TT-619 -- Teaching Scientists How to Communicate, 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, June 26, 2011, Issue No. 619


- What's New -- Teaching scientists how to communicate
- News -- Boiling milliwatts as you make tea
- Candidate Roundup/Vacancies
- Upcoming Events -- Next Entrepreneur seminar
- Corrections/Feedback -- How not to find shareholders
- News Credits

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Last week the academic world in Japan was in an uproar
after it came out that Tohoku University's president, also a
leading metallurgy scientist, Akihisa Inoue, had his 2001
contribution to a US academic publication called Applied
Physics Letters (APL) retracted because a member of his
research team had recycled part of a previous paper in the
submission to APL. As reported in the Japan Times, the
problem with this is that double publication causes the
research group and in particular the lead scientist named
at the top of the paper to be suspected of trying to get
republished without doing any new research.

Whether Inoue's team intended to subvert the principle of
original research or not, it/he have almost certainly
committed a serious breach of ethics which now has muddied
both his personal international credibility and also his
and the team's ability to get published again in the
future. That could be quite serious for him, since academia
in Japan is now moving more and more to tying funding to
researchers' rate of being published.

It will no doubt be argued that since the team member who
wrote up the APL submission was not aware of a similar
submission to another magazine, this was an innocent
mistake and one that should not be punished further than
the ignomy already caused. However, unfortunately for Inoue,
and perhaps indicative of the state of affairs in Japanese
academia at present, this is actually the second time for
him to have a paper pulled, and so he is now connected with
a pattern of behavior that will have consequences. This is
a shame, because Inoue is apparently an innovative and
dedicated scientist who in the 1990's was acknowledged as
the most-cited materials scientist of that period.

[Continued below...]

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[...Article continues]

But this hullabaloo may have an unintended good
consequence, in that it could provoke a major shakeup of
the attitudes and language capabilities of the Japanese
scientific establishment as they are forced to come out of
the domestic rabbit holes (the Galapagos syndrome) and
compete on the world stage for coverage in leading
publications. This pressure is being provided by Chinese,
South Korean, and Taiwanese scientists, who are much more
comfortable working in English and interacting with the
international science community.

For much too long Japanese scientists have believed that
their research is sufficiently unique and advanced that a
simple translation of their paper or script is sufficient
to address an international audience. However, this is
clearly a wrong assumption since the way a Japanese
presentation makes its points -- often half way through a
paper and with abject modesty, is unlikely to earn any
lasting recognition from a very bored or puzzled foreign
audience. Indeed, the word "embarrassing" comes to mind.
Consequently, despite the quality of the research, work
done by Japanese scientists often gets overlooked

As an example of how severe the problem of poor
communication is, Japan leads in number of patents in solid
waste management and is number two after the United States
in air pollution control, water pollution control, medical
technology, pharmaceuticals, and biotechnology. Yet despite
these impressive accomplishments, the country lags in cited
research or core articles in the same fields, not even
making the top ten.

So what's the solution? The best would be for the Education
Ministry (MEXT) to pressure universities to start formal
programs in scientific writing, presentation, ethics, and
other communications and behavioral skills needed to
survive and thrive in an international environment.
Unfortunately this is not likely to happen in a hurry
because the whole system is so inbred, and so scientists
who are serious about their international standing and
careers are having to take matters into their own hands by
hiring private companies to tutor them.

One such company is Think Science, a Tokyo-based company
offering live training courses in scientific writing and
coaching in making presentations. The company
( seems to be doing well, and counts
many of the nation's major academic institutions as its
clients. There are other players as well, but we are told
that Think Science is the first to make major inroads on
the side of live coaching of scientists on how to present
and behave, rather than just provide rewriting/editing

Back to the scandal. Inoue's case is probably just the tip
of the iceberg -- certainly there is scope for lots of
similar mistakes to be made because Japan's academic body
is so large. According to the latest available data from
the Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and
Communications there are approximately 827,300 scientists
in Japan and this number has been rising 7 years in a row.
In 2008 alone Japan spent JPY18.9trn (US$228bn approx.) on
academic R&D, the eighth straight year of increase, so it
is clearly time for the local scientific community to get
serious about international best practice and standards --
and educating its leading thinkers that they have to

Indeed, on the New Year's Day 2011 Eiichi Negishi who had
received a Nobel Prize in chemistry, appeared on NHK's
special series entitled "The Road to Japan's Survival
2011" and emphasized the need for Japanese scientists to
become internationally viable. In his recently published
best-selling biography Negishi (2010) proclaimed
"Regardless of your field, your playground should be the
world and your language should be English."

[Ed: Our thanks go to Rinko Kawakami, associated with
Kyushu University, who provided us with many of the key
facts and issues in this Terrie's Take.]

Lastly, if you want to know what the power usage is in the
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+++ NEWS

- M&As up significantly in 2011
- Cloud apps company wins Microsoft partnership
- Swedish truck maker to get better presence in Japan
- Softbank and Orix to build digital signage exports
- Boiling milliwatts as you make tea

-> M&As up significantly in 2011

It looks like 2011 will the biggest year for M&As since
2005, and is approximately 80% ahead of the pace set last
year. Of the total JPY7.56trn spent on M&A, about a half,
JPY3.1trn, has been spent on foreign acquisitions. Experts
are saying that the rate of acquisitions has notably
increased since the March 11 earthquake and point to the
fact that many firms believe things will get tougher in
Japan. At the same time, there are apparently many private
equity funds abroad sitting on assets acquired before the
Lehman Shock, who are now looking to unload those
investments. (Source: TT commentary from, Jun
25, 2011)

-> Cloud apps company wins Microsoft partnership

Cybozu may not be a company you've heard much about, but
this firm was one of the pioneers in the SaaS space,
providing cloud-based productivity and groupware
functionality long before Google and others. The company
has however been extremely poor in marketing its solutions,
and has also stayed in corporate groupware space rather
than the higher profile B2C markets. Nonetheless, their
dedication to making a good product even better appears to
be vindicated as Microsoft has agreed to make them an
option for the Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 product
line up from next week. Needless to say, Cybozu's share price
went limit-up on the announcement. (Source: TT commentary
from, Jun 23, 2011)

-> Swedish truck maker to get better presence in Japan

Swedish truck maker Scania has announced that it is going
partially independent of partner Hino, and setting up its
own sales and service operation in Japan. Scania is
apparently looking at niche markets within Japan for its
heavy-duty trucks and power generation equipment. The
company seems to think that there are opportunities for it
in the post-recovery efforts up in Sendai and Tohoku.
***Ed: Gutsy move by Scania to separate with a heavy hitter
like Hino. Will be interesting to see how this effort goes. If
successful, it will no doubt become a textbook case
study for MBA students.** (Source: TT commentary from, Jun 26, 2011)

-> Softbank and Orix to build digital signage exports

Softbank and leasing company Orix have announced that they
will work together to build an intelligent digital signage
business around East Asia over the coming years. The basic
idea is that Softbank will make the digital signs and Orix
will providing funding to operators to rent the sign
displays. According to the Fuji Chimera Research Institute,
sales of the digital signs market in Japan was about
JPY75bn, and should be double that in 2015. ***Ed: Hmmm,
we'd heard that Softbank's digital signage business was not
doing well at all, so this East Asia push seems a bit like
wishful thinking to us. Also, it's particularly hard to
imagine that Japan's digital signage market is worth
JPY75bn -- especially if it's only going to double in the
following 5 years -- not exactly a high-growth market.**
(Source: TT commentary from, Jun 21, 2011)

-> Boiling milliwatts as you make tea

A cool new product recently launched by an Osaka firm
produces electricity to recharge your iphone by boiling
water in a cook pot that also includes a thermocouple to
turn heat into power. The developer of the device is TES
NewEnergy, and apparently the owner got the idea from
watching tsunami survivors warming themselves over open
fires in the days after the disaster. He thought a device
that could power up their cell phones at the same time,
especially in a disaster, would be popular. ***Ed:
Certainly we think this is a great idea!** (Source: TT
commentary from, Jun 25, 2011)

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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Entrepreneur's Handbook Seminar 16th of July, 2011

If you have been considering setting up your own company,
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founder of over 17 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
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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

*** In TT617 we mentioned that we solicited investors
through the Terrie's Take newsletter. One of our readers
pointed out that there are strict rules in place about
private solicitation of investors, and we agree that this
is correct. We simply abbreviated the description of the
process. For those thinking about engaging in similar
marketing, if you want to speak to a body of potential
investors at once, then you should look at the following
guidelines. As always, this is not legal advice since we're
not lawyers, and you should always get confirmation from a
qualified lawyer before trying this at home.

[A] Providing no information
Have your company announce its plan to raise finance, and
that it wishes to survey whether there is any market
interest in such a program. In the survey, you would
provide no specific information about the shares, and some
information about the company. In your marketing, make a
note that the ad is not solicitation to sell shares. People
wishing to participate in the survey should contact an
email address they can reach you at.

[B] Providing info to small number of people
Again, announce that your company plans to raise finance,
and offer that only the first 50 respondents will receive
details on the offer. This meets the up-to-50-people rule
for private share offerings. Make a note that the ad is not
solicitation to sell shares. People wishing to participate
in the survey should contact an email address they can
reach you at.


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