TT-675 -- What Happens if Mt. Fuji Erupts? Ebiz news from Japan.

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A weekly roundup of news & information from Terrie Lloyd.

General Edition Sunday, August 26, 2012, Issue No. 675


- What's New -- What Happens if Mt. Fuji Erupts?
- News -- NTT to start discount power service
- Upcoming Events
- Corrections/Feedback
- Travel Picks -- Camping in Okinawa; chocolate in Tokyo
- Japan Business Q&A -- Shutting Down a Company
- News Credits

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It's nearly the end of August and nearly the end of the
official climbing season for Mt. Fuji. In fact you can
climb in September and later, but it's discouraged for
safety reasons. Climbing Mt. Fuji is one of the iconic
activities for foreigners living in Japan and we will be
making the pilgrimage to the top of its 3,776.24m summit on
Monday night. Why now? Well after the earthquake of last
year, we became a little more aware of the fact that Mt.
Fuji itself is overdue for an eruption, and if it does
blow, then we want to see the top of it before it isn't
possible to go there for a while...

Concern about Mt. Fuji erupting has been going on for time
immemorial, with good reason, because it is an active
volcano and in the last 2,200 years it has erupted at least
75 times. Most recent was the Hoei Eruption of 1707, when
when Fuji was active for several weeks, spewing out an
estimated 800m cubic meters of ash. This caused the sky to
turn dark during the daytime, and deposited up to 10cm of
ash in Yokohama and 5cm in Tokyo, 112km away. Nearer to the
volcano, about 20,000 people were killed by inhalation,
burns, and landslides/floods of ash and water.

Much like earthquakes, predicting the activity of sometimes
dormant volcanoes is a black art. Mt. Fuji is one of the
world's most carefully monitored mountains, and is
crisscrossed by sensors of all types to tell scientists
what is going on inside it. Just after the 3/11 earthquake
last year, Fuji apparently "swelled" by several
centimeters, prompting fears that the Tohoku quake might
serve as an eruption trigger, as the Hoei quake back in
1707 did. However, more recently the mountain is relatively
quiet and there are no obvious signs of concern.

[Continued below...]

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[...Article continues]

Of course there are always anomalies, and earlier this year
there was some media excitement over a 34km fault found to
run directly under the mountain, along with the appearance
of new natural gas vents at the Self Defense Force training
grounds at the base of the mountain, as well as fumarole
emissions from the southwest of the main crater. To help
things along, a retired professor from Ryukyu University
said that the risk of an eruption of Mt. Fuji in the next
three years was higher than previously thought, primarily
because of the discovery of the fault.

If there was an eruption, what would its effects be? In
terms of immediate physical danger, those living within
10km-15km of the eruption site would have plenty to worry
about and would need to be urgently evacuated. They would
be at risk from flying projectiles, lava, ash, gases, and
all the other things you can see in 3D at your local movie
theater. The towns and cities most at risk would be:
Gotemba, Hakone, Fujinomiya, and Fujiyoshida. These
cities/towns have populations of 88,896 (Gotemba), 13,492
(Hakone), 121,515 (Fujinomiya), and 52,000 (Fujiyoshida)
respectively, enough people to cause confusion and mayhem
if the expected two weeks seismic warnings that geologists
are saying we will get from Mt. Fuji's sensors, don't go
off as expected.

Of greater concern to the government and business sector is
the impact of an eruption on the nearby megapolis of Tokyo.
It seems that the main threats to Tokyo will relate to
transport infrastructure and health. Projectiles and lava
are not expected to reach the outskirts of greater Tokyo
(which would be the southwest of Kanagawa-ken), even though
Fuji's lava apparently flows quite freely and quickly. The
ash, though, would have the immediate effect of causing the
cancellation of many air flights, and if the winds were
blowing to the east, which they do much of the year, then
they may even cause the closure of Tokyo's two main
airports. Memories of the Eyjafjallajokull eruption in
Iceland are short, and that volcano was responsible for the
forced closure of more than 100 airports in 28 countries,
and caused over US$17bn in economic losses just in the
airline industry itself.

The government reckons that they may have to close up to
14,600km of roads, cancel 500+ air flights a day, and help
up to 1m households deal with power outages for anywhere
from a day to several weeks. Economic damage estimates in
government simulations done in 2004 run to JPY2.7trn. This
compares to the Tohoku disaster which came with a
JPY16.9trn bill of damages -- although as the OECD stats
people pointed out later, the overall net losses for Tohoku
were around JPY5trn. Given that Tohoku only accounts for
about 4% of Japan's GDP while Mt. Fuji lies right next to
the main transport corridor between the capital Tokyo and
the cities of Nagoya and Osaka, our guess is that the
government is substantially underestimating the financial
impact of Mt. Fuji blowing.

If it's of any consolation, there doesn't seem to be any
specific short-term health impact for people living further
than 10km from an active volcano, unless the ash is high in
silica. Various studies have been done on the effects of
volcanic eruptions on nearby residents, such as one in 1985
by Japanese scientists for residents within 10km of the
Sakurajima volcano in Kagoshima. Although there was a
relatively high occurrence of Silica Oxide in airborne ash,
the researchers were unable to find any major connection to
respiratory diseases in those residents (Sakurajima is one
of Japan's most active volcanoes). Instead, it seems that
most physical effects are going to be sore eyes, temporary
asthma, minor skin infections, and of course lots of
emotional distress.

Where an eruption will cause damage to Tokyo is in its
civic infrastructure. The ash is abrasive and will increase
wear and tear of all waterworks pumps and valves, moving
parts in the capital's rail systems, air filters in
buildings, autos, and machinery, and degradation of cell
phone and other high-frequency communications networks.
Driving visibility will also be substantially reduced and
roads will be slippery and dangerous. Tokyo's couple of
days of snow a year and the chaos that ensues just goes to
prove that the city will not be prepared for weeks of fine
ash landing on its roads.

So there you have it. A Mt. Fuji eruption will likely be
spectacular, but unless you're actually hiking on the
mountain or living nearby, it won't be fatal or even
particularly dangerous.

How spectacular? Take a look at this amazing photo snapped
of Sakurajima down in Kyushu -- looks like it came straight
out of a movie special effects lab at Weta Studios...

...The information janitors/


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+++ NEWS

- Citizen signals possible Swiss acquisition
- Wynn/Okada epic battle back in the news
- Mount Sakurajima to be more active than usual
- NTT to start discount power service
- Japan's second half car sales look grim

=> Citizen signals possible Swiss acquisition

Citizen Holdings has said that the company is in the market
to buy a major Swiss watch brand, without specifying who.
President Toshio Tokura said that the company would be
prepared to spend some billions of yen on an acquisition
planned sometime in the next 3 years. If it happens, the
acquisition will be the second of a major Swiss maker by
Citizen, after the company bought Prothor Holdings earlier
this year for US$70m. ***Ed: We question the wisdom of
pre-announcing an acquisition, especially if it might happen
in the "next 3 years". Either Citizen is highly confident
it will go through, or they have another reason for saying
it -- maybe a smoke screen? But for what?** (Source: TT
commentary from, Aug 25, 2012)

=> Wynn/Okada epic battle back in the news

After stiffing pachinko tycoon Kazuo Okada out of US$200m
by forcing the sale of 20% of Okada's shares in Wynn
Resorts, founder Steve Wynn is finding out that the
Japanese businessman won't go away quietly. Okada is now
perusing Wynn in court in Las Vegas, trying to get Wynn
Resorts to reveal accounting records concerning
expenditures by the company in its acquisition of a gaming
licence in Macau. Okada appears to be trying to find
evidence that the very behavior Wynn Resorts claimed was
sufficient basis to force Okada out of the company (paying
kickbacks) last year may in fact have been the very same
behavior that Wynn also engaged in some years earlier.
***Ed: A case of what's good for the goose is good for the
gander. Gambling is a murky world and both men deserve each
other's "attentions" as far as we can see.** (Source: TT
commentary from, Aug 24, 2012)

=> Mount Sakurajima to be more active than usual

Researchers at the Sakurajima Volcano Research Center (part
of Kyoto University) are predicting that the Kyushu volcano
will produce up to four times more ash than last year,
which was itself a record year for eruptions by that
particular mountain. The researchers say that the supply of
magma to the volcano is increasing, swelling the
surrounding ground and indicating major releases coming up.
***Ed: One can only wonder if the renewed vigor of
Sakurajima is caused by structural realignments from the
Tohoku earthquake last year. Further, if Kyushu is being
affected, what about a similar possible magma buildup under
Mt. Fuji, 850km to the north?** (Source: TT commentary from, Aug 15, 2012)

=> NTT to start discount power service

When one corporate titan has an accident, others are always
waiting in the wings to pick up the pieces. Telephone
behemoth NTT has just announced that it is introducing
power regulation and pricing services for condominium
owners, so that residents can pick and choose when to
consume power and the prices that they will pay for doing
so. NTT reckons that using its intelligent metering and
control system, consumers can reduce their power bills by
as much as 20%. ***Ed: Next step is for NTT to start
providing its own alternative power sources (wind, solar)
feeding the condos they have contracts with.** (Source: TT
commentary from, Aug 26, 2012)

=> Japan's second half car sales look grim

An eco subsidy for new autos introduced in December of last
year has kept Japan's car sales levels rather healthy, with
sales in the sector growing 53% in just 7 months. However,
the subsidies are about to run out and auto makers are
predicting that sales will plummet by as much as 20% as a
result. Toyota did particularly well out of the subsidy
program, selling 215,028 Prius autos from January through
to July, double its sales of the same period a year
earlier. As a result, Japan-based sales accounted for 27%
of Toyota's First Half revenues, far beyond the
contribution the Japan market has been making recently.
(Source: TT commentary from, Aug 20, 2012)

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 29th of September, 2012

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giving an English-language seminar and Q&A on starting up
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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 comments this week.



=> Island Camping in Zamami, Okinawa
Soaring cliffs and deserted beaches

As I awake the early morning sunlight bursts through the
trees overhead, my tent slowly getting warmer. I slip on
some sandals and wander the short distance through the
trees to a secluded strip of white sand—Ama beach. My only
company is the early-bird kayakers getting ready to hit the
water before the heat of the day rises. A morning swim is
just the wake-up call I was hoping for, with water so clear
that every stray rock or shell can be seen on the sandy
seabed. I do a double take as one of the aforementioned
rocks begins to move—just a couple of meters away a huge
sea turtle bobs gently in the water, basking in the sun,
until spotting his unexpected visitor and swimming away. So
begins my first day on Zamami Island.

Just a short domestic flight from Tokyo, Zamami feels a
world away from the pace of life in the metropolis. Nobody
on the island is in a hurry; schoolchildren and elderly
islanders greet visitors that are passing through.

=> 100% Chocolate Cafe, Kyobashi, Tokyo
Have your chocolate in style

Kyobashi is not a typical tourist destination in Tokyo, as
the neighboring Ginza, Marunouchi and Nihonbashi districts
offer much more, but a visit to the 100% Chocolate Café is
well worth the trip. Located in the Meiji Company
Headquarters building, this dessert café is a beautifully
designed space dedicated to all things chocolate. The
interior, designed by the architectural firm Wonderwall,
known for several Bathing Ape clothing stores and the
Uniqlo megastore in Ginza, is stylish and modern with a
ceiling resembling molded chocolate bars and a wall
showcasing 56 different varieties of chocolate that can be
bought by the square. Small groups are more easily
accommodated as there are only counter style seats. The
atmosphere is relaxed and on a weekday morning, getting a
table was not difficult.

Chocoholics can find something here to suit their taste in
any form. The menu is extensive, with various kinds of
chocolate cake, hot and cold chocolate drinks, frozen fresh
chocolate and the 56 different flavors of solid square
chocolate, including single-bean variants from around the
world, fruit and herb varieties, and more. Among the more
interesting blends are the cheese, basil or black pepper.
There is also a daily chocolate rotating for the 365 days
of the year.


+++ JAPAN BUSINESS Q&A -- Shutting Down a Company

=> Question

What is involved in shutting down a company?
What paperwork has to be filed?

*** Answer

If a decision is made to shut your company down, it will be
necessary to follow certain procedures under Japanese
corporate law for dissolution and liquidation of a Japanese
stock company. The first step that is required is to have
the company elect to dissolve itself, which should be passed
as a special resolution at a shareholders’ meeting. This
approval requires no less than two-thirds of the votes of
shareholders who are present at the shareholders’ meeting.
Japanese corporate law further requires the presence of
shareholders who possess a majority share of votes of
shareholders entitled to exercise their votes at the
shareholders’ meeting. Following this election to
dissolute, existing directors will no longer have
directorial capacity. Instead, they will be “former
directors”. Former directors will become the liquidators of
he company by default, unless stated otherwise in the
company’s Articles of Incorporation or determined by a
resolution at the shareholders’ meeting. A company can have
one or more liquidators.

Necessary paperwork for dissolution:

- Minutes of the Shareholders’ Meeting (approving the
company’s dissolution, fixing the date of dissolution, and
appointing a liquidator)
- Registration of Dissolution to be filed with the Legal
Affairs Bureau (within 2 weeks following the date of
- Notification of Dissolution to be filed with the Tax
- Submission of tax return for dissolution and due within
two months after the date of dissolution (one month
extension is possible with Application of Extension)
- Tax payment due within two months after the date of

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