Fresh & hot from Japan, from 24 to 28 April, 2017

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

24 Apr. Toshiba to branch out four major business units, such as the energy unit including the atomic energy

Toshiba announced that the company will branch out four main business units of “the social infrastructure”, “the energyincluding the atomic energy, “the information systems” and “the electronic device”. Toshiba intends to clarify management responsibilities by branching out the business units. Thus the company intends to maintain its volume of business so that the branched companies continue their own business by renewing the construction permit needed to install large scale facilities without being affected by financial troubles of the head quarters.

Comments: Would Toshiba renew itself to be a company with a good governance? The restructuring of the company looks like a host term solution only not to run to the worst.

25 Apr. Speaker for people with hearing impairment to enjoy music, awarded by the first prize at the Asian Competition

Three graduate students of Kyushu University designed the speaker that enables to enjoy music using the vibration of the sound designed. The underlying idea of the speaker, that is “to have people with hearing impairment enjoy music with the whole body”, was highly appreciated for its uniqueness at the Asian Competition for the design of industrial products, and the speaker obtained the highest award.

Comments: One may enjoy the music without hearing it.

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26 Apr. Kansai Airport marked the largest number of passengers of 25,710,000, crowded by visitors from Korea and China

The number of users of Kansai Airport was 25,710,000 in 2016, up 7% from a year ago and updated the record number for two consecutive years. The figure was released by the Kansai Airport which operates Kansai Airport and Osaka (Itami) Airport announced.

Comments: The Japanese economy, including airports, benefits much from visitors from neighboring Korea and China.

27 Apr. Unique earphone for smart phones

Earphones and headphones equipped with Bluetooth are becoming popular, the markets being pushed by the iPhone 7 (that does not have headphones terminal) or an earphone in which the right and left ones are separated from each other. On the other hand,  unique products comes up to headphones connected by the cable. For both products, not only one can enjoy music but also may be used for the voice call of the smartphone with a built-in microphone.

Comments: They are cool!

  • 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.

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My “Taken for granted” is not the same as yours — Cross-Cultural Understanding with Japan

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The workshop of “Cross-Cultural Understanding with Japan” was very resourceful, participated by a good-mixture of European and Japanese people.

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Yoshiko Kurisaki is moderating discussion

Here are a summary of highlights for those who couldn’t come and those who wish to know clues underlying the Japanese business:

  • Culture is like an iceberg. Eighty percent of the iceberg is under the sea and we don’t see it. So called “typical” Japanese culture, such as sushi, high-tech instruments, kimono, bowing, are all the tip of iceberg supported by the rituals, geography, history, values, etc. hidden under the water.
  • Major factors from which Japan is made  — Geographic location and its historical consequences, climate, rice-growing culture and the peace that lasted for 700 years.
  • The Japanese trap — Unconscious bias by the Western managers visiting Japan
  • A significant difference in the meaning of silence and space between Europe and Japan. It was proven that thirty-seconds’ silence is too long and uncomfortable for the Europeans, while nothing in particular for the Japanese.
  • Uchi- Soto“, the way the Japanese position you as a European business partner.
  • Relationship, not individuals, counts

It is worth noting that discussion by participants enriched the workshop, as well as eye-opening exercises.

Listening and observing others without judgement by one’s values is a good start for understanding of other cultures. In doing so it is natural that you may get upset or find someone strange. Such moment is a wonderful opportunity for you to know your own values. Think “Against what criteria am I upset? “

Working across cultures is not always easy but rewarding. Cultural diversity enables 1 + 1 be more than 3, 4 and more, and ultimately leads to the innovation.

Last but not the least, many thanks must go to the Swiss-Japanese Chamber of Commerce (SJCC) which invited us for the workshop and Sunstar SA for the nice seminar room and warm reception!

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Veronica De la Fuente

 

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Discussion by participants was a vital part of the workshop

 

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Fresh & hot from Japan, from 17 to 21 April, 2017

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

17 Apr. Sharp to fight back in household appliance markets, increasing the variations of models of fridges and TVs

The president of Sharp, Mr. J.W. Tai, revealed a strategy to largely increase the line-up of  household electrical appliance such as TV and the refrigerator for the domestic market in 2017. While its computers are reducing the household appliance business due to thin-margin, Sharp dare intends to increase its presence in the market.

Comments: Having been acquired by Foxconn, it remains to be seen if and in what ways Sharp will reborn.

18 Apr. Field experiment of “Robot cat Yamato”, an automatic driving car for the home delivery of parcels started, aiming at the 100% automatic delivery in the future

A giant  of home delivery of parcels, Yamato Transport, and an IT major, DeNA, have begun a field experiment of parcel delivery service by an automatic driving car, “Robo cat Yamato“, envisaging unmanned delivery in the future. Clients can call a car loaded with a locker-type safekeeping box to receive parcels to the place they wish, including the workplace. It is aimed to reduce time and labour of re-delivery for understaffed logistic centers.

Comments: It is an interesting application of technology of the automatic driving.

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19 Apr. Practicing English conversation with AI, which even do web searching to respond to questions

The SOFTBANK commerce & service Crop. has started sellig “Musio X”, a robot which helps you to improve English conversation using the artificial intelligence (AI). Musio X reads aloud English text by right pronunciation and undertakes the web search and answer to you for the questions asked in English. The company plans to add a function to the robot to operate air-conditioners upon voice command in the future. Music X is approximately 22 cm tall and weights 850 g. Its price is 98,000 yen (Approximately CHF 10’000) excluding tax, with monthly payment of 980 yen (Appx. CHF 10).

Comments: What an interesting use of AI! English teachers must use it to know a smart use of Musio X and teachers’ value which the robot can’t offer.

Musio X20 Apr. Trade surplus in FY 2016, for the first time in the past 6 years

According to the trade statistics (breaking news, customs-based accounting) of 2016 announced by the Ministry of Finance, the trade balance was the in the black figure of 4,006,900 million yen. It was the first black figure on the basis of a fiscal year in the past six years, or since the East Japan great earthquake disaster in 2011. This was largely a consequence of a large decrease of the import caused by strong yen and low price of the crude oil.

Comments: Good news for the moment, though the reason of trade surplus is not because of the economic recovery.

21 Apr. Will the initial investment of the simultaneous delivery of TV over the Internet be only 1% of assumptions by NHK?

The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications announced for the first time an estimation of costs of the simultaneous delivery of TV over the Internet. As for the case in which TV broadcasting companies jointly use  the delivery system, initial investment to make the system would be 75 million yen per company, and the annual operation costs approximately 21 million yen. In contrast, estimation by NHK was five (5) billion yen for the initial investment and less than 10 billion yen a year for the operation, on the assumption of the single company operation. 

Comments: Does it signal a replacement of TV broadcasting over the air by the high speed Internet? 

  • 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.

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Fresh & hot from Japan, from 10 to 14 April, 2017

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

10 Apr. Population in Japan to be 88.08 million after 50 years,  becoming less than 100 million in 2053

National Institute of Population and Social Security Research announced estimation of future population in the coming 50 years, saying that population would become 88,080,000 in 2065. The prospect of the number of children whom a woman would give birth to (average number of birth per woman) after 50 years is 1.44, recovered from the estimation (1.35) in the last time in 2012. The speed of population decreased has become slower than the estimation last time. That said, the population decrease will continue in the coming 50 years to be 30% less than the present population, and the low birthrate and aging of population will remain unchanged.

Comments: The low birthrate, aging and decrease of population will continue being major factors of Japanese markets.

11 Apr. SDGs, Japanese companies have a long way to go, according to the first survey by a think tank

Japanese companies are yet to start activities for children in the future — concluded by the first report on actions and challenges of Japanese companies to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) advocated by the United Nations.

Comments: It is like CSR, Corporate Social Responsibility. It may take some time for Japanese companies to digest and understand what SDG is for their own business. SDGs is not a charity slogan, but must be their underlying principles of business.

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12 Apr. Cyber attacks at infrastructure, such as the electricity and gas, under investigation by Metropolitan Police Department

The existence of a cyber attack aimed at companies and the government offices in charge of critical infrastructure such as the electricity, gas and railways became clear. There are even some cases in which no one noticed infection for nearly two and a half years while attacks had been there for four years. There is a risk that a large quantity of data might have been stolen without being found. The Metropolitan Police Department has been investigating these cases, saying that new infection routes were found.

Comments: Better late than never to investigate the cyber attacks.

13 Apr. Toyota to offer rental of rehabilitation support Robots, aiming at 1,000 rental in three years

Toyota Motor Corporation enters the new business of rehabilitation support using the robot. The robot is made applying the technique of the industrial robot for car manufacturing. The company will start the rental to medical institutions in SeptemberA market of robots for rehabilitation and care of the aged is growing to make up for the shortage of labour force.

Comments: An interesting idea to apply the core competence of a company to an emerging business opportunity in the aging society.

14 Apr. IRIS OHYAMA INC. to enter air conditioner markets, with remote- control functions by a smart phone

IRIS OHYAMA INC. announced that the company had developed the home air-conditioner equipped with a built-in radio communication devise so that one may control from a remote place using a smart phone. The company will start selling it in general merchandising stores of household appliances, etc. all over Japan from the 28th.

Comments: This is a home appliance version of the Internet of Things (IoT) !

  • 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.

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Fresh & hot from Japan, from 3 to 7 April, 2017

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3 Apr. The highest possible hit of application for mountain clibmbers, being able to confirm location outside the mobile phone network zones

YAMAP, an application of map for mountain climbers developed by a venture company of Fukuoka-shi has become very popular. The application sees the 500,000 downloading, and 38 millions of monthly viewers, which are the largest numbers among the applications of this kind available in Japan. Drawn on the strength of being usable in those areas where the electric wave does not reach, attempts are being made to use it for wider purposes such as disaster prevention and sightseeing.

Comments: Swiss version of YAMAP may be very useful, if made available.

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4 Apr. Solar battery not needing the sun, developped by Sekisui Chemical

SEKISUI CHEMICAL CO., LTD. developed the solar battery which could generate electricity indoor where the sun light does not reach. While not much power may be generated, one may bend or process the battery into tape and stick to something because it is in the form of a thin film and is light. The company will start selling it from 2017, aiming at the sales of 10 billion yen in 2015.

Comments: This technology may be a breakthrough for ecological power generation!

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5 Apr. Payment by “bit coin” is becoming popular, Bic Camera to introduce it

There is an emerging trend to allow payments by the virtual currency “bit coin”. A major household appliance shop chain Bic Camera announced that it will allow payments by bit coin in some shops in Tokyo. The trend may spread to other retail shops and restaurants in future. While the bit coin is not free from risk of changes of market price, it is gradually becoming popular as a means of settlement.

Comments: Bit coins may dominate the present means of payments, such as “Osaifu Keitai” by domestic mobile phone service providers in Japan, as Bit coins may be used in wide payment opportunities worldwide. Foreign visitors to Japan may benefit from payments by Bit coins.

6 Apr. Sharp to increase the number of workers to 4,000 in Kameyama factory to increase production of parts of smart phones

Senior managers of Sharp revealed that the company will increase the number of workers of Kameyama factory (Kameyama-shi, Mie-ken) from 2,000 and several hundreds to about 4,000, including subcontractors. This move is in line with Sharp’s plan  to double the production volume of camera parts for smartphones.

Comments: It appears that Sharp is successfully walking a turnaround path since its acquisition by Foxconn (Taiwan).

7 Apr. Almost perfect precision with only a few centimeters’ errors, the second GPS satellite made in Japan released to the public

“Michibiki (guide)” the second, a quasi-zenith satellites of Japanese GPS (Global Positioning System), was shown to the public at  the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency Tsukuba Space cCnter (Tsukuba-shi, Ibaragi-ken).  The launch from the first to the fourth unit is planned by the end of this year aimed at the full use in 2018.

Comments: This level of precision may allow a wide variety of use of locational information.

  • 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.

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How can a non-native English speaker be a Grammarian at a Toastmasters Club meeting?

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【I defined my role as a Grammarian】

“I’ll take a Grammarian’s role next time.” —   I came to know that I had encouraged other non-native English speakers, when two people said it to me after the meeting of Geneva International Toastmasters Club tonight. It was an unexpected surprise!

I was a Grammarian of a Club meeting. Grammarian however was the last role I would take. I thought I couldn’t do it.  “How can I correct English grammar being non-native speaker?”

I however did it tonight.

I set my challenge to be a contributor of the meeting in the way I can. I’m not the right person to correct English but there must be something else I can do well.

I redefined the role of a Grammarian.

I  listened to each speech & evaluation carefully and thought in what way I could help the speakers.

I picked up good expressions and sentences that gave life to the speeches. 
After the meeting, I found my evaluation by Christina as a Grammarian super! It went far beyond my expectation.

Why did it happen?

I concentrated in listening to the speeches tonight. It was the only way to pick up good points and share them with the meeting. Concentration allowed me to notice good expressions.

It was respect to all the speakers to listen each speaker very carefully. Every one in the meeting room got what worked well in my comments.

I didn’t have to be afraid of doing bad, being a non-native English speaker.

There is always a way to utilize my resource to help others.

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