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Press | ACCJ Members

November 2013

A proposed contract with Japan worth nearly $1 billion to upgrade the country’s airborne early warning and control system (AWACS) aircraft has been announced (Global Post, September 26).

According to the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, the planned $950 million deal would modernize Japan’s fleet of four AWACS planes, bolster electronic systems used to identify other aircraft, and provide new cryptographic computers.

According to an agency statement, “the proposed sale will provide Japan with an upgraded AWACS command and control capability” and “allow Japan’s AWACS fleet to be more compatible with the US Air Force AWACS fleet baseline.”

Manufactured by aerospace giant Boeing and flown by NATO countries and other US allies, AWACS carry a rotating radar antenna mounted on the back of the plane, and use systems to track other aircraft or enemy air defenses at long distances.

COSMO Healthcare, a division of COSMO Public Relations Corporation, has won a Gold Sabre Award in the Pharmaceutical category for its “Iki Iki Jinja” campaign for Nippon Boehringer Ingelheim (press release, September 27).

The firm beat four other finalists for the Asia-Pacific Sabre Award—presented in Shanghai on September 18—which recognized the region’s best PR and branding campaign for the pharmaceutical sector.

The award-winning campaign aimed to raise awareness of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), motivating potential patients to seek early diagnosis and treatment by relying on the influence of family members to urge them to see a doctor.

The campaign revolved around an online shrine (jinja) where visitors could devote virtual ema (wooden plaques inscribed with prayers), to wish loved ones good lung health, and encourage them to get checked.

This is the first-ever disease awareness campaign by a Japanese pharmaceutical company that comprehensively integrates blogs, websites, email and social media.

“COSMO’s strong strategic thinking and vast knowledge of the Japanese market helped us find innovative solutions in the development and execution of a novel disease awareness program,” said Jason Young, head of respiratory marketing at Nippon Boehringer Ingelheim.

“COSMO was an instrumental partner for us in bringing insight to action through the social media-driven Iki Iki Jinja COPD campaign, which has allowed us to help more patients suffering from respiratory disease in Japan.”

The campaign has reached more than 35 million people, generating 49 articles and over 28.3 million media impressions. Further, about 47 percent of the target audience said they would now see a doctor about COPD.

The United States and Japan have announced that from January 1, 2014, organic products certified in Japan or the United States may be sold as organic in either country (United States Department of Agriculture [USDA], September 26).

“[The] agreement will streamline access to the growing Japanese organic market for US farmers and processors and eliminate significant barriers for small and medium organic producers, benefiting America’s thriving organic industry,” said United States Trade Representative Michael Froman.

“This represents another key step in strengthening our economic relationship with Japan by boosting agriculture trade between Japan and the United States, leading to more jobs and economic benefits for American farmers and businesses in this important sector.”

Japan exports a wide variety of organic products from the United States, including soybeans, cauliflower, and nuts, as well as processed items such as frozen meals. The main Japanese exports to the United States are organic green tea, sake, and mushrooms.

Before the agreement, organic farmers and businesses wanting to sell products in either country had to obtain separate certifications to meet each country’s organic standards, meaning that two sets of fees, inspections, and paperwork were required.

Annual organic sales to Japan from the United States total around $80 million, and the USDA estimates the new agreement could more than triple this amount over the next 10 years to $250 million per year.

Japan’s Government Pension Investment Fund (GPIF) plans to boost investment in growth stocks to increase returns. In addition, it may eventually allocate several trillion yen to such equities (The Japan Times, October 6).

The state-run ¥121 trillion ($1.24 trillion) fund—the world’s biggest manager of retirement savings—will initially invest several billion yen in a new domestic index focused on returns on equity, governance, and trading volume.

The Japan Exchange Group Inc. will this year announce criteria and about 500 stocks for the new index, which will be based on fundamentals. This will be a departure from benchmarks such as the TOPIX index, which includes all stocks listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange’s first section, or the Nikkei 225 Stock Average.

The GPIF advisory panel, which counsels Japan’s leaders on public pensions, said in a recent report that more front-line experts are required to diversify investments and adopt more sophisticated risk-management measures. The panel’s economists are reviewing the GPIF’s asset allocations in a bid to boost returns.

In June, the pension fund announced it would cut its target holdings of domestic bonds to 60 percent from 67 percent. Meanwhile, allocations to foreign and domestic equities were hiked to 12 percent each, from 9 percent and 11 percent, respectively.

“As a manager and CEO of a company in Japan, your goal will be to beat that index,” said Jesper Koll, managing director and head of research at J.P. Morgan Securities LLC.
“The TOPIX is a broad index and everybody competes there, but this new index is likely to be Japan’s Olympic team, and team Japan will compete with a chance to win the global gold medal.”

The TOPIX has risen 35 percent this year, making Japanese equities the best performers among developed markets.