TT-736 -- Raw Food Smoothies Change Wellness Sector, 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, Nov 24, 2013, Issue No. 736


- What's New -- Raw Food Smoothies Change Wellness Sector
- News -- Sony cameras track iPS cells
- Web Content/Tech Job Vacancies
- Upcoming Events
- Corrections/Feedback
- Travel Picks -- Ureshino Onsen, Saga and Drunkard's Alley, Shibuya
- News Credits

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It's no news that the Japanese have a long life expectancy. The World
Health Organization (WHO) published in May this year figures showing
that in 2011 (their most recent data) the average life span of
Japanese women was 86, while for men it was 79. The men's figure
actually fell from the year before, most likely because of the high
death rate of lifetime smokers. Now around 34% of men still smoke, but
back in the 1960's the number was as high as 85%.

However, a long life is not much use if you have to spend the last 20%
of it incapacitated by illness and disease, so it is interesting that
not only are lives lengthening, but for most women and many men as
well, the quality of that extra lifespan is also improving. We
reported a few weeks ago in TT-730 that the sports ministry (MEXT)
found in a recent survey a full 44% of women aged 70-74 belong to a
sports club or similar facility, while for men, the number was 40% for
those 75 years or older.

The survey also found that due to better fitness awareness by older
people, they were improving their strength and endurance as well. In
fact, when compared to a survey done back in 2000, MEXT found from six
physical tests that the average man or woman aged 70-74 today performs
at least as well as a person aged five years younger 12 years ago.
This is a remarkable improvement, and will no doubt have a big effect
on life spans once the cohort of heavy smokers from the 1960's moves

It isn't just staying fit that is contributing to good health of our
seniors. Diet is also a large contributor, and the trends here are
also interesting. People are going "raw" and moving away from heavy
fat and preservative-laden diets. A good measure of just how many
people are doing this can be found from the sales of juicers and
blenders in the market. According to research company GfK Marketing,
about one million food processors (includes juicers and blenders) will
be sold this year, which is about 70% up on 2011.

While this number may be near the peak of sales for such devices, the
segmentation of these products as people become more knowledgeable
(e.g., such as buying slow juicers instead of high-speed models) will
mean that sales by value are likely to continue increasing steadily
for the next few years.

[Continued below...]

----------- THAI'S NEWEST DESTINATION - SENDAI ------------

On December 3, 2013, THAI launches flights to Sendai, direct and
non-stop from Bangkok. Sendai is the capital city of Miyagi
Prefecture, situated in the heart of the scenic Tohoku region. THAI's
new flights will operate non-stop from Bangkok every Tuesday, Thursday
and Saturday, with TG680 departing Bangkok at 23:59 and arriving in
Sendai at 07.55 on the following day. The return flights will operate
on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, with TG681 departing Sendai at 10:30
and arriving in Bangkok at 15.40.

For ticket reservations, please visit or call
THAI's Japan desk at 0570-064-015, or the international Contact Center
at +66-02-356-1111.

[...Article continues]

Perhaps one of the most iconic brands in the food processor business
is Vitamix, a family company based in Ohio, USA, which has seen sales
of their heavy duty blenders rise rapidly in Asia since they set up a
comprehensive consumer products distribution network about 10 years
ago. The company makes machines which sit at the ultra high end of the
market, retailing for JPY60,000-JPY80,000. The company sells its
consumer models through a Shinjuku-based home products chain called
Entrex -- in what has become a very successful collaboration.

Given that the average blender on Rakuten sells for around JPY5,000,
you would think that that Vitamix would be struggling to sell
something 20-40 times more expensive, not to mention being a lot
larger and noisier. But in fact, Vitamix and Entrex have done a great
job in convincing raw foods health fans that their two horsepower
motor and fast cutting blades can literally "blast" the nutrients out
of the raw food cell walls, thus producing concentrations of vitamins
and minerals that you wouldn't get with low-end blenders.

Vitamix has created the high end of the blender/juicer market in Japan
and is only just now being challenged by the likes of Blendtec for
blenders and Hurom and others for juicers. Vitamix doesn't publish
sales figures, but Entrex indicated to us a year or so ago that they
had lifted sales over 50 times what the brand was doing here five
years ago. This leads us to guess that if blenders account for about
70% of the food processor market (our guess), then by volume Vitamix,
Blendtec, and other emerging high-end makers probably account for
about 2% by volume and about 40% by value of the market. Not bad, and
a good indication that people, old and middle aged, are voting with
their wallets the equipment they choose to use to stay well.

An interesting contrasting trend is that as people spend more on raw
foods and equipment to process that food, they are reducing their
spending on supplements. According to the Japan Direct Marketing
Association (JDMA), sales of mail-order health foods fell 2% in
September over the same period last year, to JPY15.7bn. Currently the
overall health food market in Japan is worth somewhere around

The reason for the fall off in the consumption of vitamins and other
supplements is supposedly to be found in the morning smoothies all
those blender owners are making. Raw food is considered more holistic
and safer than relying on dried powders and pills. Possibly from an
overall wellness point of view, this is the right thing to do,
although supplement makers would argue that aged people in particular
need additional intakes of certain vitamins and minerals to maintain
optimum health. Elevated levels of Calcium and Vitamin C would be one
good example.

Although we don't have numbers, we imagine that one supplement heavily
impacted by the raw foods movement is that of "powdered Green Juice"
or "aojiru" -- those little sachets of green powder that used to be so
popular a few years ago. Now, with the emergence of machines that can
produce the same "smoothie" effect from totally fresh veges, it's only
natural that powder becomes less attractive. The awareness of raw food
veggie smoothies is increasing and in a recent Gain Report (No. JA
3506, published 7/22/2013), the USDA quotes a survey by the Takii
seeds company that consumers are really taking to veggie smoothies as
a morning starter. The results among the respondents, mostly aged
20-40 years old, were:

* 64.8% of the respondents answered that they had heard of veggie smoothies
* 86% haven't had one yet, but of those, 55% said they'd like to try one
* 85% thought veggie smoothies would improve health
* 78% through veggie smoothies would improve skin condition
* Of those who were drinking veggie smoothies, 64% said they felt body
changes, such as relief of constipation and better skin

...The information janitors/

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+++ NEWS

- Inose mired ever deeper in payment scandal
- Annuity insurance policies redeemed in record numbers
- Sony cameras track iPS cells
- Japan and China on collision course over Senkakus
- 2013 haul of IPOs continues

=> Inose mired ever deeper in payment scandal

What makes the JPY50m loan scandal that Tokyo Governor Naoki Inose is
currently mired in even more embarrassing is that he was elected as
"Mr. Clean" after the rather tarnished preceding governor. Inose was
caught out when prosecutors raided the head office of hospital chain
operator Toshukai in September over election fraud charges against the
son of the founder of that firm. While there, the prosecutors found
the JPY50m in cash in an envelope and were informed that the money
came from Inose as a loan repayment. ***Ed: Oops. Inose protests it
was merely a loan and nothing sinister, but unfortunately for him,
having waited nine months to repay it and only making the repayment
after it seemed that Toshukai was going to be investigated, makes it
look really fishy. We'd be surprised if he is not forced to resign in
the coming week.** Source: TT commentary from, Nov 22,

=> Annuity insurance policies redeemed in record numbers

The last six months have not been good ones for the sellers of annuity
insurance policies, as the robust stock market has caused many policy
holders to cancel their contracts so as to lock in profits from the
rally. Mitsui Sumitomo Primary Life Insurance said that it has seen a
1000% increase in policy cancellations, while Dai-ichi Life has
reported levels of between 160%-450%. ***Ed: Interesting quote from
the chief economist at Daiwa Institute of Research, who said to the
Nikkei that he reckons if Abenomics is successful in inducing
inflation, then private holders of about JPY200trn of bank deposits
will shift that money into stocks within "several" years. We bet the
entire financial industry is hoping the same thing.** (Source: TT
commentary from, Nov 23, 2013)

=> Sony cameras track iPS cells

Interesting to see the offshoots of applications and technology
relating to iPS stem cells, now that research regulations have been
significantly loosened. Sony has announced special high-speed
micro-imaging cameras which can track the movements of iPS cells as
they are subjected to various test additives and physical conditions
in labs. The cameras include software that allows researchers to graph
cell reactions and survival rates. Sony's first customers include the
Center for iPS Cell Research and Application at Kyoto University.
(Source: TT commentary from, Nov 22, 2013)

=> Japan and China on collision course over Senkakus

China has just ratcheted up the pressure on Japan over the disputed
Senkaku Islands, by unilaterally declaring that the airspace above the
islands will become part of its "East China Sea Air Defense
Identification Zone". This means that aircraft which don't identify
themselves to Chinese air control could be subject to defensive
emergency measures by Chinese fighter aircraft. Given that Japan
already has a similar ID system operating over the islands, this sets
up both countries for air confrontation if either decides to overfly
the islands. As a result of the Chinese announcement, both the U.S.
and Japan have protested, with the U.S. calling the move a
"destabilizing attempt to alter the status quo in the region". ***Ed:
Clearly Japan needs to build a base on the Senkakus lickety split or
risk losing them. It should do what the Philippines did in the
Spratlys, and simply float over and sink in shallow waters some old
ships and barges. (Source: TT commentary from, Nov 24,

=> 2013 haul of IPOs continues

The rising stock market is helping boost the IPO market for companies
newly listing on the nation's bourses. To date more than 60 companies
have either gone public or have announced they will do so by the end
of the year. This is the highest number of IPOs since there were 121
new listings in 2007. About 80% of companies that listed since
December, 2012, are still trading above their offering price, and
based on this robust performance another 80 companies have already
indicated an intention to go public next year. ***Ed: The start of
another bubble, we suppose. Question is: how long will it last?**
(Source: TT commentary from, Nov 19, 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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IT/Project management/BPR in Financial industry, am fluent in Japanese
business communications (oral), and possess a MBA in International
management and finance from McGill University Japan. I am looking for
a part-time role of about 4-6 hours per day.

Contact: 090-4206-3881



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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

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=> In TT-735, we referred to "old people" who by virtue of their
social security entitlements, are driving up Japan's public debt
levels significantly, and that this process would have to stop. A
reader pointed out that life is not all roses for older people.

*** I am an 'old people'...... and that is where I stopped for a long
time before finishing your recent article. I don't mind being reminded
that I am an 'old people', although I do not yet consider myself
'elderly', but I do find it rather cavalier to be passed over as a
potentially expendable 'element' in discussions, in Japan or anywhere
else, of governmental budget woes. Let us leave for a moment the
reality that after working a number of years in Japan I was able to
repatriate only three years of my rather longer 'donations' to the
Japanese social welfare system, may I address the realities of
retirement in a modern world?

Is there enough money saved throughout a working life? Unless you are
among the vaunted 1% the answer to that is probably no. As savings is
just one leg of a tripod seen as necessary for retirement survival, I,
among many others, are already listing badly. What about private or
employer pensions? Many of these are pegged to the stock market, and
may fluctuate, sometimes violently, as the 1% enter and leave the
market. Have you ever lost 30% of your income suddenly while your
fixed costs varied not a bit? Now two of the tripod factors are now
listing like the Costa Concordia. Government pensions? Working in
Japan meant not getting much from there, and the same experience meant
receiving much less than average from my home country. Suddenly the
Costa Concordia looks like a far better bet, even after it was
abandoned by captain and crew. At least it has scrap value.

With all due respect, you are really not far away from being one of us
'old people', a fact that blind hubris should not be allowed to let
you forget. Having taught Labor Law I am very much aware of not only
the Japanese system, but the systems of several other nations as well.
None have a perfect system. Certainly the system in the U.S. is not
(by way of disclosure, one of my ancestors was the first head of the
Social Security Board when it was founded in 1935), nor is the one in
Japan. But the goal of such systems is to ease the lot of savers as
well as spendthrifts, the healthy as well as the seriously ill, the
hard workers as well as the slackers. Finding ways to reward people
for their contributions, while not bankrupting the country, means
using imagination, not just a calculator. As that aforesaid ancestor
responded when asked what was the most important characteristic a
politician should have, he said: 'He should have kindness'. Perhaps
that is why he was one of only two Americans to be made a 'Citizen of
London' after WWII. Terrie, you clock is ticking too!


--------- "Operation Philippines" Disaster Relief ---------

The Japan Emergency Team announces "Operation Philippines", its 89th
Disaster Operation since 1989 when the team was formed by 38 students
from Tokyo`s Chuo University. Typhoon Haiyan is the strongest Typhoon
to hit the Philippines. There have been over 5,000 confirmed deaths
and more than 11 million people have been affected by the disaster.

The team and partners are on the ground and are urgently requesting
emergency supplies including canned and instant food, powdered milk,
bottled water, tents, sleeping bags, used tablet and laptop computers,
towels, soap, shampoo, home medical kits and donated airline miles for
team members to travel to the area. In addition, individuals able to
spend a minimum of three days are asked to contact the team for
information on being a volunteer on site.

Cash donations can go to: Postal Furikae 00160 7 162438 Nihon Kinkyu
Enjotai, while supplies, airline miles, and other donations and
enquiries can be initiated by contacting



=> Ryokan Oomuraya, Ureshino Onsen, Saga
A superb ryokan experience

I've been traveling through Japan for a month now, and before moving
on to Nagasaki Prefecture and then to Okinawa I decided to come back
to Ureshino Onsen town. I've been here earlier during my trip;
however, I really wanted to enjoy the transparent and silky Ureshino
hot spring waters one more time.

I chose to stay in the historic Ryokan Oomuraya. Opened in 1830 this
traditional Japanese-style inn provides spacious hot spring baths
overlooking Ureshino river. Four different types of private baths are
also available. There was a beautiful round wooden bath that caught my
attention immediately. So I reserved it for an hour in the afternoon
and just couldn't wait to slide into the wonderful deep tub.

However, first of all I was served a nice cup of Ureshino green tea by
a nakai (personal attendant), inside a lovely tatami guest room. I was
resting on a zaisu (traditional Japanese legless chair) and finishing
my tea when a member of the staff called me to confirm the bath was
ready. I put on the yukata provided by the hotel and I went downstairs
to enjoy the gorgeous Ureshino spring water. It comes from a sodium
bicarbonate spring rich in sodium. They emulsify and wash away skin
oils and secretions, so when you get out, you are left with very
smooth skin. It is also said that when you drink this spring water, it
is effective for invigorating the function of your digestive system,
liver and other organs.

=> Shibuya Secrets: Nonbei Yokocho, Tokyo
A peaceful escape in Tokyo's busiest neighborhood

This is what I come here for. I'm sitting at a bar in Tokyo with my
brother and two Japanese friends. The grandmother across the counter
from us nods in response to one of my friends and mounts the creaking
staircase behind her to what is surely her bedroom. The walls and
counters of the room she has left us in are riddled with keepsakes,
chotchkies, and kimono-clad family photos. This old lady must be
pushing ninety, but she shows no signs of slowing down as she gingerly
descends the stairs with two huge Kirins, pours us a round, and begins
to busily mete out senbei (rice crackers) onto little plates.

It's a capacity crowd - with us four occupying the barstools - it's
standing room only. As far as my brother and I can work out, the bar
we're in doesn't even have a name. Nor is it one of those locals-only
gems conjured up by one of my two friends; rather it was I who led
them there. We are in Nonbei Yokocho, one of Tokyo's most fantastic
escapes, located exactly where you'd least expect it.

Nonbei Yokocho, or Drunkard's Alley, lies down an innocuous passage -
a stone's throw from Shibuya Crossing that at first glance seems to go
nowhere. In reality, the small pathway serves as a portal to another
realm: a pristine lantern-lined example of pre-war Tokyo. At its
terminus it branches into two parallel alleys, maybe two meters wide
each, packed with tiny eateries, bars, and izakaya.



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