TT-568 -- World's Best Beer, e-biz news from Japan

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A weekly roundup of news & information from Terrie Lloyd.

General Edition Sunday, June 06, 2010 Issue No. 568


- What's New
- News
- Candidate Roundup/Vacancies
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If you read the news, you'd think that the Japanese beer
market had topped out, and that the big domestic firms are
having to export or do M&A abroad to create new growth for
their businesses. In April beer shipments were down 3.2%
and shipments of higher-end low-malt beers in particular
dropped around 17%. Only the cheapest no-malt beer segment
experienced a rise, with shipments increasing 8.9%. It
doesn't matter which brand, all the big players have the
same problems. The population is declining and older people
drink less.

So is this the end of premium beer in Japan?

We would have thought so, except there is one segment,
which is definitely in the premium side of things, that is
still growing strongly -- craft beer, what ten years ago
used to be referred to as "ji-biru" (microbrewed "local
beer"). Ji-biru has only been permitted in Japan since
1994, when the government changed the regulations, and so
it is a small segment of a vast market, but one that
consumers are starting to discover.

But before we go further, first a question: where is the
world's best beer brewed? Germany, Belgium, the UK,
or perhaps at some small craft brewery in the USA?
Although it wasn't announced in any local newspapers
that we know of, in fact three of the 90 categories
of beer to win gold medals at the Chicago-based
World Beer Cup held in April this year were in fact from
Numazu, Shizuoka... We were certainly surprised when we
heard. Craft beer in Japan has come a long way in just 16

What's more impressive is that although we're in the land
of big breweries like Asahi, Kirin, Suntory, and Sapporo,
which collectively pumped out 472.5m cases (each case
equivalent to 20x655ml bottles of beer) last year (2009),
the winning Japan brewer in Chicago was a small but
growing craft beer shop run by an American-Japanese couple
-- Bryan and Sayuri Baird.

[Continued below...]

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[...Article continues]

The Bairds' beers were pitted against an intimidating 3,330
brews from 642 breweries in 44 countries at the World Beer
Cup. But still they won golds in the categories of:

* American-Style Amber Lager (Numazu Lager)
* Specialty Beer (Country Girl Kabocha Ale)
* Belgian- and French-Style Ale (Saison Sayuri)

Mmmm, great names -- makes us thirsty just writing this

Baird Brewing's Bryan Baird is a 43-year old
California-born, Ohio-breed "beer geek". He told us that he
has loved beer ever since he began partaking as a teenager.
After coming to Japan and working in the electronics
industry, he found an opportunity to combine his long love
for beer and deep passion for life in Japan by setting up
shop (factory?) with his wife Sayuri in Numazu about ten
years ago.

Bryan and Sayuri have not only been full-on working
partners the whole time, but they also managed to have a
family as well. They started off with a pub in the Numazu
fishmarket, called, naturally enough the Fishmarket
Taproom, serving imported and craft beers while waiting for
the Kasumigaseki bureaucrats to approve their brewer's
licence. As the business has grown, so has the family --
they now have four kids!

Actually Bryan has a good story to tell about the licence

He told us, "It took a long time to be issued our brewing
license. The zeimusho bureaucrats could not believe we were
applying for a license to brew on a tiny 30-L batch scale.
In my interaction with Japan's bureaucracy, though, I came
to learn that if you know what you are doing, and you are
honest and persistent, you will get what you need. It just
might take awhile."

After starting with the motto "small is beautiful" and
indeed for a while they were the smallest commercial
brewery in Japan, they have now grown to such an extent
that Bryan reckons Baird Brewing is now in the top 10% of
craft breweries by volume. Only a few firms like Yona Yona
and Ginga Kogen are larger, and Bryan points out that since
these companies began life on a much larger scale in the
first place, Baird Brewing is probably the fastest growing
craft beer brewer in the industry. Now that they have a
fist full of gold medals as well, not only in terms of
volume but also in reputation, the company has "arrived".

Thinking that his success could provide encouragement for
other foreign would-be entrepreneurs, we asked Bryan what
sort of help he has received from the local government --
given that the company is now employing more than a dozen
people. His answer was quite simple, "None." But then
continued with, "But they seem to be becoming more aware
and interested in us as our reputation grows." OK, so this
is a self-directed effort then.

But he does go on to point out that rather than the local
government, it's the people who provide the finance that
he needs to focus on, naturally given the strong growth.
He gets his capital both from private investors and also
debt from the local Shizuoka Ginko bank facilitated with
guarantees from the prefectural Hosho Kyokai (Credit
Guarantee Corporation). Readers may recall that the Hosho
Kyokai adds an extra 1% or so to the cost of a bank loan
and acts as your loan guarantor -- which of course helps
the banks make the loan to smaller and otherwise riskier

So why Numazu? Bryan's answer is that of a purist: "Our
water in Numazu is lovely: clean, soft and very easy to
work with. It has the added benefit of being very
reasonably priced. The Japanese esthetic value of balance
and harmony has exercised a strong influence over me as a
brewmaster. Baird Beer then, while full of flavor and
character, tends also to be very balanced and harmonious."
In other words, great water and a relaxed lifestyle in the
shadow of Mount Fuji make for great brewing deeds.

If you want to try some of Bryan's award winning beer, and
believe us when we tell you it's great, you can find his
and Sayuri's tap rooms in Harajuku, Nakameguro, and of
course down in Numazu. Maps and more info at:

...The information janitors/


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+++ NEWS

- Sour plums suppress H1N1 virus
- Luxury consumer goods sales down
- Vacation leave law changed
- Researchers take stem cells from amniotic fluid
- Yogurt reduces tooth decay

-> Sour plums suppress H1N1 virus

Researchers at the Wakayma Medical University have
announced the results of a study that shows traditional
Japanese pickled plums ("umeboshi") contain a new type of
polyphenol which suppresses the spread of the H1N1 swine
flu virus. The study has been running since 2006 and has
resulted in the researchers being able to kill off about
90% of H1N1 cells in a culture, after 7 hours exposure to
the polyphenol. ***Ed: This is a functional food if there
ever was one...!** (Source: TT commentary from, Jun 3, 2010)

-> Luxury consumer goods sales down

Not that we need proof of it, but according to consulting
firm Bain & Co., the luxury consumer goods market in Japan
is expected to fall another 3%, coming on top of the 10%
drop experienced in 2009. Other consulting firms are
forecasting a higher fall, possibly of up to 6% this year,
indicating that things are not yet stabilized, but at least
the drop off is slowing. According to the Japan Department
Store Association, sales to foreign tourists soared 42% for
March over the same period last year and many of these
tourists are buying said luxury goods in lieu of Japanese
shoppers. ***Ed: OK, so there really isn't a recovery of
the local market -- one hopes that Chinese tourists will
continue to come in droves to keep the economy going.**
(Source: TT commentary from, Jun 3, 2010)

-> Vacation leave law changed

Since a change in the labor standards law which took effect
in April, companies nationwide have become a lot more
flexible in how much leave they will allow employees to
take. The new law permits leave periods as short as one
hour -- letting employees go do banking, medical checks,
shopping, and other personal errands which used to result
in their being docked at least half a day's pay. (Source:
TT commentary from, Jun 5, 2010)

-> Researchers take stem cells from amniotic fluid

A development here in Japan may make stem cell
experimentation more morally acceptable abroad. Researchers
at Keio University School of Medicine have successfully
isolated and extracted stem cells from the post-birth
amniotic fluid of a birthing female mouse and used them to
repair a mouse heart damaged through a heart attack.
Apparently 33% of the cells transplanted into the damaged
heart successfully converted to heart tissue and started
beating automatically -- and there was an 18% improvement
in the damaged heart area. ***Ed: Interesting article,
suggest you follow the link and read the whole thing.**
(Source: TT commentary from, May 28, 2010)

-> Yogurt reduces tooth decay

It must be the season for interesting Japanese medical
research results... Maybe all the scientists are trying to
justify a continuation of their funding...? ;-). Anyway,
researchers at the Fukuoka University have found that
kids eating yogurt at least 4 times a week have on average
a 22% decrease in dental decay compared to kids who don't.
The study did not identify why yogurt is so good for
teeth, but the scientists theorize that the food's proteins
bind to the surface of the child's teeth and protect them
from food acids. Interestingly, the study found that only
the ingestion of yogurt resulted in a meaningful reduction
in cavities, not other dairy foods. (Source: TT commentary
from, Jun 3, 2010)

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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=> BiOS, a Division of the LINC Media group, is actively
marketing the following positions for customers setting up
or expanding in Japan, as well as other employers of


BiOS is currently looking for a highly experienced and
senior project manager for a new Project Management
Consultant role with one of our largest clients, a multi
national IT services vendor. Serving as the primary point
of contact for multiple departments, you will be
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Japan and APAC, as well as assessing the project pipeline,
delivering reports to Senior and Executive management, and
building and maintaining relationships with all
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This is a challenging but rewarding role, requiring an
ability to assess and manage the project portfolio at an
in-depth level. As you will be required to operate with a
minimum of supervision and liaise on a regular basis with
project stakeholders and executive managers, a high level
of communication skills, a strong sense of responsibility
and an eye for detail are essential. This is a challenging
step up for an experienced PM looking to polish their
career in a more international setting.

Remuneration is JPY11m – JPY12m depending on your
experience and technical capability.


- Jnr Sales Rep, Plastics Manf, Ebina, JPY4m – JPY6m
- eSourcing Account Manager, JPY4.5m – JPY5.5m
- Enterprise System Team Lead JPY6m – JPY8m
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- Unix Engineer, Okinawa I-Bank, JPY4m – JPY5m

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Interested individuals may e-mail resumes to:


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-------- CCH Japan Labor & Employment Law Seminar ---------

Covered in the seminar are the following key topics:

1. Review of amendments to 2010 Labor & Employment Law

2. Topical Issues: Bullying (workplace intimidation) &
Sexual Harassment

- Risks: Workers Accident Compensation Insurance & Lawsuit
- How to try to collect and gather pieces of evidence
- What you should take a close look at, when deciding which
person is telling the truth
- Disciplinary actions to be imposed as penalty after
finding facts
- Several key points which companies should execute/plan
for in advance to prevent employees from engaging in
bullying and sexual harassment and more...

Date: Friday, June 25th, 1:30pm-5:00pm
Venue: Happo-en 5F, Linden Room
Number of Seats: 50 seats
Language: English
Speaker: Hideki Kano Attorney, Anderson, Mori & Tomotsune
Fees: 20,000 yen + tax

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The ICA invites you to join our Summer Networking Party at
La Boheme in Shirogane. This will be an excellent
opportunity to catch up with old friends, meet new people
and network with peers in related industries, or simply to
put names to faces.

Open bar (beer, wine, soft drinks) and great food will
be included. Be sure to bring your colleagues and friends
to join the party. Open to all, RSVP required.

Date: Thursday, 29th July, 2010
Time: 19:00 to 21:30pm
Venue: La Boheme, Shirogane
Cost: 3,000yen ICA members, 5,000yen non-members.
*Includes open bar (beer, wine, soft drinks) & great
quality food.

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Speaker: Dr. Gerhard Fasol, CEO-Eurotechnology Japan K.K.
Topic: Current Mobile Market Trends - Opportunities For

Details: Complete event details at:
(RSVP Required)

Date: Thursday, June 17, 2010
Time: 6:30 Doors open, Pizza and Drinks included.
Cost: 4,000 yen (members), 6,000 yen (non-members)

Open to all - Venue is Beacon Communications.
Address: 11F JR Tokyu Meguro Building (Tokyu-line Meguro
Station) 3-1-1 Kami-Osaki, Shinagawa-ku.



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