Category Archives: BUSINESS

For Sale: 5 traditional Japanese homes in Kamakura

Let’s take a look at several traditional Japanese homes currently listed for sale in Kamakura. This popular beachside city is just 48 minutes by train from central Tokyo and 25 minutes from Yokohama, making it relatively commutable for city workers. It’s also an appealing destination for weekend visitors and holiday-home owners.

The pace is decidedly laid back, with lush green mountainside, sandy beaches and surf, traditional streetscapes, temples, shrines, and the 700+-year-old Great Buddha.

(1) Hase House

3 Bed + 1 Bath / House: 107 m2 (1,151 sq.ft) / ¥26,800,000 (Approx. US$250,000)

Built around 1932, this is a 2-story wooden house with three bedrooms and a south-facing garden. It is 200 meters from the beach and a 2-minute walk from Hase Station on the Enoshima Electric Railway. The Hasedera shrine is a 5-minute walk away, and the Great Buddha is an 8-minute walk. Next-door is cafe Chez Samantha, housed in a traditional kominka.

This property is on leasehold land (under the old system), and has an annual land rent of 380,016 Yen (approx. US$3,500). The landowner’s permission is required before this property can be sold.

(2) Dai House

4 Rooms + 1 Bath / House: 131 m2 (1,410 sq.ft) / ¥66,000,000 (Approx. US$616,000)

This single-story home is an 11-minute walk from Kita-Kamakura Station and a 12-minute walk to Engakuji temple. It was originally two kominkas that were relocated here from the Tohoku region. The land is freehold and has outdoor parking for up to two vehicles.

(3) Omachi House

4 Rooms + 1 Bath / House: 101 …continue reading


90% of real estate companies now feeling effects of coronavirus

Over 90% of real estate companies are now reporting that the coronavirus pandemic is affecting their business activities. This is a 20 point increase from a previous survey carried out in early March.

Real estate information provider Lifull surveyed 750 companies between April 6 and April 12. 91.7% of them reported impacts on operations. For developers, the number was highest at 95.5%.

Over 70% reported a decline in inspections, customer visits to offices, and inquiries. Half of the companies have had difficulty in obtaining masks, antibacterial gel and other protective items for staff. Only 2.5% reported an increase in online inspections and virtual tours.

On the sales brokerage side, almost half reported a delay to or cancellation of negotiations. On the rental side, 20.3% of management companies are fielding inquiries from tenants wanting to reduce rent, while 11.6% reported issues with tenants falling behind in rental payments.

This time, 98.6% of companies were concerned about the future impact the virus might have in the industry, up from 91.9% of respondents in March.

Source: Lifull Co., Ltd., April 21, 2020.

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From pandemics to the climate crisis

Firefighters try to extinguish forest fires at Sebangau National Park area in Palangka Raya, Central Kalimantan province, Indonesia, 14 September 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Willy Kurniawan.

Author: Darshan Joshi, REFSA

There is a growing need for governments to balance economic needs and environmental concerns. An important lesson of COVID-19 is the need to coordinate mitigation and response frameworks to tackle issues that ultimately transcend national interests.

An example of such coordination is the similarity in policies used by governments around the world to stop the spread of COVID-19. The best practices, when a virus like COVID-19 is already globally prevalent, require governments to act uniformly so that they can curtail the virus everywhere it festers. Commitment to flattening the epidemiological curve through physical distancing, self-isolation and mass testing is imperative within individual countries, while travel restrictions should be used to limit cross-border transmission.

COVID-19 is a quintessential collective action problem where inaction on the part of one nation can create adverse consequences across the world. Acting in concert will minimise societal costs.

Global coordination can also ensure that scarce resources — like ventilators, testing kits and face masks — are allocated efficiently. Examples include the recent donations of medical supplies by Chinese institutions and companies to countries facing mass outbreaks. Such actions are mutually beneficial — only through the widespread eradication of COVID-19 can we limit its potential re-emergence.

Similarly, the widespread curtailment of greenhouse gases (GHGs) also creates mutual benefits. It is another collective action problem where inaction on the part of one nation can create adverse consequences around the world — even if these consequences are unevenly distributed.

We should seek to build a more cohesive, multilateral world beyond COVID-19 and let the lessons of this crisis inform our need to begin building a global consensus to solve the granddaddy of all existential threats — climate change.

The Paris Agreement achieved much in terms of …continue reading


Triple-headed crisis calls for global cooperation

People wearing face masks, following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, make a line to enter an office building in Beijing, China is 28 April, 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Carlos Garcia Rawlins).

Author: Ye Yu, Shanghai Institutes for International Studies

COVID-19 is still raging around the planet without any signs of retreat. Worryingly, despite the belated commitment of G20 and G7 leaders to act together, in reality every country is still only looking out for itself. Europe’s union is fractured now that it has been an epicentre of the epidemic and the embattled relationship between China and the United States has been further poisoned by COVID-19.

Although it has a lot of lessons to reflect on, to its credit, China implemented bold and effective measures to curb the spread of the virus. When lives are threatened, it is legitimate to put the economy on hold. In the wake of supply-side shocks as a result of COVID-19 related economic shutdowns, it is also fair for businesses to consider diversifying supply chains to enhance resilience.

But governments fuelling ‘decoupling China’ rhetoric in the name of COVID-19 are being misleading at best and fearmongering at worst, since China is now emerging from its economic shutdowns and re-opening its factories. For instance, Japan has just announced that it will support its companies to leave China and return to Japan.

But Japan is hit by more than 1000 earthquakes each year, which companies shifting from China to Japan will now have to contend with. This move has nothing to do with reducing supply risk.

International institutions are not immune to ‘virus’ geopolitics either. The World Health Organization’s (WHO) appraisal of Chinese success stories has caused US President Trump to freeze US WHO funding.

Fortunately, geopolitics has not fully stopped functional collaborations. US and Chinese doctors and hospitals are keeping in close contact with each other, even initiating long-term cooperative projects.

Compared to their pace fighting the pandemic, major economies are much quicker in rescuing their financial markets, with unprecedented expansionary monetary and fiscal …continue reading


Oldest merchant house in Kanto region demolished

Demolition of the Mizumura Residence in Kawagoe, Saitama, started on April 24. Built in the 1700s, this is said to have been one of the oldest surviving machiya townhouses in the Kanto region.

It was a considerably valuable piece of history, having survived the great fire of 1893 that destroyed much of the castle town.

The machiya included a shopfront with a mezzanine floor and a single-story residence at the rear. The roof was originally clad with cedar bark, which was later covered over with sheet iron. During the Edo period the store sold miso and koji. From the Meiji period onwards it was a rice store.

According to historians, the house is thought to have been built sometime after the great fire of 1726. Kawagoe was strongly influenced by nearby Edo (now Tokyo), with this home very similar in style to the machiya townhouses that were found in Edo. It even included a buddhist altar dating from the late 1500s.

In 2019, the Kawagoe Board of Education had sought to have the house designated as a cultural property but were unable to obtain the permission from the current owner. Descendants of the Mizumura family petitioned the city to attempt to relocate the house, but the petition and the city’s efforts were unsuccessful.


Kitamachi, Kawagoe, Saitama

The Tokyo Shimbun, April 27, 2020.
The Kawagoe Keizai Shimbun, March 24 2020.
The Tokyo Shimbun, February 21, 2020.

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