Slices of Japanese business, politics and life
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.
One such is Unicharm Petcare, a Japanese maker of pet food and animal care products. Its dog and cat food products are selling so well that its operating profit leaped 42 percent in the April-June period, and it raised its forecast for the year to next March.
“Pets are part of the family, so pet owners are unlikely to cut back spending on them just because of a recession,” a company official told me. They certainly are family, and it could be a case of “two legs good, four legs better” because while some family members have to put up with cheap beer-like drinks and outdated clothes, their furry relatives get fed “gourmet” food and other products specially tailored for obese or aged pets.
The Japan Animal Referral Medical Centre in Kawasaki is not your typical veterinary clinic, as canine patients aren’t just suffering from colds but often potentially terminal illnesses, which you can sense from their owners in the lobby.
No one is talking about how cute their dog is, and it’s a quiet, hospice-type environment. So when four energetic dogs bounded into the waiting room, quite a few people wondered what was going on.
Japan may be child-challenged, but its fascination with pets and particularly dogs occasionally borders on obsession, and so our film of Bazooka the Bulldog, king of the under 24-inch skateboard crowd, is finding traction with local and on-line viewers.