TT-709 -- All About + Tie-up, 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, May 12, 2013, Issue No. 709


- What's New -- All About + Tie-up
- News -- Maybe Abenomics really is working?
- Upcoming Events
- Corrections/Feedback -- Tourism industry impediments
- Travel Picks -- Art in Ehime, Vege Restaurant in Okinawa
- News Credits

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Last Friday, May 10th, a small news item came up on the Nikkei website
which represents an important milestone for ourselves and the team
involved in, an inter-company effort to promote
inbound tourism to Japan. The news was that listed company All About
Inc., has tied up with Metropolis publisher Japan Partnership Inc.,
and software company MetroWorks, to co-publish the
site. To our knowledge this is the first time that All About, a
prominent expert knowledge web content player with JPY2.5bn in
revenues last year, has done a content tie-up with another company.

As a matter of disclosure, our (Terrie's) involvement is on the
software side and business development.

We'd like to think that the reason All About chose is
because of its unique business model and technology. The travel portal
is fundamentally a crowdsourcing platform that looks a bit like a
Japan travel version of Wikipedia bolted on to a multi-tiered
community of partners and contributors. Like Wikipedia, the portal
relies on granular content submitted in large quantities, so that it
can become a broad-based online reference tool. Unlike Wikipedia, the
software, known as AtsumareCQ (ACQ), has a hierarchical quality
control process (rather than peer-to-peer) and uses redeemable points
to incentivize contributors. We decided on a hierarchical QC
arrangement because it offers better accountability and easier
management, and the points because as a latecomer you need all the
edge you can get in recruiting travel contributors.

[Continued below...]

-------------- Job Vacancy, American Embassy --------------

Position: Internet Economy Industry sector Commercial
Assistant, Foreign Commercial Service, Japan
Experience: Either fully experienced or trainee
Timeframe: Urgent hire, applications close May 17th, 2013.

1. If experienced: professional service manager, analyst, and adviser
to U.S. client firms in the internet economy/e-commerce/cyber security
Provide advice and assistance in all aspects of facilitating the
export of U.S. goods and services to Japan, and of attracting Japanese
investment to the United States. Assist U.S. firms, conduct market
research. Plan/organize trade-related programs and events for business
and government.
2. If trainee: assist U.S. client firms in facilitating the export of
U.S. goods and services to Japan and attracting Japanese investment to
the United States in the internet economy/e-commerce/cyber security
industry. Market research, market trends analysis. Plan and organize
programs and events to promote U.S. commercial interests.

For more details, see: (click Commercial
Assistant opening), then submit your application to Human Resources
Office, U.S. Embassy Tokyo. By post: 1-10-5, Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo
107-8420 and by fax: 03-3224-5818.

[...Article continues]

But it isn't just the software that makes unique. The
portal has also succeeded because of the dedication and
far-sightedness of its 34 regional partners around Japan, who are
ultimately responsible for managing the contributors and their
content. Most of the regional partners are regular people, living in
the prefecture they represent, and working day jobs. They're teachers,
writers, translators, business people, retirees, tourism operators,
and even a DJ.

What makes them extraordinary is that once they get home, instead of
putting their feet up in front of the TV, they're hard at work on
their PCs and phones, communicating with contributors, writing stories
themselves, and approaching local governments to make appointments to
discuss how to change attitudes to foreign travelers in Japan. This
has not been a get-rich quick process (we wish it was otherwise!), and
about half the partners have been involved in the project since its
launch in 2011. But with the All About tie-up, it seems that the
portal is now in the right place at the right time.

The background to the tie-up is that All About had been considering
setting up an inbound travel site of its own, as it has become obvious
that the government is going to pour a lot more effort into promoting
inbound tourism. All About in fact already had a Chinese-language
Japan inbound travel website, with 30+ contributors and a trilingual
manager. However, as they researched the market, they quickly came
across and realized that with thousands of stories and
more than a thousand contributors already signed up, competing
wouldn't make a lot of sense. So in February they approached Japan
Partnership for a tie-up -- and after a lot of negotiation, we arrived
at last Friday's announcement.

So what does this mean for The tie-up consists of two
major areas of activity: accelerated content production in Asian
languages, in anticipation of Japan's easing of visa regulations for
many major SE Asian countries, and much more effective sales and

On the content side, All About is bringing its considerable horsepower
in Chinese and Korean content to, drawing in hundreds
of articles from their archives, translating existing English and
Japanese articles, and recruiting many more contributors to feed into
the ACQ system and the community. As a result, the
website's 3,763 existing (as of May 10th) mostly English-language
articles are expected to jump to more than 5,000 by the end of June. currently enjoys a posting rate of about 250 articles
a month in English, and we expect a similar number of Chinese and
Korean articles over the same period.

However, it's on the sales and marketing side, that we are expecting
the biggest impact. All About is a 20-year old company, is public
(2454), and only does content. So they have solid client relationships
and highly sophisticated promotions/marketing/SEO capabilities.
Fundamentally to make money in the internet business, size matters,
and in the Japanese tourism sector, where most of the promotion for
inbound tourism is still coming from the government, you can't bid for
projects unless you have the size and substance of an All About type
company. To pull in all that traffic, it also helps that they are
experts in SEO and it's been eye-opening for our engineers to sit down
with them on technical issues.

What's next? While will continue building lots of
content, for the rest of this year the main focus will be on
commercialization of the site. To this end, Japan Partnership and All
About will be announcing a variety of tie-ups for the site over the
next few weeks, including online stores, affiliate tour guide sites,
more affiliate hotel booking sites (additional to and
Expedia), customized tours in conjunction with tour agencies,
affiliate rentals, and many others.

Also, now that is a validation of the crowdsourcing
model, the MetroWorks software team is already turning its sights to
its next implementation, which will be a Japanese-only site for the
nation's 10m+ dog owners. More about this once it launches.

...The information janitors/


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+++ NEWS

- Foreign funds love Japanese real estate
- Maybe Abenomics really is working?
- Jack Lew warns Taro Aso over yen manipulation
- Japanese-Brazilian brings law suit over immigration ban
- LINE making serious cash

=> Foreign funds love Japanese real estate

A further confirmation of the love affair that Singaporean firms have
with Japanese real estate can be found in a deal announced Friday by
trading firm Sojitz. The company said that it has sold a Kuki, Saitama
shopping mall, for a healthy JPY20.5bn. The mall has 250 stores, and
while profitable, was apparently sold because the asset value/profit
ratio was too low -- but not too low for Singapore buyer Croesus
Retail Trust. The new owner will continue to use Sojitz New Urgan
Development Corporation as the mall's property manager. (Source: TT
commentary from, May 10, 2013)

=> Maybe Abenomics really is working?

The mid-term vision of Abe's market stimulation strategy is that after
a preliminary stock market feeding frenzy by the richest 1% of the
market, over the following months there will be a trickle down of that
newly minted wealth, to the rest of us. Maybe that's just what's
happening... High-end restaurant chain operator Hiramatsu Inc., has
announced that it will have a record high pretax profit of JPY3bn ending
the year September 30, 2013. This compares to the early forecast of
JPY2.4bn, and appears to be proof that at least that top 1% is
starting to spend their earnings on the good life. ***Ed: This Reuters
article also notes that small and medium-sized companies are now able
to claim up to JPY8m in entertainment expenses -- up from JPY3m
earlier -- encouraging SME owners to start taking their clients out
again as well.** (Source: TT commentary from, May 10,

=> Jack Lew warns Taro Aso over yen manipulation

In light of the dramatic devaluation of the yen against the dollar,
the U.S. has apparently voiced its displeasure at the most recent G7
meeting, held in the UK. U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew apparently
told Finance Minister Taro Aso that the U.S. would be looking hard at
any obvious manipulation of the yen, further saying that Japan had
"growth issues" -- presumably referring to the fact that there appears
to be very little happening at a systemic level to revive the economy
(other than the devaluation). ***Ed: If the TPP agreement is as
aggressive as it should be, then Mr. Lew will get the systemic changes
he's looking for.** (Source: TT commentary from, May 10,

=> Japanese-Brazilian brings law suit over immigration ban

Although they were once welcomed due to their blood line originating
from Japan, those Brazilian Japanese who took up a government offer to
repatriate to Brazil in 2009 when the auto industry was in serious
trouble due to the Lehman Shock, are now finding it difficult to
return. One of these people, who was a minor when she left Japan with
her parents in 2009, is Giullyane Futenma, 21, who was earlier this
year denied re-entry by Immigration to join her husband. Futenma is
married to another Japanese-Brazilian, who already has legal residence
and who was not party to the 2009 offer. She is claiming in the
lawsuit that her right to live with her spouse is being violated.
***Ed: Which is true -- but since when did human rights ever rate
highly with the folks in Immigration? In any country of the world?**
(Source TT commentary from, May 09, 2013)

=> LINE making serious cash

Hard on the heels of its announcement that the LINE social network
publisher NHN Japan now has more than 150m users globally, the company
has now announced its Q1 financial results. According to the reports,
the company is still making 80% of its JPY5.82bn revenues in Japan,
50% of sales comes from in-app purchases, and 30% comes from stickers.
We see now why competitor GREE is focusing on game cards and similar
"meaningless" paraphernalia -- consumers love it. NHN says that it is
going to try to monetize further through online shopping and music --
selling into Asian, Spanish, and South American markets. ***Ed:
Interesting how they don't consider the USA as a major market at this
stage.** (Source: TT commentary from, May 09, 2013)

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



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in IT. In addition, since this role requires direct communication with
both internal staff and clients who are bilingual in English and
Japanese, fluent English and Japanese will be required.

Remuneration is JPY3m - JPY4m plus commission (significant commissions
offered), depending on your experience and skill level.


- CCIE Data Center Network Architect Engr, global IT services co., JPY6M - JPY8M
- Data Center Engineer/Operator, global financial firm, JPY 3.5M - JPY4.5M
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Entrepreneur's Handbook Seminar 25th of May, 2013

If you have been considering setting up your own company, find out
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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:

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Details: Complete event details at
Date: Thursday, May 23, 2013
Time: 7.00pm Doors open till 9.30pm,
Cost: 3,700 yen (members), 4,500 yen (non-members), open to all.
Includes open bar (beer, wine, soft drinks) & multitude of food. No
sign ups at the door!!!!!!!
RSVP: RSVP by 5pm on Friday, May 17th

Venue is Bar Del Sole



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 Terrie's Take 708, we ran a news item about how the government
is planning to ease visa restrictions for Asian tourists. Our reader,
who is in the tourism business points out that the industry is fraught
with ridiculous impediments

*** Reader's Comments:

Five years ago, I set up a business called Japan Bike Rentals
( It's been a rough ride over the years
(think Icelandic volcano, Fukushima meltdown, island disputes, strong
yen, etc), but we are still up and running, and are currently enjoying
the sliding yen. However, the point I want to make today relates to
tourists traveling in Japan and some of the bureaucratic nonsense that
stands in the way of business-minded individuals like myself from

The laws in Japan regarding driving on a non-Japanese license are a
little complicated, and I don't want to go into too much details here,
but the way things are at present about 1/3 of the world's population
cannot legally drive in Japan. The reason for this is that Japan only
recognizes International Driving Permits (IDPs) that are based on the
1949 Geneva convention on road traffic. It does NOT recognize IDPs
that are based on the 1968 Vienna convention. Japan does make a few
exceptions to this rule, when it suits its own interests (i.e. Taiwan,
Germany, Switzerland, France, Italy, Belgium are on the '68 IDP, but
are able to drive/ride here if they have an official Japanese
translation of their license. This circumvents the IDP rule). However,
this leaves an awful lot of people unable to drive in Japan (unless of
course they move here, get a 'gaijin card' and go through the process
of getting a Japanese license).

Some of the countries that are essentially barred from driving here
are; China, Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia, and almost all the Gulf States.
There are many others, but these are the most significant in terms of
sheer size and economic weight. In addition to these, there are a
number of countries that are able to issue the 1949 IDP, but in
reality just don't. These countries only issue the 1968 version, and
therefore people from these countries are also barred from driving in
Japan. Russia, Poland and some others are on this list (note that 3/4
of BRIC countries are now on this 'can't drive list').

This has meant that over the last few years, our company has had to
turn away many people who would have loved to come to Japan,
drive/ride through the countryside and provide hotels, onsens,
restaurants and other businesses with some badly needed income. But
instead these tourists went elsewhere.

Perhaps I should have taken this issue to the government years ago,
but I prefer to pick and choose my battles, and going head to head
with the Ministry of transport is not my idea of a good time. There is
also the skeptic in me that says Japan likes the status quo. Does
Japan really want 1.2 billion Chinese coming over to Japan renting
cars? Probably not, which is perhaps why the rule is as it is.

Anyway, I just wanted to draw attention to this rule that stops many
would-be tourists from coming to Japan. If the government really
wants to increase their tourism numbers, they may want to consider
taking a look at this situation.

Thanks for listening.



=> Kasho Museum, Ehime
A look at early 20th art that inspired today's manga

The 20's in Japan were more international than most people realize.
From the Toon City Office, drive a short distance up the nearest
valley, take a left past a food manufacturer, and just when you’re
thinking you took a wrong turn, you find a low concrete structure with
a metal dome on top. This is the Kasho Museum, shrine to one of the
most influential Japanese artists of the 20th century, Takabatake

Kasho is little known in the West, although he’s the subject of
academic treatises, one of which you can read here. Born in Uwajima in
1888, he studied in Kyoto before finding work in Tokyo. During the
Taisho Period from 1912 to 1926 and the subsequent Showa Period, he
became Japan’s preeminent illustrator up to his death in 1966.

Heavily influenced by Aubrey Beardsley, Kasho’s works have a
superficially European look. Both male and female subjects are
androgynous and idealized, and many of the works tend towards the
chocolate-boxy. Nevertheless, you can also see the continuity with the
Edo Period woodblock artists such as Hokusai. In one rather hilarious
picture entitled “A Night of Terror”, a skeletal hand inexplicably
delivers the two of diamonds to a boy tied up in a squalid hovel.
Photos of the artist himself are reminiscent of Oscar Wilde for his
langour and dandyism.

=> Organic vegetarian restaurant, Naha, Okinawa

In a quiet residential area behind a stylish but unassuming façade,
Noah Style Organic Cafe is creating wholesome tasty vegetarian food
five days a week.

Some of the first things you'll see when you enter are baskets of
organic vegetables for sale and pamphlets and flyers telling you about
other healthy local ventures around the area. Noah Style promotes
LOHAS, or Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability, and compared to
some other places that just give lip service but don't do much aside
from decorating in earth tones, Noah Style practices what they preach.

The cafe uses pesticide free organic vegetable raised in traditional
Okinawan crop rotation farming, which uses seaweed in its compost.
They have relationships with the farmers that produce their
vegetables, like Mr. Tomohito Sakae, who is pictured on their website.



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