Category Archives: BUSINESS

Recent IP activities of Japanese companies

Japan Patent Office (JPO) published an annual report on July 12 2019. According to the report, 313,567 patent applications were filed in Japan in 2018. And, 253,000 patent applications among them were filed by domestic applicants. It slightly decreased than last year.

As you may know, Japanese companies have been reducing investment in Japanese patents. However, my more serious concern is that they have been not increasing investment in patenting in foreign countries either, while increasing foreign sales. The chart shows the transition of foreign patent filing number and the foreign sales of Japanese companies.

In fact, Japanese companies have not increased investment in intellectual properties, despite the increasing importance of IP being recognized in the world. Under such circumstances, the number of IP professionals in Japan is decreasing as well. This means that many IP departments of Japanese companies may have failed to demonstrate enough existential value of themselves.

This report also shows the utilization of Japanese patents. The utilization ratio in 2017 is 48.4%. This includes licensing to other parties. So, more than half of Japanese patents are not utilized. Also, it states that 37.0% of patents are maintained only for defensive purpose, and they are not used by themselves or other parties. As a result, the remaining 14.5% of patents are maintained for nothing. IP department must be asked for an explanation on that by their higher management sooner or later. Then, such patents may be withdrawn or put in the market.

Thank you for reading. If you enjoyed this post, I’d appreciate it if you’d help it spread by emailing it to a friend, or sharing it on social media. Thanks! …continue reading


New apartment prices in Japan since 1956

For those interested in historic real estate data, Tokyo Kantei has released a graph of new apartment prices across Japan between 1956 and 2018.

In 1990, Japan was at the peak of an over-inflated asset bubble, with prices more than doubling over the five-year period between 1985 and 1990. The average price of a new apartment in Tokyo’s 23 wards reached 5,179,000 Yen per tsubo (1,567,000 Yen/sqm), a 14.0% increase from the previous year. Across greater Tokyo, the average price increased by 20.6% over 12 months to 3,435,000 Yen per Tsubo (1,039,000 Yen/sqm). In the Kinki region which includes Osaka, average prices saw a year-on-year increase of 27.1%. New developments were located far and wide, from the city center to the outer suburbs with limited transport.

Property prices entered into a continual decline in the 1990s before hitting a low in 2002. This is what is referred to as Japan’s lost decade. In 2000, the average price of a new apartment in Tokyo’s 23 wards was 2,295,000 Yen/tsubo (694,000 Yen/sqm). Development began to focus more in the city center, particularly within the Yamanote Loop Line. The manmade islands on Tokyo Bay, including Kachidoki and around Koto-ku saw a sharp increase in supply with several large-scale high-rises. 2006 and 2007 saw a mini-bubble emerge, although prices later dropped with the onset of the global financial crisis.

In the past few years, average new apartment prices across greater Tokyo have returned to the 3,000,000 Yen/tsubo range not seen since the 1980s bubble. However, the rate of growth this time around has been much milder than during the bubble. Since 2012, prices in Tokyo’s 23 wards are up an average of 33%, much more subdued than the 130%+ growth seen over a five-year period in the late 1980s.

Development in recent years has taken the …continue reading


Are Japan and China really getting along?

China's President Xi Jinping is greeted by Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the G20 leaders summit in Osaka, Japan, 28 June 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque).

Author: Tsuyoshi Minami, Shanghai Normal University

Following the 2019 Osaka G20 summit, Japan–China relations appear to have entered a new period. While improved Japan–China ties are in the national interests of both countries, the ongoing US trade war with China is beginning to have significant effects on the relationship. Can Japan and China continue to improve relations? What benefits does this rapprochement offer the two countries?

Both Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Premier Li Keqiang argue that the Japan–China relationship has returned to a normal track. The G20 summit last June marked President Xi Jinping’s first visit to Japan as General Secretary. Following Abe’s invitation, Xi’s state visit to Japan was confirmed for spring 2020. In October 2018, Abe visited China for the China–Japan summit.

Amid trade negotiations with the United States, Japan–China rapprochement could benefit the economic policy of both governments.

Although Japan originally wanted the United States to return to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Trump administration is known for insisting on bilateral rather than multilateral agreements. Japan resisted signing a new trade accord with the United States because Washington is demanding market opening greater than what was expected under the TPP but is now expected to sign a bilateral agreement in late September 2019.

Abe and Xi’s promotion of ‘free and fair trade‘ during the G20 summit was a statement of opposition to US protectionism. The United States has threatened additional tariffs on automobiles imported from Japan. In 2017, 75 per cent of Japan’s trade surplus with the United States came from car exports. Any further US tariffs pose serious risks to Japan’s economy. Japan aims to offset the risk of one-sided trade deals with the United States by increasing its economic cooperation with China.

Economic cooperation with Japan serves three …continue reading


Japan’s new model of Africa engagement

Japan's Crown Prince Akishino and Crown Princess Kiko greet leaders of the African nations attending the seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) during a tea party at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Japan, 30 August 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Imperial Household Agency of Japan/Handout).

Authors: Brittany Morreale and Purnendra Jain, University of Adelaide

The Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD), held triennially, represents more than a quarter century of engagement between Japan and the African continent. Tokyo co-hosts multilateral agencies such as the UN, World Bank, UN Development Program and African Union (AU) as a unique facet of the TICAD mechanism aimed at bridging African needs with the resources of G7 donor powers. The latest iteration, TICAD 7, was held in Yokohama from 28–30 August 2019.

TICAD 7 introduced several new paradigms for engagement — most notably the role of private enterprise and civil society as the frontline of the Japan–Africa partnership. The summit also placed special emphasis on Japan’s unique ‘brand’ as a development partner and its distinctiveness as a global technology leader. These themes present an alternative to the Chinese brand of development partnership in Africa plagued by criticisms of corruption, coercive debt and poor quality. At the same time, the TICAD 7 Declaration distinguished the multilateral paradigm as a ‘pace-setter’ for other partnerships, leaving the door open for Japan–China–Africa cooperation in South–South development initiatives.

TICAD 7 marks the third time that the summit-level conference has been held in the city of Yokohama, where year-round events and a celebration of African art and culture are held to deepen the ties of friendship between Yokohama and African states. TICAD was attended by 26 African heads of state and featured bilateral meetings with over 40 African nations, including Kenya, Egypt, Djibouti and South Africa — all strategic hubs for Japan’s diplomatic and security engagement in Africa.

In Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s closing remarks he emphasised TICAD’s role in imagining a ‘new future of Africa from various positions, such as the African states, Japan, the International Organizations, and the other partner …continue reading


Kyoto’s former red-light district now a hotspot for investors

Gojo-rakuen, a former red-light district between Gojo and Kiyomizu-Gojo Stations and along the western side of Kamo River, is now a hotspot for fast-moving investors. The neighborhood is undergoing rapid gentrification into a trendy tourist district, while land values are seeing strong growth.

Between 2013 and 2019, rosenka land tax values (used only for calculating inheritance and gift tax) increased by almost 70% on some streets. Land that once traded for under 100,000 Yen/sqm in 2011 was selling for up to 550,000 Yen/sqm in 2017. Now, the average market price in this area is closer to 700,000 Yen/sqm. In 2019, government land valuations at several survey sites in the surrounding neighborhood saw a year-on-year increase by as much as 20%, more than double the rate of increase seen in 2018.

What is pricing like?

  • A 480 sq.ft rental house for 340,000 USD
  • A 1,600 sq.ft block of land for 740,000 USD
  • A 10-room dormitory-stye house for 1.4 million USD
  • A 10-room hostel for 2.4 million USD

Land values have been somewhat suppressed by a local Yakuza gang that has its headquarters in the neighborhood. While this may be seen as a negative factor to ordinary home buyers, it has little impact on investors focusing on cheap hostels catering to budget-conscious foreign backpackers. Stroll around the once undesirable and underutilized neighborhood and you will find newly opened cafes in restored historic buildings, hipster coffee shops, craft beer bars, event spaces, ateliers, and a plethora of backpackers hostels and guesthouses.

This red-light district started in the mid-Edo period on former farmland. It flourished towards the end of the Edo period and early Meiji period, and was known as the largest red-light district in Kyoto. For a brief period after WWII it was recognized as a legal red-light district.

When the Anti-Prostitution Act was introduced in …continue reading