TT-643 -- Nine Events That Defined Business in 2011, ebiz 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, December 18, 2011, Issue No. 643


- What's New -- Nine Events That Defined Business in 2011
- News -- Tankan turns negative
- Candidate Roundup/Vacancies
- Upcoming Events
- Corrections/Feedback -- Dating paucity, a case of men or
- News Credits

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One way to figure out likely trends in the future is to
study the past. Today we pick nine events that we think
have influenced Japan on a macro level and which will
have repercussions and benefits for Japan for years to

January -- Bahamas tax treaty signed

Japan marked an important move towards homologating its tax
and tax detection system with the rest of the world, by
signing a tax information treaty with the Bahamas,
following on from similar agreements with the Caymans and
Bermuda. Probably the first real application of this type
of treaty will be the Olympus laundering of US$680m+
through the Caymans in 2008. Should be interesting to see
the evidence once this all goes to court.

As a counterpoint, even as this treaty was being signed,
giving the Tax Office much more power to track down illicit
money, a Supreme Court ruling found in favor of the son of
money-lender Yasuo Takefuji, when it decided he would be
non-taxable for a 3-year period of residence in Hong Kong.
He was charged JPY133bn on gift taxes and penalties after
the Tax Office said he was living in HK just to dodge
paying the taxes in Japan.

February -- India-Japan trade deal (a TPP precursor)

Japan is busy shoring up its non-China relations around
Asia, and next to China, the economy that really matters
for Japan is India. Thus the Comprehensive Economic
Partnership Agreement (CEPA) signed in February was an
important breakthrough after 5 years of negotiations. For
India the agreement will open up the Japanese market for
generic drugs, software, and possibly agricultural items,
while for Japan it opens up the financial services sector,
manufacturing, and construction. The deal will remove trade
tariffs on 94% of all goods over the next ten years, and is
expected to increase bilateral trade between the countries
by as much as US$25bn, up from US$10.3bn presently. This
deal has been one of the turning points of acceptance by
the Japanese towards mutually beneficial trade agreements,
and bodes well for their participation in the upcoming TPP

March -- Tohoku Earthquake

March 11th, 2011, will be etched in the memories of tens of
millions of people here in Japan and around the world, not
only for the horrific tsunami after a Magnitude 9.0
earthquake off the coast of Tohoku, which caused the deaths
of at least 19,000 (accounted for and missing), and damage
of around US$235bn (World Bank estimate). All we can say is
thank God it didn't hit Tokyo head on.

If you haven't been up to Tohoku to see the damage for
yourself, then you can see it here, on Google. Lots of
before and after imagery.,141.298584&h=74&p=...

While the direct damage caused by the tsunami has been
massive, the larger damage is likely to be the hits on the
economy caused by the resulting explosions and meltdowns of
reactors as the Daiichi power plant at Fukushima. Not only
has the resulting radiation scare been almost solely
responsible for a 50% drop in tourism (US$130bn this year
alone), but the power shortages during summer and later
this winter, and the resulting drop in productivity that
those will have caused. Both events will have a lasting
negative effect on the economy.

But there could well be a silver lining on this cloud, in
that the nuclear threat has made people much more aware of
their health and their life priorities. Indeed, there has
been a remarkable increase in the number of people wanting
to start working the land as farmers -- so maybe the idea
that farming is dying out in Japan is not a given after

[Continued below...]

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[...Article continues]

June -- Tainted milk scandal and food safety

In the aftermath of Fukushima power plant explosions, not
much happened during April and early May. However, in late
May and June, it became obvious that there was serious and
major fall-out of Cesium and (as we have more recently
found out), Neptunium-239 and other radioactive particles.
The cesium contamination was initially ignored by the
authorities, then it was discovered after citizen-paid
radiation testing revealed that milk from Fukushima was
contaminated and the product was being distributed all
across the nation by being mixed with normal product from
other regions. This created an uproar which continues
today. In July it emerged that the meat from at least 600
cattle were also sold, although they were contaminated with
cesium above the government limits.

July -- AirAsia and ANA

Even without the earthquake, 2011 was shaping up to be a
miserable year for many Japanese workers, since their
factory jobs have been cut dramatically as local
manufacturing succumbs to price competition from Chinese
exports. One of the few alternative industries that such
workers can move to is tourism -- especially since it is
service oriented and easy to "program". Of course the
radiation from the Daiichi power plant has scared away many,
but we have a feeling that 2012 will be a much better year
as the clean up continues.

A major enabler to the recovery of tourism is the arrival
of Low-cost Carriers (LCC's), and Asia's largest operator,
Malaysia's AirAsia, announced in July that it would tie-up
with ANA and start flying in 2013 in Japan. The company
plans to start operating domestic routes, and its CEO
mentioned a JPY2,500 air fare from Tokyo to Osaka as being
a goal. AirAsia will shortly be joined by Jetstar, which
also intends to start flying domestic routes in 2012 and
internationally from Japan by 2013.

August -- Setsuden

Although just a memory now we're in the grip of winter,
July-August were ugly months for most of the working
population of Japan. In the aftermath of the meltdowns at
Fukushima, many of Japan's other nuclear power plants have
also been closed down, reducing the nuclear contribution of
30% of the nation's power to 1/3 of that amount. The way
the power reductions were achieved were through a
government campaign called "Setsuden" (Power Savings),
which set a target to reduce power consumption by as much
as 20%. This involved requiring large companies to engage
in a variety of measures including working weekends and
4-day work weeks. As a result, many of us sweated away in
temperatures of 28 degrees or higher (depending on your
proximity to a window).

Although there were no real mandatory targets for small
firms and households, everyone got the message, and by
individual and group action, the nation beat the power
savings targets by a wide margin. It was an amazing thing
to see, and now (December 2011), although there are only 7
of Japan's 54 reactors online, there are still no power
supply problems of note. That situation may change this
winter, but despite this possibility the government is
requesting just a 10% savings target, showing how relaxed
they are about the situation. of course, we're not looking
forward to next summer. Something tells us that Setsuden is
here to stay for a while...!

October -- Olympus Scandal Breaks

We don't have much to say about Olympus that hasn't been
said already. The scandal broke early October, after the
Olympus board fired its first foreign president and CEO,
Michael Woodford. They did so because he had the audacity
to demand the resignation of the Chairman who hired him,
Tsuyoshi Kikukawa, and other board members. It turns out
that shortly after becoming the president, Woodford found
out that Olympus had paid huge and suspicious advisory fees
for its 2008 M&A of a British firm called Gyrus. In
addition, he uncovered almost a US$1bn of 2006-2007 asset
purchases which were quickly and quietly written off the
following year, and which reportedly involved anti-social

The Olympus scandal has had major repercussions on the
reputation of Japanese firms vis-a-vis foreign
shareholders -- so much so that even the Japanese PM,
Yoshihiko Noda, felt compelled to comment on the situation
and assure investors that Olympus is just a one-off case.
We're not so sure of that point, but at least the
government does seem serious about tightening up its
hither-to lax M&A laws.

October was also a month in which Japan's one successful
software sector, that of online gaming, saw one of its
leaders make a smart and high-value purchase of a foreign
competitor. DeNA paid US$400m for US-based iphone social
gaming firm Ngmoco. We see other online gaming firms
following in DeNA's footsteps, as online mobile gaming
sweeps the world in the next couple of years.

November -- Kirin Schincariol Group M&A

The year ends as it started, with a major Japanese M&A
hitting the headlines. One of the more active sectors has
been beverages, and Kirin announced in August that it was
seeking to buy a controlling share of Brazilian drinks firm
Schincariol for JPY105bn. They didn't count on significant
domestic (Brazilian minor shareholder) objections to the
deal, though, and it took them another 3 months to make
things stick. Kirin will now control 11% of the Brazilian
beverages market, as Schincariol is that nation's second
largest beverages firm. Kirin is betting that its expertise
in premium drinks and non-alcoholic drinks will allow it to
compete and take market share from the leader in the
market, AmBev.

[Continued below...]

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Please donate what you can.
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[...Article continues]

What makes this a stand-out event for us for 2011 is that
Kirin has been engaged in a series of rapid-fire
acquisitions over the last 3 years, and has had enough time
to see some of its deals "go south", requiring repair and
change of control. This has been the case with Kirin's Lion
Nathan acquisition from 2007, which apparently is not going
so well. The company is now being tested as to its ability
to work on a global level to actively manage and drive
its empire. If it succeeds, then it can look with
confidence to pulling off more M&As next year on the back
of the high yen, and move up the ranks of major global
players. Currently it is the 14th largest food and beverage
firm in the world, after Heineken.


Thanks for reading Terrie's Take for 2011. This has been a
really special year for us, as we reinvented ourselves
after the earthquake and the succeeding slump in the
economy. Our group of media businesses took particularly
hard knocks due to the fact that some of our clients and
readers were amongst those choosing to leave Japan after
the quake. We're happy to say, though, that the exodus
seems to have leveled out and we look forward to 2012
being a year of recovery.

One of our strategies for next year is to help Japan
recover as a place to live and do business for foreigners,
by launching new businesses in online travel and real
estate. Readers will already know that we launched at the beginning of November, and
already we are getting great traction -- as evidenced by
10-15 new contributors a week signing up to help us
document just what a great place Japan is to visit and
live in. At this rate, we expect that
will become Japan's largest commercial English-language
travel website by volume (of content) by February next
year. You can help us achieve that goal by visiting the
site, "liking" it on Facebook (you'll see the "like"
button in the top right hand corner) -- and thus spreading
awareness of the site. It's easy to do...

Our real estate website,, should also
be up and running early this coming week. We had intended
to launch this last week, but with 10,000+ listings on the
site from a number of partners, there are lots of moving
parts to coordinate, and we want to make sure that we get
it right.

This is our last posting for this year, and we will take
two of our four weeks off a year, to enjoy a bit of time
with the family. We will be back in your mail box on
January 8th, 2012. Merry Christmas everyone, and if you
don't celebrate Christmas, well then, Happy Holidays and
New Year...!

Oh, and be sure to look at the reader theory at the bottom
of this issue, as to why there are so many Japanese without
partners. Hint: relates to an interesting mouse experiment.

...The information janitors/


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+++ NEWS

- Talent agency looks to go private again
- Fujifilm to buy US ultrasound company
- Data shows 48% drop in rents since 2008
- Young Japanese don't trust officials or media
- Tankan survey turns negative

-> Talent agency looks to go private again

Japan's leading talent agency, Horipro has announced that
management will try to buyout the business and take the
company private. In an interesting interview with the
Nikkei, the company, which manages many of the nation's
leading acts, says that because of the declining domestic
market it has little option but to go abroad for future
growth -- and that this will require some tough investment
decisions that investors may not like. ***Ed: The fact is
that some companies are just not made for public listing,
and talent agencies are probably one of them. The nature of
the business means that they suffer in slow markets and
make prodigious amounts of money in heated ones -- not the
steady returns that most investors are looking for.**
(Source: TT commentary from, Dec 16, 2011)

-> Fujifilm to buy US ultrasound company

Imaging company Fujifilm Holdings says that it will buy US
portable ultrasound devices maker SonoSite, for US$995m, a
massive 99 times the US firm's earnings last year. Despite
the huge price, Fujifilm obviously feels that SonoSite's
ultrasound customer network in over 100 countries globally
(for a 37% overall market share) makes the purchase
worthwhile. ***Ed: Maybe they have a lot of patents?**
(Source: TT commentary from, Dec 15, 2011)

-> Data shows 48% drop in rents since 2008

If proof was needed that office rents are getting cheaper,
a report released by Sanko Estate should provide it. The
firm says that Shinjuku rents have fallen by a massive 48%
since January 2008, and those in Shibuya by 45%. The average
rent in Shinjuku at the end of November 2011 was
JPY16,356/tsubo (3.3 sq. m.). Rents in Chiyoda-ku have
fallen by 34% and in Minato-ku by 31%. The data also shows
that vacancy rates rose by 0.03%, to 5.75%, a return to the
trend of increasing vacancies. ***Ed: Our guess is that
this situation will persist into 2012, as export firms (the
only ones with money to invest at present) wait and see
what happens to the Eurozone crisis before embarking on any
more manpower in Tokyo.** (Source: TT commentary from, Dec 17, 2011)

-> Young Japanese don't trust officials or media

An article on the LA Times posits that when it comes to
radiation information, young Japanese are turning away from
official announcements and traditional media and placing
their trust in Internet blogs and web-based news channels.
The paper points out that an online news show called Our
Planet TV was one of the first to question the real
situation with radiation contamination about the Fukushima
power plant, and with days its registered audience soared
from just 1,000 people to over 100,000. Likewise, a Tokyo
University blogger saw his Twitter following jump from
3,000 to 150,000 after he started tweeting foreign news
reports about radiation from Fukushima. ***Ed: Certainly
people don't trust government sources for good reason --
almost every week there is evidence of a cover-up or at
best "Paternal information restrictions" from one
government agency or another. This week it is the refusal
of the board governing school lunches in greater Tokyo
refusing to release radiation readings for milk
distributed with the lunches -- which the kids are
forced to consume...!** (Source: TT commentary from LA
Times, Dec 18, 2011)

-> Tankan survey turns negative

Large manufacturers appear to have become pessimistic about
the direction of the economy over the next quarter, as the
Bank of Japan's Tankan survey shows a score of -4, versus a
score of +2 in September. Analysts say that the main
reasons for the pessimism are the high yen and the European
debt crisis. The survey is taken amongst 4,000 large firms,
most of whom are involved in export or operating
international businesses and which are sensitive to the
high yen. ***Ed: The feeling amongst many senior managers
is that if the Eurozone crisis gets out of hand, this will
have a big knock-on effect on the USA, and that will
directly impact Japan, which otherwise has limited exposure
to Europe.** (Source: TT commentary from, Dec 15,

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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No events for this week.



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 TT641 we delved into possible reasons for the
Japanese permanent singles rate increasing as it has.
This reader has a completely novel and compelling reason
for the emergence of male "herbivores" in Japan.

=> Reader comments:

This is in response to your interesting article in TT 641
about the current aversion of so many Japanese to dating
and mating. Without a doubt, there are an abundance of
reasons for this, many of them interlocking and reinforcing
each other, thus making it difficult or impossible to
establish relative importance or even cause from effect.
However, here is a theory for you: whatever the
explanations, they are all proximate reasons. In other
words, they are simply manifestations of a deeper, or
"ultimate" reason. And this reason or explanation is
simple: Japan has too many people.

Japan's population was perfectly stable, there therefore by
definition sustainable given its complete isolation, for
the roughly 300 years of the Edo Period. However, at about
30 million over these centuries, this was still a high
density by any standard then or since. By way of
comparison, Japan today has 336 people per square
kilometer. Since its population now is four times that of
the Edo period, during the Edo period Japan's density was
about 84. The world average TODAY is around
50 (meaning that the world average until about 100 years
ago, when the population began to explode, was
approximately 12). Compared with Japan's current 336,
density today is 32 in the U.S., 21 in Sweden, and 3 in
Canada and Australia.

One of the most enduring if not endearing lessons of
modern biology is the late 1960's experiment with a
"utopian" mouse population. Summary courtesy of Wiki: "Four
pairs of mice were given unlimited food, water, and nesting
material. There were no predators. The only limit was
space. The population grew rapidly, doubling every 55 days,
reaching 620 by Day 315. Then population growth dropped
markedly. Between Day 315 and Day 600 was a breakdown in
social behavior. The last surviving birth was on Day 600.
Changes in behavior included the inability of dominant
males to maintain defense of territory and females,
aggressive behavior of females, and passivity of
non-dominant males. After Day 600 the females
ceased to reproduce, and their male counterparts withdrew
completely, never engaging in courtship. They ate, drank,
slept, and groomed themselves - all solitary pursuits.
Sleek, healthy coats and an absence of scars characterized
these males. They were dubbed 'the beautiful ones'."

Thumbs up if you are in Japan and any of this sounds

Growing up in the U.S., I remember a TV commercial with the
punchline: "It's not nice to fool Mother Nature." Just
maybe, there is a natural maximum population that a
society, area, country, or planet can tolerate before
Mother Nature whips out the ruler. Our planet, with Japan
an example, may be automatically enforcing a return to more
sustainable levels of population using methods and
mechanisms that are too subtle or complex for humans to
understand -- at least for now. If so, maybe we should
accept or even embrace the changes; I'd bet money that
Mother Nature keeps killer epidemics in her bag of tricks
-- lest we forget, the Black Death in the 14th century
killed an estimated one-third of the entire human
population from India to Iceland. Compared to that, more
aggressive females and non-dominant males eating, drinking,
sleeping, and grooming themselves in solitary doesn't seem
quite so bad.


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