Category Archives: BUSINESS

Hilton to bring LXR brand to Kyoto

On February 4, Hilton announced plans to open an LXR-branded luxury hotel in Kyoto. The resort will be located within the 28-acre Shozan Resort Kyoto on the site of a former bowling alley.

The four-story hotel will have a total floor area of 12,000 sqm (129,000 sq.ft) and have 114 rooms. The opening is scheduled for late 2021.

This will be the first LXR Hotels & Resorts property in the Asia Pacific region. Hilton launched the luxury collection brand in 2018 and currently has three locations in Dubai, London, and Anguilla.

Kyoto is no stranger to high-end hotels, with Aman Kyoto and Park Hyatt Kyoto both opening in the historic city last year.


Kinugasa Kagamiishicho, Kita Ward, Kyoto City

The Nikkei Shimbun, February 4, 2020.
The Kyoto Shimbun, February 4, 2020.

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The coronavirus demands more integration, not less

In the photo taken on 13 February 2020 at the Incheon metropolitan branch of the Korean Red Cross in South Korea, volunteers are preparing emergency food to reach citizens who have been isolated from their homes, including those who have come into contact with people infected with the new coronavirus (Photo: Reuters).

Author: Editorial Board, ANU

The residents of Omaha, Nebraska, received unusual letters in the autumn of 1967. The letters weren’t for them, they were for someone who lived in Boston, but they came with simple instructions: if you know that person in Boston, forward the letter to them. If you don’t know them (almost always the case) send the letter to someone who might.

On average, the letters passed through only six pairs of hands before they reached their target, inspiring the phrase ‘six degrees of separation’. It was a landmark study, conducted by Stanley Milgram, and it showed just how interconnected the world had become.

That interconnectedness has increased exponentially since then, and that’s been a good thing. Increased trade, finance, investment and people-to-people links have seen massive reductions in poverty and increases in living standards that could only have been dreamed of back in the 1960s.

But integration has an ugly side. Financial integration means a lower cost of living, but it also means more dangerous financial crises. Trade integration means huge advances in productivity, but it also means greater exposure to the economies and policies of other countries. And while people-to-people links mean richer communities and a more peaceful world, it also means that a health problem in one country can quickly become a global health problem.

The coronavirus reminds us of the downside of integration: that it makes risks more systemic. The challenge for Asian governments, including Australia’s, is to manage these risks while protecting the integration that has saved and greatly improved the lives of so many. These are not competing objectives. Protecting the fruits of our integration and addressing the coronavirus are both about maximising welfare and minimising suffering.

The solution to the coronavirus is to have more integration and cooperation, not less. Addressing pandemics is what economists call a …continue reading


Remaining apartment inventory in central Tokyo drops for 2nd month in a row

According to REINS, a total of 2,680 second-hand apartments were reported to have sold across greater Tokyo in January 2020, up 0.5% from last year. The average sale price was 36,720,000 Yen, up 11.5% from last year. The average price per square meter was 562,900 Yen, up 9.4% from last year. This is the 12th month in a row to record a year-on-year increase in sale prices.

In the Tokyo metropolitan area, 1,407 second-hand apartments had sold, up 2.3% from last year. The average sale price was 46,230,000 Yen, up 15.0% from last year. The average price per square meter was 748,200 Yen, up 10.3% from last year.

New listings in Tokyo dropped for the 5th month in a row and are down 6.5% from last year. Remaining inventory dropped 4.4% from last year. This is the second month in a row to see a year-on-year decline in inventory.

In central Tokyo’s 3 wards of Chiyoda, Chuo and Minato, 167 apartments had sold, up 13.6% from last year. The average sale price was 68,400,000 Yen, up 14.3% from last year. The average price per square meter was 1,147,500 Yen, up 2.6% from last year. The average size of an apartment sold was 59.61 sqm (641 sq.ft).

New listings in central Tokyo were down 12.5% from last year. This is the fourth month to see a year-on-year drop in listings. It was a similar story with remaining inventory recording a 6.4% drop from last year.

Source: REINS, February 10, 2020.

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Searching for a humane response to the coronavirus

Passengers help a baby wear a mask at the Shanghai railway station in China, 9 February 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Aly Song).

Author: Greg McCarthy, UWA

The coronavirus (COVID-19) has served to magnify political, economic and cultural tensions within and between Australia and China. This is a consequence of fear. But beyond the anxiety, the new virus is a challenge for humanity rather than a catalyst to race-based politics.

In China, the virus has amplified tensions between the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leadership and the people. Chinese social media has exposed official attempts to cover up the early outbreak of the virus and uncovered punishment of doctors, notably Li Wenliang, who courageously spoke out about the growing emergency.

The dispatch of Premier Li Keqiang to Wuhan can be read as an attempt by the CCP leadership to rebuild trust and show that the Party is in control. The CCP leadership sought to reassert authority by invoking a state of emergency based on biotechnical and medical advice. This extraordinary measure signifies an endeavour to show concern for the health of the entire Chinese population.

As trust in the authorities waivers, China’s netizens have questioned the official coronavirus infection and death reports — unofficial statistics released by TenCent record numbers far greater than official data. Widespread fear across China has also led to a return to forms of Cultural Revolution divisions turning neighbour against neighbour.

In Australia, the Morrison government took some time to act but when it did, its actions were decisive and blunt. The government enacted a state of exception based on medical grounds on 1 February 2020. This action raised the Department of Foreign Affair and Trade’s travel advice for mainland China to level 4 — ‘do not travel’. On the recommendation of the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee and the Communicable Diseases Network Australia, Prime Minister Morrison applied further travel restrictions to people entering Australia, prohibiting foreign nationals — excluding permanent residents of …continue reading


Managing Asia’s coronavirus response

Workers make masks at a medical supplies company in Nan'an District, Chongqing, southwest China, on 11 February 2020 (Photo: Reuters).

Author: Sara E Davies, Griffith University

The novel coronavirus (COVID19) has so far been reported in 24 countries and territories outside mainland China, where the outbreak was first reported last December. Measures have been taken to contain the spread of the virus but some at the cost of impeding regional connectivity. To better prepare for future outbreaks, it is necessary to build channels of trust, communication and information-sharing in peacetime, and increased investment in equitable health systems to support outbreak containment measures.

Cases have been reported all across Asia. Indonesia, the most populous country of Southeast Asia, tested a suspected 38 cases that all turned out negative. But this month, Indonesia, along with a number of other countries that usually have strong travel and trade relations with China, announced a precautionary travel and trade ban.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), said that the containment of COVID19 requires a policy trifecta. First, countries should share surveillance information, and if they cannot test for coronavirus then the WHO will facilitate sending samples to countries that can. Second, governments must work to contain the outbreak without trade and travel bans, which can affect information sharing. Finally, he stressed the importance of managing the information flow to people affected by the outbreak.

The ‘infodemic’ — social media rumours fuelled by false information — is harmful from a public health approach and xenophobic from a human rights perspective. Official government information is unable to keep pace with the spread of misinformation online.

There are three important messages that can be learned from this outbreak that are particularly relevant for Asia.

First, the peacetime coordination of the WHO’s International Health Regulations (IHR) needs ongoing financial …continue reading