Category Archives: BUSINESS

New apartment sales in Tokyo reach 47-year low

According to the Real Estate Economic Institute, the number of new apartments released for sale across greater Tokyo in April reached the lowest level seen since the Institute began collecting data in 1973. As developers shuttered salesrooms following the declaration of the state of emergency in mid-April, new home sales have stalled. Just 686 apartments were released for sale, down 68.0% from the previous month and down 51.7% from last year. A new record low is expected in May with the Institute forecasting a supply of 500 apartments.

The average apartment price in Tokyo’s 23 wards increased by 3.8% from last year to 71,170,000 Yen. Saitama prefecture saw a 14.9% year-on-year increase, while Kanagawa prefecture saw a 3.0% decrease.

The average price per square meter in Tokyo’s 23 wards was 1,156,000 Yen, up 0.8% from last year.

The contract ratio across greater Tokyo was 78.9%, up 8.9 points from the previous month and up 14.6 points from last year.

In the Kinki region, which includes Osaka, 494 apartments were released for sale. This is the lowest level since August 1992 when 410 apartments were supplied.

Source: The Real Estate Economic Institute, May 20, 2020.

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US pandemic politics spells trouble for its Asian partners

US President Donald Trump holds up a protective face shield during a tour of the Ford Rawsonville Components Plant that is manufacturing ventilators, masks and other medical supplies during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in Ypsilanti, Michigan, 21 May 2020 (Photo: REUTERS/Leah Millis).

Author: Sheila A Smith, Council on Foreign Relations

The Trump administration’s lack of interest in a global response to COVID-19, or even extending a helping hand to its allies and partners, is bringing home the possibility that US leadership may be gone for good. Beyond exposing a diminished American will to lead, the pandemic response is revealing a new reality — that of US incompetence.

This could have a far more devastating impact on Washington’s allies and partners as they confront a region that demands ever greater strategic finesse. But it is the reassertion of old racial sentiments about Asia that might be most alarming. The association of the virus with race is a dangerous undercurrent in today’s geopolitics.

The building blocks of this association are deeply domestic for US President Donald Trump. COVID-19 is demonstrating vividly that Trump’s political instincts translate badly to national crisis response. Instead of uniting the country around a reaction to arguably the worst global crisis since World War II, federal government relief efforts reveal a shocking partisanship. Red states are pitted against blue states, corporations are privileged over workers, and politics trumps science in a national medical emergency that demands empiricism and analysis. Partisanship and division prevail.

The blame game extends abroad as well. The Trump administration is taking aim at China — accelerating an already deepening strategic distrust with Beijing — and is undermining its longstanding partners. At the G7 meeting convened to discuss the crisis in March, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo insisted on assigning COVID-19 a name that would indict China. When other members refused to call it the ‘Wuhan virus’, the United States in turn refused to sign a joint statement — handicapping the organisation of wealthy states best positioned to organise a global pandemic …continue reading


Japan’s contributions to maritime stability in the Bay of Bengal

A floating dock of the Indian navy is pictured at the naval base at Port Blair in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India, 1 July 2015 (Photo: Reuters/Sanjeev Miglani).

Author: Michael van Ginkel, Stable Seas

Japan has a vested interest in contributing to regional maritime stability in the Bay of Bengal. It holds important Sea Lines of Communication (SLOC) that open commercial opportunities by increasing connectivity with littoral countries. Japan has more actively contributed to the maritime stability and security efforts of countries like India, Myanmar and Bangladesh in its transition from isolationism to internationalism. While Japan’s expanding role in the Indo-Pacific has elicited close scrutiny, the potential for mutual economic gains has encouraged Japan to continue increasing its maritime presence in the Bay of Bengal.

Increasing regional stability in the Bay of Bengal has significant economic benefits for Japan as it imports almost 80 per cent of its foreign oil from Middle Eastern countries. Protecting its energy shipments through the SLOC in the Bay of Bengal remains imperative for Japan as it attempts to diversify its oil sources. Non-traditional threats of piracy, armed robbery and maritime terrorism threaten the security of these commercial shipping lanes.

Increasing connectivity with the rapidly developing economies of littoral countries provides Japan with many commercial opportunities. Myanmar experienced an average annual GDP growth of 7.2 per cent from 2012 to 2016, over twice the global average of 2.7 per cent. Highlighted in the Stable Seas: Bay of Bengal maritime security report, low coastal welfare, poor rule of law and under-developed blue economies in littoral countries diminishes the region’s economic potential and also acts as a catalyst for illicit activity, which further detracts from economic output. By contributing to coastal infrastructure and maritime law enforcement efforts, Japan has a positive impact on the region’s maritime stability and economic …continue reading


Weekend reads: Asia capital investment; AAPL cost cutting; FICO change; Wells Fargo’s hurdles

The post Weekend reads: Asia capital investment; AAPL cost cutting; FICO change; Wells Fargo’s hurdles appeared first on Active Investing.

Corporate Asia: A capital paradox (McKinsey) Asian corporations now account for 43% of the world’s largest 5,000 companies, contributing $19 trillion in revenue to the world economy every year. But has this growth come at a cost? Link: Jobs, Cook, Ive—Blevins? The Rise of Apple’s Cost Cutter (WSJ) Apple procurement executive Tony Blevins’s job is…

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Build a Positive, Local Legacy

Source: ACCJ Journal

Instead of the red light, green light transition we might hope for coming out of the state of emergency, we face a potentially very protracted period of caution. And while this go-slow period will pose new challenges, it may help us avoid squandering the opportunity we’ve been afforded by these unusual circumstances.

Simply flipping a switch and returning to normal would make it all too easy to stumble backwards and lose the forced progress that’s been made in teleworking and workstyle reform. Valuable lessons about maintaining resiliency in a market where business interruptions are a regular and expected occurrence could also fall by the wayside.

It’s up to us as business leaders to ensure that the legacy of Covid-19 is more than just human suffering and economic loss.

Around the world—and especially here in Japan—the corona­virus experience has the potential to spur revolutionary change in the way people live and work.

As companies awaken to the surprise that, unexpectedly—perhaps even improbably—they’ve been able to function without staff coming into the office each day, some may begin to imagine a new way forward.

And as governments begin to recover from the challenge of pro­viding public services from a distance, some may decide that it is preferable to accelerate down the path of digitization rather than retreat.

But if you’re wondering whether businesses in Japan will embrace teleworking in a post-Covid-19 world, now that technology has proven that it’s possible, consider this: during the Covid-19 crisis, ryokan (traditional Japanese inns) and even some restaurants with private rooms have been offering day-use packages for teleworkers who can’t function or find peace and space to work at home. And they’re often sold out.

If this revolution is to succeed, it probably won’t come from simply injecting Western concepts into Japanese businesses. Teleworking has become so ingrained in Western business …continue reading