Category Archives: BUSINESS

Japan fails to legislate for piracy website blocking

Piracy website blocking has been one of the most controversial topics in Japan. In April 2018, the government decided on a policy to legislate for piracy website blocking by Internet providers, to combat piracy websites with copyright infringing content of manga, animation etc. However, it has been strongly opposed by lawyers and academics out of fear that it is likely to infringe on the constitutionally guaranteed secrecy of communication. Accordingly, the government reportedly has decided to postpone the legislation, and instead it is considering alternative measures – e.g. regulating leech sites which guide users to piracy sites. It is rare (at least in the intellectual property field) that the government has to change its policy by meeting with strong objections at its advisory committee.

By the way, I have found an article on IPPro Magazine which reports that Google removed more than 3 billion URLs from its search engine for infringing copyright in 2018, while it also disapproved more than 10 million advertisements that were suspected of copyright infringement or linked to infringing sites. A website which is not found by search engines or not linked from anywhere seems not to exist on the Net. Google can control this. That’s great power. Remember, with great power comes great responsibility. …continue reading


Can investor engagement revive Japanese corporations?

Authors: Steven Vogel, University of California, Berkeley and Takashi Asano, Tokyo Metropolitan University

Japanese corporate governance is back in the news — and not in a good way — with the dramatic arrest of Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn for financial misconduct. But this singular case should not be taken as an indictment of Japanese corporate governance more broadly. New York Times coverage of the unfolding CBS scandal offers a portrait of executive entrenchment eerily similar to that reported at Nissan: ‘A culture where this behavior could have gone unchecked for so long with so much knowledge is really troubling’, noted one source. ‘This is a disaster for CBS shareholders’.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe toasts with Japanese business group leaders Yoshimitsu Kobayashi of Japan Association of Corporate Executives, Akio Mimura of Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Hiroaki Nakanishi of Keidanren (Japan Federation of Economic Organization) at a business leaders’ New Year party at a Tokyo hotel. Some 1800 business leaders attended the New Year party, 7 January 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Yoshio Tsunoda).


Takarazuka City to give away historic home

The former Yasuda Residence in Takarazuka City may soon be donated to a private enterprise, with applications from interested parties to be held sometime in February or March this year.

Under the proposed scheme, the city will donate the house (with the land to be leased) to a private enterprise for the purpose of converting the home into public use.

The 98-year old house was built in 1921 for Tatsujiro Yasuda, an employee of Mitsui & Co. Yasuda was appointed to the US office of Mitsui at one point, and was inspired to design a home similar to the ones he had seen during his time overseas.

The 3-storey wooden house sits on a 1500 sqm block of land. It is located within a Category I Exclusively Low-Rise Residential Zone which generally prohibits the construction of retail and commercial facilities, while public facilities are limited to elementary schools and aged-care facilities.

In 2010 the land and building was bequeathed to the city by Yasuda’s daughter. The city had considered various public uses for the home but the cost of maintaining the old property and operating it proved too high for city finances. At one point the city was planning to demolish the home but was met with opposition efforts made by local residents. The exterior of the house is almost entirely in original condition, with restoration and retrofitting expected to cost several hundred million Yen.

In 2009 it was selected as one of the 100 historic homes of Hibarigaoka. The Hibarigaoka neighborhood sits on a hillside location towards the very eastern end of Takarazuka City. During the Meiji period (1868-1912) this district was covered in orchards. It began to be converted into a housing subdivision with the opening of the Minoh Arima train line (now part of Hankyu) between Umeda (Osaka) …continue reading


Abe’s make-or-break year

Author: Aurelia George Mulgan, UNSW

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has an ambitious agenda for 2019, his seventh year in office. It includes a number of make-or-break issues that are fundamental to his political legacy. But the question remains: how much of his agenda is realistically achievable?

Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May walks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as he receives a military Guard of Honour at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office ahead of bilateral talks in London, Britain, 10 January 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Dan Kitwood).

Diplomacy is particularly important to Abe because of its utility in promoting his domestic political standing. The Prime Minister has reiterated his ambition to promote ‘the final settlement of Japan’s post-war diplomacy’. Topping the ‘settlement’ list is resolving the so-called ‘Northern Territories’ (Southern Kurils) issue with Russia and signing a peace treaty.

But serious obstacles remain. If Russia behaves true to form, Abe’s vision will remain based more on wishful thinking than on realistic prospects for regaining what Japan regards as its lost territory. So far, rebuilding the bilateral relationship through economic cooperation in the Northern Territories has mostly involved ‘give’ on Japan’s part and ‘take’ on Russia’s part.

Abe is also …continue reading


Japan real estate transaction volume reaches 2.1 trillion Yen in first half of 2018

According to the Japan Real Estate Institute, the real estate transaction volume across Japan for the first half of 2018 was 2.1 trillion Yen (approx. 18.5 billion USD).

In the first half of 2007, during the previous market peak, the transaction volume reached peaked at 3 trillion Yen before dropping to 1 trillion Yen after the global financial crisis in the second half of 2008. Between 2013 and 2015, the half-yearly transaction volume ranged from 2 ~ 2.6 trillion Yen. In the second half of 2015 it dropped to 1.8 trillion Yen, but has since recovered.

Transactions in central Tokyo’s 5 wards saw an increase towards the end of 2017 as both J-REITs and foreign institutional funds began to re-focus their attention on prime assets providing stable returns in the city center. Almost 40% of the total volume was for property located in Tokyo’s 5 wards, almost double the share seen in the first half of 2017.

Foreign funds

Acquisitions by foreign funds peaked at 800 billion Yen in the first half of 2007. By the second half of 2017 the total volume recovered to 720 billion. The first half of 2018 saw a sharp drop to just 310 billion Yen (approx. 2.7 billion USD).

*The data only includes transactions publicly reported by J-REITs, the Tokyo Stock Exchange, the Nikkei Business Publication and other public reports where the sale price has been indicated. Since the public reporting of sale data is not always mandatory, this may not represent all transactions that occurred.

Source: The Japan Real Estate Institute, September 14, 2018.

…continue reading