TT-400 -- We're 400 today! e-biz 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, November 19, 2006 Issue No. 400


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

SUBSCRIBE to, UNSUBSCRIBE from Terrie's Take at:


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The Big 400.

This week we were going to comment on the pending IPO by
the Gaba English school, and the sorry financial and moral
state of English schools in Japan in general. However,
given that this is issue Number 400 of Terrie's Take, we
thought it might be better to take some time out and
toot our own horn. Gaba won't list until December 1st, so
plenty of time for them next week...

Terrie's Take started off long before there was a thing
called Blogs, back in 1998. It was an early experiment to
see if people would accept email as a media, and whether it
could be commercialized. This was clearly of interest,
since creating paper media about niche subjects such as
living and working in Japan is an expensive exercise. The
first issues were called CJNN -- Computing Japan News
Network -- and some readers may recall that back then we
were publishing a very niche high-tech industry magazine
called Computing Japan. The news was all about tech
advances and what it was like to run a small business in
Japan. After launching, we quickly gained a core readership
of some thousands.

Then, in 2000, CJNN became JIN -- the Japan Inc Newsletter
This reflected the total make-over that the Computing Japan
magazine received in November 1999, when it became today's
Japan Inc. magazine. This name lasted until mid-2001 when
the then Editor-in-Chief (the very talented Steve Mollman)
of Japan Inc magazine pointed out that serious publishing
houses have a concept called "Church and State" --
referring to the fact that editorial should have integrity
and not be tied at the hip to the publisher or sales force.
These days we're not so convinced that you can achieve a
complete separation, but the concept sounded logical and
so we made the separation and Terrie's Take was born.

Many people have asked whether Terrie Lloyd really writes
the newsletter (yes, I still do.), as 48 times a year for a
bit over 8 years does seem to be an extreme act. However,
while the editorial is the work of one person, there have
been notable others behind the scenes helping with research
and ideas. Chief among these have been Richard Ochero, who
helped expand the information carried and got the web site
going, and Terrie's 20-year old daughter Yukie, who crams
in research requests amidst exams and homework while she
studies medicine at Kitasato University.

Writing Terrie's Take is an interesting balancing exercise.
Being active in Tokyo's business scene, there are a lot of
rumors and stories flying about, and the temptation is to
delve into each of them, expanding and investigating until
the real story sees the light of day. If we had a full news
bureau, we'd probably try doing this, but as a few
individuals, we have decided to stick to certain themes and
baselines instead.

One of the main themes is that of foreigners running and
building businesses in Japan. We look at events unfolding
around us and how they affect this mission, taking time to
celebrate those who get to the next level -- such as
ValueClick, VarioSecureNetworks, ValueCommerce, Fusion
Systems, and many others.

[Continued below...]

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[...Article continues]

The baselines have everything to do with survival as a
media source, which means keeping the content fresh,
interesting, and relevant. This means largely thinking
ahead about what different events and laws may mean.
Luckily, Japan is a place where there is a lot going on,
and although media black outs can occur when something
happens in government, for the business sector the
newspapers take their gloves off and anything can become news.

We're not really into digging for dirt on individuals and
businesses -- there are plenty of others filling that role.
Instead, we try to look for positive trends, and identify
them early on. If course, we do cover negative events as
well, but usually this is simply to serve as a means of
alerting readers to take action or be ready for change.

A single edition of Terrie's Take takes about 6-8 hours to
put together, not including extra background research. The
newsletter is generally written on a Saturday afternoon,
and is re-read and corrected late Sunday evening or early
Monday morning. Needless to say, this isn't the most
conducive exercise for a close family life, but after such
a long time, everyone has pretty much gotten used to it.
In the Lloyd household at least, the kids know to leave
Daddy alone when he is writing the newsletter...!

Some readers have asked if it is really necessary to put
so many ads into it. We'd love to make an ad-free edition,
but our publishing business costs money, and this is how we
pay for it. Asking readers to pay for the content also
implies a whole new level of fact-checking and content
positioning that we're just not ready for yet.

So with this in-between positioning, is Terrie's Take
compromised or even worthwhile? That is a good question and
one we ask ourselves frequently. Clearly there are better
sources of news -- such as the Nikkei's English website
(, which we use as a frequent news
source. Then there are also better sources of informed
commentary about Japan. Several sources that we regularly
look at are Gen Kanai's weblog at,
Dave Aldwinckle's regular Japan Times columns also posted
at his web site, and the IUJ related think
tank Glocom, located at

What Terrie's Take is good for is its business focus and
connecting the dots. We're willing to stick our necks out
and make predictions or pronouncements that wiser people
would not -- and we guess this is reasonable entertainment.
A classic case was when we predicted in January this year,
in TT359, that Takafumi Horie of Livedoor would probably
dodge jail time. Of course, just days later, he was
arrested and kept in custody for a full 90 days!
Ironically, Horie is fighting the prosecutors tooth and
nail, and who knows he may still beat the rap,
nevertheless, we got it wrong.

What we did appreciate though, is that no one flamed us
about it. Reader response was mostly about who else was
doing the same type of window dressing that Horie is
accused of. We responded that there are plenty of famous
names just waiting for the prosecutors to knock on their doors.

In fact, it is this constant flow of email comments coming
back from our audience that makes Terrie's Take so
worthwhile producing. In October we decided to formalize
the feedback loop and we now include comments and
corrections at the end of each newsletter. In this way,
we're hoping to turn Terrie's Take into a kind of
catalyzer, where if we can't find the answer to a
particular question in the existing media, we leave the
scene set for one of our 24,967 readers to complete the
puzzle. This has happened numerous times off-line, such as
when we wrote about Japan possibly taking over the world's
LPG supplies in mid-2005 and a reader wrote in with some
really excellent inside information on how the trade works.
This material went on to become the core for an article on
the energy industry in the Japan Inc. magazine

We believe that an information ecosystem of this type not
only keeps us working on our research quality, but also
functions as an independent media channel for foreign
business related news. We're often surprised at how both
the Japanese and foreign press seem to ignore foreigners in
Japan. The tragic death of Roger Boisvert in 2001 and
resulting lack of press coverage in the passing of this
remarkable pioneer of Japan's internet was a good case in

The future for Terrie's Take is at least another 400
issues, with a combination of business, personalities,
technology, and celebration of foreign success in Japan.
Our measure of success, apart from staying financially
independent, is how many people sign up as subscribers. You
can help us in this mission by cutting and pasting our
material to friends who might eventually subscribe. We've
heard over and over that this is how most people find us.

And they do HAVE to search for us, because our web presence
has been patchy to say the least. Hopefully, though, we
will become easier to discover from early 2007 when we move
to a new Drupal blog infrastructure. This will open the way
for photos, RSS feeds, same-time html versions, and other
cool stuff that we've been putting off for too long.

Anyway, we thank you reading Terrie's Take and helping us
get to the big 400. We'll be having a glass of something
nice tonight to celebrate.

This issue's feedback is about the abysmal conditions for
foreigners working on Trainee visas. It appears that the
organization in charge of assisting such trainees to come
into Japan are benefitting much more than they'd like the
public to know...

...The information janitors/


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+++ NEWS

- Horie holds out
- Winter bonuses up but consumers holding out
- UAE bank governor disses yen
- NPA to change use-of-force rules
- New rules give fired workers 2 years pay

-> Horie holds out

While many thought that the trial of former Livedoor CEO
Takafumi Horie would be over by now, things have not gone
smoothly for the prosecutors. The Nikkei reports that he
was only questioned by the prosecution for the first time
on Friday. According to the article, Horie is not
responding directly to questions and even has the temerity
to ask the presiding judge for clarifications. ***Ed: The
background chatter appears to be that the testimony of the
prosecution's star witness, ex-CFO Miyauchi, has shown him
to be untrustworthy, by his own admission. This seems to
have damaged the prosecution's case.** (Source: TT
commentary from, Nov 17, 2006)

-> Winter bonuses up but consumers holding out

Japanese bedrock manufacturing companies are paying out
record bonuses this winter, in lieu of substantial raises
in base pay. The Nikkei reports that the average winter
bonus will rise by 2% to JPY868,932 (US$7,350). The
problem, though, as the newspaper reports, is that
consumers know a one-time bonus is not a secure form of
income and thus are likely to hold on to the extra cash
rather than spend it. Apparently average salaries have
risen by less than JPY10,000 this year, recovering just
2.5% of the JPY400,000 in wages that fell during 1997 and
2005. (Source: TT commentary from, Nov 16,

-> UAE bank governor disses yen

In an interview with Reuters, the governor of the UAE
Central Bank said that he does not see the Japanese yen as
an attractive currency to diversify into. The bank has
announced that as part of an FX diversification program, it
will convert 10% of its dollar-denominated reserves into
gold and euros. In his words, "It's [the yen] not a
currency. It's very much controlled by the central bank of
Japan and it's lost some of its ground. I would say it's
lost confidence." ***Ed: Looks like the yen will not be
rising any time soon through demand by the oil states.**
(Source:, Nov 18, 2006)

-> NPA to change use-of-force rules

The National Police Agency (NPA) has released new
use-of-force guidelines to help reduce the number of deaths
of Japanese policemen engaging armed criminals. In 2005
three policemen were either stabbed or shot to death
because they paused to give a verbal warning or fire a
warning shot before using lethal force. The new guidelines
allow officers to forego the warning shot in emergencies.
***Ed: This item is a bit old, but interesting
nevertheless.** (Source:, Jun 2, 2006)

-> New rules give fired workers 2 years pay

The Labor Ministry is apparently considering new rules for
settling disputed dismissals, with employees likely to
receive at least two year's worth of annual pay. The
current law allows someone who considers they have been
wrongfully dismissed to only sue for reinstatement not for
damages and the new rules will allow both parties to settle
2 years pay. ***Ed: In the past, cases have ended with
settlements of between 6 months and 60 months pay, so some
would say that this at least clarifies the situation and
will significantly ease the way for employers looking to
release someone.** (Source: TT commentary from, Nov 18, 2006)

NOTE: Broken links
Many online news sources are now removing their articles
after just a few days of posting them, thus breaking our
links -- we apologize for the inconvenience.


================= You're Vending What? ====================

Japan is home to the highest density of vending machines in
the world, with about 5.6m machines, or one for every 23
people. You can buy almost anything, and the Japanese do,
with about JPY6.67trn (US$56bn) being spent every year.

Yet, apart from the obvious players such as major soft
drinks companies, there have been no foreign owners of this
massive direct sales medium - until now.

Market Pioneer Japan is proud to announce that as of
October, 2006, it has built a network of 1,000 vending
machines placed nationwide, selling stickers and print
logos. We invite owners of licenceable characters to
contact us with a view to distributing your IP assets into
the Japanese market.

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Dec 7, 2006
Using Technology to Improve Personal and Business

Technology tools improve efficiency but it's difficult to
keep up with it. Gonzague-Alexandre Gay of Akihabara News
shares technology tips and secrets.
Thursday, Dec 7 Tokyo Union Church
Doors open at 6:30, meeting starts at 7 PM

for a map to the TUC.

================ ICA Events - Nov 30 ======================

Presenter: Neeraj Jhanji, CEO of ImaHima

Details: Required)
Date: Thursday, Nov 30, 2006
Time: 6:30 Doors open, soft drinks & wine included
Cost: 1,000 yen (members), 2,000 yen (non-members)
Open to all - Location is TEMPLE UNIV MITA CAMPUS


============= Entrepreneur Association of Tokyo ===========

Tuesday, December 5th

Speaker: Noboru Takano, Regional Director of Sales of Tokyo
International Sales Office, Ritz-Carlton Hotels, Japan

Title: "Legendary Service at the Rtiz-Carlton Hotel"

Would you like your business to have Ritz-Carlton level
service? If so, than don't miss Noboru Takano, Regional
Director of Sales of the Ritz, and author of the
best-selling book, 'Ritz-Carlton ga Taisetsu ni Suru
Service wo Koeru Shunkan', sharing some of Ritz-Carlton's
secret formula.

Date/Time: Tuesday, December 5, 7:00 pm
Location: City Club of Tokyo - Maple Room, Canadian Embassy
Language: English
Email: info at


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 editors at

-> TT 399. We ran an article about the mistreatment of
foreigners working in Japan on Trainee visas

*** Reader response: Latest on JITCO and abuse of foreign
worker "study" system most welcome. However with reference
to the idea of JITCO "cleaning house," it would seem (based
on the story below from the Yomiuri), that this may be a
case of the foxes guarding the chicken coop.... Were you
aware of this story at the time the newsletter was done?

*** Our reaction: Although we'd heard that JITCO was
making excess profit out of the trainees, we'd not seen it
in print. Readers interested in this issue should
definitely read the Yomiuri article.

...The information janitors/


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Written by: Terrie Lloyd (terrie at

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