October 2008 Issue

October 2008October 2008

On the Cover:

- The Socialization of Capitalism
- Real Estate Companies Collapse
- The US Election

- Corporate Entertainment Special

Steelmakers Unite - The War for Iron Ore

October 2008

No. 81

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Publisher's Message: A Role for Market Entry Consultants

Terrie LloydTerrie LloydBy Terrie Lloyd -- It is no secret that market entry consultants everywhere have developed a bad reputation for being expensive and simply telling you things that you already know. But the fact is that countries where most outsiders don’t speak the language, such as Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and China, not having a bilingual person on the ground could lock you out of that market completely.


Editor's Message

Michael CondonMichael CondonBy Michael Condon -- September was quite a month to take over the reins at J@pan Inc magazine. As we went to print, the world’s markets were still reeling from the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy and the fallout that followed. Japan’s leaders, from both the political and business worlds, were calling crisis meetings to decide how best to deal with the situation. Yasuo Fukuda was downplaying the situation, despite the fact that Aozora and five other Japanese banks were among Lehman’s top 10 unsecured creditors.



After reading the column “Japan global star-performer,” I found it interesting to read some of the areas where Japan could succeed in the future, such as investment in research and development, and also other corporate improvements in recent years which I was not aware of. While I am relieved to hear about the positive factors, I have to say I am less convinced that Japan could thrive in the future, with its current and future problems...


Business Break & Measure for Measure

Power PlugThe future is here -- Battery stations that recharge electric cars were installed in Tokyo last month... -- A new spin on the same old ... -- Convenience store chain FamilyMart opened the first in a line of new “eco-friendly” stores in Chiba, with plans to build about 1,000 more nation-wide within the next five years... -- Geeks rule and bankers drool? -- According to calculations by the Financial Times, employees at Nintendo earn more per head than those at investment banking mammoth Goldman Sachs... -- Puts hair on their chests -- Asahi Breweries Ltd. Announced that beginning in October, they will start selling Asahi Ginger Draft, a low-malt beer containing ginger extract with a lower carbon content and only 4 percent alcohol... -- Post office goes postal -- Japan Post began a project to renew and make the present post offices more efficient by renting out spaces to florists, department stores, and convenient stores... -- It’s not a silver bullet, but it’s better than nothing. -- Masamichi Adachi, senior economist at JPMorgan Chase & Co, responding to the Bank of Japan’s decision to let the US Federal Reserve supply dollars in Japan to ease financial tensions after the fall of Lehman Brothers on September 15... -- IPO Report -- There were seven completed or forecast IPOs for the first half of September and the latter part of August...


Trends in Japan

BearBy Michael Keferl -- CScout Japan -- UB Mansion -- A group at the Chiba University Graduate School of Engineering has developed a concept apartment building where everything is connected through an interactive system of touch screen monitors and near-field communication... -- Concept phones -- Japanese mobile carriers are changing the way we think about phone design by making them resemble handsets as little as possible... -- Digital Retail -- Monitors displaying digital ads have been around for ages, but we’re noticing them less and less...



Retail Focus: Sample lab!

sample lab!By Sarah Noorbakhsh -- Product paradise in Tokyo’s consumer hot spot. -- It’s often observed that Tokyo is a jungle of advertising, where the uninitiated are bombarded by the colorful sights and sounds of advertising mayhem while natives are all but deaf and blind to these siren calls. To combat the oversaturation, Japan’s kuchi komi, or word of mouth, culture is highly developed, with consumers turning to everything from their best friends to message boards on mobile Web sites to learn the ins and outs of the latest products.


Finance News: Popularity Contest

MarunouchiBy Scott Rochfort -- More than the LDP’s stimulus package is needed to turn the economy around. -- One of Yasuo Fukuda’s final gestures as prime minister illustrated how Japan now faces a very different type of stagnation than the type experienced a decade ago.

Fukuda’s hastily cobbled together 11.7 trillion yen economic stimulus package, supposedly designed to ward off the risk of Japan sinking into another recession, exposed a government without drive and bereft of any long-term plans on how it will steer the economy out of its two-decade rut.


Technology: Brainstorming the Future

Kageroi TableBy Ed Thompson -- The future of office spaces could well be creative environments that stimulate the senses. -- In the office of the future, smart-rooms that automatically respond to voice, motion, and other cues promise to boost productivity and encourage new forms of communication. For IT solutions provider Kayac Co., Ltd., that future is now. The company has teamed up with digital communications researchers from the Keio University Inakage Lab to develop a speech recognition-capable brainstorming room designed to enhance group creativity by monitoring the conversation of its occupants, identifying keywords in their speech, and feeding them a stream of related images and text retrieved from online search engines.


The Watchman -- Executive Interview: Noritaka Ishida

Noritaka IshidaNoritaka IshidaNoritaka Ishida, sole proprietor of watch dealer Ishida, teaches us how to keep time on our side. -- It’s always been hard to sell watches as the customer base changes every year. For example, the choi waru oyaji (middle-aged bad boy) trend that was popular last year has gotten old, proving that you have to go with the trends. Also, people who made a killing in stocks last year might not be able to splurge so much this year. The last three years prior to this economic slump were pretty good, with lots of IT companies booming. Watch sales went up and we saw a bubble.



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