JIN-238 -- Secom Nicely Situated to Cash in on Nation's Paranoia

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Issue No. 238
Wednesday, August 6, 2003


++ Viewpoint: Secom Nicely Situated to Cash in on Nation's Paranoia

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++ Viewpoint: Secom Nicely Situated to Cash in on Nation's Paranoia

It's very difficult to open a Japanese newspaper at the moment and not
have domestic crime rammed down your throat. To believe the
Yomiuri/Shukan Gendai version of modern Japanese life is to swallow
the line that this once peaceful society is on the point of collapse
into anarchy. Murderous kids are running riot, no home is safe from
door-smashing burglars and even your beloved pet could become a kidnap

As always with these things, there is just enough reality locked away
under the hype to make the shock stories legitimate. Yes, crime is on
the rise, but whether or not Japan is on an "unstoppable journey to
criminal chaos" is a moot point.

A far more interesting side of the story, however, is who will be
cashing in on those well-stoked public fears. The answer, we
discovered, is Secom, the Japanese company that holds a virtual
monopoly on home security systems.

The fact that the government itself is paying for a new public service
poster and TV campaign to warn Japanese to lock their doors and
windows is a big boost for Secom. It virtually amounts to free

The point that the government is making is a good one. Japanese home
security is practically non-existent. Most front doors have a single
lock, windows are held in place with a sliding snib, and very few
houses have alarms. So when we caught up with the chief executive of
Secom, it was hardly surprising that he was looking forward to
supplying Japan with the equipment to deliver "peace of mind."

The company has, in fact, based an entire new campaign of its own
around the concept of home security and the business of making
Japanese homes as safe from invasion as those little fortresses that
make up suburban America. Secom security glass, Secom Alarms, Secom
locks and Secom Doors are being snapped up by legions of nervous home
owners. Insurance companies are lowering premiums on secure houses to
make the incentives all the greater.

But the Secom drive does not stop there. The company has devised ways
of making money from other crime-related fears. One of its
best-selling devices of the moment is a special collar that lets one
trace a dog or cat via satellite if it goes missing. A similar
contraption has already been attached to 38,000 Japanese children in
an effort to give their parents that all-important peace of mind.

Secom can get away with all this because, with a few minor exceptions,
it is the only show in town when it comes to security. It does it
reasonably well, but surely this is an opportunity for a non-Japanese
company to get in and show Japan what suburban fear is really about.

--The Editors

"Safety Zone" from the May 2002 issue (about school security systems)

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Written and edited by J@pan Inc staff (editors@japaninc.com)


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