US Election: The Waiting Game

Flag of the United StatesBy Tobias Harris -- Where does the next American president see Japan’s place in Asia? Every four years, as Americans prepare to elect a president, Japanese elites struggle to divine the ramifications of the US presidential election upon the US-Japan relationship. They parse every word written or spoken by the presidential candidates and their advisers in search of clues for how the incoming administration will approach Japan.


Japan Tobacco: Choking at Home

CigaretteBy Peter Harris -- As the anti-smoking movement gains momentum, Japan Tobacco draws up its battle plans. Smoking bans in public is a global trend that is taking off everywhere—or everywhere except Japan, one of the world’s most smoker friendly nations. In a controversial new move, summer 2008 saw the Japanese government consider a threefold tax increase on cigarettes. The proposal submitted to the tax commission would see cigarettes reach prices of 1,000 yen a packet, up from the 300 yen ($3) a pack it is today. Compared to other industrialized nations, tobacco in Japan is sold at an astonishingly low price—cigarettes in Canada, the UK and Norway cost at least $10.



The World’s Tallest Building ... Nearly

Mori TowerBy Anna Kitanaka -- J@pan Inc takes a look at the secretive developer, Minoru Mori, his business dealings and his controversial ‘vertical garden cities.’ -- In September 1, the 101-story Shanghai World Financial Center (SWFC) finally opened after 17 years of tumultuous development. Initially constructed to be the tallest building in the world, unfortunately for Minoru Mori, 73-year-old property tycoon and owner of half a dozen skyscrapers, the tower failed to retain the title.

Closer to home, Mori had also faced problems, namely due to its controversial Roppongi Hills complex. Opened to the public in 2003, the mega-complex incorporates office space, apartments, shops, restaurants, cafés, movie theaters, a museum, a hotel, a major TV studio, an outdoor amphitheater, as well as a few parks.


Chamber Spotlight: Opening Doors

Armin FrauenknechtArmin Frauenknecht, president of the Swiss Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Japan, discusses life inside the European Business Council.

Here at the chamber, we’re a one-woman show. The embassy takes over when it comes to helping new Swiss companies establish themselves in Japan. If a small Swiss company had a product they want to sell in Japan, we’re probably the first place to call on.


Inside Out: Africa

Boy in AfricaBy Gordon Jones -- As China moves into the continent, how is Japan positioned? When former Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda addressed the crowd of dignitaries at this year’s Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TI-CAD-IV), he did so with bold predictions and promises. “In the future, Africa will become a powerful engine driving the growth of the world,” Fukuda said as he stood before the dignitaries of 52 African countries and a multitude of international organizations.


Salaryman-Style: Fried Chicken and Sushi

YurakuchoBy Hugh Ashton -- The lack of legroom for wining and dining has some companies looking for alternatives. Anyone who has had extended connections with Japanese companies will recognize the following scenario: turn up at a Tokyo hotel at about 6.30 p.m., in company with a few hundred dark-suited male middle managers, and listen to speeches delivered by several hosting executives standing in front of a banner declaring the purpose of the gathering. After 20 minutes of this, bottles of beer are opened, the magic word “Kanpai!” is shouted, and the hordes attack the fried chicken and sushi provided as a buffet. At a precisely defined hour, usually quite early, the hotel staff stop refilling glasses and start politely but firmly ushering the guests to the door, where coats are collected and trains caught back to the suburbs.


Hotel Events: Wholesome Hospitality

Employee PartyBy Sarah Noorbakhsh -- In times of economic woe, we find out that the best way to cheer up staff is to throw a party. Tokyo may now be one of the world’s prime locations for extravagant corporate galas and employee parties, but it hasn’t always been that way. While the bubble era meant that companies had more than enough free-flowing cash to treat employees to overseas trips and all-you-can-drink karaoke bashes, the industry as a whole has since evolved, and there has been a renewed surge of demand from companies both domestically and internationally for a new breed of employee- oriented parties hosted at some of Tokyo’s finest hotels.


Ethical Boundaries: Walking the Line

Golf BallBy Karryn Miller -- Japan struggles to draw the line between entertaining guests and bribery. Playing golf in Japan doesn’t come cheap. With green fees starting at around 10,000 yen a person, and reaching anywhere in the region of 50,000 yen for luxury courses, it’s a sport that has long retained an image of affluence. Over the years the pastime has been used to impress many a client, and in some cases a day of play has even been a tool to sway people’s actions and opinions.


Corporate Entertainment Directory

J@pan Inc is pleased to present our comprehensive Corporate Entertainment Directory.


The Driver's Seat: A Show of Commitment

Terrie LloydBy Terrie Lloyd -- Communication with a Japanese distributor is vital to getting the most out of your business. Your company has hired the consultants, done the trade show, and has subsequently found a distributor with whom to start doing business in Japan. For some, this is the end of the story in terms of their direct involvement in Japan, and they are happy to take a smaller cut of the sales and leave the distributor to execute every aspect of the Japan operation. In a company that sells intellectual property versus products, this type of relationship is common, and handing the work of market development to your Japanese partner will mean that you can typically expect to receive just 25 percent or so of the revenues. If you’re selling products, then you might receive 40 percent to 50 percent.



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