The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan



Green Power for Tokyo Buildings

Press-1SoftBank Corp. and Bloom Energy Japan have unveiled a new server to generate clean electricity (Japan Today, June 18).

California-based Bloom Energy set up a joint venture with SoftBank to form the Japan arm of its operations. The new technology, which uses solid oxide fuel cells, was put to use at SoftBank’s headquarters on June 17.

Masayoshi Son, SoftBank CEO, said the truck-sized server—one of the first in Japan—supplies 14 percent of the building’s electricity needs from a variety of fuels, including natural gas.
The newly developed energy source is much cleaner and also more economical than the traditional power grid.

Relocators Combine Forces

US-based UniGroup recently acquired England’s Sterling Relocation, making the combined entity one of the largest global networks of moving services (press release, July 1).

Together, UniGroup and Sterling are represented by 27 regional offices, with more than 1,000 local providers in more than 180 countries on six continents.

Aki Nitta, general manager and executive officer of UniGroup Relocation Japan, said, “Sterling has a good corporate history and strong service reputation, particularly in the Europe relocation market.
“This acquisition enhances the true partnership between UniGroup Relocation and Sterling Relocation, and adds a positive and certain value to the service we provide to our customers in Japan.”

Venture Funds Target US

Rakuten, Inc.’s corporate venture capital arm has announced a new $100 million global fund targeting the United States, along with the Asia–Pacific region and Israel (The Times of Israel, July 7).

The new fund by Rakuten Ventures represents the company’s first direct entry into the US market. Rakuten Ventures is just one of the relatively new outfits dealing in corporate venture capital in Japan. On July 14, KDDI Corp. announced its Open Innovations Fund, depositing $8 million into four US startups: education firm Edmodo, digital media publishing platform Issuu, seat upgrade app Pogoseat, and TechCrunch competitor VentureBeat.

KDDI said a key reason for investing in these companies is their collective potential for entering the Japanese market.

Partner Takes Control of Japan Business

3M Co. has announced plans to buy out Sumitomo Electric Industries Ltd.’s stake in its Japan joint venture (Wall Street Journal, July 16).

The US-based manufacturer will pay ¥90 billion to take full control of Sumitomo 3M Ltd. The deal is expected to close in September.

Currently, Sumitomo has a 25 percent stake in the joint venture, which was formed in 1961 between 3M, Sumitomo and NEC Corp. 3M acquired NEC’s stake in 2003, bringing its share to 75 percent.

Globetrotting Burger Campaign

Press-2The Hard Rock Café in Tokyo has launched its World Burger Tour promotion, which runs until the end of September (press release, June 26).

“Legendary burgers” from 18 cities in 12 countries will be served at all six restaurants in Japan. These locally themed dishes include the New York Pizza Burger, and the London Yorkshire Pudding Burger, and the Honolulu Grilled Pineapple Burger. During the promotion, one legendary burger and two special beverages will be promoted at each location for a month.

Hard Rock’s World Burger Tour PR ambassador, famous Japanese comedian Jimon Terakado, described his favorite dish, the Bangkok Green Curry Burger, as “tasting a different culture for the first time.”