Raw Japan

Slices of Japanese business, politics and life

Retailers do well by going cheap

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Japan is back in deflation, and price falls look like gathering pace as shoppers’ bargain-hunting leads stores to cut prices further to weather the worst retail slump in decades.

Retailers large and small reported hard falls in quarterly profits last week, and the few bright spots were focused on those drawing in thrifty shoppers with their cheap but well-made goods.

FAST-RETAILING/

Fast Retailing tops the list, as its Uniqlo stores thrive in tough times by selling T-shirts for $10 — that’s cheap here — and other clothing at similar bargain prices. The company is also seeing strong sales growth at its other basic apparel chain g.u.

g.u., the cut-rate sibling of already-cheap Uniqlo, had a low profile for years but shoppers started flooding in after it slashed prices across the board and started flogging $11 jeans and $5 T-shirts this year.

from Photographers' Blog:

Homeless, sick and “thanking God for this wonderful place to live”

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Reuters Boston Photographer Brian Snyder spent a very long and claustrophobic day in the tiny dark hotel suite where a homeless nurse, Tarya Seagraves-Quee, and three of her four children have been living in Massachusetts for nearly two months.

A record number of families are now being put up in motels due to high unemployment and the rising number of homes going into foreclosure, costing taxpayers $2 million per month but providing a lifeline for desperate families.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Nakamura’s Japan snub a no-brainer

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Japan midfielder Shunsuke Nakamura's decision to snub a return to Yokohama and join Spain's Espanyol left his boyhood club devastated.

 

Yokohama's club president slapped himself with a 50 percent pay cut by way of apology to furious F-Marinos fans, but arguably the most surprising aspect of the protracted saga was Yokohama's "shock" that Nakamura opted for Espanyol instead of them after leaving Celtic, where he won three Scottish Premier League titles.

Name That Dissolution – A game everyone can play

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Finally, we have a date for Japan’s general election. After months of speculation, unpopular Prime Minister Taro Aso said on Monday he plans to call a national election on Aug. 30 after dissolving parliament next week.

All we need now – in Japan, at least - is a cool name for the dissolution.

Japan’s election allergy on the Internet

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Tech-savvy Japan is home to many high-tech companies and more than 70 percent of its people use the Internet. But politics on the Web falls far behind.

Both politicians and voters can be found online. Lawmakers have their own blogs and channels on sites such as niconico and youtube, and political parties such as the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and main opposition Democratic Party of Japan have websites.  A couple of politicians are even tweeting on ”Twitter“.

A monkey in sheep’s clothing

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Japan, like some other countries, is struggling with the issue of human organ donation, but another solution is being pursued by university researchers here whose sheep, named “Saru”, may hold the key to the future of organ transplants.

Saru, which means “monkey” in Japanese, is part sheep and part monkey. 

Matchmaking gets divine touch

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I admit there was some personal interest when I volunteered to cover the praying/speed-dating event at a shrine in Tokyo recently. I wanted to see what a matchmaking event at a shrine involves and who would attend.

I did not expect, though, that I would actually get involved.

A group of 14 women and 14 men gathered at Imado shrine in Tokyo, which honours Japan’s indigenous Shinto gods of marriage. The participants varied in age and occupation, but had one common goal — finding a good marriage partner.

Dodging reporters?

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When a prime minister is in trouble, especially before an important general election, it is never wise to upset reporters.

But that seems to be exactly what unpopular Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso did when he departed for a G8 summit in the central Italian city of L’Aquila this week.

from Summit Notebook:

Gassing about electric cars

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Would you buy a car that only goes 100 miles (160 km) on a tank of fuel?

That's the range of Nissan's 5-seater electric car planned for sale in the U.S. and Japan in 2010 -- a similar size to Nissan's Primera or VW's Golf.

A full tank in a petrol-driven car will take you around twice that distance so the new technology that Nissan hopes will leapfrog current hybrids won't be for those who disappear up the mountains each weekend.

Japan baseball still in little league?

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BASEBALL/JAPANI like going to watch baseball games, not just for the refreshments but also the great team-play on the field.

In Japan, you cannot win just with one or two stars, needing a team solid in both defence and offence.

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