Archive for the ‘Business’ Category

Gasoline cost in Japan

Gasoline%20Price%20Japan.JPG
I don’t own a car, so I usually don’t pay attention to the cost of gasoline. But with the intense debate about climate change this spring here in Japan, and the Iraq war not going very well at all, gasoline cost is a major issue that affects everyone. Also, there is the serious issue of “peak oil” – the fact that fossile fuels are getting less economical to pump up from oil fields around the world. Guys, we are running out of oil. A global decline in oil production will have serious social and economic implications…

Today, in Japan, gas costs about 130-140 yen per liter. That is around $4.50 a gallon. Compared to Northern Europe, that is a bit less: The Netherlands appears to have the highest cost due to taxes at $6.73 a gallon at the pump. The US average is $3.20 a gallon (Note that US taxes on gas have gone down from 32% to 14% since 2000 – who is paying for the war in Iraq?).
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Overdue TSE Reform

It is not Japanese companies that we would like to protect but rather the Japanese market and growth going foward.

Very welcome words from Yuji Yamamoto, Minister for Financial Services speaking earlier this week. Let’s hope they are not just words.

Japan aims to emulate the success of London as a pre-eminent financial centre to help spur economic growth as the population shrinks. Japan must boost the competitiveness of Tokyo’s financial services industry in the face of growing competition from other Asian cities.

Bloomberg are reporting follow-up comments from Kotaro Tamura, the vice minister for financial services:

Japan has to open up its financial markets over the next three years even if that means attracting companies that put domestic banks and brokerages out of business… Nationality doesn’t matter as long as such investors can contribute to Japan’s interests…We must carry out reforms in three years, otherwise we’ll fail to compete with rivals such as Hong Kong and Singapore.

Narita / Haneda reform (currently under discussion) will be important as well if Tokyo really wants to be the hub of Asia.

Horie-fried

As expected, the nail that stuck out has been well & truly hammered back in.
Former Livedoor Co. President Takafumi Horie was today sentenced to an unprecedented 2 1/2 years in prison for securities fraud. Hardly a surprise in a country where courts convict 99.9% of all the suspects brought before them.
It’s difficult to feel sorry for someone who most probably committed a crime that resulted in many individual investors losing their savings, but we all know why Horie ended up in court; he dared take on old Japan Inc.

I found this BBC Interview interesting. Mainichi are covering it.

Sexual Discrimination in Japan

Anthony Faiola & Akiko Yamamoto write of the challenges facing Japanese women in the workplace and the group of women suing Tokyo-based Kanematsu Corp.

the vast majority of Japan’s 27 million female workers ….encounter a system of corporate discrimination based on sex.
90 percent of part-time workers are women.
Women on average earn 44 percent of what men earn – the widest income gap between sexes in the developed world.

Many points resonate with me and what I have seen of women’s place in the Japan Business World: serving drinks to their male colleagues, lower pay, temporary contracts, and little chance of promotion.
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Joi

The Japan Times published a great interview with our very own Joi Ito, where he talks about Blogging, free speech and doing business in Japan

Tonight: Mobile Monday Tokyo – New Year Shinnenkai

MobileMonday Tokyp

This is a reminder that tonight (January 30) is the first MobileMonday Tokyo event for 2006 — the
MoMo Tokyo New Year
Shinnenkai
, at Ruby
Cafe
in Azabu-Juban, starting at 7pm (日本語版).

Directions: There’s a map to Ruby Cafe available online. But looks like it’s very easy to find: Just ride the Oedo subway line to Azabu Juban station, take exit 7, turn left once you get above ground, walk 5 meters, and you’re there.

There won’t be any presesentations tonight because this one looks to
be purely a
networking/social event to start off the new year. Presentations will start
up again at next
month’s event (planned for the MTV cafe in Harajuku). And the MobileMonday
team’s record for
putting together past
presentations
has been outstanding and has covered a lot of ground
(Opera Browser for 3G Mobile Phones, Chaku-Uta, mobile Flash, and
color codes
, to name just a few) – so I’m sure we have
some interesting things to look forward to at upcoming MoMo Tokyo
presentations this year.

Advanced get-in-for-free registration for tonight’s event is now closed,
but you can still attend. Just show up at Ruby
Cafe
in Azabu-Juban after 7pm (日本語版) and bring
along 1000 yen to pay at the door. When you get there, look for a guy
with keitai in
one hand, tallboy in the other
. Chances are, that’ll be me,
though I might instead be
posing as a solid citizen for the evening.

Horie’s Blog

Probably one of the most active blogs in Japan now is that of Livedoor founder (and now ex-President) Takafumi Horie, currently under arrest (see Mike‘s post.
There have been over 15,000 comments placed over the last week, with everone from disgruntled investors to die-hard supporters wanting to have their say. You can see his blog here (only available in Japanese).
Mainichi online has more on this story.
Meanwhile, Horie has been replaced as President by Livedoor VP and former Sony employee Kozo Hiramatsu, also reported by Mainichi.

Mobile Monday Tokyo – New Year Shinnenkai

MobileMonday Tokyp

Our friends over at MobileMonday Tokyo have announced their first event for 2006: the
MoMo Tokyo New Year
Shinnenkai
, to take place at the fabulously wonderful Ruby
Cafe
in Azabu-Juban starting at 7pm on January 30 (日本語版).

Bravo to them on choosing such an auspicious space for the first
MoMo Tokyo event of this year. And bravo to them for all the work
they’ve done and continue to do in putting together what has become
the very best regularly scheduled IT/tech-related event going on in
Tokyo
.

The shinnenkai (new-year party) event looks to be purely a
networking/social event; presentations will start up again at next
month’s event (planned for the MTV cafe in Harajuku). Their record for
putting together past
presentations
has been outstanding and has covered a lot of ground
(Opera Browser for 3G Mobile Phones, Chaku-Uta, mobile Flash, and
color codes
, to name just a few) – so I’m sure we have
some interesting things to look forward to at upcoming MoMo Tokyo
presentations this year.

The event is free as long aa you register for
it
. (There’s no registration deadline given at the site, but in
the past, it’s typically been the Friday before the day of the
event, which would make the deadline January 27 this month.)

Anyway, I’ll be there, probably outfitted as usual with keitai in
one hand, tallboy in the other
 – though I might also be in my
solid citizen disguise. So please show up and, well, buy me a
drink. Buy me several drinks.

MobileMonday SuperDeluxe Bonenkai – last day to register

Today (November 11) is the last day to pre-register for free entrance to the MobileMonday SuperDeluxe Bonenkai on Monday, November 14 — the last MobileMonday event of 2005.

But if you miss the free registration opportunity, show up at SuperDeluxe on the 14th at 7pm anyway. The entrance fee is only 1000 yen — which is cheap when you consider that MobileMonday is the very best regularly scheduled IT/tech-related event going on in Tokyo, and that SuperDeluxe is the very best event space in Tokyo.

If you attend, take time to thank the organizers for having the good sense to hold the event there — instead of at, say, a monumentally crappy locale such as Zest in Ebisu — the kind of place where you nearly get into fist fights with the wait staff (well, I do at least).

Rest assured that no staff at SuperDeluxe will be sweating you — telling you that you need to sit down at a table so that you don’t disturb the other customers, or refusing to sell you a drink and then later walking up to you with a drink menu spread open and then demanding that you buy another drink. (Hey dumbass Zest waitstaffers, here’s a tip for you: Before harassing a customer, check with your bartenders to make sure they haven’t already pissed of that customer by inexplicably refusing to sell him or her a drink. Maybe you can suggest to the genius leadership at Global Dining that they actually make that tip a part of their world-reknowed training course.)

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