Raw Japan

Slices of Japanese business, politics and life

from Left field:

Boyz II Men risk a Barack-ing over Tokyo Olympic support

boyzAsk not what you can do for your country ... ask its direct competitor if it wants any help with its Olympic bid.

Tokyo's 2016 campaign has been short on glamour backers and is struggling to match Chicago's trump card, American President Barack Obama - until now.

Boyz II Men, who sang at the closing ceremony at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, are hardly the hippest band in the world or likely to tip the vote, but the Grammy-winning trio publically supporting Tokyo at the weekend was an image boost of sorts, however bizarre.

Among their reasons were Tokyo's "coziness" and their belief Tokyo should win because the Japanese "really love the Olympics". They must have missed the memo on Tokyo's public support lagging behind rivals Chicago, Madrid and Rio de Janeiro, but moving along ...

Pet love, vanity help firms survive recession

Photo
-

Japanese consumers are getting more penny-pinching by the day, and they’re probably not going to be splashing out more freely anytime soon after wage earners’ take-home pay logged the biggest drop on record in the year to June and people’s summer bonuses took a hefty cut.

But no matter how bleak things get, there will always be some companies that shoppers — however closely they’re guarding their wallets — don’t hesitate to throw precious money at. 

Scrum at ruling party HQ says it all?

Photo
-

“Why can’t the LDP do this better?”

That’s what many reporters were saying when Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party announced its campaign platform on Friday.

They weren’t talking about the party’s campaign pledges for the Aug. 30 election,  which the LDP could well lose to the rival Democratic Party, ending more than half a century of almost unbroken reign by the LDP.

Hybrid, schmybrid – get on yer bike!

Photo
-

BICYCLES/JAPAN

Can things get any worse for the car industry?

Just when you thought hybrid cars were all the rage in Japan, they’re being shoved aside for the environmental cachet by an even greener alternative: electric bicycles.

Motor-assisted “hybrid” bicycles are gaining traction thanks to a greying population and a growing interest in being green and healthy.

Youth appeal a bonus for Japan Democrats?

Photo
-

In the rural prefecture of Fukushima, north of Tokyo, you can’t help but notice it: The opposition Democrats are quite simply younger than their ruling Liberal Democratic Party counterparts.

The youngest member of the Fukushima prefectural assembly, Tomo Honda, is a 34-year-old Democrat. On a visit to the local LDP headquarters, though, I failed to spot anyone whose hair was not grey.

Cheap brews soothe econ blues

Photo
-

Cheap beer-like drinks are in fashion as suds lovers try to hold onto their daily treat while saving money to ride out tough economic times. Sales of these drinks have been very strong and beer makers are aggressively marketing their products, all of which is just going to further dent the market share of beer, which has been in steady decline for years.

Nowadays, a 350ml can of regular beer will set you back about 210 yen ($2.20) in Japan, while low-malt ”beer-like drinks” go for around 130 yen. 

Ai, Ai, Ai!

Photo
-

The Japanese fairway is littered with golf stars who joined the U.S. or European game highly touted, but who found themselves decidedly unexceptional amid a wealth of international talent.

Indeed, “Japan’s next Tiger Woods” — a phrase tossed about more in hope than in fact ( by myself included) —  is a misnomer, as it really hasn’t seen its first Tiger, on the global tour at least. 

Ruling party takes off gloves, irking opposition

Photo
-

Japan’s conservative ruling party,  torn  by internal feuds and facing a possible loss in an Aug. 30 poll, is making attacks on the opposition Democratic Party of a sort rare in a country where many have had an allergy to Western-style negative campaigns.

The strategy — portraying the novice Democrats as weak on security and profligate on spending –  prompted a harsh reply from the opposition,  who polls show have their best-ever chance of defeating unpopular Prime Minister Taro Aso’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in the election,  ending its more than half a century of nearly unbroken rule.

Sumo “porky” tab a low blow

Photo
-

Bad boy sumo grand champion Asashoryu has been called many things, but it’s unlikely whether being dubbed “porky” will cause the Mongolian star to lose much sleep.

When a former wrestler, now working as a television commentator, accused the “yokozuna” of being flabby, it marked a new low in the hounding of one of the greats of Japan’s ancient sport.

Japan’s long, hot political summer

Photo
-

A campaign that began with apologies and tears by the prime minister may end the same way if, as surveys suggest, Japan’s conservative ruling party suffers a historic defeat in 40 days.

Prime Minister Taro Aso dissolved parliament’s powerful lower house Tuesday for an Aug. 30 election that could well see his Liberal Democratic Party ousted for only the second time since its founding more than half a century ago.  

  •