Japanese Stockmarket Enjoys a Suga Rush As PM Steps Down

The Japanese stock market has hit a 30-year high following the resignation of prime minister Yoshihide Suga.

Japanese stocks have hit a 30-year high following the resignation of prime minister Yoshihide Suga. Suga, who has only been in office for a year, had become widely unpopular as his government failed to get on top of a surge in Covid-19 infections. A slow vaccine rollout and the controversial decision to go ahead with hosting the Olympics despite the pandemic also sapped his support. He will step down before a general election scheduled for later this year. 

Japan’s Topix index reacted to the news by hitting its highest level since April 1991, says Bloomberg. Investors had once had high hopes for Suga, who vowed to accelerate Japan’s digital shift (see also page 28). In February this year the Nikkei 225 index hit the symbolic 30,000-level for the first time since 1990. Yet it fell back as Covid-19 came to dominate his premiership: “Suga had created an atmosphere of uncertainty… there was a perception that Japan was ‘in a mess’”, says Richard Kaye of Comgest Asset Management Japan.  The Topix has gained 6.5% during the past month alone.

In most countries investors dislike the uncertainty of an upcoming election, says Takeshi Kawasaki for Nikkei Asia. Not in Japan. “Looking at the ten early elections held since 1990, stocks rose nearly every time between the day of the lower house being dissolved and the election date”. 

What seems to happen is that headlines about Japanese politics grab the attention of foreign money managers. They decide they like what they see and buy. “Typically at the mercy of trends in US equities” thanks to Wall Street’s tendency to set the tone for world markets, Japanese stocks are likely to go their own way over the coming months.

By: Alex Rankine

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Critics:

The Tokyo Stock Exchange (東京証券取引所, とうきょうしょうけんとりひきじょ), abbreviated as Tosho (東証) or TSE/TYO, is a stock exchange located in Tokyo, Japan. It is the third largest stock exchange in the world by aggregate market capitalization of its listed companies, and the largest in Asia. It had 2,292 listed companies with a combined market capitalization of US$5.67 trillion as of February 2019.

The exchange is owned by the Japan Exchange Group (JPX), a holding company that it also lists (TYO: 8697). JPX was formed from its merger with the Osaka Exchange; the merger process begins in July 2012, when said merger was approved by the Japan Fair Trade Commission.[2] JPX itself was launched on January 1, 2013.

The TSE is incorporated as a kabushiki gaisha with nine directors, four auditors and eight executive officers. Its headquarters are located at 2-1 NihonbashiKabutochō, Chūō, Tokyo which is the largest financial district in Japan. Its operating hours are from 8:00 to 11:30 a.m., and from 12:30 to 5:00 p.m. From April 24, 2006, the afternoon trading session started at its usual time of 12:30 p.m..

Stocks listed on the TSE are separated into the First Section for large companies, the Second Section for mid-sized companies, and the Mothers section for high-growth startup companies, and the TOKYO PRO Market section for more flexible alternative investment. As of October 31, 2010, there are 1,675 First Section companies, 437 Second Section companies and 182 Mothers companies.

The main indices tracking the TSE are the Nikkei 225 index of companies selected by the Nihon Keizai Shimbun (Japan’s largest business newspaper), the TOPIX index based on the share prices of First Section companies, and the J30 index of large industrial companies maintained by Japan’s major broadsheet newspapers.

Ninety-four domestic and 10 foreign securities companies participate in TSE trading. See: Members of the Tokyo Stock Exchange

Other TSE-related institutions include:

  • The exchange’s press club, called the Kabuto Club (兜倶楽部, Kabuto kurabu), which meets on the third floor of the TSE building. Most Kabuto Club members are affiliated with the Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Kyodo News, Jiji Press, or business television broadcasters such as Bloomberg LP and CNBC. The Kabuto Club is generally busiest during April and May, when public companies release their annual accounts.

Market Movers

Constituents of the Nikkei 225 with the highest percent gain over one day.

ListingLastChangeVolume
Shinsei Bank Ltd8303:TYO1,968.00
JPY
+228.00
+13.10%
9.68m
Toho Zinc Co Ltd5707:TYO2,841.00
JPY
+130.00
+4.80%
805.10k
Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings Ltd3099:TYO808.00
JPY
+35.00
+4.53%
2.68m
Hitachi Zosen Corp7004:TYO947.00
JPY
+32.00
+3.50%
3.45m
DeNA Co Ltd2432:TYO2,167.00
JPY
+72.00
+3.44%
709.60k
Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd9107:TYO6,380.00
JPY
+190.00
+3.07%
5.45m
Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings Corp4188:TYO1,040.50
JPY
+26.50
+2.61%
5.67m
Meiji Holdings Co Ltd2269:TYO7,260.00
JPY
+170.00
+2.40%
537.60k
Pacific Metals Co Ltd5541:TYO2,094.00
JPY
+44.00
+2.15%
596.40k
Mitsui Mining and Smelting Co Ltd5706:TYO3,590.00
JPY
+75.00
+2.13%
587.70k

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Japan Is Innovating Mobility As A Service And Creating A $61 Billion Market

Japanese trains are famous for cleanliness and punctuality. If a bullet train is five minutes late, it’s national news. Railway companies also operate large station shopping complexes and have played a major role in the growth of Japanese cities. But their bottom line is overshadowed by shrinking ridership due to the declining population. To compensate, they’re trying to address passenger concerns about the coronavirus while making it easier for tourists, women and elderly people to get around. That’s where a uniquely Japanese effort to promote mobility as a service (MaaS) comes in.

Made-in-Japan mobility

MaaS is sometimes thought of as on-demand transport such as ride-hailing services or vehicle sharing, but it’s more than that. According to Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, MaaS is a system of search, reservation, payment, etc. that optimally combines multiple public transportation and other travel services in response to the travel needs of each local resident or traveler on a trip-by-trip basis. It is an important means that contributes to improving the convenience of travel and solving local issues by coordinating with non-transport services at destinations such as tourism and medical care.

The ministry is promoting MaaS, leveraging Japan’s transportation expertise, including the ability to move millions of people every day around large cities like Tokyo quickly, efficiently and on time, to further improve mobility in Japan. Public and private interest in MaaS in Japan has sparked expectations of major growth: in 2019, Yano Research Institute forecast the domestic MaaS market will hit 6.3 trillion yen ($61 billion) in 2030, up from 84.5 billion yen ($813 million) in 2018 and growing 44.1% annually from 2016.

In 2019, the Japanese government began to work on MaaS policies in earnest. They emphasize the need for data sharing to build standardized MaaS rules and platforms. They also stress the need to realize efficient mobility services by connecting a variety of mobility mode and infrastructure data, wider implementation of cashless payments and subscriptions with destination service-related data. In addition, they focus on new services provided by new types of vehicles. These include AI-equipped vehicles for on-demand transportation, electric small mobility vehicles, and self-driving mobility services. Japan is using this approach to cultivate its own spin on the concept, known as Japan MaaS.

“Japan differs from the West in that its public transit systems are predominantly run by the private sector,” says Tsuchida Hiromichi, director of the ministry’s Mobility Service Promotion Division. “This means different players can work together to make MaaS as efficient as possible.”

In a regional approach to promoting MaaS, the ministry is working with local governments and private-sector companies. The aim is both to improve transportation options for local residents, especially elderly people in rural areas, and to make it easier for foreign visitors to get around to parts of the country that are off the beaten path for travelers.

MaaS is already taking root in different regions of Japan, says Tsuchida. In Fukuoka City and Kitakyushu City, Toyota Motor and Nishi-Nippon Railroad (Nishitetsu) launched a multi-modal smartphone mobility service called “my route” that lets users plan an outing by inputting a destination and then selecting from different routes and means of travel, including walking, buses, trains and taxis. The app has payment services as well as destination information such as restaurants and cafes. It entered full service last year, and joins a nascent MaaS infrastructure in Japan including popular apps that help commuters navigate complex transit networks in big cities.  

“Japan has many transportation players, with competition resulting in better services,” says Tsuchida. “That’s why transportation in Japan is punctual and safe and has broad coverage. Each of these aspects is sophisticated in and of itself but by combining them, MaaS in Japan has great potential.”

Creating a MaaS market

Hidaka Yosuke worked as a train driver, conductor and maintenance specialist for 12 years before he decided to become an entrepreneur by setting up his own company dedicated to rethinking transportation. Established in 2018, MaaS Tech Japan creates solutions that maximize the value of MaaS for companies and governments. It compiles big data on transport and payments and develops white label apps for MaaS.

“As a train driver, I worked in rural areas with many old people facing mobility challenges,” says Hidaka, who drove trains on the 575-km Tohoku Main Line and other JR East lines before becoming CEO of MaaS Tech Japan. “I became convinced that the rapidly aging society is not a problem that one company alone can solve.”

MaaS Tech Japan is a data integrator collaborating with transportation players to provide mobility solutions. It works with private companies and local governments including the prefectures of Tokyo and Hiroshima as well as Kamishihoro Town, Hokkaido and Kaga City, Ishikawa. It combines various kinds of data related to hundreds of providers such as rail and taxi operators, and conducts simulations on passenger flows to show clients how their transportation needs can best be served.

For instance, it has cooperated with the Tokyo Metropolitan Government to suggest ways of easing congestion on mass transit systems to mitigate spread of the coronavirus. It has also proposed ways in which Kaga City can use mobility solutions to help elderly people get around and to help tourists discover lesser-known attractions such as its hot springs. Aside from local governments, MaaS Tech Japan is partnering with the state-backed New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO), Microsoft Japan, Tokio Marine Nichido and other players eager to promote MaaS.

The startup is also looking to incorporate MaaS solutions involving autonomous vehicles, energy savings and smart cities.

man sitting in office chair

“Aside from the challenges of aging populations and coronavirus, we want to help tackle climate change and the need to decarbonize the economy because this is all part of the smart city,” says Hidaka. “We want to work with businesses, consumers and governments because collaboration is the key to a solution for mobility. We aim to make a strong contribution in this area.”

Note: All Japanese names in this article are given in the traditional Japanese order, with surname first.

To learn more about MaaS Tech Japan, click here (website in Japanese).

To learn more about MaaS policy by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism, click here (website in Japanese).

Japan

Japan

Japan is changing. The country is at the forefront of demographic change that is expected to affect countries around the world. Japan regards this not as an onus but as a bonus for growth. To overcome this challenge, industry, academia and government have been moving forward to produce powerful and innovative solutions. The ongoing economic policy program known as Abenomics is helping give rise to new ecosystems for startups, in addition to open innovation and business partnerships. The Japan Voice series explores this new landscape of challenge and opportunity through interviews with Japanese and expatriate innovators who are powering a revitalized economy. For more information on the Japanese Government innovations and technologies, please visit https://www.japan.go.jp/technology/.

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Prime Minister’s Office of Japan

Through innovation, Japan is offering solutions to various challenges that the world faces. Watch the “INNOVATION JAPAN” series and get inspired. Innovation Japan https://www.japan.go.jp/technology/in… _______________ Prime Minister’s Office of Japan YouTube Channel is operated by the Government of Japan. □JapanGov https://www.japan.go.jp/https://www.facebook.com/JapanGov/https://twitter.com/japangov/ □Prime Minister’s Office of Japan and His Cabinet http://japan.kantei.go.jp/index.htmlhttps://www.facebook.com/Japan.PMOhttps://twitter.com/JPN_PMO

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Japan To Release Radioactive Fukushima Water Into Ocean

The new Prime Minister of Japan, Yoshihide Suga, is facing additional international pressure over the weekend, amid reports that Japan will be accelerating plans to dump millions of gallons of radioactive water directly into the ocean.

Reports have being widely circulated among Japan’s leading news agency and across international media that suggest the decision has already been taken by the new Japanese Government, and will be publicly communicated later this month.

Over 1.2 million tons of radioactive cooling water from the Fukushima Nuclear Plant will be released. Recommended For You

Residents travel on the opened road in f
The May 2011 tsunami devastated Japan. AFP via Getty Images

While the water will be treated, it will still be radioactive. 170 tons of new radioactive wastewater is generated each day and is stored in 1000 specially designed tanks.

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Environmentalists and local fishermen have been urging the Japanese Government to reconsider this option, after almost a decade trying to build back their reputation around the plant, where elevated radioactive levels can still be detected.

JAPAN-QUAKE-DISASTER-TUNA
14 Apr 2011: 17 tons of tuna caught off Mariana Islands in the Pacific Ocean were put up at auction … [+] AFP via Getty Images

South Korea still bans all seafood imports from this part of Japan, and has held urgent talks with Japanese counterparts to try and find a more measured approach to managing the Fukushima water crisis that would not risk the environment or human health.

The outrage over these plans come just three weeks after Prime Minister Suga personally visited the Fukushima plant, on September 26.

Japanese Prime Minister Suga inspecting the water at Fukushima.  This comes amid a scandal engulfing Japan's scientists.
Japanese Prime Minister Suga inspecting the water at Fukushima. This comes amid a scandal engulfing … [+] TEPCO

It follows a series of policy announcements by Japan that raises questions about how effective the country is a sustainable steward of the ocean amid the global climate and biodiversity crisis. In 2019, Japan withdrew from the International Whaling Commission to begin commercial whaling. At the UN shipping regulator, the IMO, Japan chairs the influential Environment Committee and has consistently pushed for much lower emission and pollution standards for its powerful shipping lobby.

Running out of storage space

A Look At TEPCO's Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant In Fukushima
29 Jan 2020: Members of the media and Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco) employees walk past a storage … [+] Getty Images

To cool radioactive fuel cores at the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant, Japan had pumped 1.2 million tons of water through the rods and this water became contaminated with radioactive tritium. Once used for cooling, this radioactive tritium cannot be removed, so the water was placed into storage.

Japan is now running out of space as it rushes to fully decommission the nuclear plant. The clean up has already cost the Japanese utility owner, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), $200 billion.

According to the Japanese Ministry of Environment, its tanks will be full by 2022.

Japanese Ministers under former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Government had been pushing for the dumping of radioactive waste in the ocean for years. Last year, Japan’s environment minister said that the only solution was to “release it into the ocean and dilute it.”

“There are no other options,” he said.

With the new Prime Minister in place, it looks like Japan wishes to move ahead quickly.

Japan ignoring UN advice

JAPAN-POLITICS-NUCLEAR-QUAKE-TSUNAMI
Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga (front) visits Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station in … [+] JAPAN POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Several UN human rights experts had been urging Japan not to release the radioactive water, amid fears it would drift into the coastline of neighboring countries and enter the food chain.

This comes as Japan appears to be rushing forward the decision following the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics and using the cover of Covid-19 to restrict debate.

Scandal surrounding Japan’s Scientific Council

New particle accelerator in Dresden rock cellar laboratory
04 July 2019, Takaaki Kaija, physics Nobel Prize winner from Japan and member of Science Council of … [+] picture alliance via Getty Images

Prime Minster Suga is already engulfed in a scandal around political interference in the once neutral Scientific Council of Japan.

A pattern seems to be forming with the new Japanese administration, where there has been greater political interference into academia whenever scientific truth appears to be inconvenient.

In the Japan Scientific Council scandal, several academics had challenged the Japanese Government on whether the growing militarization of Japan’s armed forces was permitted under the Constitution. They were then rejected from the Governing Board of the 206 member organization. This is the first time such an interference has occurred, and had been widely criticized by Japan’s academic and research community, including several Nobel Prize Winners, who argue this is political interference in academic freedom.

This comes on the back of Japan taking a very controversial position on climate change, the oil spill response in Mauritius due to a Japanese vessel, and now with significant questions about the safety of releasing Fukushima water into the ocean.

Released as ballast water?

JAPAN-POLITICS-ENVIRONMENT-DIPLOMACY-WHALING
A captured minke whale is unloaded from a whaling ship at a port in Kushiro, Hokkaido Prefecture on … [+] AFP via Getty Images

One of the ideas that had been suggested in Japan was whether the radioactive Fukushima water could be taken as ballast water in ships, far away from Japan’s shores.

This would be in strict violation of several UN ocean ship pollution laws, called Marpol.

However, the IMO has been criticized for being lax in the monitoring and enforcement of such laws that it was so proud to announce and accept external funding for from another UN trust fund, GEF, in 2017.

As islanders in Mauritius are still reeling from the aftermath of the deadly oil spill, new questions are being raised about the potential content of the ballast water from the Japanese-owned and operated vessel.

MAURITIUS-ENVIRONMENT-DISASTER-OIL
An aerial view taken in Mauritius on August 17, 2020, shows the MV Wakashio bulk carrier, belonging … [+] AFP via Getty Images

70 days on, and there are an unprecedented number of unanswered questions, ranging from how much oil was actually spilled in the oil spill, to the amount of ballast water that was being carried by the empty 200,000 ton Capesize iron ore bulk carrier (one of the biggest ships in the ocean), to what has happened to the fingerprinting of the oil.

The Japanese owners of the Wakashio, Nagashiki Shipping, have not responded to any question from the media since August 30, prompting further anger among Mauritians who are still in a state of national environmental emergency.

Hundreds of local fishermen have been banned from venturing into seven of Mauritius’ coral lagoons amid high cancer-causing PAH readings from fish samples. Yet, large industrial fish farms just five miles from the oil spill have been allowed to continue producing and selling 3 million fish into international export markets.

The oil spill surrounded the one major aquaculture farm in Mauritius, yet it has been permitted to continue exporting fish amid a general ban in the lagoon
Satellites show the oil spill surrounded the one major aquaculture farm in Mauritius, yet it has … [+] Ursa Space System | Iceye

Satellite analysis by Ursa Space Systems and Iceye, taken in the immediate aftermath of the spill showed the toxic oil spreading ten times in size in just five days, reaching Mauritius’ more northerly islands, 14 miles away.

President Macron folds to Japan’s weaker climate position

FRANCE-LEBANON-POLITICS-DIPLOMACY
French President Emmanuel Macron speaks during a press conference POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Japan’s position on the ocean has been strongly criticized, and it has been found putting forward proposals that would undermine the Paris Agreement.

Global shipping is the sixth largest emitter of carbon, and produces more carbon than France and Germany combined.

President Macron, once seen as a champion for the environment, appears to be siding with Japan at next week’s crunch UN talks on ship emissions that will decide the trajectory of ship emissions for the next decade.

US-FRANCE-SHIPPING-CMA CGM BENJAMIN FRANKLIN
CMA CGM Benjamin Franklin is the largest container ship to ever call at a North America port, seen … [+] AFP via Getty Images

Japan’s proposals are less than a quarter of the level of ambition needed to meet Paris commitments on climate change, leaving shipowners with very little changes that they need to make to their ships.

With France having the world’s fourth largest container ship company, CMA-CGM, whose revenues at over $30 billion are more than double that of Wakashio operator, Japan-based Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL), meeting emissions targets would have impacted the French shipping company harder than the Japanese major.

Perhaps this was the deal that was needed to allow Japan to get rid of that other inconvenient problem – radioactive Fukushima water.

Nishan Degnarain

Nishan Degnarain

I am a Development Economist focused on Innovation, Sustainability, and Ethical Economic Growth. I currently work with leading Silicon Valley technology companies on sustainable growth opportunities, particularly targeted at lower income nations. I Chair LSE’s Ocean Finance Initiative, am a member of WEF’s Global Expert Network, and a member of CCICED’s China Council. My book on Sustainability in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, called ‘Soul of the Sea in the Age of the Algorithm,’ focuses on an Ocean and Climate Renaissance and builds on my experience as an Economic and Innovation adviser to Fortune 500 CEOs and Governments around the world. I hold degrees in Development Economics from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and University of Cambridge.

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Ending over seven years of debate on how to dispose of the radioactive water from Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant,… Tokyo is reported to have finally admitted that it plans to release the water into the sea. Kim Hyo-sun has more. The Japanese government will most likely to release radioactive water from the tsunami-wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant into the ocean,… amid growing concerns over its environmental impact. Citing government officials, Japan’s Mainichi Shimbun reported Thursday that the Japanese government will convene a Cabinet meeting on the matter this month to reach a final decision.

A massive amount of underground water has seeped in to cool the reactors that suffered core meltdowns in the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. The space, however, is expected to run out by the summer of 2022,… with contaminated water increasing by about 170 tons per day. The stored water has totaled 1-point-23 million tons,… filling up over 1-thousand tanks as of last month. In September, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said Tokyo wants to “make a decision as soon as possible,”… on how to deal with the increasing water,… during his visit to the Fukushima plant.

According to Mainichi,… it would take at least two years until the water is actually discharged into the sea following the government’s final decision to do so,… as a new system as well as an approval by Tokyo’s Nuclear Regulation Authority are required. Until then, the Japanese government will most likely try and persuade local fishing communities and residents who are widely opposed to the idea. It’s also expected to face increasing opposition from neighboring countries like South Korea. Kim Hyo-sun, Arirang News. 2020-10-16, 07:00 (KST) #Fukushima #radioactive_water #Japan 📣 Arirang News(Facebook) : https://www.facebook.com/arirangtvnews 📣 Arirang News(Twitter) : https://twitter.com/arirangtvnews 📣 News Center(YouTube) : https://www.youtube.com/c/NEWSCENTER_…

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Japan’s Healthcare System Stood Up To The Coronavirus. It’s Now Going Global

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Japan has been credited with containing the COVID-19 pandemic, and many observers have questioned how it was done. Explanations have included Japanese lifestyle and customs, such as bowing instead of shaking hands. But one factor that’s been overlooked is Japan’s universal healthcare system, which was established more than 60 years ago.

All 126 million Japanese have equal access to advanced medical care. The country has one of the world’s best-ranked healthcare systems, and one of the longest-lived and healthiest populations. Japan’s resilience in the face of a devastating pandemic is one reason why it’s now exporting its medical and healthcare expertise to other countries.

Japan wants to help other countries enhance their healthcare systems so they can best serve the needs of their people, says Dr. Kondo Tatsuya, CEO of Medical Excellence JAPAN (MEJ), which promotes Japanese healthcare abroad. MEJ works with dozens of organizations in Japan to bring innovation and best practices to bear when fighting complex public health challenges such as COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

The new digital hospital

The Kitahara group of healthcare organizations is one of MEJ’s members. It operates medical institutions including Kitahara International Hospital in Hachioji City, western Tokyo. Established as a neurosurgery center in 1995, the Kitahara group expanded its services and facilities such as a rehabilitation hospital and a brain checkup clinic, and initiated an emergency medicine project in Cambodia. While the novel coronavirus spread throughout Japan, significantly affecting some medical centers, the Kitahara group’s facilities had no cases of COVID-19. It was able to keep the virus out through strict sanitary measures as well as a cutting-edge security system.

“Even before the first COVID-19 patient in Japan, we were routinely gathering information and taking measures to prevent infections,” says Hamasaki Chika, general manager in the Business Promotion Department of Kitahara Medical Strategies International. “When we accept emergency patients, we conduct our own screening, including thorough interviews and chest scans. By doing this, we managed to identify patients who needed special attention, which was provided in a separate location.”

The Kitahara group and NEC codeveloped the security system, which grants access based on visitors’ biometric information. Not only can it keep unauthorized people out of the hospital, it can prevent dementia patients from leaving when it’s not safe for them. Using facial recognition technology, the system can also detect where staff, visitors and patients have been inside the hospital, facilitating any tracing of infection routes.

“We know who went where, and we can grasp the movement of people in the hospital,” says group spokesperson Kameda Yoshikazu. “Since the system prevents dementia patients from leaving when it’s unsafe, they have minimal restrictions on their movements, which reduces their stress.”

The security system is only one aspect of the what the Kitahara group terms a digital hospital. Staff use virtual reality headsets to help stroke patients in their rehabilitation exercises, as well as virtual travel to help them relax. Using VR headsets, patients have been able to experience virtual travel at a time of real travel restrictions due to the coronavirus. The VR therapy is aiding their rehabilitation, according to Kameda.

Using advanced technology is part of what the Kitahara group calls its Total Life Support service focused on community medicine. Staff go beyond the traditional roles of Japanese hospital workers by offering patients support on everything from dealing with emergencies and rehabilitation to everyday administrative procedures process and knowing their rights.

In an unusual move for a Japanese healthcare provider, the group is exporting this model. It’s bringing its knowhow to Cambodia via its Sunrise Japan Hospital in Phnom Penh, as well as to other countries through training programs and seminars in Japan and overseas. The challenge facing the group is to expand the model within Japan and to grow overseas ties.

“Our Total Life Support approach is unique in Japan,” says Hamasaki. “It’s a package we offer for the resilience of society. Our Hachioji Model is something we want to provide to Southeast Asia and beyond, including the Pacific Rim, Central Asia and the Middle East.”

Globalizing Japanese medicine

The globalization of Japanese medicine and healthcare is the raison d’être of MEJ, a public-private partnership established in 2011 with the help of the Japanese government. MEJ is dedicated to promoting not only Japanese healthcare services and products to the world, but also access to Japanese medicine for people from overseas. Furthermore, it emphasizes the concept of rational medicine, which Dr. Kondo describes as a holistic approach to medicine to serve the best interests of the patient.

MEJ is comprised of 50 member businesses including major Japanese life-science, manufacturing and insurance companies. MEJ also runs the MEJ Forum, an exchange platform for medical entities and associations in Japan that are interested in globalization of their services. It launched Japan Hospital Search, a search engine that directs inbound medical travelers to international hospitals throughout Japan that are accredited by the MEJ.

“Medical care in Japan has had a domestic focus, but we would like it to make an international contribution,” says Dr. Kondo. “We want to provide mutual benefits for both people in and outside Japan, so it’s a win-win situation.”

A graduate of the University of Tokyo, Dr. Kondo worked as a neurosurgeon before becoming chief executive of the Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Agency (PMDA), the entity responsible for ensuring the safety and effectiveness of drugs and medical devices in Japan. At both the PMDA and MEJ, Dr. Kondo has promoted the concept of healthcare incorporating the many disciplines supporting medicine, including biology, pharmacology and engineering. He believes healthcare should be based on regulatory science, an ethical approach to science and technology to benefit society. His vision for medicine is reflected in the MEJ’s Rational Medicine Initiative, an approach that calls for combining innovations in medicine and healthcare to produce the highest level of patient-centric care.

While promoting inbound medical tourism, MEJ wants to help establish medical centers of excellence in developing countries in Southeast Asia and Africa. This would be an opportunity for mutual learning and collaboration, and would also ensure that the best practices of Japanese healthcare and the Rational Medicine Initiative are shared with people outside Japan.

“Each country has its unique circumstances. We engage in international cooperation and development with a deep respect for the pride of the people of every country,” says Dr. Kondo. “I was born during wartime, and I believe that instead of advancing through competition, countries should strive for common benefit. This is why the world needs a system like the one we have at MEJ.”

Note: All Japanese names in this article are given in the traditional Japanese order, with surname first.

To learn more about Kitahara International Hospital, click here.

To learn more about Medical Excellence JAPAN, click here.

Japan is changing. The country is at the forefront of demographic change that is expected to affect countries around the world. Japan regards this not as an onus but as a bonus for growth. To overcome this challenge, industry, academia and government have been moving forward to produce powerful and innovative solutions. The ongoing economic policy program known as Abenomics is helping give rise to new ecosystems for startups, in addition to open innovation and business partnerships. The Japan Voice series explores this new landscape of challenge and opportunity through interviews with Japanese and expatriate innovators who are powering a revitalized economy. For more information on the Japanese Government innovations and technologies, please visit https://www.japan.go.jp/technology/

Source: https://www.forbes.com/

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Japan BrandVoice: Why Companies Like French Chemicals Maker Arkema Are Choosing Kyoto

Why are some of the biggest companies in the world choosing to set up their Japan headquarters in Kyoto instead of other major cities? It might have something to do with a little-known fact about Japan’s old capital: Kyoto is home to a whopping 38 universities and about 150,000 students. That is a massive pool of highly educated, motivated workers as well as institutional knowledge, experience and talent (not to mention Nobel Prize winners) that can accelerate recruiting and business collaborations. It’s one reason why Kyoto is so appealing to entrepreneurs and innovators from everywhere.

A unique research park

Another reason why Kyoto is drawing foreign investors is its world-class infrastructure. In 1978, Osaka Gas closed down a massive gas plant that had operated in central Kyoto for half a century. In 1989, part of the site was reborn as Kyoto Research Park (KRP). It’s the only privately owned research park in Japan, and today, 30 years after its launch, it’s a shared office, research and laboratory space that hosts many established and startup companies from Japan and overseas.

French chemical company Arkema is one of 480 companies and organizations that are tenants at KRP. Spun off from energy multinational Total in 2004, Arkema was publicly listed in 2005. It specializes in high-performance materials and industrial products such as coating resins, specialty adhesives and fluorochemicals. Its predecessor joined KRP in 1993 when Total decided to establish its Kyoto Technical Center. With about 30 staff, the Kyoto Technical Center is Arkema’s second base in Japan after its headquarters in Tokyo. The role of the Kyoto Technical Center is to provide business and technical support to Arkema’s customers in Japan, Korea and the Asia-Pacific region. It develops new kinds of polymers, including materials for everyday products such as lightweight, high-performance running shoes and automotive components.

“Kyoto was a good place for us to establish our center because of the living environment here and its cost-effectiveness,” says Damien Vitry, a general manager at Arkema. “We also have a high rate of staff retention, which is a challenge in places like China. We still have staff in Kyoto who joined us in 1993.”

In Kyoto, Arkema is focused on 3D printing technologies, next-generation plastics and plastics applications. These include sustainably sourced bioplastics, such as its Rilsan polyamide line, and heat-resistant plastics, such as its Rilsan HT polyamide line, that can replace metal tubing in automotive and other applications. The company tries to link its R&D with U.N. Sustainable Development Goals and works with groups such as the Japan Organics Recycling Association and the Japan BioPlastics Association.

“Over the past 10 years, customers have become more interested in knowing where a product comes from, whether it has a bio-based origin,” says Vitry, who completed a PhD at Tokyo Institute of Technology before working in Japan and China. He helped set up an Arkema R&D center in Changshu, China, before settling in Kyoto.

Arkema hosts Japanese interns in Kyoto and undertakes collaborations with Japanese firms such as fiber and textile maker Toyobo. One of the main advantages for the company as a tenant at KRP is that it can use a shared KRP laboratory with specialized equipment that can advance its R&D projects.

“We can use this equipment to characterize materials for analyses, for example measuring the electrical properties of polymers for 5G networks,” says Vitry. “These are tools we can’t afford to have ourselves because we don’t need them all the time. We’re also part of the KRP network of companies and our people meet them every week. Overall, the environment at KRP is very helpful for us.”

GM-980x120-BIT-ENG-Banner-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-2-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-2-1-1-2-1-1-1-2-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-2

Where inspiration meets manufacturing prowess

Arkema is one of 26 foreign companies at KRP from 11 countries and regions; others include

Bosch and Pfizer. They have offices in KRP’s 17-building, 5.9-hectare site, which is supported by Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture and local industry.

KRP aims at being a one-stop service center for businesses, with both facilities and business support. It has 68,800 square meters of rentable space for office and other uses, laboratories where researchers and startups can use high-end equipment such as DNA sequencers and MALDI mass spectrometers at low cost, a conference center for up to 350 people, an executive lounge, and other facilities. KRP also offers services to support new businesses and to facilitate networking among companies including major local manufacturers. But one of the main attractions is local talent.

“Large corporations tell us they join KRP for the recruiting potential for local hires, foreign exchange students and overseas designers,” says Adachi Takeshi, general manager in the KRP Brand Strategy Department. “We have strong connections with Kyoto universities and we host technical seminars featuring experts from academia.”

These kinds of events have drawn life sciences venture companies from all over the Kansai region as well as the likes of Johnson and Johnson, Takeda Pharmaceutical, and other big brands. Adachi notes that the local fundraising environment has improved in recent years, with both the number of venture capital companies and the volume of funds increasing. The Kyoto Startup Company Evaluation Committee (aka Kyoto Mekiki) is one of several regional groups that work with Kyoto City to support fledgling businesses.

Meanwhile, KRP is continuing to grow. It is expanding its footprint with construction of an 18th building for office rental space slated for completion in 2021. As he and his colleagues welcome more businesses from overseas, Adachi emphasizes Kyoto’s attractiveness as a compact city with rich academic, manufacturing and business resources.

“People here in Kyoto have been making things for almost 1,200 years,” says Adachi. “People from overseas who see traditional things here can become inspired and work with local craftsmen to turn their ideas into prototypes. We are working with many companies, startups and entrepreneurs to do this in a more effective, efficient way. There’s no other city that can offer this combination of inspiration and manufacturing prowess. People get culture shock here, but in a good way.”

Note: All Japanese names in this article are given in the traditional Japanese order, with surname first.

To learn more about Kyoto Research Park, click here.

To learn more about Arkema, click here.

Japan is changing. The country is at the forefront of demographic change that is expected to affect countries around the world. Japan regards this not as an onus but as a bonus for growth. To overcome this challenge, industry, academia and government have been moving forward to produce powerful and innovative solutions. The ongoing economic policy program known as Abenomics is helping give rise to new ecosystems for startups, in addition to open innovation and business partnerships. The Japan Voice series explores this new landscape of challenge and opportunity through interviews with Japanese and expatriate innovators who are powering a revitalized economy. For more information on the Japanese Government innovations and technologies, please visit https://www.japan.go.jp/technology/.

Source: Japan BrandVoice: Why Companies Like French Chemicals Maker Arkema Are Choosing Kyoto

Please follow my instagram: http://instagram.com/arminhamidian67

Arkema continues to innovate and develop ever more efficient materials for coatings that are both tougher and easier to apply, while addressing environmental constraints. Working closely with its customers, the Group markets a unique multi-technology and multi-product offering for the paint, coatings and adhesives markets, to be showcased at the European Coatings Show, Nürnberg, 19 to 21 March 2019 (Hall 4A – Stand 313).

In A World Of Bubbles, Tokyo’s ‘Skyscraper Curse’ May Be Scariest

It’s been a medal-caliber few years for Japan’s property developers. Not Olympic gold of the kind Tokyo will award athletes 12 months from now. But construction ahead of the 2020 Games, building that’s been a godsend for Japan’s property developers. That will happen when the cost of staging a few weeks of sporting events explode to $25 billion from the $7 billion Tokyo originally estimated.

What if, though, the 2020 construction boom spells trouble for the century ahead? The reference here is to the “Skyscraper Curse” that may be rearing its head in the third-biggest economy.

Building related to Tokyo 2020 turned the Japanese capital into a giant construction site. Even developers unattached to the August 2020 Olympics have used the excitement to build new office towers throughout the city. Office space that, frankly, might have a hard time renting out floors two years from now.

Multinational companies, after all, continue to favor Singapore and Hong Kong (for now, at least) for Asian headquarters. And it’s not Shinzo Abe’s seven-year reflation scheme is catalyzing a startup boom to fill all that office space once the five-ring Olympic circus leaves town.

Today In: Asia

Mori Building recently unveiled ambitious plans to construct Japan’s tallest skyscraper, a title suddenly held by Osaka. This epic redevelopment project that will include offices, residences, shops, restaurants, a hotel, and an international school will come at a cost of 580 billion yen ($5.45 billion), which surely has contractors and rivals salivating at the possibilities. But there’s reason for broader caution.

One can quibble with the wisdom of putting a 64-story, 330-meter edifice in the center of one of the world’s most seismically active metropolises. It’s economic risks, though, that Prime Minister Abe’s office should be considering.

History betrays an uncanny correlation between world’s-tallest-building projects and financial crises. Roll your eyes if you want, but I’ve been covering the phenomenon for two decades. Here’s a quick recap of the last 112 years.

The Panic of 1907, when the New York Stock Exchange lost 50%, occurred just as Manhattan celebrated the opening of the 47-story Singer Building and 50-story Metropolitan Life North Building. The Great Depression that began in 1929 coincided with the New York christenings of 40 Wall Street and the Chrysler Building. Despair and homelessness spoiled the party over the 1931 opening the Empire State Building.

Fast forward four decades to New York and Chicago, the hosts to the world-topping World Trade Center and Sears Tower projects. Both opened as the Bretton Woods monetary system was breaking down and stagflation was fueling fiscal crises.

In 1997, Kuala Lumpur was quaking amid regional market turbulence just as Malaysia’s Petronas Towers came online. In the early 2000s, Taipei opened the world’s biggest architectural marvel in time for political turmoil at home and growing tensions with China, which views Taiwan as a breakaway province. The 2008 completion of Dubai’s 828-metre Burj Khalifa Tower dovetailed with the city’s bust, cascading oil prices and the “Lehman shock” a world away.

This is just the last 100 or so years of the Skyscraper Curse. Spiritualists may track the phenomenon back to the biblical Tower of Babel. But coincidence or not, it’s hard to miss the overlap between history-making economic disruptions and new architectural Guinness World Records entries.

The common, and indisputable, thread is ultra-low interest rates fueling over-investment and froth. Developers are always looking to harness the newest engineering and technological advances. That impulse gets supercharged by excess monetary expansion. It’s not surprising, then, that tallest-building projects often get green-lighted near the top-ticks of speculative manias.

Again, not the most solidly scientific of arguments. Yet Asian developers still engage in serious real-estate one-upmanship. South Korea’s tallest building, the Lotte World Tower, opened in 2017 just in time for President Park Geun-hye’s impeachment and imprisonment on bribery charges. Also in 2017, Shenzhen toasted the opening of the Ping An Finance Center, the No. 4 tallest building globally, as U.S. President Donald Trump was telegraphing his China trade war.

In Melbourne, the ongoing Australia 108 project aims to become the Southern Hemisphere’s tallest residential tower. A coincidence, maybe, but many economists worry Australia is veering toward its first recession in more than 25 years.

What about Tokyo? Abe’s seven-year revival project has been 90% monetary easing and perhaps 10% structural reform (and that’s being generous). All that liquidity, coupled with the construction boondoggle that is Tokyo 2020, has revived land prices in an otherwise deflation-traumatized economy.

As of February, the Nikkei Financial Review reported, Tokyo property prices, as measured by new condos, approached late 1980s bubble-period levels. Yet inflation is advancing just 0.6% year-on-year, less than halfway to the 2% target. And ominously, real wages are down six straight months now as Trump’s China trade war slams Japan’s export engine.

All this means the Bank of Japan’s historic easing has Tokyo construction sites buzzing with activity. The rest of the nation’s slowing economic regions, not so much. All that building is stellar news for property developers, but it’s also creating a bull market in concerns that Japan’s latest building boom could be, well, cursed.

I am a Tokyo-based journalist, former columnist for Barron’s and Bloomberg and author of “Japanization: What the World Can Learn from Japan’s Lost Decades.” My journalism awards include the 2010 Society of American Business Editors and Writers prize for commentary.

Source: In A World Of Bubbles, Tokyo’s ‘Skyscraper Curse’ May Be Scariest

The one-year countdown to the 2020 Summer Olympics begins! As Tokyo gears up to host the games, NBC’s Keir Simmons takes us around the amazing venues in Japan’s capital city. » Subscribe to TODAY: http://on.today.com/SubscribeToTODAY » Watch the latest from TODAY: http://bit.ly/LatestTODAY About: TODAY brings you the latest headlines and expert tips on money, health and parenting. We wake up every morning to give you and your family all you need to start your day. If it matters to you, it matters to us. We are in the people business. Subscribe to our channel for exclusive TODAY archival footage & our original web series. Connect with TODAY Online! Visit TODAY’s Website: http://on.today.com/ReadTODAY Find TODAY on Facebook: http://on.today.com/LikeTODAY Follow TODAY on Twitter: http://on.today.com/FollowTODAY Follow TODAY on Instagram: http://on.today.com/InstaTODAY Follow TODAY on Pinterest: http://on.today.com/PinTODAY #SummerGames #TokyoOlympics #TodayShow 2020 Olympics 1 Year Out: How Tokyo Is Prepping For Summer Games | TODAY

Japan Casino Resort Hopeful Wakayama Makes Its Case

Tuna fileting demonstrations at Kuroshiro Market are a signature attraction of Marina City, proposed site of a Wakayama integrated resort.Muhammad Cohen

Integrated resorts in Japan’s largest cities promise to be spectacular successes. But most action on the IR front right now is in the so-called regional sector, areas that have been losing population and relevance as economic power becomes more concentrated in major urban centers. Hokkaido, north of main island Honshu, held an IR showcase in January with seven IR operators participating. Last month, Wakayama, east of Osaka, hosted 300 people for an IR forum.

“Wakayama continues to be aggressive in letting everyone know that they desire to host one of Japan’s three potential IRs,” Global Marketing Advisors government affairs director Brendan Bussmann, who spoke at the event, says. Government plans call for Wakayama’s IR to have 2,500 guest rooms plus convention and exhibition facilities and cost about US$2.5 billion to develop.

“Attendees seemed pleased – this was, for most, the first time they were able to listen to and meet with IR operators,” Hogo managing partner in Japan Chris Wieners says. The hospitality and entertainment marketing specialist organized the half-day event along with publisher Asia Gaming Brief, supported by the Wakayama Prefecture Government and Chamber of Commerce plus four IR operators, Manila’s Solaire, France’s Groupe Barriere, US tribal Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment and Macau’s Galaxy Entertainment.

Wakayama Governor Yoshiniobu Nisaka provides strong support for the IR effort.Wakayama Prefecture Government

Wakayama may be the least risky regional IR location from numerous perspectives. Unabashedly pro-IR Governor Yoshinobu Nisaka was reelected to a fourth term last November by a four-to-one margin in a campaign that Nisaka’s opponent declared a referendum on casinos.

Like Osaka, Wakayama has selected its IR site. Unlike elsewhere, “You can start construction right away,” Governor Nisaka says. Wakayama’s IR will occupy roughly half of Marina City, a 49 hectare (121 acre) artificial island in Osaka Bay that’s a short drive from downtown Wakayama City, the prefecture capital. The island currently houses tourist facilities including seafood and fruit markets: Wakayama is famed for oranges and plums.

Marina City also has a yacht harbor, hotel, onsen (hot spring) with sea views and fishing pier. There’s room for a ferry to connect to the airport and even cruise ship facilities. IR plans call for capitalizing on the seaside location with water sports and a leisure vibe. An amusement park now on the IR site would be easily demolished, and there are no chemical or archaeological surprises looming.

Seiganto-ji Temple is among the UNESCO World Heritage sites that attract more than 30 million visitors annually to Wakayama.Wakayama Prefecture Government

Wakayama Prefecture already annually attracts 33.4 million overwhelmingly domestic tourists, drawn mainly by UNESCO World Heritage Buddhist shrines, Waikiki sister beach Shirarahama and Adventure Land, a wildlife and amusement park featuring pandas. Wakayama City hosts Japan’s Olympic sailing training center and annual national scholastic sailing competition.

Wakayama’s top selling point: it’s in Kansai region, Japan’s second largest population center with more than 22 million people. Wakayama City is 40 minutes by car from Kansai International Airport, the region’s overseas gateway, marginally closer than Osaka and just over an over by train or car from Osaka city. Access to potential domestic and foreign customers boosts Wakayama’s case.

It’s widely assumed that Osaka will win an IR licenses, bolstered by its successful bid for the 2025 World Expo. With just three IR licenses on offer nationally, skeptics doubt Japan would award two to the same region. Many also suggest a Wakayama IR couldn’t compete with an Osaka IR expected to cost four times as much.

Wakayama City seen from Wakayama Palace. Proposed IR site Marina City is over the arch bridge in the left background.Wakayama Prefecture Government

“One IR won’t for enough for Kansai,” Barriere Japan president Jonathan Strock says. “Osaka and Wakayama IRs are not competitors, they’re complementary,” Osaka as a primarily domestic destination with Wakayama targeting foreigners. Barriere, which runs more than two dozen casinos around France, has made Wakayama “the focus of our IR efforts.”

It will likely take about a year until the central government is ready to assess IR bids from localities to consider awarding licenses. If two or more of Japan’s largest cities use that time to follow Osaka’s lead and enter the IR fray, the central government must decide whether to issue a regional license or take a more lucrative urban opportunity – central and host governments split the 30% gaming tax and ¥6,000 (US$54) casino entry fee for Japanese residents. That’s a political decision.

“The national government appears to be heading in the general direction to re-balance the focus and concentration of wealth, talent and population from Tokyo and other major prefectures, to these regional areas, lest the imbalance widen,” Vector Risk Management managing director Kenji Okamoto says. “Providing a regional license may also help garner support and interest for IRs, both of which are still lacking among the general populace.”

Those goals may or may not outweigh the political imperative that every IR be an overwhelming commercial success. As a regional location accessible to an urban population, Wakayama has a pair of aces in the hole.

Hong Kong On Air author Muhammad Cohen is Editor At Large for Inside Asian Gaming. Follow him on Twitter @Muhammad Cohen.

Source: Japan Casino Resort Hopeful Wakayama Makes Its Case

Japan-South Korea Tensions Spur The Need For Courage And Creativity

A series of incidents have driven relations between Japan and South Korea to new lows. Frustration has mounted as each government has blamed the other for the sorry state of affairs. Though domestic politics is partially to blame, the real problem is more deeply rooted. Each country sees the other as the cornerstone of its own national identity, and their respective self-images make conflict inevitable. While the U.S. can help the two countries address this problem, only courageous and inventive leadership in Tokyo and Seoul can resolve it…………….

Source: Japan-South Korea Tensions Spur The Need For Courage And Creativity

Gokayama Village Japan -Instagram post by Armin Hamidian • Jan 25, 2018 at 7:27pm UTC

27 Likes, 1 Comments – Armin Hamidian (@onlinemarketingscoops) on Instagram: “@wasabitool .. Gokayama is an area within the city of Nanto in Toyama Prefecture, Japan. It has…”

Source: Instagram post by Armin Hamidian • Jan 25, 2018 at 7:27pm UTC

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