The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan

Our November issue of The Journal takes you shopping—online—as we explore the evolution of electronic commerce into mobile commerce.

Those of us who have been in Japan for decades can recall how difficult it once was to access goods from back home. As the Internet became more integral to everyday life, and online shopping came into its own, walls fell and almost any product became available. Of course, we had to sit down at the computer to make the purchase. Today, even that limitation has disappeared as e-commerce is being supplanted by m-commerce—shopping from your mobile device. Virtually the entire world is now accessible while on-the-go. But the experience varies depending on what country one finds themselves in. On page 18, we take a look at the current state of m-commerce in Asia and what online vendors can learn from their brick-and-mortar counterparts.

To find an online shopper in Japan who is unfamiliar with Rakuten would be difficult. The Internet retailer guided by Hiroshi Mikitani has a pervasive presence across the country. From an online marketplace to brick-and-mortar cafés to sports—the company’s Nippon Professional Baseball League club, the Eagles, is beginning its second decade of play—Rakuten is everywhere. But unlike competitor’s such as Amazon, they aren’t well known abroad. In recent years, Mikitani has sought to change this. On page 8, we check on the current status of Rakuten’s European and Asian expansion.

While handheld technology powers m-commerce and other aspects of daily life, more sophisticated assistive technology is slowly becoming a part of who we are as individuals. On a path that seems to lead out of science fiction, mechanical body parts are changing the lives of the physically challenged. The prospects of Cyberdyne’s Hybrid Assistive Limb (HAL) once sent the company’s stock soaring, but delays in bringing the tech to market have resulted in a sharp decline. On page 14, we explore this and other concerns, and how they are intertwined with the Japanese approach to corporate governance.

Lastly, let’s not forget that, while we’re enjoying the benefits of technology, there are many who need our help. The ACCJ offers a wonderful opportunity to do this while having a great night out at the annual Charity Ball, which will take place on December 3 at the Hilton Tokyo Shinjuku from 6:00 p.m. to midnight. The theme for this year’s event celebrates the 50th anniversary of Truman Capote’s iconic Black and White Ball, which was held at the Plaza Hotel in New York City. In this issue, Charity Ball Committee Chair Barbara Hancock introduces you to some of the entertainment lined up for the evening. We hope you will come out and support this year’s charities.

Christopher Bryan Jones is Editor-in-chief of The Journal. Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, he has lived in Japan since 1997.
Virtually the entire world is now accessible while on-the-go . . . but the experience varies depending on what country one finds themselves in.