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

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

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 February, 2017

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13 Feb. Fourth-quarter GDP, positive growth continued for four quarters in a row

According to the primary breaking news of the gross domestic product (GDP) of the fourth-quarter 2016 (October to December 2016) announced by the  Cabinet Office, a real growth rate except the influence of the change of commodity prices increased by 0.2% as compared to the third quarter (July to September 2016). This growth is equivalent to the growth of 0.1 % when convert it into an annual growth. This figure resulted in the consecutive positive growth for four quarters or one year.

Comments: The growth owns to trade surplus in 2016. Reducing growth of consumer consumption is still worrisome for the health of national economy.

14 Feb. Transformers installed in town, used for electronic signboards and battery chargers, developed by Panasonic and TEPCO

Panasonic and Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) plan to push forward a project to utilize a transformer in a box shape installed in cities  to attach equipment of advertisement or information board. Using the space on the transformer, the companies plan to enable charging of an electronic signboard and vehicles. Panasonic showed a trial product in Tokyo on 13th. The service is planned to start in 2018.

Comments: It is a part of IoT project promoted by Panasonic and TEPCO.

15 Feb. Toshiba, a possible sell off the semiconductor stock to avoid liabilities exceeding the assets at the end of FY 2016 or March

Toshiba reported a loss of  712,500 million yen over the atomic energy business in the U.S. from the settlement of accounts (American accounting standards) for the period of April to December 2016, and announced the deficit prospect of USD 4.4 million as a net profit or loss (a deficit of the same period a year ago was USD 4.2 million). The company felt into exceeding liability at the end of December 2016. Toshiba will consider to raise a ratio of stocks to sell the new company of semiconductor business to be branched out from less than 20% to over 50% to avoid liabilities exceeding the assets at the end of FY 2016 or March.

Comments: What to see in Toshiba’s saga is that what’s happening in the company is a consequence of lack of appropriate governance and mechanism to fix it that lasted for years till now.

16 Feb. Debate heated at the Diet over the proposed regulations on passive smoking

The debate on the cigarette is in fire in Nagatacho (the Japanese Diet). The regular smokers across the ruling and opposition parties resist against the proposed bill which is to introduce stronger measures against the passive smoking that the government is preparing taking into account the coming Tokyo Olympic Games and the Paralympics in 2020. The Japanese smoking habit is criticized as “the worst in the world”.

Comments: It is a shame that members of the Diet put their ego forward while the public interests behind.

17 Feb. Automatic running of row of trucks on highway, the Japanese Government to experiment from 2018

“Future investment meeting” (chairperson, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe) , a mission of which is to formulate a growth strategy of the Government pulled together an implementation plan to partially realize the automatic driving of cars that does to require  drivers in 2020.  Recognizing that competition over the development of automatic driving becomes fierce in international markets, the Government intends to hold a superior position in the world by hurrying a proof experiment.

Comments: The field experiment is a large step forward, even though many changes of road transportation are envisaged, such as driving regulation, highway structure, etc.

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Photo by New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO)
  • 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, 23 to 27 January 2017

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23 Jan. “Cooperation upon the expertise of stakeholders are important”, said CEO of Toyota, in search for cooperation with Mr. Trump

At the ceremony of the launch of mass production of the new bus, “Coaster”, held in  Kakamigahara-shi, Gifu-ken, Mr. Akio Toyota, CEO of Toyota Motor Corporation, said with regard to the new US administration, “Either automobile companies or the administration alone cannot make the region happy. What’s important is for all the stakeholders to work together drawing on their own expertise”. This indicate that he would cooperate with the US administration.

Comments: It is still wait and see as to the way the new US administration would influence on the private sector activities in the country.

24 Jan. H-2A rocket successfully launched, the first communications satellite of Ministry of Defense

The 32nd unit of H-2A rocket that carried communications satellite of the Ministry of Defense, “Kirameki 2”,  on board was successfully launched at 4:44 PM on 24th by Tanegashima space center of Kagoshima-ken.

Comments: A benchmark of the development of rockets made-in-Japan.

25 Jan. Automatic driving tractor for rice planting, announced by Kubota

Agricultural machinery major, Kubota announced that the company will start selling automatic driving tractors to monitors from June.  Kubota will be the first company to sell automatic driving agricultural machinery in Japan. Envisaging an increasing scale of the agriculture with less workforce, the company plans to put it on sale for the wide public in 2018.

Comments: True, an automatic driving could work in the agriculture which will have to be carried on with decreasing workforce.

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26 Jan. Your walking age is known by walking for 6m, a system developed by Asics & NEC

Asics and NEC developed a system which could tell the “walking age”by  detecting the age equivalent of a way of walking by walking only about 6 meters towards a sensor apparatus.  At n expected market entry is from nursing facilities for the elders as the system helps formulating menus of the exercise to prevent them from falling.

Comments: Do you want to try it?

27 Jan. Toshiba to branch out its  semiconductor business, inviting bids early next month

Toshiba decided in the meeting of board of directors held today to branch out one of its core sectors of semiconductor business. The company plans to sell some of the stocks of the new company to pay for a huge loss caused by its nuclear power plant business in the United States. After having shareholders’ approval in an extraordinary shareholders’ meeting to be held at the end of March, Toshiba plan to officially branch out the semiconductor business.

Comments: Competition map of the semiconductor vendors may change.

  • 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 13 January 2017

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Happy New Year!

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

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6 Jan . Mr. Tramp criticized Toyota for its plan to build a new factory in Mexico, “Should build it in the US!”

The President Elect Mr. Trump criticized Toyota by his tweet for the company’s plan to build a new factory in Mexico, saying, “You should build it in the US, or otherwise pay a high import tax”.  Having attacked US automobile major, Ford and other companies to stop building relocating factories outside the US, he shot an arrow of criticism to a Japanese company for the first time after the US presidential election.

Comment: Government intervention in economic activities must be done with much care, as economic activities always run before the governments actions in the history.

11 Jan. The new imperial era name to start from 1 Jan. 2019, assuming the abdication on the previous day

The government started examining ways to allow the Crown Prince to succeed to the throne to the new Emperor on January 1, 2019, and to commence the new imperial era name on the same day, following abdication of His Majesty the Emperor. It was judged that the change of an era on the New Year’s Day was desirable to minimize consequences on life of the public.  If things go advance in line with the present plan, the present His Majesty will step down from the throne on December 31, 2018, and the Heisei will close a curtain on the 30th year.

Comments: It should not be forgotten to discuss and establish a set of general rules for the emperor to step down from the throne. Otherwise, one might face the same issues for the next emperor, when the life time of the population is becoming longer and longer.

12 Jan. The Nikkei Average to close with 229 Yen lower, upset by an expression of dissatisfaction by Mr. Trump

Stock price of the Tokyo stock market decreased after an interval of two days due to a mass selling caused by disappointment after a press conference of the President elect, Mr. Trump.

Comments: Would the stock exchange markets continue reaction sensitively to Mr. Trump for the coming four years?

13 Jan. Detection of drowsy driving, health check of cows, etc., an increasing number of wearable terminals are being released to the markets

Toyobo, a textile major, and Union Tool, a vendor of  medical equipment, announced that they had developed the underwear that alerted a driver when it detected that he/she was falling asleep and that the companies planned to put it on sale before the end of this year. The underwear is intended to prevent an accident by having drivers of bus or taxi wear.  An increasing number of clothes-shaped wearable terminals are being developed as they may be worn more naturally than glasses type terminals.

Comments: We’ll be wearing wearable devices in as it is literally meant.

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  • 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, 19 to 23 December 2016

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

19 Dec.”Bioplastic” which is painting-free, Roadster to adopt

Bioplastic resin, produced by Mitsubishi Chemical Corp. from bio materials, is being used for an increasing number of automobile parts. Though more expensive than the resin derived from oil, attention is being paid to bioplastic for its eco-friendliness and cost-saving effects due to no need for painting.

Comments: Bioplastic could be a breakthrough for ecological production.

20 Dec. NEC to establish a company for development of medicines for cancer treatment using AI

NEC announced that the company would enter an innovative drug development business using artificial intelligence (AI). By using AI, the company has already discovered a promising material which may be used to create “peptide vaccine” that is attracting attention as a new therapeutic drug of cancer. NEC has established a new company to push forward the drug development to put the new medicine into practical use around 2025.

Comments: What an interesting development it is to stretch its core competence of information technology to medical science!

nec-medicine

21 Dec. Assessment of economic status raised for the first time since one year and nice months, “recovery continued”

The Cabinet Office raised an overall assessment of the domestic economy one year nine months since March, 2015, according to a monthly economic report of December. It is judged that movement of the improvement came out to export and individual consumption, saying, “the delay in the improvement was partly seen, but a gentle recovery tone continued”.

Comments: It’s a good news.

22 Dec. Honda, to partner with Google to develop automatic driving, starting a run experiment in the US

Honda announced that the company would start collaborative investigation of the “complete automatic driving” with the US net search major Google. Artificial intelligence (AI) of Google will be loaded in the car provided by Honda. The two companies will repeat run experiments in the United States and share know-how of the automatic driving.

Comments: A merger between the automobile manufacturing and information technology companies are taking place over the automatic driving, and the connected car.

23 Dec. Diplomatic documents related to Asia after the WWII to be open to the public on the web

The Asian history document center of the National Archives decided to extend the coverage of the documents related to international relations with Asian countries available to the public via its web site from those covering from Meiji era to the Second World War (WWII) to the era that include post WWII period. It is intended to fill the gap between different interpretations of historical incidents that sometimes cause disputes among different views by enabling to share the common documents between researchers and scholars. This change will start from 2017.

Comments: Better late than never — it is a good idea.

  • 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, 7 to 11 November 2016

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

7 Nov. Drone, the aerial hot battle over the God flag by 20 brave men

“The drone God flag contest” was held in Minamisoma-shi, Fukushima prefecture on 6th. The contest is to catch the God flag by drones, modeled after a wild horse chase of Soma, a traditional event of the region in which samurais on galloping horse to compete to catch the God flag.

Comments: It’s an interesting idea to replicate horse racing by drones!

drone-competition-soma-city

8 Nov. “Fukushima to be a world pioneer of energy revolution”, the 1st World Community Power Conference

The 1st World Community Power Conference (WCPC2016) was held in Fukushima on 3-4 November, aiming at investigation of ways for communities to promote the use of renewable energy, such as distributed power supply. A total of 620 people involved in renewable energy participated in the conference from worldwide. The WCPC 2016 launched a message that Fukushima, a disaster site of unprecedented nuclear plant accident 5 years ago, will entrust the next generation with the society that will not depend on the atomic energy.

Comments: WCPC 2016 is an initiative by local municipalities. It’s unusual for Japan and worth seeing how it will roll out.

9 Nov. “May take some measures if JPY’s value keep rising after the US Presidential election, said Deputy Vice‐Minister of Financial Affairs, Asakawa

Ministry of Finance, Financial Services Agency and the Bank of Japan held an urgent meeting in the afternoon of 9th and discussed possible reactions of Japan to a rising value of Japanese Yen (JPY) and falling price of stocks, in case the Republican candidate Trump may become dominant in the U.S. presidential election. Masashi Asakawa, Deputy Vice‐Minister of Financial Affairs stated to the press, “We will take necessary measures if this moment would continue, after careful observation”. This implies that Japanese Government would not hesitate to intervene in currency markets, should a rapid rise of the value of JPY may not cease.

Comments: We’ll see how market of JPY would react soon.

10 Nov. Smartphones made by “SANYO” to be marketed in India, following a steady sales performance of  liquid crystalline TV 

It was known that Panasonic is preparing the sale of smartphones in “SANYO” brand in India from next year. The plan  is to grow the sale of smartphones in the Indian market where economy is growing, by addressing a market for low-price products available only via an online sale via the Internet.

Comments:  Low-cost & high performance smart phones would be a good fit for Asian markets.

11 Nov. Groping for diplomatic strategy with Trump, Japan the first among G7 States to start diplomatic discussion on phone

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe discussed diplomatic issues on phone with Mr. Donald Trump, the next US President, and agreed to meet in New York on 17th Nov. The Prime Minister wishes to reconfirm to firmly maintain the Japan-U.S. alliance, which Mr. Trump insisted to review. Thus the Japanese Government has started “the diplomacy with the Trump Administration” by groping, without having a strong tie with him.

Comments: One can only say, “Wait and see”.

  • 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, 31 October to 4 November 2016

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

31 Oct. Cleaning, cooking, and more, four tasks of hotel business taken by one person, hotel management reform by Hoshino Resort of inns

Hoshino Resort is known as revitalizing business of ryokans (Japanese style inns). A major strength of the company is “multi-tasking” of employees who take more than two roles, while, in other hotels, those in charge of the front desk takes tasks at the front desk and those in charge of cleaning do cleaning only. With the improvement of employee productivity, Hoshino Resort opened a ryokan in Tokyo last summer and intends to develop ryokan business overseas.

Comments: Multi-tasking reduced redundant time of employees. This management may be an interesting model of hotel business.

2 Nov. A major vendor suspended sales of some routers due to a possible abuse of the use for cyber attack

I-O Data Device Inc. (Kanazawa), one of the major Japanese computer peripheral manufacturers, suspended sales of some of its products, due to a possible abuse of use of its equipment for a new means of cyber attack, that utilizes the equipment used for IoT (the Internet of Things). There are a number of cyber attack cases recently in and outside Japan in which device for IoT is infected by virus and used for “DDos” attack.

Comments: IoT could be more vulnerable than human-to-human Internet. We need wisdom to prevent this new way of cyber attack.

3 Nov. Willingness of sending by family budget worsened for the first time in three months, said the Cabinet Office

According to the  consumer behavior survey of October undertaken by the Cabinet Office, the consumer sentiment index for private households (seasonal adjustment level) that indicates willingness to spend by the family budget turned worse to be 42.3 points, down from the last month by 0.7 points for the first time in three months. The Cabinet Office concluded “the slow upward trend continued” and maintained its basic observation to be “the movement of the improvement is observed”.

Comments: Japanese economy is still fragile, while moving upwards.

4 Nov. “World Tsunami Awareness Day” is the 5th Nov., disaster drill involving 420,000 people undertaken in Wakayama

One day before the first “World Tsunami Awareness Day” on 5 Nov. established by the United Nations, a disaster drill was held in Wakayama prefecture, involving about 420,000 people who are mostly in public facilities, such as schools.

Comments: “World Tsunami Awareness Day” is a good idea to regularly alert us to be prepared for the disaster.

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  • 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.