The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan

Press | ACCJ Members and Government

October 2013
NUMBER OF EV CHARGING STATIONS EXPANDING

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The number of fast-charging stations for electric vehicles will soar to nearly 200,000 worldwide by 2020, up from just 1,800 or so last year, according to research company IHS Automotive (Investor’s Business Daily, August 27).

Japan is home to half of today’s fast-charging stations. Germany appears set on using a combined charging system (CCS), while Tesla Motors Inc. (see page 30) is pushing its proprietary Supercharger system in the US, which has made adding more such stations a priority. Tesla exceeded second-quarter estimates, and its stock has been on a roll.

By the end of 2013, the Americas will account for about 1,400 charging stations, Europe and the Middle East for 1,600, and the Asia-Pacific region for 2,900, according to IHS Automotive.

Tesla has said its Superchargers will have US-wide distribution by 2015.

“In addition to the proprietary technology, use of the charging stations is free for Tesla owners, and there are plans to power all stations using photovoltaics,” an analyst said. “These superchargers represent a powerful proposition for Tesla: drivers can charge faster and charging will be free for life.”

TEPCO NAMES US EXPERT TO N-PANEL

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Tokyo Electric Power Co. has appointed a former US nuclear regulatory official to a committee that will oversee reform of its nuclear power division (Asahi Shimbun, September 11).

With an eye to restarting its key nuclear reactors, which were idled following the 2011 triple disaster, the Nuclear Reform Monitoring Committee also has the task of improving technologies to decommission the crippled reactors and decontaminate the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

Facing strong anti-nuclear sentiment, TEPCO hopes the establishment of outside oversight will help to win public support for its safety-related reform efforts and pave the way for restarting nuclear reactors.

Dale Klein is a former chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. He will sit on the committee with management consultant Dr. Kenichi Ohmae, a former nuclear engineer with Hitachi Ltd., and lawyer Masafumi Sakurai, former chief prosecutor of the Nagoya High Public Prosecutors Office, who sat on the Diet investigative committee on the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident.

MOVER LAUNCHES NEW BRAND

UniGroup Relocation has launched a new global brand, reflecting a broader mission and the addition of new services and technology solutions (US business news reports, September 1).

With regional headquarters in St. Louis, MO, as well as in Amsterdam and Hong Kong, the company’s global network services nearly 1,200 locations in more than 180 countries with mobility solutions. Built on the heritage of the largest and most recognized US household goods movers, United Van Lines and Mayflower Transit, and the highly regarded presence of UTS International in the rest of the world, UniGroup Relocation has more than eight decades of experience in meeting customers’ relocation needs.

“Over the last few years, we have been quietly building one of the world’s largest relocation networks,” said Pat Baehler, UniGroup Relocation president. “Our new brand is a reflection of our large global presence, our wide range of services, and the consistent and high level of quality we are able to provide through our service level agreements and unsurpassed local knowledge.”

To better meet the broad range of mobility needs of multinational corporations and their assignees, the company recently expanded its offerings to include pre-assignment, housing, and destination services. These include everything from new location orientations, home finding, culture and language instruction, and departure services, all arranged through a single point of contact.

FIRST APPLE STORE IN TOKYO FOR SEVEN YEARS?

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After seven years of waiting, residents of Tokyo will reportedly have one more Apple store to visit (ifoAppleStore weblog, August 28).

The store will be in Omotesando, just an eight-minute walk from the existing Shibuya retail store. Apple’s first store outside the United States opened on Thanksgiving weekend 2003 in Ginza (Tokyo). Determined to attend the grand opening and despite the rain, about 1,980 people lined up outside the store ahead of time, forming the longest line ever for an Apple store opening.

Subsequently, six more stores opened in Japan, most recently in Sapporo in June 2006. At that point, Canada and the United Kingdom were the only other countries with Apple stores. However, since that last Japan store, 145 stores have opened in other countries, all while Japan waited and waited.

LENDER AGREES TO ¥2 BILLION CREDIT FACILITY FOR SUBSIDIARY

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GE Capital has signed an agreement with a Japanese unit of Imation Corp. —a global scalable storage and data security company headquartered in Oakdale, MN—to provide a revolving credit facility of up to ¥2 billion in Japan (Monitor Daily, August 8).

GE Capital said the facility will act as a liquidity line and, given that it is Japan based and yen denominated, it also will add flexibility to Imation’s global treasury needs.

Other reports said that the credit is in answer to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s call for increased funding for smaller companies.

Asset-based lending is a relatively new form of corporate funding in Japan, where lenders typically only lend on hard assets, such as equipment and real estate, GE Capital explained.

Clark D. Griffith, managing director of structured finance at GE Capital Japan, said, “GE Capital’s international footprint creates a capability to lend on cross-border collateral, which thus allows for multi-jurisdiction ABL [asset-based lending]. Normally, assets that are outside the country, or legal jurisdiction, where the ABL is underwritten are considered ineligible as collateral because lenders cannot perfect, or lay claim to assets outside the immediate legal jurisdiction.”