Terrie's Take 706 -- Cool Japan May Not Be So Cool After All. E-biz news from Japan.

Terrie's Take terrie at mailman.japaninc.com
Sun Apr 14 23:25:49 JST 2013

* * * * * * * * * T E R R I E 'S T A K E * * * * * * *
A weekly roundup of news & information from Terrie Lloyd.

General Edition Sunday, Apr 14, 2013, Issue No. 706


- What's New -- Cool Japan May Not Be So Cool After All
- News -- Goldman says stocks will rise another 20%
- Upcoming Events
- Corrections/Feedback
- Travel Picks -- Matsushima, Miyagi and Fukushima-gata, Niigata
- News Credits

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Back in January, the Daily Yomiuri carried a short article about the
government planning to allocate a massive JPY50bn (approx. US$500m) into
the "Cool Japan" fund. The job of the fund will be to promote Japanese
content, high-status food, and cultural products abroad, and to presumably
encourage people to travel to Japan and try them here as well. In this
respect, Cool Japan is a concept that has come of age. It combines the
efforts of various government ministries (agriculture, trade, and
infrastructure/tourism) in a way that foreign consumers can understand and
relate to. Currently Japan's "soft" exporters are so fragmented and
underfunded, that just like the inbound travel sector, they are basically a
cottage industry in need of organizing into a coherent marketing force.

We also find the Cool Japan initiative interesting because it has morphed
politically over the 7 or so years since the concept was first floated.
Now, with the Abe government's overt concern about how the world views
Japan, the whole idea that Japan has culture worth investing in and
exporting is gaining some very serious traction at the highest levels. But
we really wonder if there will  be a serious effort at building a new
industry, or if the intent is to create a boondoggle to further Abe's
political beliefs?

Let's start at the beginning. As we understand it, "Cool Japan" as a
concept was first covered by Douglas McGray in an article written for the
Foreign Policy magazine, where he wrote about "national cool" and "Japan
cool". He was talking about how Japan's "soft" power was underestimated,
and that Pokemon, Spirited Away, and other cultural outputs were making
deep inroads into the subconscious of young people globally, creating
significant value and influence for Japan.

[Continued below...]

----------------------DELTA AIR LINE-----------------------

On June 3, Delta will launch convenient, daily nonstop service between
Tokyo’s Haneda airport (HND), just 30 minutes from Tokyo’s main downtown
business area, and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA).

Flights depart at around midnight, allowing for a full day’s work before
leaving for the airport well after evening rush hour traffic.

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* Economy Comfort™ seating is available on select international flights,
and is complimentary or discounted for SkyMiles Medallion® members, or for
passengers with Y, B or M international Economy Class tickets.

[...Article continues]

We're not sure that anyone in Japan was actually plotting the cultural
takeover the world through game cards and "My Neighbor Totoro", but the
idea of structured effort to promote Japanese culture gained traction in
the Japanese government several years later, and the Ministry in charge of
trade and export, METI, decided to set up an office that would coordinate
Japan's efforts. METI has been quite busy ever since, and has a bunch of
projects going on under its Creative Industries Division.


Then in 2011 it was announced that a new public-private company would be
set up by another government organ, the INCJ, which is the nation's
investment arm looking after its more risky opportunities (mainly
turnarounds of hurting major companies). The INCJ decided to make an
investment of JPY6bn and take a 100% position in All Nippon Entertainment
Works (ANEW), and tasked it with creating ten movies for JPY2bn-JPY3bn
each, in the hope that some of them would become hits overseas.

ANEW then hired Hollywood deal maker Mr. Sanford Climan, to become the CEO,
and quickly named quite a few Japanese content heavyweights, such as Asmik
Ace Entertainment, Dentsu, Fuji Television Network, Mitsubishi, Nikkatsu,
Production I.G., TOHO-TOWA, Tokyo Broadcasting System Television, TOMY, TV
Asahi, and Yomiko Advertising, as "collaborators. They have nice offices in
Kamiyacho and Wiltshire Boulevarde, LA.

So with that much cash and a star-studded team, you'd think ANEW would have
exploded out of the gate, but in fact it took them a whole year to announce
their first collaboration -- a solitary anime title with Toei, which is
probably being made now. Given that Gree and other commercial entities can
produce an entire games/anime series from scratch in the same time, we're
not overly impressed with INCJ's investment. Further, someone needs to tell
them that their website is broken -- listing a 2013 press release that
opens up to show a Feb. 2012 date. Maybe they are just too busy with secret
projects to take care of details...

Anyway, the Cool Japan initiative doesn't end there. Now that METI and INCJ
have got their shows on the road, the Abe administration itself has decided
to jump in as well. And that's where the press announcement about the
JPY50bn fund and a shiny new Cool Japan Promotion Council to go with it,
have come from. Although the government's press release doesn't say it
clearly, we presume that the new Council will be in charge of dispersing
the JPY50bn -- which means that like the folks at ANEW, they'll be housed
in some nice offices in the near future, too.

Heading up the Council will be a conservative LDP politician named Tomomi
Inada. Wikipedia has this to say about Ms. Inada's right wing opinions on
film-making: "Inada questioned why the 2007 film Yasukuni received
government funds, and said that such funds should not be given to films
with a 'political agenda'." Apparently she said this because the
award-winning movie, which received just JPY7.5m from the Japan Arts
Council, was made by a Chinese national and the Japanese right wingers
hated it. Further, Ms. Inada is also quoted by Wikipedia as being, "A
supporter of right-wing filmmaker Satoru Mizushima's 2007 revisionist film
The Truth about Nanjing, which denied that the Nanking Massacre ever

OK, so now we can see where the "Cool Japan Promotion Council" is going
politically... Not surprising, given PM Abe's own public opinions about
Japan's history. However, we do hope that the entire fund doesn't get
hijacked by revisionist documentary makers.

The other members of the council include some well-known content
businesspeople who are actually capable of exporting their works abroad.
Unfortunately they also seem to be quite right wing and none of them comes
from the software or internet sectors, which are where most of Japan's
current content export earnings come from, but we suppose that is par for
the course. Politics is not about commonsense.

If the government decides to apply even just 10% of the Cool Japan budget
to propaganda-free content production, then it will have a major effect on
the local content development industry, which is currently under huge
pressure to survive due to the depressed economy and shrinking cohort of
local consumers (specifically kids and teens). Not only are there hundreds
of struggling manga, anime, and games development companies who would love
to have translation and foreign marketing, but there are also other types
of media producers that the folks at Cool Japan probably don't even know

One such group which is close-to-home deals with our sister company,
ChampionVisions. Japan's 50 or so action sports production houses create
about 100 titles a year on skateboarding, cycling, trekking, and
snowboarding, and are gaining a cult following in SE Asia. By their very
nature, these alternative sports video houses are cool, and as kids abroad
grow up watching and emulating them, they want to come here to enjoy
snowboarding in perfect powder snow for themselves. Surely isn't that the
ultimate cool Japan content pay-off?

Hopefully someone in the new Cool Japan Promotion Council will take note
and place some of that budget where it can best be used.

...The information janitors/


----------------Spinning the Wheel in Fukushima------------

Perhaps you have seen NHK’s historic drama set by a picturesque castle in
Aizu Wakamatsu? It’s a real castle in a part of Fukushima sheltered by
beautiful mountain ranges from the radioactive fall out. In fact, radiation
is slightly higher in Tokyo, so there is no excuse not to enjoy the sakura
blossoms. To coincide with this special time, CLIF Bar is sponsoring a
local invention called the
Fukushima Wheel. LED lights project images as the bike is riden through the

Read more about the concept here: http://fukushimawheel.org and join us
every day during Sakura season at the famous castle in Aizu Wakamatsu!

+++ NEWS

- Japan sells more music to consumers than U.S.
- Peach flies to Sendai
- Takeda suffers from patent expiry
- Goldman says stocks will rise another 20%
- Thermal power consumes record amounts of LNG

=> Japan sells more music to consumers than U.S.

Are Japanese kids and teens more into music than their peers in the USA?
Well certainly it seems that they are more willing to pay for the real
thing, given that sales of physical and digital recorded music in Japan
surpassed that of the USA for the first time. The International Federation
of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) said that sales of CDs and music
downloads hit JPY425bn in Japan for 2012, versus JPY405bn for the US
market. (Source: TT commentary from japantimes.co.jp, Apr 11, 2013)


=> Peach flies to Sendai

The commoditization of domestic air travel in Japan continues, with the
announcement by Peach Aviation that it will be the first LCC to service the
Tohoku region. Peach started flying twice daily between Osaka and Sendai
last Friday. Air fares on the route have now fallen from
JPY10,000-JPY30,000 one way to JPY4,400-JPY18,000. ***Ed: No word on when
flights from Haneda or Narita might happen -- but we believe that demand by
the foreign community in Tokyo will be strong for this route.** (Source: TT
commentary from e.nikkei.com, Apr 12, 2013)


=> Takeda suffers from patent expiry

As if any proof were needed as to why Japanese pharma companies had to go
on the M&A trail over the last couple of years, leading drug maker Takeda
is expected to report a 40% drop in operating profit for FY2012, due to the
expiry of its Actos diabetes drug. Actos is now competing against generics
and while overall sales actually rose 3% due to the Nycomed acquisition in
the USA, profit nonetheless will fall to around JPY160bn. (Source: TT
commentary from e.nikkei.com, Apr 13, 2013)


=> Goldman says stocks will rise another 20%

Apparently Goldman Sachs is very bullish about Japanese stocks for 2013 and
has upgraded its 12-month target for the Nikkei, saying that it expects the
markets to rise at least another 20% thanks to robust corporate earnings
among exporters, arising from the lowered yen. Goldman says that it expects
the Nikkei to hit 16,000 over the next 12 months. (Source: TT commentary
from businessinsider.com, Apr 12, 2013)


=> Thermal power consumes record amounts of LNG

The nation's ten major power companies consumed a record 55.79m mt of LNG
between April 2012-March 2013, due to the fact that only two of the nations
54 nuclear reactors are running. Nuclear normally supplies about 20% of
Japan's electricity and is only running at 3.9% of normal capacity. This
means that the gap is being made up with thermal power plants fee with LNG,
crude, and coal. ***Ed: A report put out by the IEEJ in 2011 estimated that
Japan has to spend an extra JPY3.5trn a year on hydrocarbons to make up for
the loss of nuclear. Expensive, but not crippling.** (Source: TT commentary
from platts.com, Apr 12, 2013)


NOTE: Broken links
Some online news sources remove their articles after just a few days of
posting them, thus breaking our links -- we apologize for the inconvenience.



=> BiOS, a Division of the LINC Media group, is actively marketing the
following positions for customers setting up or expanding in Japan, as well
as other employers of bilinguals.


CEO Wanted for Financial Firm

Our client is a rapidly growing credit card acquisition company based in
Europe/USA, that is looking to expand in Japan. The company is looking for
a foreigner with deep operations or technical experience in the credit card
industry and who speaks fluent Japanese, or a Japanese person with strong
English skills and international work experience.

The job primarily has an operations, people management, and large accounts
management focus, as the company already has a long list of potential
clients in Japan interested in signing with them once they are established.
You will be Employee #1, and over 2-3 years will be expected to build a
team of roughly 50 in Tokyo, so team development and team management
experience is essential.

The position is challenging and fast-paced, but well remunerated. Stock
options offered to outstanding candidates.


- Inside Sales, global IT services company, JPY 2.5M - 3.5M
- Data Center Operator, global financial services company, JPY 3M - 5M
- Application Support Helpdesk Engr, major global apps co., JPY 2.5M - 3.5M
- Staffing Consultant, IT integration services provider, JPY 2.5M - 3M
- Desktop Engineer, IT services provider, JPY 3M - 5M

** BiOS Job Mail

Every 2 weeks BiOS sends out a regular communication to its job seeking
candidates, called BiOS Job Mail. Every edition carries a list of BiOS's
current and most up-to-date vacancies, with each entry featuring a short
job description and a direct link to the main entry on the BiOS home page.
Regardless of whether you are unemployed and searching, thinking about a
career change, or just curious to know if there is something out there that
might suit you better, the BiOS Job Mail newsletter is an easy and
convenient way for you to stay informed. If you would like to register for
the BiOS Job Mail, or to find out more, please email
jason.kisling at biosjp.com.

Interested individuals may e-mail resumes to: jason.kisling at biosjp.com and
check out the BiOS web page for other jobs:



------------------ ICA Event - April 25 -------------------

Speaker: Andrew Silberman, President and Chief Enthusiast of Advanced
Management Training Group
Title: "Professional Networking Made E.A.S.Y."

Details: Complete event details at http://www.icajapan.jp/
Date: Thursday, April 25, 2013
Time: 6:30 Doors open, Buffet Dinner included and cash bar
Cost: 4,000 yen (members), 6,000 yen (non-members) Open to all. No sign ups
at the door!!!!!!!
RSVP: RSVP by 5pm on Friday, April 19th

Venue is The Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan,

---------------- Start a Company in Japan -----------------

Entrepreneur's Handbook Seminar 25th of May, 2013

If you have been considering setting up your own company, find out what it
takes to make it successful. Terrie Lloyd, founder of over 17 start-up
companies in Japan, will be giving an English-language seminar and Q&A on
starting up a company in Japan.

This is an ideal opportunity to find out what is involved, and to ask
specific questions that are not normally answered in business books. All
materials are in English and are Japan-focused.

For more details: http://www.japaninc.com/entrepreneur_handbook_seminar



In this section we run comments and corrections submitted by readers. We
encourage you to spot our mistakes and amplify our points, by email, to
editors at terrie.com.

=> No corrections this week.


=> Matsushima, Miyagi
Beautiful in all seasons for all time

The name Matsushima conjures ancient images -- clusters of rugged,
pine-clad islets in a snowy winter mist or framed in a glittering bay and
magnificent summer sunset. Though the islands are legendary, venerated as
one of the Three Views of Japan in 1643 and immortalised by the poet Basho
in The Narrow Road to the Deep North, they continue to carry great weight
in the Japanese psyche in the modern era.

Today, they serve as possibly the premiere tourist attraction in Miyagi and
though their great fame has seen the bay developed and re-developed, the
rugged outcrops remain much as they have always been.


=> Fukushima-gata, Niigata
A boat ride through time... and pink flowers

The Japanese word “gata” means lagoon or lake, and there are quite a few of
these “lagoons” all over the Niigata (New Lagoon) City area. One of the
most scenic is Fukushima-gata in the former town of Toyosaka, a 20-or-so
minute car ride north of downtown Niigata. The people of ages past once
made a living farming the fertile ground around Fukushima-gata and fishing
from its waters.

The whole area has been turned into an outdoor nature and history park and
museum. A reconstructed (or refurbished) house with sheds for storing
firewood, stick and log fences for drying out brush for the roof or grain
for the table offers a hands-on glimpse into the way of life that once was.
The lush green lawns and water plants, allowed to grow naturally, provide
an ideal habitat for a wide range of local birds and other wildlife. A walk
on one of the park’s many trails is also bound to be very pleasant.




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Written by: Terrie Lloyd (terrie.lloyd at japaninc.com)

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