Category Archives: BUSINESS

Slowly changing Japan's IP dispute resolution system

We Japanese often say “お変わりありませんか?(okawari-arimasenka?)” that means, in English, “Nothing has happened (or everything remains unchanged)?” to someone whom we meet after a long interval. No change is a good thing in Japanese culture. I’m just wondering if we can change such a greeting to something by which we can expect or accelerate change.

JPO commissioner Naoko Munakata mentioned the necessity of improvement of Japanese IP litigation system and demonstrated the high level of interest, in an opening speech for Global IP Strategy Forum 2019 which was held on January 28 2019 in Tokyo.

However, I have seen a difference of opinion between SMEs and large enterprises, a conservative court, and also surprisingly witnessed the tension between JPO and industry groups of large enterprises, at the advisory committee. So, we are in no situation to expect impressive outcomes immediately. On January 25, the government published a report on the discussion thus far among its members to invite public opinion.

Inspection procedure is likely to be introduced. In order to facilitate evidence gathering to prove patent infringement especially for manufacturing methods, BtoB products, software etc., the court can issue the inspection order in response to a patent holder’s motion, by which neutral experts inspect the facility of the alleged infringer to gather necessary materials and make a report. It is allowed to file the motion only after filing a suit, to prevent abuse of this procedure and secret leak.

Regarding damage calculation, compensation more than actual damages (e.g. punitive compensation, taking away all of profit) has been discussed, but faced many opposition. After all, it was decided to continue further discussion. However, provisions relating to presumed damages is likely to be revised so that damages is calculated a little higher than at present. …continue reading


In Writing, Please

Source: ACCJ Journal

Print is something I hold dear. I’ve always been an avid reader and have built a career on writing, but in 2010—after four years of listening to podcasts—I decided to get behind the microphone myself. Since then I have built a network that publishes daily content that receives half a million downloads per month. Listeners love the convenience of audio, but one question keeps coming up: Can we get a transcript of this?

As engaging as audio content is, it doesn’t replace the need for the written word. This I know, but my response has always been that, while I would love to offer transcripts of every show, to do so is simply not practical. I did the math. It would cost about $80 per episode, which would total more than $5,000 per month.

Despite understanding the clear benefits of converting our audio content to text—accessibility for those with hearing impair­ment, better search engine optimization, and a happier audience—I had to shelve the idea.

Recently, however, I’m reconsidering. Last summer, I discovered a tool called Temi that amazed even me, a renowned tech nerd. The service takes an uploaded audio file and returns a machine-generated transcript in a matter of minutes. In most cases, the accuracy has been impressive, and converting an hour of audio costs me just $6. I use it to transcribe interviews for The ACCJ Journal, but am thinking to unleash it on my back catalog of more than 10,000 hours of podcast episodes.

Impressed by the relief machine transcrip­tion has brought to my work as an editor and writer, I began researching the technology. You can find the results of that here.

Temi, I would learn, is just one of several players in the space. Spext and Happy Scribe are also doing amazing things to make truly …continue reading


Strategic Clarity

Source: ACCJ Journal

With the start of each year comes assessment of our direction and progress to clarify them against our most current view of our objectives and situation. This was a primary item for the January meeting of the newly elected American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ) Board of Governors, which confirmed our three strategic focus areas—membership centricity, relevant and strong advocacy, and operational excellence—as well as the five pillars of our advocacy focus:

  • US–Japan Economic Partnership
  • Health and Retirement
  • Digital Economy
  • Tourism, Sports, and Hospitality
  • Workforce Productivity

In their discussion, the Board also updated the objectives for each of our three strategic focus areas, reflecting the approval in October 2018 of proposals based on the Membership Value Project (MVP), upcoming negotiations for a US–Japan Trade Agreement (USJTA), and Japan’s hosting of the G20 Summit. Also confirmed was a focus on using member time efficiently and bringing increased transparency to the ACCJ’s activities and processes.

While preparations for many of these are still ongoing, let me outline for you where we are and what lies ahead in several of these key activities.

Under our Workforce Productivity pillar, the Women in Business (WIB) Summit has become an annual forum through which the ACCJ has continued to drive and advance the dialog on opportunities for women in the workforce—a critical topic that is now a central pillar of the Japanese government’s approach to workforce productivity.

On February 28, the latest summit will leverage its position as one of the premier workplace-diversity events in Japan to offer a platform for related issues, including LGBT matters, leadership, and technology. The summit promises to again push forward the role of women in the workforce and to provide a platform for discussion of a broad range of topics that fall under the Workforce Productivity pillar. If you have not already registered, I highly …continue reading


Diet Doorknock

Source: ACCJ Journal

Each year, the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ) undertakes its Diet Doorknock (DDK) advocacy initiative, during which chamber leaders meet and collaborate with Japanese govern­ment officials. Described by ACCJ Government Relations Committee Vice-Chair Mark Davidson as “the most important advocacy activity of the ACCJ, year after year,” the DDK allows the chamber to lead conversation on US–Japan relations, speaking with policy­makers and influential government officials who have the power to act on recommen­da­tions. The most recent DDK took place November 13–21.

Davidson said the ACCJ approaches these meetings as a partner of the Japanese government rather than a separate entity. All ACCJ efforts, he added, are focused on the betterment of Japan, anticipating that benefits will flow from the Japanese economy to participating US ventures.

ACCJ President Sachin N. Shah said: “Our message is one of confidence to resolve issues between the two economies today to focus on future value for both partner nations in the bilateral trade discussions. With 70 years of working with both US and Japanese administrations, we are confident to identify opportunities for business to realize significant progress in the economic partnership and strengthen this cornerstone of the US–Japan alliance.”

This win-win approach has allowed the DDK to run effectively for more than 20 years.

The November 2018 DDK marked the 23rd anniversary of the discussions, with 70 representatives of the ACCJ and 38 Diet members taking part. The agenda was guided by the ACCJ’s five advocacy pillars:

  • US–Japan Economic Partnership
  • Health and Retirement
  • Digital Economy
  • Tourism, Sports, and Hospitality
  • Workforce Productivity

As each Diet member is invested in representing the interests of their district, a wide variety of topics were covered. Given Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s goal of 40 million inbound tourists by 2020, tourism and travel were heavily discussed areas. This goal works in the interest of the ACCJ, which …continue reading


First Cabin to open ryokan-style accommodation in Kyoto machiya

First Cabin, a Tokyo-based developer and operator of capsule-style accommodation across Japan, announced plans to open a cabin-style hotel in a traditional machiya-style townhouse in Kyoto. The new hotel will open on March 28, 2019.

This is the company’s first ryokan-style hotel. It will have various accommodation options catering to single travelers, families with small children and groups of 3 ~ 4. The hotel will be able to accommodate up to 108 guests.

The First Cabin Station Kyoto Umekoji Ryokan is located 400 meters from Umekoji Park, 650 meters from the Kyoto Aquarium and 1500 meters from Kyoto Station.

The land and buildings will remain under the ownership of a nearby food consignor and wholesaler with JR West First Cabin Co., Ltd. to operate the hotel. In addition to the 57 cabin-style rooms, there will be a communal lounge, dining, bath and smoking room. The total building size is 1,238 sqm (approx. 13,300 sq.ft), and the lot size is 1,146 sqm (12,330 sq.ft). It will be a 4 minute walk from Umekoji-Kyotonishi Station – a new station on the JR San-in Line that is scheduled to open in March 2019.

Nightly rates are expected to range from 3,200 ~ 10,000 Yen.


49-2 Ebisunobanbacho, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto

Source: The Sankei Shimbun, December 17, 2018.

…continue reading