As someone who has worked in the manufacturing industry here for almost a decade, I am increasingly worried by the continued increases in the cost of raw materials. On reading the article “Steelmakers unite” in the October issue of J@pan Inc, it made me realize just how much Japan can be held ransom to those who mine the minerals we need to survive. Giant mining conglomerates such as BHP Billiton and Vale hold all the cards when it comes to the iron ore industry.

As long as the demand remains high, and it will, and Japan has to renegotiate prices with the mining oligarchies, the future of this country’s manufacturing industries remains at stake.

Despite the fact that we have some of the biggest steelmakers in the world, we still have to source the raw materials from somewhere. And if the Brazilians and Australians are going to work against us then we need to do something about it.

Hironori Sonoyama, Tokyo


I always enjoy reading the ‘inside out’ section and was interested in the October issue’s article on Africa and its relation to Japan.

It was intriguing to learn about Japan’s slow reaction to investing in Africa, whilst China hurtles ahead with expansion there. Although Japan is at a distance from Africa, there is no excuse for its sluggishness when China is making so much progress there.

I really hope that more Japanese people will read J@pan Inc. It is important to read about these issues from a different angle and from a foreigners point of view—something that I get a lot out of being Japanese. Thank you and keep up the good work.

Atsushi Ota, Fukuoka


Having lived in Japan for a number of years, and even speaking the language modestly, one thing that I have never been able to fathom is Pachinko. I must say that Brett Bull’s article on the subject was very illuminating.

It’s interesting that despite its decline in popularity, there are still some operators who are getting ahead and even some schools popping up to teach people the trade.

It’s amazing to think that the industry is worth 25 trillion yen each year and that two pachinko company presidents were rated on Forbes’ “ Japan’s 40 Richest” list. How about some further examinations of the parts of Japan that even the long term ex-pat cannot reach?

I for one would love to see why such an advanced nation has such poor standards of building regulation, especially with regards to sound proofing and insulation.

Bruno Del Monte, Kanagawa