Category Archives: BUSINESS

Tokyo apartment prices increase for 6th month

According to REINS, a total of 3,233 second-hand apartments were reported to have sold across greater Tokyo in July, down 7.4% from the previous month but up 3.0% from last year. The average sale price was 34,420,000 Yen, up 2.4% from the previous month and up 2.4% from last year. The average price per square meter was 535,100 Yen, up 1.4% from the previous month and up 2.6% from last year. This is the 6th month in a row to see a year-on-year increase.

The average apartment size was 64.34 sqm and the average building age was 21.92 years.

In the Tokyo metropolitan area, 1,746 apartments had sold, down 3.5% from the previous month but up 5.4% from last year. This is the 6th month in a row to see a year-on-year increase in transactions. The average sale price was 42,200,000 Yen, up 1.7% from the previous month and up 2.9% from last year. The average price per square meter was 698,300 Yen, up 0.1% from the previous month and up 2.7% from last year. The average apartment size was 60.42 sqm and the average building age was 20.46 years.

Central Tokyo’s 3 wards

Central Tokyo’s 3 wards of Chiyoda, Chuo and Minato had 209 reported sales, showing no change from the previous month but up 2.0% from last year. The average sale price was 67,560,000 Yen, up 2.6% from the previous month and up 8.1% from last year. The average price per square meter was 1,164,900 Yen, up 2.1% from the previous month and up 1.7% from last year. The average apartment size was 58.00 sqm and the average building age was 15.71 years.

…continue reading


Pensions boss Ministry of Health, Labor & Welfare set for split?


Rumours that the Ministry of Health Labor and Welfare is targetted for breakup in an upcoming policy paper from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party broke cover in the Nikkei today.

The proposal is said to be part of a wider review of the structure of central government since it was reorganised two decades ago into 13 agencies and ministries. That reform included the amalgamation of the Ministry of Labor with the Ministry of Health & Welfare, a marriage which may now be dissolved.

In the intervening years the nw Ministry’s remit has expanded significantly so that it now covers job-based pension funds of all types.

As soon as the two were departments were conjoined the assets of many zaikei (savings accumulation) schemes, which had rested with the Ministry of Labour, were passed to SERAMA (The Smaller Enterprise Retirement Allowance Mutual Aid) in whose oversight the new Ministry plays a significant role.

The MoHLW then took over from the Ministry of Finance responsibility for the regulation of approximately 65,000 so-called tax-qualified plans (TQPS), re-establishing the 13,000+ of them which met its criteria into covenant (or “contract”) schemes and folding the rest into one of SERAMA’s many arms or dissolving them.

Next it assumed responsibility for the several giant civil service schemes as their benefits structure was reorganised and they agreed to follow the same asset allocation as the Government Pension Investment Fund — the world’s largest institutional investor — which is also under the MoHLW.

Small wonder that it is now said to be overburdened but the repeated scandals in which it has been involved since 2007 — when it could not match about 50 million pension records to their owners — mean that it attracts little pubic sympathy.

The future of the Pension Fund Association may also be up for review. Despite its name, the …continue reading


Tax bureau busts foreign investors in Niseko

The Sapporo Regional Taxation Bureau has identified several domestic and foreign real estate companies and investors for failing to declare income made on real estate transactions in Niseko. Some say this recent bust may just be the tip of the iceberg.

The Bureau found around ten cases where land for holiday homes had been sold without the income from the sale reported in required tax filings. The total undeclared income amounts to around 3 billion Yen (approx. 28 million USD), with 600 million Yen in additional taxes.

For many years now Niseko has drawn the attention of both foreign investors and foreign tourists attracted to its idyllic skiing conditions and easy access from other Asian countries. It has also been making local headlines for seeing the highest rate of growth in land values.

With transactions heating up, some foreign investors may not be aware that even if they live overseas, transactions involving real estate in Japan may still be subject to taxation. This still applies even if the entire transaction takes place overseas between two foreigners.

A joint operation between the Sapporo and Tokyo tax bureaus found five companies registered in Hong Kong, Samoa and the British Virgin Islands that had failed to declare 1.5 billion Yen in corporate income.

Furthermore, the investigation discovered that an investment company registered in Hong Kong in 2007 had sold 10 hectares of land to a Singapore company in 2017 for 300 million Yen – the same price the seller had originally paid for it. At the same time, the two shareholders of the Hong Kong-based investment company sold their shares in the company to the Singaporean buyer for another several hundred million Yen. The Sapporo Taxation Bureau has determined that the sale of shares was to disguise the true profit from the sale of the …continue reading


Can Trump provide North Korea with credible guarantees?

People watch a TV that shows a North Korean missile for a news report on North Korea firing short-range ballistic missiles, in Seoul, South Korea, 31 July 2019 (Picture: Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji).

Author: Editorial Board, ANU

Following the third meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on 30 June 2019 at the Demilitarized Zone near Panmunjom, hopes were rekindled of renewed US–North Korea negotiations. These hopes now hang delicately in the balance.

Will this third meeting go down as a critical trust-building moment or the empty rhetoric of reality TV diplomacy?

North Korea has conducted six short-range missiles tests since late July while decrying US–South Korea joint military drills. These tests violate UN Security Council resolutions but not the US–North Korea Singapore agreement, and while they don’t directly threaten the continental United States they menace regional neighbours. Trump’s apparent tolerance of short-range missile tests risks a rift with US allies such as Japan and South Korea.

The debate on North Korea in US media circles too often seems to be stuck between rusted-on Trump supporters who praise his diplomatic efforts and Trump critics who bash him for legitimating the Kim regime.

On one side of the fence, the Trump camp lauds his actions as a peacemaker. They characterise Trump’s decision to become the first sitting US president to hold a summit meeting with Kim, as well as to step foot into North Korean territory, as evidence of his bold and brave diplomacy. They credit Trump for calming US–North Korea tensions from boiling over in 2017. They chant that Trump deserves a Nobel Peace Prize. This praise ignores the lack of forethought that went into Trump’s decision to meet with Kim as well as the role that Trump’s own reckless ‘fire and fury’ rhetoric played in ratcheting up the tensions in the first place.

On the other side, Trump’s detractors criticise him for failing to understand the stakes with North Korea. They worry that Trump is at risk of making a bad deal with …continue reading


Real estate developers are bringing luxury hotels to Japan

With a shrinking residential property market nationwide and an office market that is limited to prosperous city centers only, Japan’s real estate giants have to diversify in order to survive. That diversification is coming from developing hotels.

In Japan, many of the luxury hotels are owned and, in some cases, even managed by major Japanese real estate companies. This is different from the typical scenario overseas where the properties are often owned by investors and funds. Some of the major players include Mori Trust, Sekisui House, and Mitsui Fudosan. These real estate companies have been actively opening up high-end hotels across the country.

Rapid growth in the number of foreign visitors, especially those from the US and Europe, has led to a shortage of luxury hotels. In 2018, visitors from the US increased by 17% from the year before to 1.52 million visitors. This was the 7th year in a row to record a double-digit increase. Visitor numbers from Germany and Italy also saw double-digit increases in 2018. Compared to visitors from Asia, visitors from the US and Europe tend to stay longer and spend more on average. A tourist from Asia spends an average of 20,000 ~ 60,000 Yen on accommodation per person for the duration of their trip, while a visitor from the US or Europe spends between 70,000 ~ 100,000 Yen (approx. 645 ~ 920 USD).

Future luxury hotels opening up in Japan include:

  • JW Marriott Hotel Nara, 2020
  • Four Seasons Hotel (Tokyo), 2020
  • Tokyo Edition Toranomon, 2020
  • Hilton Okinawa Sesoko Resort, 2020
  • Kyoto Nijo Hotel (temporary name), 2020
  • W Osaka, 2021
  • Tokyo Edition Ginza, 2021
  • Bulgari Hotel (Tokyo), 2022
  • Unnamed hotel (Kanagawa), 2022
  • The Ritz Carlton Fukuoka, 2023

On July 26, Mitsui opened Halekulani Okinawa. The 360-room beachfront hotel is just the second Halekulani-branded hotel to open since it was founded in Hawaii in 1907. Mitsui Fudosan USA acquired the …continue reading