Fresh & Hot from Japan, 13 to 20 Apr. 2016

Please enjoy fresh & hot news from Japan with comments by Europe-Japan Dynamics.

13 Apr.  Ever increasing payments by credit cards, E-commerce companies trying to attract consumers by offering interesting gifts

Payments made by credit cards is increasing. While the number of the cards stays almost at the same level, volume of payments per person has been increasing as the use of online sales via the Internet is increasing. Card companies are trying to further increase the payment per person by offering interesting gifts to consumers by means of the usage points.

Comments: This trend might pave a way to an increasing use of the bit coin.

14 Apr. The first litigation against Takahama Nuclear Power Plants of more than 40 years old requesting”disapproval” of the re-operation due to high risks

A group of seventy-six residents in 14 prefectures and cities, including Takahama-cho, Nagoya city, Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Shiga, Aichi, Gifu and Mie, has filed an administrative litigation in the Nagoya District Court to request not to authorize the extension of the operation of Takahama Nuclear Power Plant 1 and 2 owned by Kansai Electric Power (presently not in operation for checking-up) that is more than 40 years old. It is the first litigation that focuses on the risk of the old nuclear power plant.

Comments: I see two important points in this action;  first, the action is preventive and the second, it involves the public from wide areas, going beyond the cities and municipalities that would be directly affected in case of an accident.

15 Apr.  Earthquake of Level 7 in Kumamoto 

A strong earthquake of maximum seismic intensity 7 happened in Kumamoto prefecture around 9:26 PM on 14 April. The area that had the strongest eismic intensity 7 was Mashiki-machi, Kumamoto, according to the Meteorological Agency. The Agency also said that the earthquake of seismic intensity 7 is the first in Japan since East Japan great earthquake disaster of 11 March, 2011.

Comments: The danger of the earthquake is that it happens anytime anywhere at any strength. Despite studies be the biologist, the earthquake is still largely unpredictable.

18 Apr. Sendai Nuclear Power Plant (Kyushu) “No problem” even with the move of the seismic center, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission held a meeting on 18th, and confirmed that there was no irregular phenomenon observed at for the moment in atomic energy facilities in the area of the Kumamoto Earthquake, such as Kyushu Electric Power Sendai Nuclear Power Plant (Satsumasendai-shi, Kagoshima-ken), which is the only nuclear plant in operation in Japan.

Comments: Despite the confirmation of the nuclear authority, a large number of Japanese public wish the Sendai Plan to stop operation as a preventive measure. People know that the Fukushima plants were said to be “Absolutely safe”, before the disaster in 2011.

19 Apr. Beef bowl, baked confectionery, air cushion, etc., companies offering various support to victims of Kumamoto earthquake

Activities of the companies sending supporting supplies are getting into the full swing. The supplies include those products developed taking the lesson from the past disasters including the East Japan great earthquake disaster. That said, the companies must be cautious in moving forward and are watching carefully the status of the affected areas. The the earthquake still continues and the acceptance systems in affected areas are not yet set, having the infrastructure (road, electricity, etc.) cut apart.

Comment: The Japanese learned a lot since the East Japan great earthquake as to the importance of coordination between receivers in disaster areas and donors from other parts of the country.

20 Apr. 97% reopened already, Convenience stores in Kumamoto having taken lessons from the disasters in the past

A number of convenience stores have reopened business in the disaster areas. It is reported that about 97% of the stores are open again in Kumamoto Prefecture as a whole, among the three major convenience storers, Lawson, Seven-Eleven Japan and Family Mart. Taking lessons from the disaster experiences in the past, the stores shipped drinking water and food as a priority and gathered employees from the whole country to support shop operations in the disaster areas.

Comment: Convenience stores are quick to resume business taking lessons from disasters in the past, including the East Japan great earthquake in 2011.

  • All the news items are picked up from “Asahi Digital”, and summarized and translated by Europe-Japan Dynamics. The articles are not an official translation by the Asahi Newspaper.

Fresh & Hot from Japan, 6 to 12 Apr. 2016

Please enjoy fresh & hot news from Japan with comments by Europe-Japan Dynamics.

6 Apr. New students enjoyed Virtual Reality, an entrance ceremony of “N” Senior High School, a distant learning school via the Internet

“N” Senior High School, a distant learning school via the Internet, organized the first entrance ceremony in Roppongi, Tokyo. The new students who gathered there were equipped with the head-mount display  and enjoyed the real-time video of the physical school in Bruma-City, Okinawa, via the VR (Virtual Reality)

Comments: What an interesting school it is! VR may require new communication skill set and tips to use it efficiently.

7 Apr. “Growth expectation is decreasing”, said a Nobel Prize winning economist at the Economic Assessment meeting

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe discussed in the fourth international finance and economic assessment the current status of world economy with Professor Jean M. Tirole of Toulouse University, a laureate of the Nobel Prize Economic Sciences in 2014. Professor Tirole said, “The world economy is in a difficult situation. A growth expectation is becoming dull.”

Comments: PM Abe’s job is to take action to turn the economy upwards, following the views of the first class economist.

8 Apr. Surprise step-down of a charisma manager, future of Seven & i Holdings unclear

Mr. Toshifumi Suzuki, CEO of Seven & i Holdings Co., Ltd. (HD) and a well known charisma manager for his management to lead the largest convenience store chain in Japan, announced all the sudden his retirement after an annual meeting of investors. What happened in the company which continued brisk achievements?

Comment: A turning point has arrived even the strongest and largest convenience store chain of Japan.

11 Apr. Cyberthlon, a competition of the disabled with robotics, to be held in Switzerland this autumn

“Cyberthlon”, the first international competition of the disabled using sophisticated artificial arms and legs, and wheelchairs using robotics, will be held in Switzerland this autumn. Researchers of universities and the venture companies plan to participate from Japan. They are working on the development of robotic equipment for the handicapped expecting the technology to be applied to products and equipment for the every-day use of the elders and handicapped in the future.

Comment: What a wonderful idea it is to develop application of robotics for the handicapped and aged! The Cyberthlon will be organised by ETH and held in Zurich in October.

12 Apr. Sharp to double the number of recruit with focus on young employees next spring

Sharp announced the plan to employ 290 new college graduates in the spring of 2017. Though the company recruited 165 people this spring, only 151 entered the company most probably due to invisible future of the company. Now that Sharp is ready for its own rebuilding under the management of Foxconn Technology Group (Taiwan), the company plans to enhance recruitment strategy addressed to young people.

Comment: Though it’s a reasonable plan for the company, the Japanese labour market is shrinking especially with the younger age groups. It remains to be seen how the company will go through this recruitment challenge.

  • All the news items are picked up from “Asahi Digital”, and summarized and translated by Europe-Japan Dynamics. The articles are not an official translation by the Asahi Newspaper.

Fresh & hot from Japan, 1 to 5 Apr. 2016

Please enjoy fresh & hot news from Japan with comments by Europe-Japan Dynamics.

1 Apr. “Chance of the leap!”, said CEO of Kyushu Electric Power Co.on the market liberalisation of power supply at the welcome ceremony of the new employees

The retailing of the electricity is fully liberalized in Japan from 1 April. This will allow the household to choose the electric power supplier. Taking this drastic change into account, CEO of Kyushu Electric Power Co., Mr. Michiaki Uryu, alerted to about 200 new employees at the welcome ceremony, saying, “Our industry enter the full competition.”. He also encouraged the new employees, “We expect you to be leaders of the change of the industry. Let’s take challenges ahead together”.

Comment: The existing monopoly would remain strong for coming years as the power supply industry is heavily rely on infrastructure built on the ground. We learned this lesson from the market liberalization of telecommunications, in which the ex-monopoly remains to be strong till today.

4 Apr. Cost of solar power generator for homes down by 40%, ”Self-supply” of power coming true?

According to calculation undertaken by the Renewable Energy Institute (Tokyo), costs of the power generation by solar power by household has become the same as the electric bill of a major electric power company, if used over 20 years. This is due to the decrease of the installation costs of the solar power generator systems in the past several years. The “self-supply” of the electricity, without being dependent on major power suppliers, may not be a dream in future if the batteries for home use will become popular.

Comment: Development of the renewable energy is MUST for human beings.

5 Apr. “What is your trusted information source?”, survey addressed to the 18 and 19 years old

The age eligible for voting will become 18 years old, younger by 2 years than before, from a House of Councilors election planned for this summer. Asahi Shimbun Co. has undertaken a survey to ask information sources needed for election used by the 18 and 19 years old by mailing a questionnaire to 3000 people (Over 2000 replies obtained).

With regard to the information sources about politics and social problems, “TV” got 86% of the vote, followed by  “Web sites and SNS” (58%), “News paper” (28%), and “School teachers and courses” (26%) (multiple answers).

When asked the most trusted sources among the information sources they use, “TV” got the highest vote of 52%, followed by “News paper” (9%), and “Web sites and SNS” (8%). The least trusted source was “School teachers and courses” (7%).

Comment: Influence of TV on young voters’ decision is considerable, despite their heavy use of the web and SNS in day to day life.

  • All the news items are picked up from “Asahi Digital”, and summarized and translated by Europe-Japan Dynamics. The articles are not an official translation by the Asahi Newspaper.