Aug 25, 2007)

-> Largest department store

Conjuring images of the great bank consolidation of the
late 1990's, it now looks like it is the turn of another
Japanese iconic class, the department stores. Isetan has
agreed to buy Mitsukoshi for JPY295bn (US$2.6bn) in stock.
The takeover appears to have been prompted by Mitsukoshi's
inability to break away from its dowdy image and attract
younger shoppers -- leading to 6 straight years of falling
profits. Isetan on the other hand has been enjoying
considerable success with the younger demographic. The new
store will have annual sales of $14bn. (Source: TT
commentary from, Aug 23, 2007)

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.


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--------- Entrepreneur Association of Tokyo ---------------

Tuesday, September 4th

Speaker: Patrick Newell - Co-founder and Vision Navigator
of the Tokyo International School

September's seminar will take you to Tokyo International
school to witness first-hand the entrepreneurialism and
creativity to be found at one of Tokyo's and the world's
leading international schools.

Patrick will share how he has realized his dreams during
the past 10 years, his learning model valid for any
organization, vision for schools during the next 10 years
and how the collaborative spirit of Wikinomics is changing
how corporations, industries and communities.

Date/Time: Tuesday, September 4th - 7:00 pm
Location: Tokyo International School
Language: English


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

Entrepreneur's Handbook Seminar 6th of October, 2007

If you have been considering setting up your own company,
find out what it takes to make it successful.
Terrie Lloyd, founder of over 13 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:

IT events announcements are priced at JPY50,000 per week.
For more information, contact sales at



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

-> In Terrie's Take 433, we mistakenly identified the Blue
LED inventor as Shuji Nakajima. It is of course Shuji
Nakamura. Thanks to the reader who spotted this.

-> In Terrie's Take 431, we commented on the new lay-judge
(jury) system to be introduced into Japan.

*** Our reader states:
The lay-judge system is interesting to read. I, as an
American, have been called to jury duty twice. Both times
I didn't get to serve.

The first trial tossed me because I was too conservative
and the other because I had had some professional
experience with policy misconduct, even though my
experience had been performed outside the US. Accordingly,
I believe that the US jury system, at least in Los Angeles,
is becoming adversarial towards people.

Not only is it hard to get on a jury if you're
professionally experienced, it is also now impossible to
get out of the jury pool even if you don't have the means
to support yourself during sequestration. For example, you
can't decline if you are:
a. a single parent and sole support for your children.
b. self employed and any time away means you lose your

I am concerned that after a time Japan may suffer the same
fate with jury pools that the US does. Here they are mostly
made up of willing seniors with plenty of spare time
because they are retired.

Going back to my comment on professionals not being wanted,
I'll also note that if you are a lawyer you can bet you
won't ever serve on a jury. My brother's girlfriend is a
real estate attorney and as soon as she mentions her
profession, the defense and prosecution both stop asking
questions and move to dismiss her from consideration for
that case.

*** We respond:

Just like the family courts here, old people sit in
judgment, young people get judged, and everyone wonders why
there's a values and communication gap.


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To whom it may concern:

I am wondering if you could tell me how I can get Dr. Niro Endo's product(Aojiru juice made from kale). I know how to get the Aojiru-juice made from young grass barley. I have a digestive problem, so I don't think young grass barley juice is right for me. I've had this cronic issue around 20 years now and I'm trying to find ways to overcome it.

I want to thank you for your help in advance and looking forward to hearing from you soon.