Fresh & hot from Japan, from 20 to 26 May 2017

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

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 18 to 19 May 2017

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

18 May How about a cup of coffee before taking Hankyu train? Nestlé Japan to install more coffee stands in railway stations

Nestlé Japan and Hanky Railway Corp. will build more “Nescafé stand”, which they originally built in the five stations of Hankyu line, including Tsukaguchi station, last year. The “Nescafé stand” sold more than 500,000 cups of coffee in the past five months, that had been expectations. The companies will build the stand in seven more stations from the end of May onwards.

Comments: Why there were not many coffee stand in the commuter railway stations? It is a good marketing!

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19 May Costs of Tokyo Olympic Games and Paralympics to be paid by Tokyo Metropolitan, estimated to be max. 900 billion yen

Concerning the costs of Tokyo Olympic Games and Paralympics in 2020, it was revealed that Tokyo Metropolitan experimentally calculated the expense to be maximum 900 Billion yen out of the estimated total costs of  1,600  to 1,800 Billion yenTokyo Metropolitan expects in this calculation those local governments which do not have Olympic venues to bear 40 Billion yen as costs for guarding, etc.

Comments: Who pays what is still controversial.

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

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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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 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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Fresh & hot from Japan, from 27 to 31 March, 2017

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27 Mar. JR Shikoku to release P/L data of income deficit routes, looking for ideas to maintain the railway system

Mr. Han-iShinji, President of Shikoku Japan Railway Company (JR Shikoku, Takamatsu-shi), said, in response to the interview by Asahi News Paper, that he would  release the income-expenditure data of each line that has not been published to an advisory panel of experts to be started after April. It is intended to share the knowledge with the panel of difficult status of the railway network in Shikoku Region while local population decreases, and thus to explore ways to maintain the network.

Comments: It is surprising that such information has not been published so far. It is expected that publishing the deficit data would become the first step forward for transparency and public debate of problems of infrastructure.

28 Mar. Price increase is more efficient than ”a request” for power saving, revealed a study by a professor of Kyoto University

Professor Takanori Yoda (behavioral economics) of Kyoto University and his research team announced a result of their study that effects of a request for power saving to households to suppress the peak consumption volume of the electricity  did not last long. The study found that a rate structure in which electricity rates during certain time zones are higher than a regular rate is more efficient than a power saving request. The study will be published in an economic journal of the US.

Comments: It is interesting that on the contrary to consumers a power saving request has been proved to be efficient for business users. It is one of the mysteries of Japan that companies follow “Requests” by power companies even if there is no penalty and thy need the power supply to carry on working productively during hot and humid summer in Japan.  

29 Mar. You may find the temperature 100 years ago, the Meteorological Agency published the daily data

“You may find the temperature per day 100 years ago” — The Meteorological Agency published in its homepage (HP) the mean, highest and lowest temperatures every day observed in 156 spots all over the country from 1910 through to 1960. It is intended for the public to make use of the data for analysis and the study of the long-term climate change or upward trend of the temperature. http://www.data.jma.go.jp/obd/stats/etrn/index.php

Comments: The climate data has high value!

30 Mar. “Up to one hour per day” for using  the smartphone for child care, reported by a study group of the Internet service providers

“Do not use the smartphone for child care for more than one hour and no use since at least one hour before sleeping time” — recommended by “Study group on the Internet use for young children (Chairperson, professor Akira Sakamoto of Ochanomizu Women’s University)”, which major Internet service providers, such as Yahoo, had established to study pros and cons of the “smartphone nursery”, by which parents let young children use smartphones as toys.

Comments: Parens let babies use smartphones!

31 Mar. Consumers’ cooperative of various regions to enter the electricity-selling business for residential markets, drawn upon strong home delivery network for sales

This April is the first anniversary since the market liberalization of electricity sales for home. A number of regional consumers’ cooperatives in the Kansai region (the western region of Japan) enter the electricity-selling business. A business model is to procure the electricity from the power generation companies dealing with the velocity of the wind and photovoltaic power generation, and sell the power to Coop members. A home delivery network has become strength for the sales of the electricity.

Comments: Consumers’ cooperatives work as a sales channel for newly entered power generators (which are usually much smaller than existing power companies).

  • 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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