TT-420 -- Pink Panther, global warming impact

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A weekly roundup of news & information from Terrie Lloyd.

General Edition Sunday, May 13, 2007 Issue No. 420


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

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Getting on the Yamanote train line the other day, we
happened to board a "train-jack" car -- a term referring to
a carriage whose entire advertising space has been bought
by a single advertiser. In this case, the car's walls,
doors, and ceiling ads all featured the Pink Panther cartoon
character and his nemesis the bumbling Inspector Clouseau.
Being fans of Peter Sellers, the original Inspector, we naturally
wondered what the pink panther was being used to advertise.

Now, before we tell you, remember that in the 1963 movie,
the Pink Panther was a diamond belonging to an Indian
princess, which was heisted by international jewel thief
Sir Charles Lytton (David Niven). The incompetent Inspector
Clouseau somehow managed to catch Lytton, but was outwitted
later in the movie and himself became accused as the real
thief and was subsequently thrown into prison. So,
essentially the Pink Panther is a comedy series about
stealing valuables and having the thieves get clean away...

Well, who was the advertiser? A lifestyle magazine, a
dating service, a new bar? Why, no, it was none other than
the Japan Multi-Payment Network Management Organization
(JAMMO) -- a federation of more than 1,500 banks that
allows multi-platform payments to be made and reconciled.
And since many of the ads (you can see them at show the panther -- who eventually came
to represent the thief and not the diamond -- using an
ATM, while Clouseau looks for clues, you can see the
irony of this ad campaign...

Talk about a case of "lost in translation". We wonder what
on earth the advertising firm handling the JAMMO account
was thinking when they chose that admittedly cute
character. Maybe with all that pink they thought it a suave
thief would attract the ladies? We smile and think, "Ah, it
could only happen in Japan..."

[Continued below...]

============== Start a Company in Japan ===================

Entrepreneur's Handbook Seminar, June 9th, 2007

If you have been considering setting up your own company,
find out what it takes to make it successful. Terrie Lloyd,
founder of over 13 start-up companies in Japan, will be
giving an English-language seminar and Q&A on starting up a
company in Japan. This is an ideal opportunity to find out
what is involved, and to ask specific questions that are
not normally answered in business books. All materials are
in English and are Japan-focused.

For more details:

[...Article continues]

Part Two: Global Warming in Japan -- The Effects

But on to more sober issues -- namely the potential effects
of global warming on Japan.

You'll recall that last week we raised the possibility of
global warming causing a growing movement of humanity,
refugees from increasingly common environmentally-induced
disasters. The recent IPCC report from the UN rightly
focuses on the plight of people living in Asian river
deltas in China, Vietnam, Bangladesh, and various parts of
Africa -- where the predictions are that tens of millions
will be risk.

However, we felt that Japan would be unlikely to let such
refugees in, taking as it does a fairly hard-nosed approach
to immigrants and currently granting refugee status to just
10 people a year (as of 2004), compared with the USA which
let in 53,700 in 2005 alone. Instead, there is another
group of potential environmental refugees -- the rich and
academic. These are basically the types of people that
Japan has been trying in different ways to have emigrate here
already. Medical facilities, skiing, shopping, stable
government, good infrastructure, and cheap land outside the
cities are all potential attractants to foreigners wanting
to live in Japan either permanently or part-time.

While there could well be an increase in immigrants as the
government faces up to a population of just 90m indigenous
Japanese in 2050 (a 30% drop from today), what will those
newcomers find Japan to be like once they get here? How are
the environmental changes likely to impact Japan?

We did some quick research in the following areas and
found some interesting results:
1. Air and ocean quality
2. Changes in air temperature
3. Natural disasters
4. Government response and commercial opportunities

-> Air and ocean quality

Back in 2002, fishermen in the western prefectures found
their nets getting clogged with hundreds of giant Echizen
jellyfish, that were swarming some of the nation's richest
fishing grounds. The 200kg blobs were coming up in the
Tsushima Current from the East China sea and into the Sea
of Japan. They were not only wrecking expensive nets, but
as their poisonous tentacles touched squid taken in the
same haul the poison would cause the squid to change color,
reducing their resale value.

This was only the start of some very strange changes in
fish stocks in Japan recently. Larger than normal Aji
(Horse Mackeral) are not migrating, and ikanago sand eel
catches are just 10% of previous year's takes. The
disturbing changes are still being studied, but early
commentary is blaming both a rise in sea temperatures, up
to 3 degrees celcius in some bays, and excessive nutrients
caused by soil run off from China. Perhaps the giant jelly
fish are another version of algal bloom.

-> Changes in air temperature

The UN's IPCC reckons that the North Asia is going to get
warmer and wetter, while inland (western) China will get
much drier. In summer in Japan, the temperature is likely
to be 1-2 degrees C hotter and rainfall will increase by
more than 1 mm/day over Western Japan. This probably means
more floods along the Japan Sea coast, and more high
altitude dust sweeping in from western China deserts. Look
for Tokyo temperatures to crack the 40 degrees Celsius mark
sometime in the next couple of years.

The effects of even a 2 degree increase in temperature will
have a huge effect on horticulture. Scientists at Chiba
University in 2005 found that moderately higher year-round
temperatures can cause a variety of plants, including
tomatoes, from budding properly and thus significantly
reducing fruit yields. Earlier research has shown that
ozone layer damage is also reducing rice yields. Of course
there are other varieties of vegetables and fruit that can
be planted, but in the case of fruit trees and vine fruit,
the wait after replanting until maturity may take up to a

Not just fruit trees, but Japan's forests also appear to be
in danger. Scientists doing research in China have found
that the deciduous tree, genus Queras, is migrating
northwards at the amazing rate of 7 km/year, around 20
times faster than the migration of similar species in
Europe over the past 13,000 years. We can expect that the
same thing is going on in Japan, although perhaps at a
slower rate. And as the environment warms up, insect and
animal pests and fungal infections that would normally be
killed off in the winter will hit forests harder and
longer. Apparently the forests on the Japan Sea side of
Hokuriku are most likely to be affected and that in the
short term this will cause the same sort of widespread
tree-kill that Europe has witnessed. With Japan's
preponderance of volcanic soil, we can expect increased
erosion, flooding, and overall degradation of water
quality as a result.

-> Natural disasters.

Japan is a nation frequently exposed to natural disasters,
so perhaps a few more won't be seen as much of a threat.
Nevertheless, a 2 degree average change in air temperature
is enough to spawn many more typhoons of greater intensity.
In an average year, about 20-25 typhoons form in the
central pacific, and you can be sure that at least 20%-30%
of them will come roaring up typhoon alley, past Taiwan
and over Japan.

Typhoons bring with them storm surges, and even cities with
massive sea walls will be at risk of future flooding and
direct wave impact. A 2006 study by a division of the Land,
Infrastructure and Transport Ministry found that cities
most at risk in the future will be those with bays facing
South, such as Osaka, Hiroshima, and Tokyo. Indeed, the
ministry found that by the end of this century, the maximum
tidal levels in Osaka bay during a typhoon are likely to
increase by about 3.5 meters -- enough that when amplified
by actual waves, it will flood a good part of the coastal
area of the city.

The frequency of more common natural disasters is already
starting to become noticeable, and we believe that many
more people will be killed or displaced by mud slides,
on-land tornadoes (which until now have caused few
fatalities), and heavy rainfall and flooding. Another type
of disaster is the extinction of animal species, such as
the attack by the Crown of Thorns star fish upon the
pristine Kushimoto corals in Wakayama. These are the
world's northern most coral community. The star fish are
coming up in the warmer water and divers in the area
remove by hand about 30,000 of the creatures a year,
barely making a dent on the plague.

-> Government response and commercial opportunities

The government is quite aware of the challenges posed by
global warming. Indeed, you could say that the threat is
tailor-made for bureaucrats, since making changes in
lifestyle by overall populations often needs government
legislation and enforcement. Such controls either already
being implemented or will be in the near future. They
include increasing R&D and tax breaks for non-polluting
technologies, restricting the use of pollution-causing
vehicles and industries, promoting carbon credit trading
exchanges, taking an international stand on protecting the
environment (although Japan has a poor record at home), and
protecting coastal communities with ever more concrete.

Indeed, if you were a cynic, you could say that wherever
there is pollution, there is money to be made cleaning it
up or controlling it. From what we can see, the main
investment opportunities are in energy and physical
protection/clean up systems. Thus, makers of nuclear
reactors, solar cells, and electric battery technology are
obvious candidates, as are the various microbial soil and
garbage treatment systems being developed by
Japanese firms.

Speaking of electric batteries, hybrid autos are all the
rage right now, but we would bet that the stock of
Mitsubishi Motors, which is forging ahead with a
lithium-ion pluggable/rechargeable all-electric car, will
also do well. Being able to motor for a day for just a few
dollars of regular household power will really catch
consumers' imagination.

Concrete producing firms should also do well. Just wait
for the first major storm surge to hit a populated area and
the government will quickly decide to reinforce the entire
south-facing coastline with higher, deeper breakwaters.
Japanese firms involved in carbon trading should also do
well. Our take is that the Western economies who didn't
sign the Kyoto accord will eventually be forced by global
popular opinion to come back to the table. They will drag
the major third world hold-outs along with them, by
threatening trade action otherwise. This will open the way
to actual tradable and enforceable credits.

Lastly, there is Japanese land -- especially countryside
areas that don't share the same groundwater as the
many dumping areas for city and industrial waste. We
would favor tracts in Miyazaki, Kyushu, north-western
Honshu (Iwate and such like), and of course Hokkaido.
All these locations all feature cheap land and are far
enough away from the major centers to have fewer
contamination problems. We also like Kyushu because it is
close to China and Korea. Tourism from these countries is
already ramping up well, and international lifestyles and
business will surely intensify these links.

...The information janitors/


---------------------- M&A Advisory -----------------------

The Japan Inc. Advisory team is highly experienced in
helping foreign entrepreneurs both sell and buy companies
in Japan. Our experience includes:

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+++ NEWS

- Huge HDD breakthrough
- Fairer rules for overseas trainees
- HMV Japan to be sold?
- Companies sick of borrowing
- Toilet seat fire warning

-> Huge HDD breakthrough

Hard disks are about to become significantly bigger, thanks
to a breakthrough in Hard Disk Drive (HDD) platter surface
design by a research team at Fujitsu. The company reckons
that their technology can increase the recording capacity of
a hard disk by about 600%, to around 800GB sq.inch. The
new drives will be available in 2009. (Source: TT commentary
from, May 11, 2007)

-> Fairer rules for overseas trainees

OMG! Does the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry read
Terrie's Take? Probably not, but it's still great news that
they have drawn up an interim report that says a shake up
is needed in the foreign worker training system. As we
pointed out in TT399, foreign workers coming to Japan under
the trainee system are widely abused and serve as cheap
labor only. The trouble is that in the first year of the
existing program, the trainees are not considered as
employees and thus firms are not obliged to pay them any
particular level of income. This first year exception will
be eliminated in the new rules, allowing trainees to get
proper contracts and working conditions/salaries.
(Source: TT commentary from, May 12,

-> HMV Japan to be sold?

Reuters reports that the HMV Group will be auctioning off
its Japan business to one of several interested buyout
firms. Apparently the bidding will start at 10 times core
earnings. The company has 57 stores in Japan, which
contribute around 20% of the group's global revenue. One of
the buyout firms rumored to be interested is Shinsei bank.
(Source: TT commentary from, May 11, 2007)

-> Companies sick of borrowing

In a quote we thought we'd never see, a recent Bloomberg
article records Richard Koo, chief economist at Nomura
Research Institute, saying, "Companies are so sick of
borrowing." Koo reckons that they're busy paying down debt
after a decade of economic stagnation. Whether he is right
or not, it is true that lending growth by Japanese banks
has slowed for the third month in a row and loans rose
just 1% over the rate in April 2006. Banks made around
JPY388trn (US$3.2trn) in loans in April 2007. (Source: TT
commentary from, May 10, 2007)

-> Toilet seat fire warning

We missed this one, but the Brisbane Times didn't.
Apparently Toto has issued a fire hazard warning to
customers of one of it's more popular electric seat bidets.
At least 105 of the Z Series units have caught fire or
started smoking since 1984. The company is recalling around
180,000 seats for repair saying that customers should
unplug them immediately. ***Ed: Wait, 23 years and they
have just made the recall?! We wonder if this is the start
of a Paloma style scandal for a usually squeaky clean
Toto? You might want to dump their shares.** (Source:
TT commentary from, May 10,

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



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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

-> No corrections this week.

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