Fresh & hot from Japan, from 31 May to 2 June 2017

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

31 May Airport operating company of major airports in Osaka region reported the settlement of accounts of net income 16,900 million yen, for the first time after the airport privatization

The Kansai airport which operates the Kansai Airport and Osaka (Itami) airport announced the annual settlement of accounts for the first time after the airports privatization. The operating company reported the operating income equal to the sales amount of March, 2017 period, 180,200 million yen, and the net income indicating the final profit 16,900 million yen, thanks to the largest number of passengers for the Kansai Airport and the increase of the landing tax.

Comments: Why Kansai, not in Tokyo? Worth investigating.

1 Jun. Mitsubishi UFJ Bank looking into to the Netherlands for the new location of its securities base due to Brexit

With European Union (EU) secession decision of the U.K., Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Inc. (FG) is reported to be examining Amsterdam, the Netherlands, as a major candidate as a new base of its securities business operation in Europe. The Group will make the final decision this summer.

Comments: Would the Bank brave enough to leave the UK?

2 Jun. Power-free walk-support machine developed, fatigue reduction, good for health

There is neither the battery nor the motor. Imasen Electric Seisakujo (Inuyama-shi, Aichi) , an automotive parts maker, developed a walk-support machine “aLQ” (aruku, meaning “walk” in Japanese) for the use by wide public. The machine gets attention as a product of research collaboration between the university and industry, that applied a principle of the power-free bipedal robot and car manufacturing techniques.

Comments: Nice product! aLQ will be needed a number of people when the population is aging.

aLQ

  • 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 20 to 26 May 2017

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20 May Shogi Maestro Amahiko SATO defeated by AI

The Shoji Maestro Amahiko SATO was defeated by PONANZA,  artificial intelligence (AI) of Shogi, at the second match between the human Shogi maestro and AI held in  Himeji-jo Castle of Himeji-shi, Hyogo. This win has became the two successive victories of PONANZA, which marked the defeat of the human maestro who was the top of the Shogi world.

Comments: It is endless in what AI could do.

23 May Japanese LCC, Peach Aviation to introduce bit coins, aiming at more passengers visiting Japan

A Japanese Low Cost Carrier (LCC) Peach Aviation will enable purchasing airline tickets by a virtual currency bit coin  within this year. While an increasing number of retail stores and restaurants have begun introducing it as a means of payment in Japan, this is the first case among major means of transportation. Peach Aviation is expecting the use by overseas visitors to Japan by facilitating the payment.

Comments: It’s a marketing strategy to use bit coins to facilitate visitors from China.  Market volume counts.

24 May Pushing market development of pharmaceutical companies in the newly developing economies, a new organization to be established on the basis of public and private sectors partnership

The Japanese Government is establishing an organization in cooperation with the private sectors to push forward the Japanese pharmaceutical companies in the rising economies. The organization may build a factory in host countries so that participating companies may use it. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who till be the general manager of the organization is going to announce the plan in the strategic promotion office of the health and medical sectors to be open in June.

Comments: Would the pharmaceutical sector need that much hands-on support by the Government?

25 May Discovered possible therapeutic drug of the intractable disease ALS, Univ. of Kyoto by using induced pluripotent stem cells

A research team of Professor Haruhisa Inoue (neurology) of University of Kyoto discovered the compound that may be a candidate of the therapeutic drug using the induced pluripotent stem cells made from the skin of a patient of the intractable disease “amyotrophic lateral sclerosis” (ALS) that causes symptoms of muscle weakness.  It was confirmed by experiment using mice that the compound works to suppress the progress of illness.

Comments: Good news!

26 May Orix to sell an electricity subsidiary, Kansai Electric Power tenders a bid for sale

Prix is selling is subsidiary, Orix Electricity (Tokyo) that undertakes a mass sales of the electricity apartments. Prix is going to decide the sale by a bid from June to August.  Electricity majors, such as  Kansai Electric Power, and city gas majors are examining participation.

Comments: Does this indicate a failure of liberalization of the power supply?

  • 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 8 to 12 May 2017

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8 May LIXIL returned the best sales performance, thanks to a solid shower toilet selling well in China

The net income of the settlement of accounts (international accounting standards) of a house equipment major, LIXIL Group, recorded the highest gain of 42,500 million yen for March, 2017 period (cf. a deficit of 25,600 million yen in 2016).  This was due to results of cost cutting and good sales performance of overseas restroom business including China.

Comments: This news indicates consumer interests in China have turned to the improvement of living conditions.

9 May You may be a sales person even above 70 years old, Daiwa Securities to lift the age limit of reemployment

Securities major Daiwa Securities Group Inc. decided to lift the age limit of the reemployment of the sales job, which presently is 70 years old. It is intended to reinforce sales force by utilizing abundant experience of the veteran work force.

Comments: Good not to eliminate resources because of the age, but what will be their payment? A major problem of the present Japanese reemployment after the legal retirement age is a sharp decrease of wages even for the same job.

10 May Film for tablets that may not be broken, invented by RIKEN TECHNOS Corp.

A plastic film maker, RIKEN TECHNOS CORPORATION, returned a record high operating income of 5,800 million yen for March 2017, up by 15.3% from the previous year.  While the main product was a vinyl  chloride material for automobiles, the company developed a plastic film which was hard to be broken for the screens of tablet terminals, anticipating that the number of cars produced in Japan may not grow any more.

Comments: From core-competence, taking into account the digital markets, innovation is born.

12 May Search by a smartphone application of strolling person due to dementia, the first field trial in Aichi-ken

A trial to look for an elderly person strolling around because of dementia using an application of smartphone started. Those who look for such person may send some information of the missing person such as his/her characteristics to  the smartphones of the cooperators, thus expand a search network to the entire region. The first field experiment in Japan took place in Kasuga-shi, Aichi-ken in April.

Comments: A key to success may be to have a large number of people who install and pay attention to such an application, or social awareness raiding.

  • 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 17 to 21 April, 2017

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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.

ロボネコ_03

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 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.

logo_YAMAP

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!

積水太陽電池

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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Fresh & hot from Japan, from 20 to 24 March, 2017

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20 Mar.  Asian Youtubers to promote Hiji-machi, Oita-ken, all in Chinese

Tourist information board of Hiji-machi, Oita-ken, engaged a Chinese “YouTubers” (those who earn income by posting their own videos on YouTube) to create a promotion video of the town and posted it in its own Home Page (HP). It is a new way of attracting overseas tourists to their town. The city started the promotion targeted at China.

HP of Hiji-machi –> $http://www.town.hiji.oita.jp/page/h2903_syoko_hijimachi-youtuber-movie2017.html

Comments: It is an innovative way to promote a town as a tourist attraction to foreign travellers.

21 Mar. ”Linear motor car effects” felt in Nagoya, land price doubled in Kanayama district

Rapid increase of price of op commercial areas in front of Nagoya Station has been spreading over the neighboring areas. According to the land price announced by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, two spots nearby the Kanayama Sougou Station (Naka-ku and Atsuta-ku of Nagoya-shi, ) were newly ranked in the top five of Aichi Ken. This is due to effects of investments in land in the areas neighbouring Nagoya, in anticipation of the land price increase upon the opening of linear motor car.

Comments: Lack of control of land price would distort social distribution of the wealth. 

22 Mar. Straight defeat of AI due to a Come-from-behind defeat, World Championship of Go, Iyama also got the second defeat

The World Championship of Go, where champions from Japan, China and Korea, and AI (artificial intelligence) are fighting, took place in the Japanese Go Society Kansai total headquarters of Osaka, Umeda, on the middle day. A Japanese Go player, Iyama Yuta crown (27), the sixth Crown, was defeated by Mi Ikutei  (21), the ninth dan, of the China. The Japanese strongest AI “DeepZenGo” lost again by a great come-from-behind defeat by the Champion of Korea, Pak Jon-Fan, the nineth dan.

Comments: It’s not SF that AI fight against human champions in Go.

  • 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 13 to 17 March, 2017

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13 Mar. Decrease by 3.2% from the previous month seen in machine order of January for the first time in the past two months

According to the machine order statistics (seasonal adjustment level) of January announced by the Cabinet Office, the amount of order of the civilian demand except for large ships and electricity machineries (due to a large magnitude of change), the amount was 837,900 million yen, decreasing by 3.2% compared to the month before. It was the first decrease in the past two months. The overall assessment was left unchanged, “the standstill was seen for the movement toward improvement”.

Comments: Economic improvements still hesitant.

16 Mar. Domestic production of heavy electric machinery and white goods are increasing, hitting the highest level in the past 10 years

The electric equipment industry society in Japan announced that it predicted the domestic production of the electric apparatus that  in 2017 of the electric apparatus that included the heavy electric machinery apparatus and white goods would be  5,655,800 million yen, the largest amount in the past 10 years. A major reason is the increase of heavy electric machinery apparatus due to the number of replacement needs of the boiler of power stations and an increasing demand for heavy electric machinery apparatus for the redevelopment of cities to be prepared for the Tokyo Olympic Games to be held in 2020.

Comments: An economic impact of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games is seen.

17 Mar. Nissan launched a car-sharing business with Yokohama-shi, using Ultra Compact EVs

Nissan Motor launched a car sharing business using the Ultra Compact electric cars (EVs) of the 2-crew in cooperation with Yokohama-shi. Users may borrow EVs from 14 stations located in the city center and use it for sightseeing, etc.

Comments: This initiative will help piling up know-how to operate a char-sharing business. A question remains, though — what is a major difference between this car-sharing model and a car rental business using a small vehicle?

日産横浜カーシェア

  • 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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