Delicious LinkedIn Facebook Twitter RSS Feed

Japan’s 10 Best Places to Live - Magazine Survey

The idea of living in a high-rise condo in downtown Tokyo makes for a nice daydream. Between the high cost of housing and the inescapable hustle and bustle of Japan’s capital, though, when it comes time to actually pick a home, many people decide they’d rather live in one of Japan’s other cities, or one of Tokyo’s suburbs at least.
Underlining this trend are the results of a survey by newly formed magazine Aene which asked Japanese housewives which town they’d be happiest living in. Central Tokyo failed to crack the top 10, although the No. 1 pick isn’t too far away from the capital.

As part of the survey, Aene created a set of parameters it dubbed Happy Quality, which evaluated the towns based on their family-friendliness, economic factors, food and health conditions, access to entertainment, and overall convenience of daily life.

Perhaps as a result of focusing on the opinions of people who don’t work outside the home, only five of the top 10 were rated as having local economic conditions above the survey average. On the other hand, all of the highest-rated towns performed extremely well in the other four categories, with study participants showing a particular fondness for areas with parks or other natural environments, good schools, and historical significance.

When asked what specifically was indicative of a convenient place to live, the second-most common response was proximity to a train or subway station, which was given by 28.9% of the women in the study. Far surpassing this, though, was the 47.8% who answered that what they really wanted was a large mall, supermarket, or shopping street.

The reason behind this is a little more complex than just “Women shop a lot,” as shopping is often connected to several of the parameters in Aene’s Happy Quality index. Toshio Noguchi, a professor of marketing at Japan’s prestigious Waseda University, points out that how and when Japanese consumers shop has changed, giving the activity a different role in family dynamics. “Until recently, it was the norm for housewives to do shopping each day at local retailers. Now, though, we’re seeing more families going shopping together at larger centers on the weekend, buying in bulk. Necessary shopping itself has become a form of leisure, and malls are becoming a place where communication within the family happens.”

So, which towns in Japan ranked the highest in the survey? Let’s start with number 10.

10. Hiroshima City (Hiroshima Prefecture)

Respondents were impressed by the kind and friendly attitude of Hiroshima’s citizens. Being the prefectural capital means it’s a developed city, but not nearly as crowded as Tokyo.

9. Nihama (Ehime Prefecture)

The first of two towns on the island of Shikoku to make the list, Nihama offers both job opportunities with local industry and proximity to the Inland Sea and its delicious seafood.

8. Moriya (Ibaraki Prefecture)

Moriya’s Happy Quality was balanced across the five criteria, with special mention given to its modern shopping facilities.

7. Ikoma (Nara Prefecture)

Ikoma is essentially a suburb of Nara City, being just 30 minutes away by train. Its high ranking was due in no small part to its proximity to the many culturally and historically important temples of Japan’s former capital.

6. Fukuoka City (Fukuoka)

One of the most populous cities in the top 10, Fukuoka got a boost from its local food scene which includes delicacies such as spicy cod roe, hot-pot, and pork stock ramen.

5. Matsuyama (Ehime Prefecture)

Back in Ehime again, living in the relatively cozy prefectural capital still provides for a laid-back lifestyle, plus proximity to some of Japan’s best citrus fruit and one of its oldest hot springs, Dogo Onsen.

4. Mitaka City (Tokyo)

Technically still part of Tokyo, Mitaka lies outside the metropolis’ 23 main wards. Easy access to central Tokyo, the lush greenery of Inokashira Park, and the nearby Ghibli Museum all contribute to Mitaka’s elegant and sophisticated vibe.

3. Nishinomiya (Hyogo Prefecture)

Situated between the much larger cities of Kobe and Osaka, Nishinomiya lets residents enjoy the fantastic food of each, including Kobe beef, takoyaki, kushi katsu, and the wonders of Kobe’s Chinatown. It’s also the home of Koshien, Japan’s most storied baseball stadium that hosts both Osaka’s professional team, the Hanshin Tigers, and the country’s twice-annual high school tournament championships. It’s also become a bit of a shopper’s paradise due to its numerous malls.

2. Inagi City (Tokyo)

Lying just outside the 23 wards, Inagi has a shocking amount of greenery if your only image of Tokyo is the Shibuya Scramble intersection. It isn’t limited to parks, either, as the town is also where you’ll find the Otsuka Farm. Life in Inagi isn’t completely bucolic, though, as the town also has its own branches of Costco and Ikea.

1. Fujisawa (Kanagawa Prefecture)

Taking home the top spot is Fujisawa, the coastal city in Kanagawa which includes Enoshima Island. Fujisawa combines the relaxed atmosphere you’d expect from a beach town with extremely convenient public transportation, as a train ride from Enoshima Station to Shinjuku, in the heart of Tokyo, will take you less than 30 minutes. Add in centuries-old temples, colorful local legends about fearsome dragons falling in love with beautiful princesses, and breathtaking sunset views of Mount Fuji, and it’s easy to see why Fujisawa is loved not just by housewives, but by anyone who can appreciate nature, history, or just the relaxing sound of the waves.

Green Power Blooms as Japan Unveils Hydrangea Solar Cell

A solar cell that resembles a flower is offering a new take on green energy in Japan, where one scientist is searching for renewables that look good. 
In a country badly scarred by the tsunami-sparked nuclear disaster at Fukushima three years ago, the hydrangea-inspired solar offering is small beer alongside one of the world’s biggest offshore wind power farms now floating off the country’s east coast.

But Hiroshi Segawa, a professor at University of Tokyo’s Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, is hoping his dye-sensitised solar cell, which meshes floral beauty with cutting-edge technology, will brighten the scene.

Segawa’s Annabelle, named after a type of white hydrangea, is made up of flowery stained glass-like solar cells built into a latticed wood box modelled on traditional Japanese doors.

While the 20-centimeter-wide box might make a pretty addition to a sunroom, it can also store enough energy to charge your smartphone twice.

The leaves generate electricity, which is stored in the flower. As the device charges up the petals turn increasingly blue. But as Annabelle discharges, those blue petals turn white, just like the real-life hydrangea.

“People do not have a very good image about things related to energy, such as nuclear power,” Segawa told AFP.

“Thermal power generation conjures up images of blistering hot dirty coal while solar panels take up a lot of space.

“Even wind power generation has problems with bird strikes and noise, but (Annabelle) doesn’t harm the environment.”

While Segawa is not expecting to topple the dominant silicon-based solar panels, he is hoping the fast-growing sector has room for “enjoyable energy” that adds a splash of color to an otherwise drab industry.

Since the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011, Japan has been pushing to boost the use of alternative energy.

The country’s solar power generation is rapidly growing, but it still only represents a small share of the overall power mix.

In Japan, the share of power generated from renewable sources, excluding hydropower, lags other developed economies at 4.7% of the total, far less than 10.4% in Britain or 20.1% in Germany, according to data from the International Energy Agency.

All of Japan’s nuclear plants were shuttered after the 2011 atomic accident—yanking away a power source that once supplied more than one quarter of the nation’s energy.

Despite Tokyo’s efforts to develop the solar sector, the weather—- particularly a lack of reliable sunlight—is among the factors holding back wider use.

But Segawa says Annabelle works even in weak indoor light.

It also has a myriad of design possibilities. Segawa has already experimented with a cell that looks like French President Francois Hollande and one of the computer-generated Japanese pop star Hatsune Miku.

“You can make solar cells out of animated characters, portraits of real people and lots of other stuff,” he said.

CLUB CHIC Summer 2014 at Grand Hyatt Tokyo

Grand Hyatt Tokyo’s popular disco event CLUB CHIC returns this sultry summer season on Friday Aug 29 for the 21st time, with an evening filled with music and dancing to the greatest ‘70s hits and classics.

Enjoy music spinned by renowned DJs Ai Emori and K-CO, along with a special dance lesson by Michael Tsuruoka. The Grand Ballroom will turn into a glitzy disco venue with mirror balls and disco lights filled with over 1500 guests lavishly dressed, for the ultimate dance party atmosphere.

Tickets will be available for ¥15,000 per person with free-flowing beverages while VIP tickets will be on sale for ¥25,000 per person, which come with VIP seating and free-flowing premium beverages including Henri Giraud.

With a purchase of Club Chic tickets, a special price of ¥26,000 for a stay in a Grand Room on the evening of the event will be offered, for guests to stay overnight in a luxurious hotel guestroom. Dance the night away at this dynamic event at Grand Hyatt Tokyo and enjoy a soulful evening.

Date: Friday Aug 29
Time: 8 p.m. to 12 midnight (last admission 11:30 p.m.)
Tickets: ¥15,000 (VIP tickets: ¥25,000). Prices include free-flowing beverages. VIP ticket includes free-flowing premium beverage including Henri Giraud.
Dress Code: Semi-formal; denim clothing and sneakers are not permitted
Age: Minimum 20

Reservation number: 03-4333-8838 (Events Department from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
—Tickets will be sent after confirmation of wire transfer
—Please note that refunds will not be made for cancellations.

Sony PS4 Sales Surge Past Record 10 Million Mark

Sony said Wednesday that global sales of its newest PlayStation have surged past the 10 million mark in less than a year, a record for the Japanese electronics giant.


The PlayStation 4 console, released in November, has been a bright spot for the struggling firm, which launched a sweeping restructuring in a bid to claw its way back to profitability.

The release of the PS4 in the United States and other markets has helped to improve Sony’s fortunes after a disappointing response to the console’s predecessor, the PS3.

Nintendo’s Wii U, launched in late 2012, took more than a year to sell just under six million units.

“The responses we have received for the PS4 system’s unique gameplay experiences… along with its vast game portfolio, has been phenomenal,” Andrew House, president and group CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment, said in a statement.

The PS4 is locked in a battle for dominance of the digital home entertainment market with Microsoft’s Xbox One and the Wii U at a time when consoles are under intense pressure to prove their worth in a world where many now play downloadable games on smartphones and tablets.

Sony launched the console in Japan in February, about four months after it debuted in the United States and well behind many other markets.

The company said it had wanted to give developers more time to exploit the potential of the console in the Japanese gaming market, where top-selling titles are often markedly different from popular offerings in the U.S. and Europe.

Software sales for the console have also been strong, with more than 30 million copies sold in retail stores globally and through digital downloads as of this week, the company said.

It added that there were plans to release a slate of major titles, including “Final Fantasy XV” and “Bloodborne,” while it was also adding new system features to expand players’ gaming experience.

Among the new functions was “Share Play”, which would allow users to play games with their friends as if they are in the same room, such as letting a player remotely take over another person’s controls to help them through tricky sections of a game.

Last month, Sony posted a quarterly profit that it attributed largely to strong demand for the PS4 and a sharp decline in the value of the yen.

Sony’s gaming division has emerged as a potential savior for the company, which is struggling to reinvent itself in the digital age, having been left in the dust by nimbler rivals including South Korea’s Samsung.

Save upto 80% on Japanese Fashion Shopping Festival - Three Day Specialty Store Sale in Tokyo, Ginza

The Japan Shopping Tourism Organization (JSTO) would like to invite Japan Today readers to save on some of the best clothing brands at the last major sale of the summer season held in Ginza, Tokyo. 
Save up to 80% from six leading Japanese specialty stores:

ABAHOUSE INTERNATIONAL
BEAMS
Heliopole
UNITED ARROWS
FREAK’S STORE
NOLLEY’S

If you show the "special coupon screen" to the staff you will get the 10%off and the more!
Check the campaign site right now, The last Special sale of this summer in Japan take the japanize fashion "Cool & cute" back to the home! 


Dates:
August 22 (Friday) 11:00 to 21:00 (Last entry at 20:00)
August 23 (Saturday) 11:00 to 20:00 (Last entry at 19:30)
August 24(Sun) 11:00 to 17:00 (Last entry at 16:30)

Location:12th floor Cattleya Salon Diamond Hall Yurakucho Tokyo Kotsu Kaikan

Access:JR Yamanote Line, Keihin Tohoku Line: Yurakucho Station (Kyobashi opening and central opening - Ginza side) 1 minute walk.

For more details Contact : sssinfo@jsto.or.jp

Customers Note:

· Admission will be closed 30 minutes before shops close. (one hour before on 8/22 (Fri)).
· There is a case to be handed out numbered tickets or entry restrictions due to store situation.
· Please use the public transport for visiting.
· Please note that we can not accept repayment, returned goods, the exchange of the sale product.

About Payment

○ Credit card, VISA · MASTER · JCB · DINERS · AMEX are available.
○ UnionPay card is also available.
○ Gold notes (except for some), such as gift card and certificates, electronic money of Suica · Edy, etc., and debit cards are not available.
○ Payment by the points of each shop is not available.
○ I am sorry it cannot use the tax-free.  

Typhoon Halong Leaves Upto 10 Dead and Many Injured

As many as 10 people died and many were injured as Typhoon Halong slammed into the Japanese archipelago over the weekend, reports said Monday, with heavy rain still lashing the country’s north.
The storm was moving over the Sea of Japan (East Sea) Monday afternoon, after making landfall on Honshu at the weekend, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

The outer bands of the storm were continuing to lash northern Japan with heavy rain as officials warned of landslides, floods and possible tornadoes in the area.

The agency downgraded the typhoon to a tropical storm at 9 a.m. Monday as it headed toward the far eastern coast of Russia.

The storm, as well as heavy rain last week, killed two people and injured 86 across the country, public broadcaster NHK reported.

But the Nikkei newspaper said as many as 10 deaths were linked to the storm.

Among the victims, the body of an Iranian man was found in Ibaraki, northeast of Tokyo, while two Japanese women died in the country’s west, the Nikkei said.

The National Police Agency declined to confirm the number of deaths from the storm, saying it had yet to compile a nationwide total.

The coast guard on Monday resumed searching for a man who went missing apparently while surfing during the storm, off Wakayama in western Japan.

“Police and the coast guard dispatched one rescue boat and two helicopters but we have not found any sign of him,” a police spokesman said.

Local officials on Monday scrambled to clean up in the aftermath of the storm.

In Osaka, Halong forced the cancellation of a major fireworks event on Saturday after the storm washed away 21 launching boats, about half of them carrying unused pyrotechnics, a spokesman for the show told AFP.

He declined to elaborate. But NHK reported that the boats, which were later found stuck down river, were carrying thousands of fireworks.

The Osaka city disaster prevention bureau said four workers also drifted away on the runaway boats, but they were later confirmed to be safe.

On Sunday, violent winds destroyed more than 460 buildings in Tochigi Prefecture, north of Tokyo, injuring at least two, NHK said.

Weather agency officials were investigating if those winds were actually generated by a tornado.

On Saturday the weather agency had issued its highest warning meaning a threat to life and the risk of massive damage for Mie Prefecture.

The warning, which was lifted Sunday afternoon, said there could be “unprecedented” torrential rain that might trigger massive landslides and floods.

Local authorities issued evacuation advisories to more than 1.6 million people in total, NHK said.

Airline services largely returned to normal on Monday with just a handful of flights cancelled after more than 700 flights were called off during the weekend, just as Japan began its annual “Obon” summer holiday.

Supermoon seen behind Ferris Wheel in Tokyo

A supermoon is seen behind a ferris wheel in Tokyo on Sunday night. The astronomical event occurs when the moon is closest to the Earth in its orbit, making it appear much larger and brighter than usual. 

Tropical Storm Halong Drenches Japan - 1 dead, 52 injured

A tropical storm was moving out into the Sea of Japan on Sunday night after lashing the country with rain and wind, leaving one person dead, more than 50 injured and prompting evacuation alerts for about 1.2 million residents near swollen rivers.

Tropical Storm Halong disrupted land and air traffic as Japan began its annual “Obon” Buddhist holiday week.

Originally a typhoon, Halong was downgraded to a tropical storm as it approached the southwest coast and made two landfalls - over Shikoku and Hyogo Prefecture in western Japan. It was on track to exit into the Sea of Japan from the northern coast near Kyoto late Sunday, and further lose strength in the next 12 hours.

Japan’s Meteorological Agency issued the highest alert for heavy rain in Mie Prefecture in central Japan, prompting two towns to order about 570,000 residents to move away from swollen rivers. Another 600,000 people were advised to evacuate across the country. Some of the evacuation advisories in western Japan were later lifted as the storm moved farther north.

In Iwate Prefecture in northern Japan, a 78-year-old man was found dead late Saturday after plunging into a swollen irrigation canal at his farm.

Japan’s public television NHK said 52 people were injured in the storm.

More than 200 flights were canceled, stranding thousands of holidaymakers at airports around the country. The rainstorm also flooded about 330 homes and damaged 70 others in western Japan.

The storm, packing winds of up to 100 kilometers per hour, was expected to dump 30 centimeters of rain in central Japan by Monday morning. The meteorological agency warned of landslides and floods, and predicted heavy rain and strong wind in Tokyo and northern Japan through Monday.

Japan Stocks Nikkei Drops to Two-Month Low

Japanese stocks dropped to a two-month low Friday, leading most Asian markets lower, after U.S. President Barack Obama authorized airstrikes in Iraq, casting a pall on equity sentiment and the dollar.

The Nikkei Stock Average fell 3.0% to 14778.37 for its worst daily decline in almost four months. South Korea's Kospi lost 1.1%, Australia's ASX200 closed 1.3% lower, Singapore's Straits Times Index lost 0.8% and India's Sensex was down 1.1%. The Shanghai Composite and Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index managed modest gains, however.

"It may not necessarily be the reintroduction of geopolitical risk per se that has investors rattled, since jitters over Russia and Ukraine and the chance of more military involvement by the U.S. in Iraq have been simmering for some time," said Chris McGuire, chief executive of hedge fund Phalanx Capital Management. "But markets globally don't seem to be able to handle increasing risk well at all lately, and this is perhaps a reaction to seeing U.S. markets show such resilience for so long until very recently."

The dollar fell sharply after Mr. Obama authorized targeted strikes in Iraq to protect the Yazidi minority and U.S. personnel there. At the close in Tokyo, the greenback was changing hands at ¥101.74, against ¥102.37 Thursday. A falling dollar hurts Japanese and other Asian exporters who need to repatriate earnings.

Gold prices rose, while U.S. 10-year Treasury yields dropped to around 2.42% as investors moved to safer assets.

At the end of its two-day policy board meeting, the Bank of Japan cut its views on exports and industrial production, boosting expectations of further easing from the central bank in coming months. But the announcement had far less impact than corporate earnings-related news, much of which triggered adverse share price reactions amid the overall market negativity.

Sumitomo Metal Mining, Mitsubishi Materials, and Nippon Electric Glass all fell at least 6.8% after posting disappointing results after Thursday's close. Shares of heavily weighted Nikon lost 9.4% after the company made a 19% downward revision to its fiscal year consolidated net profit.

Hiroshima Marks Anniversary of Atomic Bombing

Tens of thousands of people were gathering for peace ceremonies in Hiroshima on Wednesday, marking the 69th anniversary of the US atomic bombing of the city, as anti-nuclear sentiment runs high in Japan.

Bells tolled as ageing survivors, relatives, government officials and foreign delegates observed a moment of silence in the rain at 8:15 am local time (2315 GMT), when the detonation turned the western Japanese city into an inferno.
Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui urged people to listen to the voice of survivors as he delivered a speech at a ceremony also attended by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and US ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy
“‘Water, please.’ Voices from the brink of death are still lodged in the memory of a boy who was 15 and a junior high student,” the mayor, referring to the memories of a survivor.
“The pleas were from younger students,” he said, adding the survivor’s grisly description of what he saw: “Their badly burned, grotesquely swollen faces, eyebrows and eyelashes singed off, school uniforms in ragged tatters.”
The mayor noted that many survivors feel profound guilt over living through the attack.
But “people who rarely talked about the past because of their ghastly experiences are now, in old age, starting to open up,” he said.
An American B-29 bomber named Enola Gay dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, in one of the final chapters of World War II. It had killed an estimated 140,000 by December that year.
On August 9, the port city of Nagasaki was also bombed, killing an estimated 70,000 people.
Japan surrendered days later—on August 15, 1945—bringing the war to a close.
Historians have long been at odds over whether the twin attacks brought a speedier end to the war by forcing Japan’s surrender and preventing many more casualties in a planned land invasion.
The bombed cities have spearheaded anti-nuclear movements, calling atomic bombs “the absolute evil”.
Last week, US media reported the death of Theodore Van Kirk, the last surviving crewman of the Enola Gay, who passed away aged 93.
A funeral was reportedly scheduled for August 5 in his hometown of Northumberland, Pennsylvania, which would coincide with the Hiroshima anniversary in Japan.
Anti-nuclear sentiment flared in Japan after an earthquake-sparked tsunami left some 19,000 dead or missing and knocked out cooling systems at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in 2011.
None of those deaths were directly attributed to the nuclear crisis. But the reactor meltdowns spread radiation over a large area and forced thousands to leave their homes in the worst atomic disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.
Despite strong public opposition, Japan’s nuclear watchdog last month said that two atomic reactors were safe enough to switch back on.
The decision marked a big step towards restarting the country’s nuclear plants, which were shut after the disaster, and sparked accusations that the regulator was a puppet of the powerful atomic industry.

NSK Demonstrates Walking Support Robot for Visually Impaired People

NSK Ltd recently demonstrated a prototype of a robot that guides a person through obstacles at the “Robotics Demo Corner” of Techno-Frontier 2014 in Tokyo.
The robot, “Lighbot,” helps visually impaired people move in, for example, hospitals and commercial facilities. When the user walks while holding the handle of the robot, it recognizes walls and obstacles around it and guides the user to the destination through obstacles. In a sense, it is a wise autonomous car for the elderly.

A four-axis optical force sensor developed by NSK is embedded in the handle. When the user tilts the handle to the desired direction, the robot starts to move in the direction.

The lower half of the robot’s body incorporates a laser range sensor that recognizes walls around it and a range image sensor that detects obstacles located as high as the user’s eye level. When the robot is about to hit a wall or obstacle, it automatically changes its direction of movement. For the range image sensor, ASUSTeK Computer Inc’s “Xtion Pro Live” motion capture device for personal computers is used.

On the front of the robot’s undersurface, there is an infrared range sensor. Therefore, the robot can detect a large height difference in its direction of movement such as a step and avoid it.
Moreover, the robot has a navigation function. It estimates its location based on the traveled distance and a registered map. When the user selects a destination from pre-registered locations by pressing buttons, the robot automatically calculates a route from the current location to the destination and guides the user to the destination with voice.

The robot has one front wheel and two rear wheels, which are driving wheels independent from each other. It measures 360 (W) x 450 (D) x 1,050 (H) and weighs 15kg. NSK has been testing the robot at Kanagawa Rehabilitation Center since January 2014 and will continue the test.

Panasonic to Build Big Battery Plant for Tesla

American electric car maker Tesla Motors Inc. is teaming up with Japanese electronics company Panasonic Corp. to build a battery manufacturing plant in the U.S. expected to create 6,500 jobs.

The companies announced the deal Thursday, but they did not say where in the U.S. the so-called “gigafactory,” or large-scale plant, will be built. Tesla has said that Nevada, Arizona, Texas, New Mexico and California are in the running.

Financial terms weren’t disclosed for the $5 billion plant.

The plant will produce cells, modules and packs for Tesla’s electric vehicles and for the stationary energy storage market, employing 6,500 people by 2020.

Under the agreement, Tesla, based in Palo Alto, California, will prepare, provide and manage the land and buildings, while Osaka-based Panasonic will manufacture and supply the lithium-ion battery cells and invest in equipment.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has said the factory will help Tesla reduce its battery costs by 30 percent. Tesla needs cheaper batteries in order to produce its mass-market Model 3, an electric car it’s developing that would cost around $30,000. Tesla hopes to have the Model 3 on the road by 2017. The company’s only current vehicle, the Model S sedan, starts at $70,000.

“The Gigafactory represents a fundamental change in the way large-scale battery production can be realized,” said Tesla Chief Technical Officer and co-founder JB Straubel, referring to the cost reductions.

Sales of zero-emission electric vehicles account for less than 1 percent of the global auto market. But worries about global warming and more stringent emissions regulations in many countries are expected to boost sales of electric and other green vehicles.

Yoshihiko Yamada, executive vice president of Panasonic, said the planned factory will help the electric vehicle market grow.

Panasonic, which has ceded much of its strength in consumer electronics to competitors, is putting more focus on businesses that serve other industries, including batteries.

It remains powerful in Japan and some overseas markets in consumer products such as refrigerators, washing machines and batteries for gadgets.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Airbus cancels contract with Japan Skymark Airlines

Airbus has cancelled its contract with Japan's Skymark Airlines for the purchase of six A380 aircraft.
Airbus said it had been in discussions with the airline about the contract signed in 2011, but did not give a specific reason for cancelling it.

Skymark suggested it wanted to revise the contract terms, but was being charged "overpriced" fees to do so.

Shares in the airline slumped 13% after it revealed it was in talks with Airbus over revisions to the deal.

The Japanese carrier told reporters in Tokyo it had tried to reduce the number of aircraft in the deal, or buy smaller jets.

"Airbus said it would charge overpriced breakup fees for cancelling the purchase of A380s if our company decides to cancel," Skymark president Shinichi Nishikubo said.

The airline said it had received notification of the deal's cancellation by fax on Sunday, according to the Reuters news agency.

"Following discussions with Skymark Airlines and in light of the airline's expressed intentions in respect of the A380, Airbus has notified Skymark Airlines that the purchase order for the six A380s signed in 2011 has been terminated," Airbus said.

Reports suggest the plane maker had concerns about Skymark's ability to pay for the aircraft, particularly in light of the weak yen.

The aircraft manufacturing market in Japan is currently dominated by Boeing. Airbus was seeking to break that dominance with the Skymark deal.

Internationally, Airbus has been struggling to win orders for its super jumbo.

The A380 is the world's largest passenger aircraft. It stands at more than 24m (79ft) tall and has a wing span of almost 80m (262ft) and can carry more than 500 passengers.

26836f82e46040fca5a806badc0036547afa3dbd

Japan to Offer $20,000 Subsidy for Fuel Cell Vehicles of Toyota Motor Corp

Japan is readying subsidies to help Toyota Motor Corp and key suppliers take the lead in hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles that could top $US400 million over the next several years if the most bullish projections for the technology play out.
 Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's planned consumer rebates of at least $US20,000 per vehicle would be the largest government support plan for hydrogen vehicles yet, raising the stakes for a commercially unproven technology with roots in the space race that Toyota and others see headed for the mainstream over the coming decades.

The taxpayer-funded program would bring down the cost of Toyota's soon-to-be-launched hydrogen-powered fuel cell car to around $US50,000 in Japan, about the cost of a small luxury sedan such as the BMW 3 Series.

Abe announced the outline of the plan last week and details are still being finalised.
The cost savings could be enough to make the Toyota vehicle affordable for taxi operators and other companies with fleets of vehicles within driving range of the 100 hydrogen fuelling stations that Japan expects to have built by March 2015.

"It's still difficult to make these cars popular among ordinary consumers, but the subsidy has certain effects on companies interested in promoting themselves as green," said Tomohide Kazama, Senior Consultant at Nomura Research Institute. "It's a move to plant a seed for future growth."

Fuel cell vehicles, which run on electricity made by cells that combine hydrogen and oxygen, have been in testing since the 1960s, when the technology was also being developed by NASA.
Since the vehicles emit only water and heat, they have been seen as an environmentally friendly alternative to those powered by combustion engines.

It could also help Japan shift to hydrogen energy as the country, dependent on imported fossil fuel as an energy source after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, seeks to cut carbon emissions. While much of the hydrogen used in the country now is made from fossil fuel, the government hopes to implement carbon-free production by 2040.

Promoting the technology last week, a smiling Abe test-drove Toyota's fuel cell sedan, set to go on sale in Japan by end-March, and fueled hydrogen into a Honda Motor Co (7267.T) FCX Clarity car, currently leased to governments and some companies.

Commercial challenges 
The challenges to commercial use of fuel cell cars have been the lack of a hydrogen fuelling infrastructure and their high cost. Abe's government has taken aim at both barriers in the hope of protecting an area of emerging technology where automakers and suppliers believe they have a lead over rivals in the United States and Europe.

The $US20,000 rebate per car means taxpayers may support subsidies of up to around $US200 million a year. Annual sales forecast for fuel cell vehicles in the early years of market introduction vary from several hundred to 10,000 vehicles.

To put 100 hydrogen fuel stations in urban areas by end-March 2015, the ruling party has suggested a subsidy of up to $US2 million per station – which cost $US4-5 million each to build – meaning another $US200 million in taxpayer money.

The government plans to continue offering subsidies and tax breaks so that fuel cell cars can sell at around the same price as gas-electric hybrids in the 2020s.

"The subsidy is a huge driving force for sales, but it won't be offered forever and I think the message here is that we need to continue cutting costs," said Koichi Kojima, a senior Toyota engineer who has been involved in fuel cell vehicle development for a decade.

The hydrogen supply chain has been benefiting from growing interest in the technology. Shares in Iwatani Corp, which opened the country's first commercial hydrogen station in western Japan this month and plans to build a total of 20 stations by 2015, jumped nearly 50 per cent this year, while hydrogen tank maker JFE Container rose 14.3 per cent.

Besides Toyota, Honda also plans to start selling its fuel cell vehicle in 2015. Automakers including General Motors Co and Ford Motor Co have been working on fuel cells for years and Daimler AG (DAIGn.DE) and Hyundai Motor Co lease fuel cell cars in the United States, but so far there are no plans for sales in Japan.

That means the subsidy will be offered exclusively to Toyota and Honda for the time being.
The announcement came as Washington and Tokyo are deadlocked over US access to the Japanese auto market in talks for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a regional trade pact.

"I don’t see it being a friction in terms of a trade issue," said Ron Cogan, editor of Green Car Journal. "I see it being a useful subsidy to help automakers that are going to be grappling with very high costs in developing very advanced vehicles."

Japanese Investors Target Turkey

Turkey's economy, struggling under dwindling demand and investment from Europe amid the chronic debt crisis embroiling its biggest trading partner, is getting a shot in the arm from an unlikely source: Japan.

Bilateral trade jumped 25% last year to a record $4.6 billion, while the number of Japanese companies opening offices in Istanbul hit 120 this year. No prior-year figures were available.

Japanese lenders are lining up to bid for Turkish banking licenses or entering joint ventures with local finance houses to profit from the booming consumer-lending market. Across the country, construction, logistics and automotive companies have begun building factories, staking a longer-term claim on Turkey's success and helping boost local employment.

"The Japanese are seriously targeting Turkey," Turkish Economy Minister Zafer Caglayan said in Istanbul on Sept. 20. "The Japanese are the slowest-moving people in the world...but once they reach a decision they are always taking the right and rational steps."

On Friday, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Japan's biggest bank, decided to join forces with Turkiye Is Bankasi AS, Turkey's biggest lender by assets, to provide wide-ranging services to Japanese concerns operating in Turkey, ranging from retail banking to credit cards, leasing and advising on mergers and acquisitions, according to Nikkei news agency.

Financial partnerships are coming back to back as the Istanbul branch of the Japan External Trade Organization hosted more than 100 companies in both May and July, when executives visited Turkey to scope out business opportunities, said Naohiko Yamaguchi, managing director of the government-backed organization known as Jetro.

"Now is the time for many Japanese companies to come to Turkey," Mr. Yamaguchi said in an interview. "Three years ago, big Japanese companies were considering Turkey as an investment, but they're very cautious and spend their time on research. Now investments are materializing one after another."

Among new investors in the country are Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd., which is spending $500 million on a tire factory, and Yusen Logistics Co., a unit of the world's second-biggest transportation company, Tokyo-based NYK Group.

"We believe that supplying tires from Turkey, which is nearer to [the Mideast and African] markets in addition to Europe, will enable us to reap enormous benefits in terms of lead times and transportation costs," Sumitomo said in a statement.

Underpinning the drive is rising Japanese investment in Turkish debt. Japanese retail investors have poured some $3 billion of funds into Turkey in 2012, and are on pace to account for 40% of total portfolio inflows to the country by year end, according to Barclays Capital. Sales of lira-denominated bonds to Japanese investors—also known as Uridashi bonds—have surged to $2.7 billion since January, already surpassing the record $2 billion raised in 2011.

The combined impact represents a hefty fillip for Turkey, which is seeking to plug a current-account deficit that narrowed to 8% of the $780 billion economy from an unsustainable 10% in early 2012.

The expansion of fixed investments in factories and companies represents the longer-term vote of confidence conspicuously absent from Ankara's compelling economic growth story, which has been propelled by waves of speculative short-term capital.

The cash coming to Turkey from Japan is still less than the Asian giant's investments in some other emerging markets. Japanese retail investors' exposure to Turkey is 1.2% of the country's emerging-market portfolio, compared with 4% for Brazil, 3% for South Korea and 2% for Mexico, according to Barclays.

A key reason for the shift toward Turkey among Japanese investors, analysts say, is a positive reading of the country's fundamentals: a large domestic market, youthful population and relative political stability in comparison to other emerging markets like Indonesia and Russia.

Turkey also has a central bank that took aggressive steps over the past year to stabilize the lira and rein in inflation, contrasting with other emerging markets traditionally favored by Japanese investors, which have been rendered less attractive by cooling growth, currency volatility and investor saturation.

Turkey has attracted not only Japan's heavy hitters such as Toyota and Hitachi but also a lot of newcomers, including real-estate company Starts, news giant Nikkei, logistics companies, makers of car parts and even food distributors.

Others eyeing the Turkish market include Japanese nuclear-power plant manufacturers and suppliers such as Toshiba Corp., which are increasingly turning their focus abroad after the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant last year raised uncertainty about the future of nuclear power in Japan amid public concern about safety.

"We have kept to our aim of selling our nuclear-power technology across the world," a Toshiba spokesman in Tokyo said. The company said it is "very interested" in Turkey and has indicated to Ankara its interest in building a plant. The governments are in talks.

Japanese lenders are eager to get active in Turkey, too.

The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Japan's biggest bank, is scheduled to get its banking license as soon as November after having only a representative office for 26 years. The Tokyo-based lender's initial capital investment of $300 million is expected to jump more than 15-fold to $5 billion over a five-year horizon, according to Shoji Nakano, the lender's chief for Europe, Middle East and Africa.

Rival Japanese bank Mizuho Corporate Bank Ltd. signed a partnership agreement in September with Akbank TAS, Turkey's second-biggest lender by market capitalization, to jointly service Japanese companies investing in the Eurasian country.