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High-Tech Trend and Consumer Trend in Japan
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No. 100: New charging apparatus for electric vehicles for 500,000 yen (July 13, 2010)

Toyota Industries Corp. will put its newly-developed charging apparatus for electric vehicles on the market coming October. It incorporates the communication function to allow for uniform management of charging stations in remote areas. Using mobile phone circuits, the company can manage data on power consumption and utilization status of each station in an integrated manner. It will dispatch collected data to each charging station on a regular basis besides keeping it informed about the operation of the apparatus. The apparatus has an external I/O terminal so that it can collaborate with existing instruments like collection machine of parking fees. It will be offered for 500,000 yen. Not only gas stations but also convenience stores seem to be the target market because it allows for integrated management of many units installed in many locations. The infrastructure market for electric vehicles grows highly competitive, and the technology to make the unit smaller and incorporate the communication function seems to be crucial.


No. 99: Operate audio-visual equipment by natural energy (July 12, 2010)

One of Sony's subsidiaries developed the technology to operate audio-visual equipment by natural energy like photovoltaic generation. It is the technology to generate power by sunlight and biomass and store the generated power in the lithium ion battery, and supply power as needed. It allows AV equipment to use direct current with less power loss as compared with using the alternative current. The company tested the technology in a football game in Ghana. The system generated by photovoltaic panels of 500 kW in the daytime and supplied power stored in the battery to the projectors and speakers used to screen the game. The company confirmed that about four hours' charge was enough to screen a game little longer than two hours. This technology seems very promising in developing countries where demand for AV equipment is growing because it can establish a distributed system to satisfy local power demand locally.


No. 98: Simplified ethanol production equipment (July 11, 2010)

Shimane Bioethanol Research Institute, an NPO headquartered in Matsue of Shimane Prefecture, has developed simplified ethanol production equipment in collaboration with Shimane University and a local engineering company. Shimane Prefecture faces the Japan Sea. Besides being easily operable, the equipment makes it possible to produce bioethanol using rice unfit for human consumption and leftover foods. Unlike large-scale equipment, the newly-developed equipment is small and capable of executing five processes that require five tanks in one tank. Because it is small in size, it can be installed in restaurants where leftover foods are available easily. It takes the equipment about 100 hours to process rice and leftover foods to produce ethanol of 40% concentration. The produced ethanol is collected and processed by the distillation and dehydration equipment to produce bioethanol of higher than 99.5% concentration. The bioethanol can be used for cars and disinfectants. This kind of grass-roots effort shows that environment awareness is spreading among ordinary Japanese.


No. 97: Smartphones are supplied to a trucking company (June 10, 2010)

KDDI, one of Japan's three leading mobile phone carriers, will supply smartphones to Yamato Transport Co. that is Japan's leader of the door-to-door delivery service. The company will supply 53,000 units to Yamato's drivers coming October. It plans to expand the market to financial institutions and pharmaceutical companies in the future. This smartphone was developed jointly by KDDI and Toshiba using Microsoft's Windows Mobile. It allows for wireless communications with other devices and information terminals. That is, the driver can trade payment information wirelessly to settle payment and send information on collection and delivery of goods every 15 minutes automatically. The new product also allows for cloud computing from which the driver can get new functions via the Internet. The driver can use the fingerprint authentification function, and he can delete data by remote control should his smartphone be misplaced. The company is developing smartphones suitable for drug management of pharmaceutical companies and sales activities of salespeople of insurance companies. KDDI's strategy will motivate other carriers to develop the industrial market for their smartphones.


No. 96: Large electric storage device for power by photovoltaic generation (July 9, 2010)

Panasonic will introduce a large electric storage device for power by photovoltaic generation for housing self-sufficient for power consumed domestically. The housing will be introduced after 2011 in Japan. Eliy Power in which Daiwa House and Sharp invested will build a new plant to produce this electric storage device. The new product is made up of lithium ion battery, power exchanger, and control software. Panasonic will launch a storage system made up of cylindrical cells installed in the notebook PC in 2011. This storage system is almost the same size as the outdoor unit of an air-conditioner. The system has a storage capacity of 6 kW/hour equivalent to half of power requirements of a standard household. It is scheduled to be available for several hundred thousand yen. Currently, photovoltaic generation spreads to about 400,000 households in Japan. It is necessary to increase the number to 6.6 million households at least to realize the country's objective to reduce global warming gases by 25% compared with the 1995 level by 2020.


No. 95: Dai Nippon Printing enters into the electronic books business (July 8, 2010)

Dai Nippon Printing, Japan's leading printing company, will enter the electronic book business in collaboration with it three subsidiary bookstore chains and open its website specially designed for marketing e-books. The company plans to offer 100,000 e-books for the opening of its website scheduled for late October. It will market e-books through Apple's iPad, mobile phone, and PC in the initial stage. To motivate publishing companies cautious about e-books, it will create data of e-books as subcontractor and instruct planning and marketing of e-books. Dai Nippon will invest 30 billion yen in establishing a new website and creating data of e-books. The three subsidiary bookstore chains have total annual sales of 170 billion yen now. Dai Nippon plans to achieve sales of 50 billion yen in five years from e-books to make the total sales of bookstore chains and e-books to 250 billion yen in five years. Japan's second largest publishing company Toppan Printing has already announced that it will also launch the e-book business. The two big printing companies will give momentum to the e-book business in Japan.


No. 94: Nonferrous metal companies power up efforts on geothermal generation in Japan (July 7, 2010)

Nonferrous metal companies in Japan including Mitsubishi Materials will participate fully in geothermal generation. Mitsubishi Materials will start survey this year to build five geothermal power plants across the country. It will supposedly take the company 10 years to start operating them. Japanese government's heating discussions on the purchase of renewal energy motivate these companies. As a volcano country, Japan has renewable energy sources amounting to about 20 million Kw following Indonesia and the U.S. However, its current output is just about 500,000 kW which is equivalent to the output of one heat power plant. The Japanese government considers increasing the ratio of subsidy for construction cost to one third and asking power companies to purchase geothermal energy on a priority basis. Japan will follow foreign countries in the development of geothermal energy.


No. 93: Marubeni allies with a Spanish company on quick charger (July 6, 2010)

Marubeni, one of Japan's leading general trading companies, has allied with Endesa of Spain to develop the system for the quick charger of SGTE Power of France that it markets as the sales agent. Marubeni and Endesa plan to introduce new products like a quick charger that utilizes night power. New products will be put on the market in one to two years. Besides the quick charger, the two companies will work on the installation of the quick charger, position information service that gives the locations of quick chargers, and charging system to collect charge fee. Marubeni will start marketing SGTE's chargers in Europe by the end of this year with a target of 1,000 units per year, and Endesa plans to install 1,000 quick chargers inside Spain five years later. The moves of these two companies clearly indicate rapid spread of electric vehicles in Europe not to mention in Japan and the U.S.


No. 92: New battery with five times higher charge performance (July 5, 2010)

Tokyo University and Toyota Motors ally to develop a new battery for the next-generation electric vehicle. They will try to develop a new material that has five times as much charge performance as the lithium-ion battery and establish the fundamental technology for the practical application in five years. The three promising batteries they will address for the next generation (1) polyvalent cation battery, (2) whole solid battery, and (3) metal-air battery. The energy density used to show charge performance is about 100 watts per one kilogram at present, and the maximum value will be 250 watts per kilogram under the current technology. The energy density of 500 watts per kilogram is required to allow an electric vehicle to have the same travel distance as a gasoline vehicle. Tokyo University develops the technology, and Toyota Motors evaluates the battery and verifies the safety.


No. 91: Shimizu starts a twitter to discuss the future city (July 4, 2010)

Shimizu Corp., one of Japan's leading general contractors, will start a twitter blog and build an open discussion website to exchange opinions on its advanced construction projects with users. The company wishes to discuss its advanced concepts, such as future city on the floating artificial island and photovoltaic generation on the moon, with users and get ideas for its efforts to develop the technology. The name is "Shimizu Dream on Twitter" and scheduled to be open within July. Shimizu will collect information and opinions from users, and put its responses to them on the twitter. No general contractors in Japan have tried interactive communication using twitter, and other general contractors are expected to follow suit.


No. 90: Utilize used tatami mats for greening slopes (July 3, 2010)

Taisei Corp., one of Japan's leading general contractors, developed the construction method to utilize used Japanese tatami mats for greening slopes in the civil engineering work. The new method is to pave jute bags filled in crushed used tatami mat on the slope to prevent soil from flying in all directions and facilitate the growth of plants. It reduces the cost by about 40% as compared with the traditional method that covers the slope with clay containing plant seeds. It helps to conserve biodiversity because it eliminates the risk of bringing foreign species. Plants are arranged to make them grow to be a natural forest in the future. Nature dissolves jute bags in about five years. As used tatami mats are currently destroyed by fire, the new method created a new approach to utilize used tatami mats. Taisei has already confirmed the effectiveness of this construction method.


No. 89: Toshiba's LEDs go to the Louvre Museum in Paris (July 1, 2010)

Toshiba Corp. announced on 30th that it would supply the Louvre Museum with LEDs free of charge. It will supply a total of 4,500 LED lighting units and pay the installation cost. The Louvre Museum will replace xenon lamps by LEDs. Currently, projectors that illuminate the inside of the building, walls, and roofs use xenon lamps, but they will use LEDs instead. In addition, illuminations for the open space, glass pyramid, and yard will employ LEDs. Renovation of the inside will be completed by the end of 2011, and the yard will be renovated by mid-2012. Total cost of renovation is estimated at several million U.S. dollars. Toshiba started marketing LEDs in France in January this year, and increase the brand awareness by participating in the renovation plan of the worldwide famous the Louvre Museum. LEDs are spreading at an accelerated pace worlwide.


No. 88: Yamaha's new electric motorcycle is coming (June 30, 2010)

Yamaha Motor will reenter the electric motorcycle business. The company developed an electric motorcycle with an engine displacement of 50cc. It will put the newly-developed product on the domestic market coming September and expand the market to Taiwan and Europe in the future. The new electric motorcycle will be less than 300,000 yen in Japan. Yamaha purchases the lithium ion battery from Sanyo Electric. The battery can be charged using the household power source. The new electric motorcycle runs more than 40 km per charge. Projected annual sales are 1,000 units. Yamaha will build this electric motorcycle in the domestic plant for the time being, but it is planning to build it in Taiwan in the future. With the growing awareness of environment, the electric motorcycle business seems to grow hot worldwide.


No. 87: Put your mobile device on a sheet to charge it (June 29, 2010)

Murata Manufacturing has developed a sheet with built-in electrodes. You can charge your mobile device by putting it on this newly-developed sheet. The company will start to mass produce parts for transmitting and receiving electricity this fall. They are for mobile devices in the initial stage. The technology is based on bonding electric fields that is to transmit power utilizing electric fields generated between electrodes. It allows for noncontact transmission of power from the electric source to a device, and makes it possible to charge a device without specialized charger. The transmitting efficiency is 70-80%. The product scheduled for shipment beginning this fall is a part to transmit 3 watts enough for charging a digital camera. The company is trying to increase the power capacity to make this technology effective for PCs.


No. 86: Steelmakers develop the technology to utilize slag (June 28, 2010)

Japanese steelmakers are exerting lots of energy on developing the technology to utilize slag that is a by-product of steel production. Kobe Steel has started demonstration experiments to cultivate seaweeds in home waters using slag. The mineral substance contained in the slag cultivates seaweeds, and increased seaweeds help phytoplankton proliferate. The company will put structures made of slag and concrete on the seabed. They are expected to prevent rocky-shore denudation caused by the decreased supply of nutritional materials coming from rivers, because it is developing due to tree trimming and dam construction. Nippon Steel is developing the technology to make a new cement material made of slag and sludge for land reclamation of the seabed. JEF Steel has developed the technology to prevent the heat island phenomenon in the urban area using water-retentive blocs made of slag.


No. 83: Fuji Photo Film develops high-performance films for photovoltaic cells (June 25, 2010)

Fuji Photo Film has developed several high-performance products, such as protective film excellent in heat resistance and voltage resistance and light-reflecting film that increases generating efficiency, utilizing the technology it cultivated in the photo film business. Fuji's new protective product is used to protect cell from rain and wind and its new light-reflecting film increases degree of reflection by 10-20%. The company plans to start mass production by March 2011 and sales for 2012 is projected at 5 billion yen. It is busily developing new products with the help of its traditional technology to diversify the source of revenue and catch up with Toray, Teijin, and Mitsubishi Plastics. It is also planning to launch film to protect photovoltaic cell from ultraviolet light and moisture vapor. It now enjoys a high market share in films for liquid crystal panels.


No. 82: Profit is 36 yen per mobile phone (June 24, 2010)

The Japanese government conducted a mobile phone recycle campaign between November 2009 and February 2010, and published the campaign results. A total of 569,464 units were collected during the four months. The revenue per unit coming from sales of rare metals was 138 yen. That is, the campaign collected 121.7 yen worth of gold, 5.1 yen worth of silver, 5.5 yen worth of copper, and 5.7 yen worth of palladium per unit. And expenses excluding campaign cost were 102 yen per unit, resulting in profit of 36 yen per unit. In this campaign, consumers brought in their mobile phones to buy a new model, and they were given a gift certificate for the value between 1,000 yen and 50,000 yen by drawing lots. However, it should be noted that the campaign cost including freight cost to transport rare metals to the refinery was 662 yen per unit, far higher than the revenue of 138 yen. As always, it is hard to make the recycling business profitable. The point is how to collect a large number of mobile phones without gift certificates.


No. 79: Experiment to run electric route buses starts in Japan (June 21, 2010)

The Japanese government decided to do demonstrative experiments to replace the existing diesel route buses with electric route buses. In Japan, about 60,000 route buses are running. It is estimated that about 80 tons of carbon dioxide can be reduced if half of the 60,000 route buses are replaced by electric vehicles. The government and Mitsubishi Heavy are jointly developing the electric bus for this project. They want the bus to run about 30 km per charge and the charging time to be 20 minutes. In Tokyo, the experiment to run electric buses loaded with fuel to prepare for battery exhaustion will start coming September. The electric buses use the noncontact charging system buried in the bus station to charge the battery. The route bus does not have to travel as long a distance as a car per charge. In addition, because the travel route is fixed, it is easy to arrange charging facilities for emergency. This idea seems to grow popular among route buses in sightseeing resorts.


No. 78: LPG dealers purchase fuel cells to promote them in Japan (June 20, 2010)

There are about 27,000 LPG dealers in Japan, and they will purchase fuel cells for household use under the initiative of the industry association to promote fuel cells. The association asked each LPG dealer to purchase a fuel cell to become familiar with its advantages and compete successfully with electric power companies that promote electrification of household. Each dealer pays 1.9 million yen to purchase a fuel cell with a subsidiary of 1.3 million yen granted by the association. The association plans to sell 3,000 units for this year, 9,000 units for 2011, and 15,000 for 2012. The fuel cell that the association promotes is called Ene-Farm that generates electricity by making oxygen react with hydrogen extracted from LPG and city gas. Ene-Farm was introduced in 2009, and 5,258 units were sold in 2009. In local areas, an increasing number of households are changing from LPG to fuel cell, and sense of crisis is growing in the LPG industry.


No. 76: New photovoltaic generation system for 480,000 yen per kW makes a debut in Japan (June 18, 2010)

Showa Shell Sekiyu, one of Japan's major oil distributors, will introduce a new photovoltaic system for housing. The new system is 480,000 yen per kW, about 20% lower than the existing price in Japan. The system with generation capacity of 3-4 kW is popular, and the company uses photovoltaic cell with generation capacity of 2.4 kW and sells about 1,150,000 yen including installation fee. The company picked the compound type that uses copper as material instead of crystal silicon type. The former has lower generating efficiency than the latter, but the former is better than the latter costwise. With the introduction of the new system, the company will lengthen the guarantee period from 10 years to 20 years. The current market price of photovoltaic generation is about 600,000 per kW, but price competition has been growing harder because of the entries of foreign manufacturers. In addition, because the price of silicon declined drastically from 400 dollars to 50 dollars per kilogram, the photovoltaic market is growing hotter in Japan.


No. 75: Plant factory as small as a refrigerator for restaurants (July 17, 2010)

Marubeni, one of Japan's leading general trading companies, has successfully commercialized a mini plant factory about the size of a household refrigerator for restaurants. It uses a natural material called Verdenite instead of soil. Verdenite was developed by a venture company, and Marubeni added microorganisms to increase the cultivation capability. The new material is one tenth of weight of soil, but it has 10 times more water retaining capacity than soil and 50 times more fertilizer retaining capacity than soil. Because a water piping system is not required, the company succeeded in downsizing the factory plant. The mini plant factory can control the soil condition, temperature, brightness optimally. Restaurants can pick up plants from the plant factory and cook them to make salad for gourmets. You can cultivate up to 60 lettuces or 160 radishes. It is available for rent for 34,000 yen per month, or you can buy one for 1,200,000 yen. It is 120 cm wide, 95 cm deep, and 195 cm high.


No. 72: JTB allies with FamilyMart to promote the tourist business in Asia (June 14, 2010)

JTB, Japan's leading travel agency, and FamilyMart, one of Japan's leading convenience store chains, decided to promote the tourist business in Asia. FamilyMart has about 7,700 outlets in Japan about 8,300 outlets in foreign countries including Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam. The alliance will cover both tourists from Asia countries to Japan and those from Japan to Asia countries. FamilyMart will introduce JTB's travel products to shoppers, and JTB will supply tourists to Japan with discount coupons they can use at FamilyMart outlets in Japan. The two companies will work together to develop travel products. In the initial stage, JTB will supply discount coupons usable in FamilyMart's outlets in Korea and Taiwan. FamilyMart will distribute the brochures of JTB's travel products in its outlets and use the package that carries the bar code connectable to JTB's website. As FamilyMart has a total of 10 million shoppers daily worldwide, the alliance is expected to greatly stimulate the tourist business. This new kind of alliance seems to work well.


No. 71: New way to cope with the price competition (June 13, 2010)

A leading supermarket chain in Japan will start to sell somewhat hard-to-sell products, such as close-to-data products and products packed in the previous package, at a discount on a regular basis in alliance with makers. The company will purchase these products for a few days toward the end of each month and sell them at 30-50% discount at the special corner. Each product is sold with an explanation about the discount. A total of 30-50 products including drinks, snacks, and seasonings will be subject to this new service, and clothes and daily necessities will join the line shortly. It is a usual practice for discount stores to sell somewhat hard-to-sell products with a discount, but no leading supermarket chain has adopted this marketing strategy so far in Japan. Other leading supermarket chains will supposedly follow. This trend will rejoice makers floundering around inventory control and consumers shopping around for products same in quality and lower in price.


No. 70: Tap the tree to know how healthy it is. (June 12, 2010)

A research center in Shimane Prefecture of Japan developed a simplified apparatus to know the decay of the inside of a street tree in collaboration with a local construction consulting firm. To know the decay, you only need a hammer and a personal digital assistance with built-in software that analyzes the sound. You input the kind of the tree and the diameter of its trunk, and tap the tree five times. The frequency of the sound will appear graphically on the display, and the result is displayed in three colors of red, yellow, and green. The red color indicates that the tree has the possibility of falling in a gale. The developer said that sound frequency almost depends on the kind of a tree and the diameter of its trunk, and a strange wave pattern appears if the tree has a hollow. The apparatus currently can examine the health of 12 kinds of trees including Japanese cypress and ginkgo tree, and the research center is increasing the number of kinds of trees at present.


No. 68: Drink container is growing lighter in Japan. (June 10, 2010)

Leading drink producers in Japan are making the containers of their drinks lighter. The leading Japanese tea drink producer has reduced the weight of its container by 30%. The company currently uses a 500 ml PET bottle that uses 26-28 grams resin, and will reduce the amount to 19 grams. In addition, it will reduce the thickness of the label on a PET bottle by about 60% to 20 micros. The new PET bottle will start to be used for shipments after mid-June. The company will reduce the amount of resin consumed by 4,000 tons per year. While reducing the weight of the container, it is reviewing the production system to save production cost by 800 million yen per year. Another drink producer reduced the weight of its 2,000 ml PET bottle to 36 grams by reducing the amount of resin by 10%. The company plans to reduce the amount of resin by 2,400 tons and carbon dioxide emissions by 7,000 tons per annum. The collaboration between drink producer and container manufacturer will grow more important in the drink industry.


No. 67: Small-size trash compactor for office use (June 9, 2010)

A small-size trash compactor will be introduced soon in Japan. This product is 53 cm deep, 52 cm wide, and 138 cm high. The maker successfully built this small product by reducing the number of parts, and this compactor is available at less than half the price of the existing trash compactors. Because it is smaller in size and lower in price than the existing products, it is well suitable for office use. This product employs the system that compresses trash by rotating the chain instead of the system that compresses trash by piston. It will be available for 398,000 yen. Trash will be compressed from one third to one fifth in volume. As environment concern increases presence in consumer behavior, demand for trash compactor is growing in supermarkets and offices. This kind of environment-related product that is characterized by low price and small size to be installed inside the office will supposedly grow popular.


No. 66: Sharp plans to expand the digital signage business. (June 8, 2010)

The digital signage business is growing quite rapidly in Japan. Sharp announce the plan to increase the digital signage business using its LCD displays to 100 billion yen in three years. The company will introduce a new LCD display with world's smallest 6.5 millimeter connections. Providing the service to create contents, it will develop the market in commercial facilities and railway stations. The new product is the digital signage system made up of 60-inch LCD displays. Because each connection has decreased from 40 millimeters to just 6.5 millimeters, the boundary lines do not create any uncomfortable feeling. It is possible to combine as many panels as possible. A display made up of 30 sheets (about 4 m x 8 m) is 500 million yen including installation fee. Although it is possible to technically built one 100-inch panel, a big panel made up of several small panels provides effective screen image, the company said.


No. 65: Digital signage is spreading in Japan. (June 7, 2010)

NTT will launch a new service using digital signage on June 9. Users can store video pictures and put one of them on the digital signage on an hourly basis, or they can modify the picture as they want using a mobile phone. This service is to display information on sales promotion in supermarkets and banks using Internet-linked LCD TVs. Because users can change the video picture on the digital signage freely, they can use the digital signage to display information on campaign during business hours and information for employees after business hours. Because NTT introduced the system to provide service through the network, users do not need 3 million yen necessary to install their own servers. This service is part of NTT's marketing efforts to increase the subscribers of its optical communication lines. The initial cost is about 300,000 yen and the monthly usage fee is about 10,000 yen. The signage business is expected grow very rapidly in Japan.


No. 63: Simultaneous product launch of Japanese cosmetics in Asia (June 5, 2010)

Japanese cosmetic companies are trying to launch their products in Japan and in other Asian countries simultaneously. They usually introduce new cosmetics in other Asian countries half a year or a year after they introduce them in Japan. This is because taste for cosmetics varies with climate of each country and skin conditions of consumers and because pharmaceutical regulations of each country force cosmetic companies to modify the ingredients. To implement the strategy of simultaneous launch, Japanese cosmetic companies standardize their products so that they can easily clear regulations of each country. Along with product development, they strengthen their market survey activities to know the trends in Asia. L'oreal of France and P&G of the U.S. are very popular in Asia because they offer lots of assortments in the mid- and low-priced range. Japanese cosmetic companies need to develop the Asian market. It is now vital for Japanese companies to regard the Asian market as one market and launch new products in each country without time lag. Victory goes to one who makes the first move.


No. 61: Distributing livelihood information to the residents of an apartment complex (June 3, 2010)


A developer of apartment complexes in the Tokyo metropolitan area will start an experiment of a new service to distribute information on what is going on inside an apartment complex to the residents in collaboration with NTT East. The company will lend a special terminal to 150 households capable of using wireless LAN for free. The livelihood information will be distributed via the wireless LAN, and the subscribers can get information and make a reservation of a total of 36 establishments including supermarkets, restaurants, and theaters inside the apartment complex by touch panel operation. The developer selected Google's Android for the operating system. The experiment is scheduled up to September 30, 2010. The search service on a nationwide basis is not unusual, but this service seems to be the first on a basis of a very limited area. Seeing that most consumers need information near at hand instead of information far away, this community-based information service seems rather promising.


No. 59: Nissan's new system to rate eco-friendly driving (June 1, 2010)


Nissan announced that it developed the new system to rate the eco-friendly driving and display the rating on the screen of the car navigation system. The new system evaluates driving and fuel consumption from the moment when the driver starts the engine to the moment when he stops his car and turns off the engine. What differentiates this system from other systems on the market is that the former can evaluate the driving technique including acceleration and braking and that the former allows the user to compare his driving with that of others via the Internet. That is, the driver can know the eco-friendliness of his driving by comparing it with others' driving on the Internet. Nissan is actively developing technology for eco-friendly driving including the system to control engine revolution to prevent the driver from pressing the accelerator too much. Actually, the car navigation system is no longer the system to know where you should make a turn.


No. 58: Delivery vehicles using biofuel spread in Japan. (May 31, 2010)

Consumers' cooperative societies across the country will increase the number of delivery vehicles that use bio diesel fuel for better utilization of huge amount of waste oil coming from the cooking places of prepared foods. Co-op Net, Japan's largest consumers cooperative society, with 3,700,000 members have about 4,000 vehicles, one fourth of which will be replaced by vehicles using bio diesel fuel, and it will double the number of gas stations to 17. The total investment will be 450 million yen. Another consumer cooperative society will introduce another 60 vehicles using bio diesel fuel, and collect waste oil from households to produce bio diesel fuel. A designated oil company will refine waste oil, and the biofuel diesel fuel will be available for 80 yen per liter. Made of used vegetable oil like frying oil, bio diesel fuel can be used for diesel vehicles.


No. 57:
Recycling food scraps from supermarkets (May 30, 2010)

Seven and I Holdings will launch the recycling-oriented farming nationwide in Japan. Food scraps collected from its affiliated supermarkets will be composted and sold to its affiliated farmers. The company will establish its wholly-owned subsidiary, Seven Farm, to operate the farm business coming July. Seven Farm will set up a network that connects farmlands, and the subcontractor fertilizer plants, and supermarkets. The affiliated farms will grow about 20 kinds of vegetables including cabbage. The farm products produced by the affiliated farmers will be marketed under the brand of Seven Farm through the outlets of the holding company nationwide. The holding company will build a recycling network in 10 areas across the country to increase the recycling rate of food scraps from the current 30% to 45% that is the target rate specified by the Food Recycling Law in three years. The move to set up a recycling network will intensify in Japan with the growing concern about environment issues.


No. 56:
Are you interested in a washable necktie? (May 29, 2010)

Washable suits made a debut two years ago. Japan's leading men's clothing companies are busily introducing men's fashion products that can be washed at home. A company introduced a necktie that can be washed by washer at home. This pure silk necktie is priced at 5,040 yen, and special processing prevents it from losing share after being washed by washer. A company introduced a pair of shoes that you can clean with water. Available for about 15,000 yen, it retains the color even if it gets wet with water. Another company launched a washable women's suit with the heat insulation function. Textile threads with hollow in which air is stored are used to sew this suit, and the air inside the hollow keeps the wearer feel warm. Sales of suits are still sluggish, but washable suits show strong results. You can find various aspects with which you can increase the competitive edge of you products.


No. 55:
What does Dolce & Gabbana's decision mean? (May 28, 2010)

The Dolce & Gabbana, an Italian apparel company marketing luxury brands, decided to discontinue its D&G line designed for young people and close 18 outlets nationwide next January, and concentrate its management and marketing resources on its Dolce & Gabbana brand in Japan. The D&G brand T-shirts are in the price range between 10,000 and 20,000 yen. Although sales of the T-shirts are growing, staff costs are also growing burdensome because they are moderately profitable. Dolce & Gabbana suits are in the price range between 200,000 and 300,000 yen and rather profitable because they are intended for the wealthy class. Companies sometimes tend to offer expensive products and affordably-priced products simultaneously with the hope that the former affects the latter favorably and that the former makes up the possible loss created by the latter. But, this strategy rarely works well. What is important is to note that profit is the cost to keep a company going.


No. 53: A Japanese antenna shop goes to Hong Kong. (May 26, 2010)


Hokkaido, the northernmost island of Japan, will open an antenna shop in Hong Kong in alliance with seven prefectures in the Tohoku district coming fall to increase the recognition of Hokkaido and the Tohoku district. With the cooperation of JTB that is Japan's leading travel agency, they will jointly set up an antenna shop to sell specialty products and dispatch information on sightseeing. This is the first trial that Japan's plural prefectures jointly open an antenna shop in a foreign country. The eight prefectures will sell processed foods and traditional artifacts. They want to impress the wealthy class in Hong Kong planning to visit Japan with staples. While an increasing number of rich Hong Kongers come to Japan, an increasing number of rich Chinese visit Hong Kong. That is, opening an antenna shop is a good means of advertising to market Japanese staples to Hong Kong and China. This strategy seems to work very well.


No. 52: Japanese regional brands go abroad. (May 25, 2010)


A jewelry company in a local city in Japan exhibited its necklaces and finger rings in the Basel World held in Basel last March and got orders for 30 million yen. The president believes that customers evaluated them highly because his products are purely made of jewelry corals available locally. Located in Shikoku, the smallest island of Japan's four main islands, his company is very active in developing the foreign market. It set up a sales outlet in China last April, and it is planning to develop the market in the U.S. and the Middle East. A wine produced by a Japanese brewery in Yamanashi Prefecture was evaluated highly in the international wine contest. And the owner of a French famous winery is very much fascinated by the grapes from which this wine was made. A project team was formed by 15 wineries in this prefecture to sell the regional brand wines to Europe. The world is changing fast, and it seems that the days when consumers worldwide warmly accept regional brands from every corner of the world.


No. 47:
A new means of advertising (May 20, 2010)

Dai Nippon Printing, one of Japan's leading printing companies, will start new business that uses the packages of private brand products as a means of advertising. In the initial stage, the company will produce the package for private brand milk on which advice on how to make it more delicious by mixing a national brand lactic acid bacteria beverage, and it will get advertising rate from the national brand maker. In the new business, Dai Nippon will design packaging of private brand products and print the advertising of other companies on it. It has already 20 companies that plan to use its new service. It will intensify the marketing activities to make this service more popular. The producers of private brand products can reduce the price of their products with the help of the advertising rates they receive from the national brand producers. The Dai Nippon's case shows that a business opportunity exists near at hand. Stick with your technology and segmentalize the market.


No. 44:
Procurement across borders by Seven-Eleven (May 17, 2010)

Seven-Eleven, Japan's leading convenience store chain, proclaimed the policy to raise the buying power through collaborations with suppliers across borders. The background of Seven-Eleven's move is the procurement network of Wal-Mart of the U.S. Wal-Mart's Japanese subsidiary Seiyu markets a 500 ml mineral water bottle for 48 yen and a 200 g instant coffee bottle for 397 yen. To cope with these low prices, Seven-Eleven sets off a U.S.-Japan team to search commodities, build procurement networks, and construct a system for mass transport. For example, coffee beans the team buys in South America will be shipped to Seven-Eleven's outlets in the U.S. and Japan. The coffee beans will be processed into canned coffee to be sold at 13,000 outlets in Japan and self-service coffee in 6,000 outlets in the U.S. The company is consolidating subcontractors to process juices and chickens using the same materials worldwide.


No. 42: Three keywords that allowed for record-high current profits (May 15, 2010)


Even in the current stagnant economy, more than 10% of 1,172 listed companies achieved record-high current profits in the fiscal ended March 2010 in Japan. A game developer specializing in games on the mobile phone grew dramatically, Softbank increased revenues from communications by stimulating demand for data communication, and a leading pharmaceutical company Shionogi hit the market created by the graying society. The keyword is focusing on the growing market. Some manufacturers improved results through cost reduction. A manufacturer achieved a 31% increase in current profits through decreasing items and improving production efficiency. The keyword is hardworking efforts. Japan's largest home electronics retailer chain recorded current profits of more than 100 billion yen for the first time thanks to the special procurement boom created by the government's economic stimulation policy. The keyword is having the wind at your back.


No. 39: Economies of scale vs. return on asset (May 12, 2010)

Zensho is estimated to surpass McDonald's in sales to become the market leader in the Japanese restaurant business. Zensho, which operates beef bowl restaurants and family restaurants, is expected to achieve sales of more than 360 billion yen and surpass McDonald's. Zensho is active in building new restaurants and expected to have 4,200 restaurants by the end of March 2011 for the first time as a restaurant chain in Japan, while McDonald's closes unprofitable restaurants to increase the asset-utilization ratio and is expected to improve return on asset to 14%. Zensho focuses on building directly-managed restaurants, while McDonald's increase the franchise ratio to 70% to get stable profits from royalty to invest in product development. The two companies show clear distinction in strategy. One pursues economies of scales, the other increase return on assets. It is necessary to keep watching them to see which strategy is better.


No. 38: Coloring a dress using the color in a famous painting (May 11, 2010)

Onward Kashiyama, one of Japan's leading Japanese apparel makers, will launch dresses and suits dyed in colors that are the faithful reproduction of the colors used in famous paintings of the impressionist school. The company plans to market these clothes at consumers dissatisfied with traditional colors through 13 department stores nationwide. It selected famous paintings and extracted 2-14 characteristic colors using special technology. Shortly, blouses and polo shirts in colors that come from such famous paintings as Sunflowers by Van Gogh and Le moulin de la Galette by Pierre-Auguste Renoir will be put on the market. A French design company helps Onward with the technology to reproduce colors in paintings and photos that the traditional color samples cannot offer. Onward plans to develop clothes dyed in colors seen in famous landscapes of the world.


No. 36: Think while you are running (May 9, 2010)

In the global market, as Japanese companies are dwindling their presence, Korean companies are increasing their presence quite rapidly. The greatest difference between the Japanese company and the Korean company seems to be the speed in making a decision. As every one of the world watches, the Japanese government is still taking a weaving course. Chairman of Korea's POSCO steel proclaims that speed is the core of his management, and he further mentions that his company will be beaten by another companies should he wait for a decision reached inside his company. Chewing over a problem may be a good attitude should there be an answer beneficial to every one concerned from all aspects. You can hardly find such a situation in the real world. The world changes very fast, and what is important is to think while running. Otherwise, you may only find your answer totally unworkable when you publish it after thoughtful discussions.


No. 35: Tower city on the ocean (May 8, 2010)

Shimizu Corp., one of Japan's leading general contractors, will develop the technology to construct a tower city about 1,000 meters high on the ocean in collaboration with Nomura Securities and 14 universities nationwide. They will develop the technology to float the artificial ground on the ocean surface near the equator, generate electricity using the temperature difference of seawater, and culture food fish. They are scheduled to construct a tower city with 10,000-50,000 residents by 2025. This project is to activate research activities for the next-generation technology to develop competitive venture companies and researchers on the global market. The basic concept that was developed by Shimizu is called the Environment Island - Green Float. It envisages the technology to produce structural materials for buildings by extracting magnesium contained in seawater and cultivate farm products for food self-sufficiency.


No. 34: Electrode material capable of doubling the output of a lithium iron cell (May 7, 2010)

Nippon Chemi-Con and Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology jointly developed an electrode material capable of doubling the output of a lithium cell. They improved the characteristics of the positive-electrode material made mostly from iron and opened up the possibility to double the output of a lithium ion cell. Using the nano hybrid technology developed by the university, they micro fabricated the material of lithium phosphate to increase the output. Because the new material is made mostly from iron, it can materialize cost competitiveness and sable supply. It has output density of 10,000 watts per kilogram that is two times higher of the standard lithium ion battery, and its energy density is 100 watts per kilogram that is the same or higher than that of the standard lithium ion battery. Increased output density means better acceleration, while increased energy density indicates longer travel distance.


No. 32: Production increase of synthetic resins mixed with waste paper is planned. (May 5, 2010)

Eco Research Institute in Tokyo that specializes in materials made of waste paper plans to increase the production capacity of synthetic resins mixed with waste paper in powder form. It will increase the annual production capacity 2.5 times to 3,000 tons with an investment of \500 million. Applied to toys and automobile parts, resins mixed with waste paper enjoy increasing demand. The new plant to be built on space of about 5,000 squire meters is scheduled to start the operation within the year. The synthetic resin developed by this company emits less CO2 and does not generate any harmful substances in the production and disposal processes. As it has the same strength as plastic, an increasing number of companies employ it these days. With the intensified mass production system, the company plans to expand the sales channels to plastics molding companies and materials wholesalers.


No. 31: Mitsubishi Heavy markets the power train of its hybrid folklift. (May 4, 2010)

Mitsubishi Heavy will reorganize its folklift division to establish a 100-person division that integrates sales and development to market the power train system of its hybrid folklift. The company wishes to develop the market among construction machinery manufacturers in North America and Europe where environment regulations grow stricter. Mitsubishi's hybrid folklift developed last October is powered by engine, and it is the world's first hybrid folklift of this kind. Combining self-developed lithium-ion cells with a small diesel engine, it consumes 39% less fuel than the existing engine type folklift. Domestic customers are reluctant to adopt Mitsubishi's hybrid folklifts because of the sluggish domestic economy. The company seeks the possibility to mount the power train system in hydraulic shovels and stimulate the replacement market abroad. The competition with the market leader Toyota Industries is expected to intensify.


No. 28: Japanese toys and characters go abroad. (May 1, 2010)

The Japanese toy market decreased 9.0 % from 2004 to about \660 billion in 2008, and it will supposedly continue to decrease. Leading Japanese toy companies are going abroad in search of new business opportunities with their characters. Takara Tomy focuses on China, while Bandai Namco expands to the U.S. The former has been televising animation films it produced jointly with a Chinese national company and marketing dolls and products that feature the films. The latter is working with broadcast stations in the U.S. to market products related to the animation films locally, and it plans to raise the ratio of overseas sales from the current 25% to 50% in 2018. Sanrio changed the strategy from marketing their products through their own outlets in foreign countries to concluding licensing agreements with local companies, and achieve a success. Foreign markets are growing more and more important for every company in the toy industry.


No. 27: Thermal metal treatment companies are shifting the focus. (April 30, 2010)

Companies specializing in thermal metal treatment are busily occupied with cultivating markets other than the auto industry; because e-cars need considerably less thermally treated metal parts than conventional cars. They are shifting the focus to parts used for aircraft and railway rolling stocks. A company developed equipment to heat-treat aluminum using high-frequency waves in collaboration with a university. While the traditional approach that processes aluminum using an electric furnace needs 90 minutes to process aluminum, the new equipment can do the same job in several tens of seconds. In addition, aluminum treated by the new equipment has 30% higher strength than the existing aluminum. The company is trying to cultivate the aircraft and railway markets with this new technology. As this case shows, developing technology is always the key to diversifying customers.


No. 26: Growing nuclear power generation market (April 29, 2010)

The nuclear power generation market attracts worldwide attention. International Atomic Energy Agency estimates that the generation capacity of nuclear power plants will double to 807 gigawatts at a maximum or increase about 40% to 511 gigawatts at least in 2030. In the former scenario, East Asia is estimated to have the biggest capacity of 259 gigawatts, followed by North America with 168 gigawatts, West Europe with 158 gigawatts, East Europe with 121 gigawatts, and others with 101 gigawatts. Until recently, the nuclear reactors market sees the fierce competition among Toshiba that acquired Westinghouse, Hitachi that integrated business with General Electric, and Mitsubishi Heavy, and Areva of France. Today, however, manufacturers from Korea and Russia are increasing presence in the market. As is often the case, the ability to increase cost competitiveness is growing indispensable.


No. 24: Photovoltaic generation panels on an arena rooftop (April 27, 2010)

Saitama Super Arena that is a multiuse facility in Saitama Prefecture near Tokyo got 3,160 photovoltaic generation panels installed. The panels have the maximum generation capacity of 350 kW and generate 320,000 KWH per year that is equivalent to the power demand of 700,000 households. They can reduce 178 tons of carbon dioxide that is equivalent to the amount absorbed by the beech forest about eight times as big as the area of the arena. Of the 3,160 panels, 75% of the total panels or 2,370 panels are lighter than the traditional panels because they are made of amorphous thin film. The municipality official said, "Saitama is blessed with the largest number of clear days in Japan. We wish to spread photovoltaic generation among as many households as possible. A fierce competition between wind generation and photovoltaic generation is going on in Japan, but photovoltaic generation apparently has been increasing visibility recently.


No. 23: Complete aquafarming of tuna (April 26, 2010)

Responding to the Washington Convention that discussed trade embargo of tuna, complete aquafarming technology of tuna is attracting public attention. Kinki University of Japan succeeded in complete aquafarming of blue-fin tuna in 2002 for the first time in the world after 32 years' strenuous efforts. As only a small ratio of freshly hatched fries can survive after one month in the current technology, increasing the ratio is a critical issue. Tuna produced by Kinki University are already on the market, but only a small number of department stores are handling them. They are sold almost at the same or a little higher price than the cultured tuna. Leading marine food companies are working on complete aquafarming of tuna. Maruha Nichiro Holdings will ship its first tuna produced by its complete aquafarming technology in 2013. A feeding stuff company succeeded in artificial hatching and will ship fries this fall at the earliest.


No. 20: Shrinking book and magazine market in Japan (April 23, 2010)

Sales of books and magazines decreased 4.1% from the previous year to \1,935.6 billion in 2009, going down below \2 billion for the first time in the latest 21 years in Japan. The average price of a book declined 2.1 on a year-on-year basis to \1,146, but that of a magazine rose 3.3% to \495 that is the biggest increase rate for the past 10 years. The increased average price of a magazine can be attributed to supplements offered in collaboration with fashion brands. Because of the depressed economic situation, magazines decreased sales by 6.9% in volume, but the decrease rate was 3.9% in value. This year is dubbed the first year of e-books, but it is unrealistic to presume that e-books will destroy the existing the book and magazine market. As always, consumer behavior does not change all of sudden, but we have to keep watching the trend.


No. 19: Recruit a president from the world. (April 22, 2010)

A former executive vice president of DuPont was elected president of Nippon Steel Glass. The keyword behind this move is "6 billion vs. 60 million." Leading companies in the western world recruit their company presidents from every corner of the world, whereas Japanese companies elect presidents within the company, and in most cases, new presidents are males. That is, there are 6 billion candidates for a new president of a western company, whereas there are only 60 million for a new president of a Japanese company. Like it or not, every company is at the mercy of globalization. The great Soichiro Honda, founder of Honda Motor, never allowed his son to succeed him. Instead he declared, "Look for my successor within the company. If you cannot find a suitable person within the company, look for every corner of Japan. If you cannot find a suitable person in Japan, look for every corner of the world." This alone is enough to show how great he is.


No. 18: A new car navigation system gives a 360-degree view. (April@21, 2010)

A new car navigation system has been released in Japan. Called multi-angle, it gives the driver a 360-degree view on the in-car monitor screen as if he sees the 360-degree scenery around his ca from above. While existing systems give the image shown just from right above, this newly-developed system gives a 360-degree view for the first time as a navigation system. It synthesizes the data collected from the four small cameras installed on the four corners of a car as images for better security verification and easier parallel parking, besides making it easy to shed a car. This new product will be available for the navigation system incorporated in three types of Toyota cars as an additional function. It will be of great help to the aged, women, and novice drivers. This kind of product can be attributed to one of Japan's destinies. There are too many cars in a narrow country.

No. 15: Parking lot roofed with photovoltaic panels (April 18, 2010)


You can find a parking lot roofed with photovoltaic panels in the government office of Toyoda city where Toyota Motors is headquartered. Each space is roofed with a photovoltaic panel, and each panel generates power enough to charge a plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHV) twice a day under the average daily isolation. Because a PHV runs about 23 km per charge, photovoltaic energy is enough for a short travel. A storage battery is installed besides the charging equipment in each parking space to store the surplus power that is sold to an electric power company. In a city of Niigata Prefecture, electric vehicles carrying a quick charger stand ready to help an electric vehicle that is about to run out of power. One of them immediately rush to the electric car for charging. City officials are making strenuous efforts to accumulate data to know the best locations for building charging stations. Various approaches are going on across the country in Japan.

No. 14: Japanese daily commodities go to South America (April 17, 2010)

Japanese daily commodities makers will branch out to the Middle East and South America. A toy maker will set up a sales company in Mexico City, and a cosmetics company will increase sales outlets in Morocco. A nursery items company will start to sell its products in South America. Unicharm, the leading maker of disposable diapers, will build a manufacturing plant in Egypt with a view to marketing inexpensive products to Africa and the Middle East. A leading writing materials company will build another plant in Brazil. Japanese daily commodities are readily accepted by people worldwide thanks to high quality and user-friendliness. The point is how much seriously Japanese makers get involved in the local market. You can find money where economy grows fast. Asia is not the only promising market. Look for promising markets for your products. The sooner, the better.


No. 12: Return to the original business (April 15, 2010)


Yoshinoya, Japan's leading beef bowl restaurant chain, recorded a consolidated deficit of about \9 billion yen last fiscal year mainly because of the decreasing operating profit of its original business. This restaurant chain became a holding company in 2007 and branched out actively into other types of restaurant chains. As is often the case, the original business grew stagnant in face of fierce competition from rival beef bowl restaurants that concentrate all their management resources only on reducing the prices to make their customer even happier. Yoshinoya reportedly said, "We were not able to cope with the price-reduction trend." Many companies enter into other business field to increase sales over a short time, but in vain. Do not make little of the original business. Competitors keep watching you to know when you open yourself up in the original business. Profit is not profit, and it is cost to make a company going.


No. 9: Two standards for automobile biofuel (April 12, 2010)

Two standards for automobile biofuel exist in Japan, and no one can tell which will win ultimately. As always, a dispute between private companies and the government remains to be settled. Oil distributors wish to spread gasoline that contains 1% ethyl tert-butyl ether (ETBE) under the uniform brand name of biogasoline. This standard allows oil distributors to use the existing distribution facilities without much additional investment, but the blend ratio of ethanol cannot be increased easily. The standard promoted by the Environment Agency is to blend ethanol directly with gasoline. This standard makes it easily to increase the blend ratio of ethanol, but a new investment is required for storage facilities. Both have good and bad points, and two standards seem to prevail until consumes make the final selection..


No. 7: Leftover food is the source of analysis (April 10, 2010)

A Japanese food restaurant chain analyzes leftover food and characteristics of customers to reduce expenditures and improve customer satisfaction in collaboration with a government-affiliated research agency. The two organizations jointly analyze the characteristics of each customer by measuring his leftover food, objective of visit, age, gender, etc. Based on the analysis results, the restaurant chain is developing better and more acceptable menus of a complete set of dishes to prevent customer satisfaction from decreasing because of overs and shorts of food and reducing expenditures including material costs. At the same time, it plans to improve the layout of the kitchen to improve productivity and service to customers. As always, IT is indispensable here.


No. 6: Do you remember Tinian? (April 9, 2010)

Japanese Diet members will reportedly visit Tinian to see the possibility of settling the stalemate in the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty. Do you remember Tinian? It is an island in the Pacific Ocean, and it was the island from which Enola Gay B-29 bomber flew over Hiroshima to drop an A-bomb onto Hiroshima. Americans came from Tinian to Japan in World War II, and Japanese go from Tokyo to Tinian today to settle the dispute over the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty. If it is decided that Tinian is used as a base, American fighters will fly to Japan not to damage but to save Japan in times of emergency. This is an irony of history for old-timers who automatically associate Tinian with Hiroshima. In any case, Tinian seems too far from Japan to save it in these days of highly advanced technology.

No. 5: Has the Japanese mindset changed? (April 8, 2010)


Japanese companies take pride in the ability to produce high quality products, but overemphasis on quality may not be as beneficial as they believe. Think about mobile phones. They are too high in quality and too versatile in performance, but consumers of other countries are not in need of such fantastic products. In the Second World War, Japanese Imperial Army firmly believed that their very complicated secret codes would never be decoded. Ironically, they had already been decoded before the war began. How can an army win a battle should its secret codes be decoded beforehand? Building very complicated codes and pursuing terrific mobile phones seem to have something in common.


No. 4: Measuring the quality of a sleep. (April 7, 2010)


Are you interested to know the quality of your sleep? If you are, a newly-developed Japanese product can satisfy your wishes. As a society matures, health grows most important for everyone. The efforts to search ways for better health management create an opportunity to develop new products, and a new mindset is indispensable to develop a new product. This product is a typical product in this sense. Tanita Corp. in Tokyo has developed a device that monitors and measures a sleep. It detects and records pulses using a sensor, analyzes the data using specially-developed software, and evaluates the quality of a sleep digitally. It is a mat that incorporates a measurement unit and a sensor. The user can measure the quality of his sleep only by placing it under the bedclothes. It will be put on the market coming May for about \40,000 a unit.


No. 3: Current economic situation (April 6, 2010)

Draft beer prices at two Japan's leading pub chains will go down reflecting stagnant business of the food-service industry. They will reduce prices of draft beers by 5-10% and also reduce the prices of cuisines to stimulate business. The background of this move is the dwindling sales of pub chains and the shrinking domestic beer market. Japan's leading department store Takashimaya suffered a 46% decline in operating profit in the year ended February 2010 from the previous year because of the drastic sales decrease of big-ticket items. Contrary to this gloomy news items, Internet securities firms see volume of share trades growing, and a sushi chain recorded a 20% rise in profit thanks to its strategy to serve inexpensive items. Economy seems to be improving steadily, but consumers remain very cautious about spending in Japan.

No. 2: National security (April 4, 2010)

Nothing is more important than national security, though it is invisible like air. The potential enemy to a country is all other countries on earth. The current Japanese government does not seem to understand this fact. The Diet members are busily occupied with domestic affairs, and they are totally absorbed in building a strategy to win the coming Upper House election. Every product needs constant innovation, and it will be wiped out from the market when it cannot compete in the market. Likewise, any system needs constant modification because the situations and conditions that make it viable change suddenly and abruptly. The current Japanese government seems to be deteriorating the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty rather than ameliorating it. Is this the right direction?

No. 85: Food companies expand health food business in Japan (June 27, 2010)

Japanese leading food companies are expanding the health food business. Suffering from stagnant sales of existing products due to fierce price competition, they are trying to increase sales of heath foods to make the health food business as another profit source. Nippon Suisan will strengthen sales activities of health foods in Korea and Europe. Especially, the company will focus on functional materials, such as eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid that stimulate blood fluidity and glucosamine that mitigates arthritic pain. Asahi Breweries will expand sales of supplements like amino acid and vitamins to increase sales of health foods 8% to about 48 billion yen. Kirin Holdings launched ornithine-blended yogurt in April this year. The company told that it would bring up the health food business as the fourth mainstay following beer, beverage, and pharmaceutical. Kewpi Corp. will expand sales of liquid foods for the aged to prevent vomiting. It is quite understandable that health foods will increase rapidly as the aging society develops in Japan.

No. 84: Japanese beef bowls go to Thailand and Vietnam (June 26, 2010)

Yoshinoya, the pioneer and frontrunner of Japanese beef bowl business, has decided to expand business in Southeast Asian countries. It opened the first beef bowl restaurant in Jakarta in Indonesia on 25th this month, and plans to increase the number of restaurants to 100 by 2020. It currently has 16 restaurants in Singapore and 6 restaurants in the Philippines. In 2011, it will develop the market in Thailand and Vietnam also. It plans to establish a network of 300-400 beef bowl restaurants in Southeast Asia. As the middle-income household is growing in number in this region, the company will accelerate its efforts to expand business there. The same is true of China. Yoshinoya is currently operating about 200 restaurants in China and scheduled to increase the number to 1,000 in the next 10 years. McDonald's is so widespread around the world. Why can't Yoshinoya's beef bowl be like McDonald's? The former shows the way how to eat beef in an American way, while the latter indicates the way how to eat beef in a Japanese way.


No. 81: What will you do to discipline your dog? (June 23, 2010)

The service to discipline pet dogs on behalf of the owners is growing popular in Japan. The most popular menu of one service provider is the four-week course that keeps your dog for all day long twice a week. It costs you 56,000 yen. This service is offered by a subsidiary of a leading supermarket chain. Offering a menu that keeps your dog for about one month for 189,000 yen, another service provider doubled the sales this year over the previous year. Another two pet shops are planning to expand the business to delivery the lecture on how to discipline pet dogs. These service menus attract a wide attention from dog owners because they wish to feel at easy when they are accompanied by their dogs. According to a survey conducted by a pet-accessory company, manner and discipline concern the dog owner most when he goes on a trip with his dog. The pet-related market is estimated to grow about 3% to about 420 billion yen this year in Japan.


No. 80: Leading department stores trade used brand products using the Internet (June 22, 2010)

Leading department stores in Japan will start trading used brand products, such as Gucci and Louis Vuitton, using the Internet. No department stores have ever handled used products before, but the present stagnant economy made them decide to open a new website on July 1 to satisfy the needs of low-end consumers. They will start with bags and watches, and plan to trade jewelry and clothes also in the near future. The seller sends his brand product to the purchase division and gets appraisal of his used product next day by mail. The purchase price will be around 50% of the tag price, though it depends on the condition of the product. The seller gets payment by bank transfer. The seller can contribute part of the payment to environmental activities. Price competition is growing fiercer, and finally department stores characterized by selling new products at a fixed price have been involved.


No. 77: On-site training for children in summer vacation (June 19, 2010)

Various companies are planning to give on-site training to children in summer vacation. Children can have simulated experience of the profession that they wish to pursue in the future. A railway company will launch a travel product that provides children with the opportunity to work as station master or proprietress of a spring inn. An equestrian club will give them the opportunity to take care of a horse as the keeper. They trim the crest and check the health condition of a horse and ride a horse they wrangle. A bar association will hold a simulated judicial trial for children. Under the guidance of real attorneys, children observe a trial of theft case and discuss whether or not the defendant is guilty. Every child has his or her own dream for the future. This kind of service is growing popular in Japan as parents can allocate more for their children as the falling birthrate develops.


No. 74: Netbook PC is losing popularity in Japan (June 16, 2010)

Netbook PC that is a PC with monitor smaller than 12.2 inches and fewer functions had 33% share in the notebook PC market in May 2009, but its share has decreased to 12.3% recently. By contrast, the share of notebook PC that is a PC with monitor larger than 12.2 inches increased from 65% in May last year to 73.6% in May this year. Actually, leading volume retailers of PCs reduced the selling floor of netbook PCs for half. This trend is because of the decreasing prices of notebook PCs and increasing popularity of smart phones. Thanks to the efforts of the manufacturers to reduce the production cost of notebook PCs, the difference between a netbook PC and a notebook PC decreased from 110,000 yen to 40,000 yen recently. And Apple's sensational iPad, which is available for 50,000 yen and up, changed the notebook PC market drastically. At the present stage, no one can tell which of the three will win in the market ultimately, but notebook PCs seem to continue playing the central role.


No. 73: Scalp care products are selling fast in Japan. (June 15, 2010)

High-performance hair care products featuring the function to take care of scalp are growing popular in Japan. P&G introduced a new product blended by natural mint for people feeling uneasy about sticky scalp. The company supposedly increased the share in the hair care product market with this new product. Kao's product designed for women around 40 is also selling well. Its retail price is 2,600 yen, but the sales have double on a year-on-year basis. It is a cream to be used after washing hair for massage on the skin. Its herbal medicine facilitates blood circulation of the skin and prevents hair loss. A retailer in Tokyo recorded 6% sales increase in May over the same period of the previous year thanks to scalp care products. According to a survey, the market of hair care products featuring the function of skin care increased two times to about 20 billion yen in 2009 over the previous year. It has become necessary to add new functions to shampoo to satisfy the diversifying consumers' requirements.


No. 69: Drugstores enjoy growing sales of beer-like alcoholic beverages. (June 11, 2010)

Drugstores are increasing presence as the outlets of beer-like alcoholic beverages lately in Japan. In fact, beer-like beverages are sometimes undersold in drugstores than in supermarkets. Neither breweries nor wholesalers give preferential conditions to drugstores. The background of the growing sales achieved by drugstores is the revision of the pharmaceutical law last year. The revision allowed supermarkets to sell drugs. Then, drugstores began to sell beer-like alcoholic beverages to keep consumers coming back. Most drugstores were reluctant to promote sales of alcoholic beverages because drinking too much alcohol is not good for health, and consumers had a preconceived notion that they should buy alcohol in the supermarket. The situation has changed, and drugstores are enjoying increasing sales of beer-like alcoholic beverages. This is an example of good results created by deregulation.


No. 64: Working pattern grows diverse in Japan. (June 6, 2010)

With the revision of the labor law, working pattern grows diverse in Japan. A company allowed employees to take a paid-holiday on an hourly basis and increased the retirement age by one year. A leading restaurant chain will start to recruit more than 2,000 part-time employees on the condition they can work for at least three hours a day instead of 4-5 hours a day that is the current requirement. According to the survey by the Japanese government, the real labor hours of the companies with more than 30 employees increased 1.5% to 155.9 hours a month in January 2010 over the same period of the previous year, recording an increase on a month-on-month basis for the first time for the past 15 months. Taken by industry, restaurant and hotel industries recorded the average labor hours of 180.8 hours a month that is about 17 hours longer than the all-industry average. Shorter working hours will be effective as a measure for the falling birthrate, making it possible to create new ideas for the improvement of corporate results on a medium- and long-term basis.


No. 62: Are you ready for a 50,000 yen lecture to make you up? (June 4, 2010)

A subsidiary of Shiseido that is Japan's leading cosmetic company will start a 100 minutes' make-up lecture for 50,000 yen. One of the two highest grade beauty specialists certified by Shiseido will be the lecturer. The lecturer will give you lessons on make-up, skin care, and hairstyle on a personal basis. The lessons and make-up scenes will be recorded by DVD, and each student can get the DVD that recorded her make-up procedures and the book written by the lecturer. Shiseido has about 12,000 beauty specialists, of whom only two are the highest grade beauty specialists. The lecture will start on July 26 and will be given once a month. You need to make a reservation through the website. A make-up lecture usually costs 10,000-15,000 yen. Seeing the fact that low-priced foods are growing popular in restaurants, consumers are looking for something to spend more money for themselves. This service intended for affluent women seems to have a success.


No. 60: Use an electric vehicle to visit temples and shrines in Kyoto. (June 2, 2010)


Kyoto Prefecture announced that it has launched the service to give a discount on the admission fee of temples and shrines if the visitor drives an electric rental car or takes an electric vehicle taxi. A total of 27 famous temples and shrines are intended for this new service designed to spread eco-cars. A temple allows 20% discount from the list fee of 300 yen, and another temple makes 10% discount on the list fee of 500 yen. Visitors can get discount by showing the certificate issued by the taxi company or a car rental company. There are eight EVs available for this service at present, and the tax company plans to increase the number of EVs. Part of sales will be contributed to Kyoto Prefecture for the preservation of cultural properties. Many new ideas for green action come from various scenes of daily life. More ideas of this kind are supposed to follow.


No. 54: Entertainment market shrank 1% in 2009 in Japan. (May 27, 2010)


The Japanese entertainment market shrank 1% from the previous year to about 1,153 billion yen in 2009, recording a year-on-year decline for the first time in the past two years. Although music concerts and movies showed strong results, amusement and theme parks recorded sluggish business. The total attendance of the entertain market showed a slight increase on a year-on-year basis because of the fall of ticket prices. The amusement and theme parks that accounted for the largest part of the entertainment market decreased 2.7% to about 530 billion yen in sales and 2.2% to 102 million in attendance. The sports market shrank 7.6% on a year-on-year basis, and baseball that accounted for 40% of the sport business declined 4% largely because of the decreased sales of seats for company's after-hours business contacts. That verifies that companies have not recovered well. Music concerts increased sales 1.2%, and Japanese movies also increased sales 5.7% thanks to growing popularity of Japanese movies.


No. 51: Private brand? No. It is a regional brand. (May 24, 2010)

The regional brand that utilizes resources specific to the regional climate and tradition is growing presence in Japan. It plays an important role to stimulate the regional economy. A brewing company in a local city is producing vinegar coveted by chefs and consumers nationwide. This vinegar is priced at 2,058 yen for a 900 ml bottle, three to four times more expensive than the standard vinegar. Although it is sold only at high-class supermarkets and via the Internet, the brewing company sold 4,775 bottles in 2008 and increased production 84% in 2009. The company uses 320 grams of organic rice to produce one liter of this vinegar, eight times more rice needed to display a label of rice vinegar. A farmer in another local city is producing excellent quality chestnut sold for 760 yen for one kilogram, about three times as expensive as the standard chestnut. High-value added products that producers release through painstaking work using highly-selected resources open up business totally alien to deflation and price war.


No. 50:
Nestle's coffee extractor is selling fast. (May 23, 2010)

Nestle Japan decided to increase the annual production capacity of its coffee extractor about 1.5 times to 500,000 units by this fall. This extractor is to make a cup of frothy instant coffee. Launched in March, it is in short supply at retailers today. Nestle's extractor uses not regular coffee but instance coffee, and it is the first coffee extractor in the world that does not use regular coffee. The company started to sell it at about 1,500 supermarkets nationwide in March for a suggested retail price of 9,000 yen. Besides being reasonably priced, it is easy to operate and free from maintenance. More than 100,000 units have been sold, and the demand outreaches the supply at retailers now. A Germany subcontractor builds Nestle's extractor in Hong Kong using the mold supplied by Nestle. With the increased production capacity, Nestle plans to intensify marketing activities in the areas that are not covered at present. Japanese seem fascinated by drinking self-made frothy instant coffee that has never existed before in the market.


No. 49:
Will the price-cutting war end soon in Japan? (May 22, 2010)

Private brands that are 20-50% cheaper than national brands have been popular among consumers since the Lehman shock in Japan. However, consumers seem to be growing weary of the price-cutting war, and retailers have found hard to increase sales only by reducing sales prices any more because so many retailers feature discount sales. Consumer price index decreased for the past 15 months in a row, but the markdown ratio is going down lately. In fact, high-end products have started to attract consumers. For example, a Burberry suit with a price tag of 110,000 yen or more recorded a two-digit growth in spring this year over the same period of the previous year, and a beef stake with a price tag of 1,048 yen that is 300 yen higher than the average customer spend achieved three times as much sales as other standard cuisines. It seems that the price-cutting war is going to end before very long and companies are watching the market carefully when they should withdraw from the price-cutting war.


No. 48:
Beef bowls badly affect convenience stores and family restaurants. (May 21, 2010)

You can have a beef bowl for less than 300 yen today in Japan. An increasing number of salaried workers have a beef bowl for lunch. Actually, the leading beef blow restaurant chain increased sales 38% in April over the same period of the previous year. A salaried workers in his mid-40s told that he often comes to a beef bowl restaurant because he can have lunch for half the cost he needs to have lunch at a restaurant offering set menus. The increasing sales of beef bowls decreased the sales of lunch boxes sold at convenience stores. Surprisingly enough, family restaurants that do not seem compete with beef bowl restaurants directly are also affected. One of the leading family restaurant chain decreased sales 12% in April from the same period of the previous year. This is largely because an increasing number of salespeople driving around for sales activities have lunch at a beef bowl restaurant instead of a family restaurant. Because the Japanese economy does not seem recover soon, everyone is very conservative in spending.


No. 46:
Even sales of cosmetics are badly affected by the sluggish economy (May 19, 2010)

The cosmetics industry is said to be recession-proof, but it is affected badly by the current sluggish economy in Japan. Domestic shipments decreased 8% in value to about 1,391 billion yen and 0.2% in units in 2009 from the previous year. And the price per item also decreased. It seems that women have become very cautious about the selection, and they tend to buy reasonable cosmetics. The items that women use to make them look more beautiful, such as perfumes and colognes, recorded the biggest sales decline of 16%, and sales of those for makeup like lipstick also went down by 15%. However, skincare products including milky lotion and skin refresher recorded a modest decline of 8%. Shipments in value seem to show signs of having bottomed out lately, but it takes them to recover the last year's level.


No. 45:
All-you-can drink beer garden in Tokyo (May 18, 2010)

A beer garden made a debut in Tokyo where you can drink beer as much as you want for 2,200 yen in two hours. This is a self-service beer garden run by Sapporo Breweries, and you can pull beer from a 3-liter pitcher and drink beer as much as you can besides having an experience of pulling beer. Naturally, beer you pulled from a pitcher by yourself tastes better than one offered by a bartender. In addition, you can mix several kinds of beer to have beer perfectly suitable to you. A salaried worker drank as many as 10 jugs in two hours. You naturally drink more than you drink at your home. You can drink beer and have one food for 2,200 yen in two hours. The beer garden offers about 10 kinds of foods and wines. All-you-can-eat restaurants are widespread, but this beer garden may be the first all-you-can-drink beer garden. As economy does not seem recover soon in Japan, this kind of beer garden will grow popular among salaried workers with decreasing amount of pocket money. Don't drink and drive.


No. 43:
From private brands to national brands (May 16, 2010)

National brands are increasing presence in special sales by leading supermarket chains in Japan. Until quite recently, many supermarkets were busily occupied with introducing private brands to invite price-sensitive shoppers, but this trend is decelerating today. An increasing number of supermarkets are offering national brands at a discount to attract shoppers because manufacturers of national brands have resources to offer promotional campaign against the background of decreasing prices of raw materials. In fact, a national brand mayonnaise increased the frequency of appearing in the flayer 48% to more than 13,000 times in March over the same period of the previous year. The same is true of sources and soup stocks. Food prices are affected greatly by yen's exchange because Japan is heavily dependent on imports for raw materials. It is advisable for marketers to be modest in launching private brands because price-sensitive consumes easily become quality-sensitive consumers.


No. 41: Foreigners have easier access to Tokyo. (May 14, 2010)


Haneda Airport is scheduled to start operation coming October. This airport was Japan's pivotal airport until 1978 when Narita Airport, which is notoriously far away from Tokyo, was opened. Even today, it is very popular among foreign visitors because of easier access to Tokyo. Thanks to the technological progress, it will have an offshore runway whose foundation is 3,120 meters long. It will have 300,000 traffics per year in the initial stage, and the annual traffics will increase to more than 400,000. U.S. airlines will start regular flights between U.S. cities and Haneda, while Japanese airlines will set up new routes between Asian countries and Haneda. It is clear that an increasing number of foreign visitors come to Japan on business and for sightseeing. In domestic politics, many members complain that there are too many airports in a small country, but the fact remains that the airport is vital to increase Japan's presence in the international area.


No. 40: Shrinking middle-income class in Japan (May 13, 2010)

The middle-income class is shrinking in Japan because of declining wages. The shrinking middle-income has been a big issue since 2005. In the middle of deflation, Japanese companies tried to overcome the hard times by reducing wages instead of decreasing employment. An employee makes about 10% less in 2009 than he did in 1997. The wage deflation decreased the income of the middle-income class. In addition, the story that an employee can make more as he gets older is somewhat different now from what it was in the past. If the wage of an employee between 25-29 years old is set at 100, the index of an employee between 50-54 years old was 222 in 1985, but it was 183 in 2009. The youth are no longer confident of their future and reluctant to buy a house or car on credit, and the middle-aged class is growing more conservative in spending to prepare for sunset years. Actually, the Japanese economy is greatly affected by the change of wage structure.


No. 37: Increasing production of regular products in the food industry (May 10, 2010)

Leading food companies in Japan are now focusing on regular products suitable for mass marketing because of the dwindling domestic market and growing consumers' propensity for thrift. The Japanese domestic food market has been shrinking as low birthrate and longevity progresses. It shrank about 10% for the past 10 years to 81 trillion yen in 2007. The snack market decreased 0.4% to about 3.2 trillion yen, recording a year-on-year decrease for the first time in the past five years. It is quite natural that regular products are growingly preferred as economy grows stagnant because they give sense of safety to consumers. While shifting their production and marketing resources to regular products, Japanese leading food companies are busily expanding business to foreign countries with their regular products. For example, Yakult is expanding production capacity in China with an investment of about 4 billion yen.


No. 33: Examine genes to provide suitable nutritional supplements (May 6, 2010)

Signpost, a bio venture company from Osaka University, launched a service to examine the constitution of a consumer by genetic testing and provide him with suitable nutritional supplements. The service analyzes 62 kinds of genes of a consumer and examines his constitution on eight factors including obesity and osteoporosis. Based on the examination results, it figures out scrimpy nutritious and provides the consumer with effective nutritional supplements every month. A consumer pays between \10,000 and \17,000 to get all important nutritious, and he needs to pay \42,000 additionally to take genetic testing. Fitness centers and health clubs are expected to offer this service to their members.


No. 30: Antenna shops grow popular in Tokyo (May 3, 2010)

The antenna shop that is established by a local government to promote sales of the local products is growing popular in the Tokyo metropolitan district. A town in the Tohoku district with a population of 15,000 opened an antenna shop, and its employees sell groceries produced by the town in the surrounding residential areas to sell them to seniors living alone. The antenna shop made a debut in the late 1990s and grew popular during the past one year. There are 43 antenna shops in Tokyo, and the most popular one enjoys sales of more than \500 million annually. As the popularity grows, the competition grows. The operation cost is not small. Actually, a large antenna shop needs about \100 million for maintenance cost including rent and utility charges. The strategy to make the antenna shop more impressive to shoppers is growing more important. The antenna shop seems to be in the transition stage.

No. 29: Increasing mini shops before railway stations in Japan (May 2, 2010)

Japan's leading retail chains are occupied in building mini shops. The leading convenience store chain will build 10 3,500-square-foot mini shops in one year, while the leading drug store chain will construct 100 mini shops, each of which is about one fifth of the existing shop, in 3-4 years. Mostly they will be located inside or before railway stations. Because of the dwindling consumption and decreasing land price inside the city, leading retail chains find the conditions for building mini shops inside the city ready. Actually, land prices in Japan's three largest business districts decreased 7.1% this year from the previous year. As Japan is aging, people shop in facilities in proximity to their living instead of driving to facilities in the suburbs. Times have change. In the past, developers constructed large scale shopping facilities incessantly, while abandoning shopping streets before railways stations.


No. 25: Grass-roots activities in islands for ecological preservation (April 28, 2010)

Sado Island in the Japan Sea launched sports events that feature its rich natural environment. The marathon event held this month drew more than 2,000 participants nationwide. The biggest municipality of this island is addressing the utilization of new energy sources to protect the natural environment. Hot spring facilities use wood biomass made of thinned wood and waste wood instead of heating oil, though only 127 kiloliters of heating oil is currently replaced. The municipality plans to reduce 1% of about 80 tons of carbon dioxide emitted annually. Courtesy buses and school lunch delivery trucks use recycled fuel made of waste edible oil. In another island in the Tohoku District, field mustards are planted in idled plots to produce fuel. More than 4,000 elementary and junior high school students visited this island last year for on-site training. Islands seem suitable most to promote grass-roots activities for ecological preservation.

No. 22: Silence seems to be the keyword. (April 25, 2010)

Traditional products that elder people were after when they were young do not seem to interest the younger generation any more in Japan. The youth are no longer so much interested in driving a car, visiting a foregin country, drinking beer, climbing a mountain, reading a book, studying science, etc. as people in the older generation. We have to listen to what young people say. They say: "We do not go to a foreign country because it costs much, and we do not drive a car because driving a car is harmful for environment." What interests them most seems to be establishing social networks. Actually, communications with friends do not make a sound because they use e-mail instead of telephone. Besides, they get to the meeting spot just following the instructions shown on the mobile phone. That is, they neither lose their way nor do they have to ask others about the direction. No word, and no brainwork. Silence prevails in the young generation.

No. 21: Manufacturing plants are a sightseeing resource. (April 24, 2010)

A local government near Tokyo launched the sightseeing bus tour that features the night scene of manufacturing plants. Sightseers can visit rooftops of the warehouse that are usually off-limits to outsiders and take pictures of beautiful night scenes from rooftops. This is a two-and-half hour tour with a guide trained as an expert in industrial tourism. Sightseers leave the designated place before a train station at 6:30 p.m. and make a tour of the coastal area where oil refineries and chemical plants stand side by side for \3,200. They enjoy night scenery created by lights of manufacturing plants. They get excited with stacks spewing flames and complicated piping illuminated by yellow lights. This bus tour is growing popular among camera maniacs. It is really a good and interesting idea to use manufacturing plants as a sightseeing resource. Who said that people associate manufacturing plants only with pollution?

No. 17: Shoppers get excited with e-scooters in home electronics retailers (April 20, 2010)


You can test an electric scooter at a volume retailer of home electronics in the Tokyo Metropolitan district. Management of this volume retailer told that e-scooter is also an electronics product, and it is quite natural that his store sells them. Actually, you can find air-conditioners and flat-screen TVs behind the e-scooters that come in three varieties, and the price range is between 130,000 yen and 300,000 yen a unit. Shoppers get excited to learn that e-scooters are ready for a trial run at the shopfront. With the growing amount of information distributed via the Internet, consumers are busily shopping around seeking less expensive products. To prevent them from shopping around incessantly, the ability to let them stay in the shop as long as possible is crucial. You have to study hard what other products enchant the shoppers. Try to be a landscape gardener instead of being a hunter.

No. 16: Sharing an EV with residents of apartment complexes (April 19, 2010)


A developer started an EV-sharing service in a commuter town in the Tokyo metropolitan district for residents of the apartment complexes it developed. The residents share this EV and can use it for 2,000 yen for three hours. This service is growing popular because of curiosity and affordable price, and the company plans to purchase two more EVs to make them available at the nearby train station. Users drive this EV for shopping and hospital visit, and their average one-way travel is about 30 minutes that is well within the reach of an EV. One user told that the EV is very useful and convenience because it is compact and easy to drive as compared with the standard sedan he owns. In the near future, a service seems to make a debut to offer a gasoline car for users planning to drive a great distance and an EV for those planning to go shopping and visit hospital.


No. 13: Pedal to work on bicycle (April 16, 2010)


A new service made a debut in Tokyo for people who commute to work by bicycle. This new service provides them with cycle parking spaces, locker rooms, and shower facilities for a monthly charge of 23,000 yen per person. That is, cyclists can start to work dressed in business suit after taking a shower in this facility. A salaried worker who uses this service commutes from Yokohama to Tokyo riding a bicycle for 75 minutes while enjoying the scenery on the street. Members can leave their bicycles in the facility when it rains or when an alcoholic party is scheduled. This service shares the directional movement with the promotion of natural energy, and it is growing popular among cyclists through word of mouth. The next move should be to work out a strategy to increase members in collaboration with bicycler manufacturers and health promotion organizations.


No. 11: It is the time to evaluate a cuisine not a restaurant. (April 14, 2010)


A unique restaurant was opened in Tokyo to provide chefs with an opportunity to have their original cuisines appraised by customers who enjoyed them. Opened last January, this restaurant is growing popular rapidly among gourmet people. Chefs who plan to open their own restaurants in the future come to this restaurant, and they serve their original cuisines and have them evaluated by customers. Chefs serve their cuisines for one month, and new chefs arrive to replace him every month. Each customer pays \1,500 for admission fee and pays the amount appraised. If he cannot appraise a cuisine, he does not have to pay for it. It is reported that more than 20 gourmet people come to this restaurant every day.


No. 10:
Calorie-free carbonated drinks grow popular in Japan (April 13, 2010)

Sales of calorie-free carbonated drinks are growing, whereas those of sports drinks are declining in Japan. This is mainly because consumers are very conscious about metabolic syndrome and switching from sports drinks to calorie-free carbonated drinks. Sports drinks are most suitable for sports-loving people, but consumers see them differently. They say that sports drinks are high in calorie and unsuitable for weight-watchers. Sports drinks naturally are high in calorie because they are to supplement the calorie consumed in sports, and they are sweetened to eliminate the bitter taste created by some ingredients. Is it the next step to develop calorie-free sports drinks? Maybe, but who drinks calorie-free sports drinks that do not supplement lost calorie?


No. 8: New ways to conserve energy (April 11, 2010)

A Japanese bus company has invented an approach to propose the optimal arrangements of bus stops using mathematical theory in collaboration with a university. They measured incoming and outgoing passengers of each bus using the sensor installed in the platform, and input data to the specially developed mathematical program with such data as demographics, fares, and car ownership rate. The bus company utilizes the survey results to improve the operation of the bus route. A building maintenance company collaborates with a university to conduct research on human engineering with a view to improving the maintenance operation of air-conditioning and electric facilities. New ways to conserve energy are coming into the maket in the service sector in Japan

No. 1: Gift from the heaven (March 31, 2010)

Gifts from heaven go to banks for savings instead of inducing consumers to spend on consumption. In Japan, high school education will be offered free of charge beginning in the new fiscal year starting on April 1, and it will be followed by the allowance for child raising that starts in June. It is only child-related business that will be benefited by the current government's generous policy, and most recipients of the child-raising allowance will deposit the allowance in the bank because of the current unstable employment situation. The current Japanese government mistakenly prioritized the issues that need a reform. Eliminating worries about the unstable employment situation is Japan's imminent task. Where should fresh graduate from college without employment go?