TT-732 -- Hydrogen, More Than Just Another Pipe Dream. 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, Oct 27, 2013, Issue No. 732


- What's New -- Hydrogen, More Than Just Another Pipe Dream
- News -- Gender gap gets wider
- Web Content/Tech Job Vacancies
- Upcoming Events
- Corrections/Feedback
- Travel Picks -- Nara Toshodai-ji, Tanuki Onsen in Kagoshima
- News Credits

SUBSCRIBE to, UNSUBSCRIBE from Terrie's Take at:



While most of us are focused on the increase in food and energy prices
of late (Sep CPI up 0.7%), and the corresponding lack of increase in
wages (Real Wage Index down 2% in August), this situation does not
appear to be caused so much by Abenomics per se, but rather by Japan's
lack of operational nuclear power stations. That is, to fill the 25%
hole in energy that used to be generated by nuclear sources, Japan now
has to import a huge amount of hydrocarbon fuels, particularly LNG and
oil, in order to keep its power stations running. As an example, it
imported 500trn BTUs of LNG in January 2012, mostly for power
generation, about 50% more than the approx. 320trn BTUs it was
importing prior to the 3/11 earthquake. This significantly accelerated
demand has pushed up LNG prices globally and makes electricity not
just more expensive for households but of course also for industry and
therefore the products and services that they produce.

The authorities know that fixing the energy problem would make one of
the best short-term contributions to the country's financial
situation, and the pressure is building to turn the 52 idled nuclear
reactors back on. Our captains of industry (Keidanren) have strongly
stated they want nuclear power back, and the LDP as a pro-business
party has little option but to listen to them. But it's proving harder
to put the reactors back on the grid than PM Abe first realized. Not
only does he have the PR disaster of the ongoing radiation leakage at
Fukushima, but also some persistent anti-nuclear voices in high
places, such as former PM and Abe's political mentor, Junichiro
Koizumi, who commented recently that Japan should leave its reactors
turned off. Apparently Abe didn't take well to that advice.

If nothing else, though, the nuclear situation has reminded the nation
once again how vulnerable it is to the global oil and gas economy and
how much it would like to get out from under it. Nuclear was supposed
to be the route to give Japan cheap energy (in terms of the raw
materials) and to keep the means of production domestic, but now the
reality is that it may have to be renewables of some kind that do so.
Solar is a possible direction, especially since the photovoltaic film
can be made here, but those pesky Chinese have gutted the domestic
producers, so that very little of the current boom in solar panels is
going into local pockets. Rather, another alternative is needed -- and
over the last couple of years, it appears that the candidate will be

[Continued below...]

-------------------- DELTA AIR LINES ----------------------


We are offering special BusinessElite® round-trip fares from
Tokyo-Narita (NRT) to New York (JFK) from just JPY370,000. You can
relax in our 180-degree full flat-bed seats featuring Westin Heavenly®
In-Flight Bedding. You can also enjoy our newly upgraded Japanese
meals, prepared to suit contemporary tastes using fresh and
high-quality seasonal ingredients.

To enjoy the BusinessElite experience at this special fare, book your
ticket by November 30th for traveling between October 1st and December

Book now by visiting:

*Seats are limited. Fares/fees are subject to change without prior
notice. Additional taxes/fees/restrictions/baggage charges may apply.
Terms and conditions apply.

[...Article continues]

Not that hydrogen as a fuel is anything new, nor that Japan being
interested in it is either. But there have been a significant number
of developments recently which make us think that the hydrogen lobby
is much further along in developing itself into a future alternative
than most people realize. Also, one of the nice things with hydrogen
is that it needs massive investment and infrastructure to make it
successful, just like the oil economy, so it's better suited to the
revenue hopes of Japan's major players than, say, solar, which is just
too easy for little guys to play around with. There is nothing like a
massive business with massive barriers to entry to make business
barons happy.

Earlier this month, Toyota Motor unveiled its first fuel-cell
automobile in Tokyo, something that hitherto only Honda had indicated
they were going to build. The Toyota vehicle has a range of about
650km, significantly more than regular electric vehicles, and it's
virtually pollution-free. Toyota says it will start selling the cars
in Japan, the U.S., and Europe from 2015, just two years from now --
meaning that they are already getting ready to tool up for them. They
are looking to selling up to 2m vehicles a year by 2025, and no doubt
hope that the adoption rate will match their Prius experience from 15
years ago. In order to hit this number, Japan and other markets will
need fueling stations and other infrastructure, and the government has
announced it will subsidize the building of 100 gas stations
domestically by 2015 and 1,000 across the nation by 2025.

OK, as we have seen with electrics, creating a whole new support
infrastructure is easier said than done. So normally at this stage, we
could think, "Oh, another exotic Japanese technology propped up by the
government and which is unlikely to hit the mainstream..." Only this
time, there seem to be a lot more players betting on a similar
hydrogen future and through them it looks like there may be enough
demand that hydrogen really could gain traction. For example, not only
do we have two of the nation's major car makers committing to
producing fuel-cell/hydrogen autos, but also numerous home systems
companies as well.

Last week, Tokyo Gas and Panasonic unveiled a new fuel cell combo
electricity/hot water generator for condominiums, which comes in a
compact footprint just 70cm wide. The new unit will probably sell for
about JPY1.2m after government subsidies and can pay for itself in
energy savings within 20 years of installation (sooner if power rates
go up again). While there have been plenty of prior announcements of
home-based fuel cell power generation units, what makes this one
different is its diminutive size and the pre-orders from major condo
builders like Tokyu. Tokyo Gas reckons it will sell 12,000 of the
units before March 31st next year, and 300,000 units by 2020.

Where will Japan's hydrogen supplies come from? Well, from four main
sources: a) natural gas processed in-house to convert the hydrogen --
this is the Tokyo Gas/Panasonic path although it doesn't offer much
energy independence, b) from onboard electrolysis -- which is how the
auto makers are handling it, and c) from sources abroad who use both
methods (gas and electrolysis) to produce the gas overseas then ship
it to Japan -- again offering little independence but providing good
interim steps to such situation, and d) from local sources looking to
produce the gas in volume. Petrochemical giant Chiyoda has a unique
process to manufacture hydrogen into a stable liquid by mixing it with
toluene, and the company is looking to make this the standard for
vehicles. The company has a new plant in Kawasaki that can produce
600m cu. m. a day, enough to power 40,000 vehicles. The company
reckons that it will be able to supply hydrogen at JPY120 cu. m., but
with mass production it is looking to reduce that cost to about JPY80.

One novel source is to have the gas made by electrolysis by someone
nearby with surplus energy. Such is the situation with Kawasaki Heavy,
which has announced that it is planning to ship hydrogen in liquid
form from RusHydro in Magadan Oblast (tucked in near the top of the
Kamchatka Peninsular). Kawasaki reckons that it might be able to
supply the gas for as little as JPY20 cu. m. They can do this because
the Russian partner has surplus power from their hydro resources. So
we have the situation where one renewable is being used to generate
another. To kick-start the business, Kawasaki Heavy is planning to
build a test plant there in 2017, with an eventual target of producing
about 90,000 tons annually. And to get the hydrogen here, they are
also developing the world's first liquid hydrogen shipping tanker.

Toyota on its own announcing a hydrogen car is probably just a
curiosity. But when you see significant players making significant
investments across a number of sectors, and there is a strategic need
to get started, these are all strong signs to indicate that hydrogen
is going to be part of Japan's energy future.

...The information janitors/


----------- JAPANTOURIST Promotions Coming Up -------------

If you haven't visited recently, you'll be wanting
to keep an eye on the website over the next 5 weeks, as the team gives
away dozens of hotel nights across the country and some return
airfares to the USA, to registered users. Registration is easy, just
go to the link below and leave your email address. You can either earn
points by making contributions, or just sit back and wait for the
JapanTourist newsletter to give you ideas on where to spend your next
holiday in Japan. As always, we never share your personal data with
anyone else.

Register at:

+++ NEWS

- Record number of Japanese living overseas
- Rice subsidies to disappear for small farms
- State secrets to carry 5-year prison sentence
- Gender gap gets wider

=> Record number of Japanese living overseas

As evidence of Japan's international M&A surge, along with the fact
that overseas travel is back after a hiatus following the 3/11
earthquake, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs says that there is now a
record number of citizens living abroad. As of October 1st, 2012,
there were 1.24m people living outside Japan, up 5.7% over 2011. The
top three locations were the USA with 410,973 people, then China with
150,399, and Australia with 78,664. ***Ed: The figures include
everyone living outside Japan for 3 months or more -- so this can
include students and mid-term overseas assignees.** (Source: TT
commentary from, Oct 22, 2013)

=> Rice subsidies to disappear for small farms

One gets the sense that the battle over TPP is done and dusted, as far
as the government and the agricultural lobby are concerned anyway. The
Agriculture Minister, Yoshimasa Hayashi, made comments on Friday that
the government plans to drop rice growing subsidies for small-lot
farmers, so as to encourage amalgamation of small plots into larger
farms and thus become more competitive. Subsidies are currently
offered to all farmers as part of an effort to reduce rice production
and protect prices. ***Ed: The subsidy system has been pure politics
-- and as a result, we have rice farmers all over the country who work
another job while letting their land lay fallow. Good to see this
situation being dealt with finally.** (Source: TT commentary from, Oct 25, 2013)

=> State secrets to carry 5-year prison sentence

While the rise of China no doubt threatens Japan's national security,
nonetheless one wonders if the trend to tightening up security isn't
going to remove an unacceptable amount of personal freedoms. The
government is apparently getting ready to pass a bill that will carry
a 5-year prison sentence for any member of the public, including
journalists, who passes on state secrets (what ever those might be).
Civil servants will have an even heavier sentence, of up to 10 years.
Currently the maximum sentence is just one year -- so the new
punishments are significantly more severe. The new bill is related to
a National Security Council that PM Abe plans to set up, to coordinate
security and policies among the government's various arms. (Source: TT
commentary from, Oct 26, 2013)

=> Gender gap gets wider

The World Economic Forum has released data on the empowerment of women
around the world, and which unfortunately indicates that Japan's
gender gap dropped from 101st place out of 136 countries to 105th this
year. The fall was largely due to the drop in the number of female
politicians -- of the nation's 722 lawmakers, only 77 are female.
Other factors that contributed to the ranking were women's
representation in finance, education, and health. The only factor that
improved was pay levels compared to men. (Source: TT commentary from, Oct 25, 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



=> Are you in web content or engineering? If so, this section is for you.


- IT Support Person

Japan Inc. Communications is looking for an experienced IT support
person, to maintain PCs, mobile devices, web servers, networks, and
backup devices. The role can be performed in English, although some
Japanese ability is desirable. The position is open to anyone with 1-3
years of suitable experience, and could conceivably be performed on a
part-time basis by someone learning Japanese. Visa sponsorship is a
possibility for the right person.

Friendly team, interesting technology, and varied work are all part of
the opportunity. Please send your resume to


- Bilingual account manager for major tourism portal
(, JPY3M - JPY5M
- Bilingual experienced sales manager for web media properties,
JPY4M-JPY5M + 10% commission
- Japanese language web project manager, bilingual, JPY4M - JPY5.5M
- Bilingual web designer, for mostly Japanese-language websites for
foreign firms, JPY4M - JPY5M
- English-only experienced PHP Zend software developer, 5 years
experience, JPY3.5M - JPY5M

Interested individuals may e-mail resumes to:




----------------- ICA Event - November 29th-----------------

Speaker: Stephen Givens, Corporate Lawyer based in Japan
Title: "Does Softbank Know What It is Doing Outside Japan?"

Details: Complete event details at

Date: Friday, November 29th, 2013
Time: 6:30 Doors open, Buffet Dinner included and cash bar
Cost: 4,000 yen (members), 6,000 yen (non-members) Open to all. No
sign ups at the door!!!!!!!
RSVP: RSVP by 10am on Monday 25th November, 2013. Venue is The Foreign
Correspondents' Club of Japan



=> No comments this week.


---------------- Help Still Needed in Tohoku --------------

The Japan Emergency Team, operator of Japan`s only Disaster Relief
Vehicle is asking for help to keep the Disaster Relief Vehicle
running. The DRV, a 30 foot converted Motorhome sleeps up to ten, has
shower, cooking, facilities and is still on site in Tohoku where it
assisted in providing showers, food and emergency assistance as it
still does. In addition it has a mobile `convenience store` which
provides necessities to those in temporary housing.

The Japan Emergency Team was formed in 1989 when 38 students from Chuo
University went to assist in the San Francisco Earthquake making
history as the first overseas disaster assistance from Japan. When
there is not an ongoing disaster in progress the DRV visits schools,
government and other events to promote disaster awareness and is as
much in demand when there is a disaster as when there is not.

Sponsorship includes a logo on the side of the DRV, participation in
regular disaster awareness events and more. Those able to help are
asked to contact for a sponsorship packet or to invite
the DRV to an event.



=> Nara Toshodai-ji Temple in Autumn
Buddhism from across the sea - 1 Priest Ganjin

Toshodai-ji Temple in Nara is the head temple of the Ritsu sect of
Buddhism in Japan. The Ritsu sect mainly studies and practices
Buddhist precepts and rules. In 759, the great Chinese Master Priest,
Ganjin, established this temple as Japan's first monastery for
learning Buddhist precepts and rules. In autumn the pink flowers of
Japanese bush clover swing in the breeze in the temple grounds.

The design of the grounds of Toshodai-ji Temple is very simple. When
you enter through Nandai-mon gate, two important buildings, Kondo Hall
and Kohdo Hall, are lined up in the center, and other attached
buildings are arranged on both sides. The center buildings are where
the monks pray, learn and practice. The first building, Kondo Hall,
has a rectangular shape, and is supported by eight beautiful wooden
columns, reminding us of the Greek Parthenon and its entasis (the
upper part of each column is tapered). Some scholars think that this
design might have been brought to Japan via the Silk Road. Kohdo Hall
is the place for lectures. There are two wooden stage-like-seats on
both sides of the main stage: One for a lecturer, and one for a
representative-monk-of-the-day. Other monks set their seat mats on the
floor and listen to the lecture and follow-up question-and-answer

=> Tanuki Yu, Kagoshima
Cozy hot spring and restaurant

I never would have discovered this place if it were not for the help
of a good Japanese friend. She knew I loved hot springs and food so
she combined the two by bringing me to Tanuki Yu. The location is
slightly off the well trodden tourist paths in Kagoshima City. Take an
Iwasaki bus headed for Hanano Danchi from either Kagoshima Chuo
station or Tenmonkan shopping district and get off at Sennenbashi stop
(approximately 25 minutes). You can easily spot the onsen by looking
for the building with a raccoon dog logo.

The restaurant area on the first floor is spacious and gives you a
nice view of the garden. Their signature dish is the Free Range
Chicken Steak set, with chicken meat imported from neighboring
Miyazaki prefecture. The chicken arrives sizzling on a hot plate with
a generous helping of green onions and garlic slices. The texture of
the meat is firm and slightly crunchy with just the right amount of
seasoning. For 1050 yen, you get hiyayakko (a cold tofu dish),
vegetable soup, rice, and some pickled radish to go with the chicken.
The soft and refreshing tofu was a welcome change to the strong flavor
of the chicken steak.



SUBSCRIBERS: 7,433 members as of Oct 27, 2013
(We purge our list regularly.)


Written by: Terrie Lloyd (

HELP: E-mail with the word 'help'
in the subject or body (don't include the quotes), and you will get
back a message with instructions.

Send letters (Feedback, Inquiries & Information) to the editor to

For more information on advertising in this newsletter, contact

Get Terrie's Take by giving your name and email address at, or go straight to
Mailman at:


Copyright 2013 Japan Inc. Communications Inc.

----------------- Japan Inc opens up Japan ----------------

J@pan Inc authoritatively chronicles business trends in Japan. Each
posting brings you in-depth analysis of business, people and
technology in the world's third largest economy.

Visit for the best business insight on Japan available.

Terrie mailing list