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FEBRUARY 2015

Yankees Raise Funds for Kids

Derek Jeter played for the Yankees for 20 years.

Derek Jeter played for the Yankees for 20 years.

Former New York Yankees teammates Hideki Matsui and Derek Jeter will co-host a baseball charity event at Tokyo Dome on March 21 (U.S. News & World Report, December 17).

The fundraiser, to support children affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, will feature more than 600 participants, including a group of baseball players from the Tohoku region. A baseball clinic and homerun derby will be part of the agenda, pitting Matsui against Jeter, who is highly respected in Japan.

Matsui was the 2009 World Series MVP and Jeter retired in 2014, after a 20-year career with the Yankees.


Japan Expats at Record High
The number of Japanese living abroad was at its highest in 2013 (Nippon.com, December 22).

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, there were some 1.3 million Japanese living abroad as of October 2013, the highest figure since records began in 1968. The number of Japanese children enrolled in schools in other Asian countries has risen significantly; since the last survey in 2003, the figure has soared nearly 70 percent.

While figures in Europe dropped, those in North America fluctuated greatly, eventually settling just below the Asian totals. One executive noted, “The upsurge may be connected with moves among Japanese companies to reassess the North American market.”

US airlines are currently allowed four daily flights to Haneda.

US airlines are currently allowed four daily flights to Haneda.

Haneda Slots Coveted
Two airlines have put in a bid for landing rights at Tokyo International Airport Haneda, as the U.S. Department of Transportation completes a review of the slot occupied by Delta Air Lines Inc. (Japan Today, January 8).

American Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines claim Delta hasn’t been making full use of the slot since last fall, when it reduced the number of flights between Seattle and Haneda. Asking for the review to be dropped, Delta has said the airline plans to resume a full schedule from its hub in Seattle in March.

US airlines are currently allowed four daily flights to Haneda, and the route has long been monopolized by Delta and United.



Hybrid M&A Outfit Again Ranked No. 1
A Japanese–US merger and acquisition (M&A) adviser has scored the top spot in the 2014 rankings for Japan-related M&As for the second year running (Nasdaq.com, December 28).

Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities was ranked first by the data-tracking firm Dealogic. It advised on deals worth $41 billion in 2014, beating Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Nomura Holdings Inc.

The winning firm represents an unusual blend of two financial institutions—one based in Tokyo, one in New York. The venture’s biggest deal last year was Suntory Holdings Ltd.’s acquisition of Beam Inc. for $16 billion. The deal highlights the main advantage of the Mitsubishi–Morgan Stanley tie-up: knowledge of the US market combined with the ability to procure a lot of cash, quickly.



Class Offered to Help Navigate Japanese Market
A US university has designed a course to help professionals manage business relations with Japanese entities (wncn.com, January 4).

The North Carolina Japan Center, located at the state’s main university, is offering the 10-week course to improve ties with Japanese businesses. Feedback had been received from various US enterprises on the difficulty of entering the Japanese market. The new course provides explanations for this and suggestions on how US companies might succeed in the world’s third-largest market.

It will be taught by an executive who worked in Japanese corporations for over a decade.

The line’s Gran Class includes a gourmet bento boxed meal and other premium amenities.

The line’s Gran Class includes a gourmet bento boxed meal and other premium amenities.

Tokyo to Hokkaido in Four Hours
The Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) plans to promote the Hokkaido Shinkansen in the United States (The Japan Times, January 3).

The new high-speed train will debut in spring 2016, initially linking Shin-Aomori Station in Aomori Prefecture and Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto Station in Hokkaido via the Seikan Tunnel. The line will link with the Tohoku Shinkansen line connecting Shin-Aomori and Tokyo stations. The new service will allow passengers to travel from Tokyo to Hokkaido in about four hours.

Americans who have visited Hokkaido will speak at a series of seminars. The JNTO also intends to map out sightseeing routes that include the Tohoku region.



From Man to Machine
Self-checkout, a concept launched in the United States, is taking hold in Japan (Wall Street Journal, January 1).

Aeon Co. has installed some 3,000 automatic checkers in stores nationwide. The investment is intended as a labor-saving device, in response to a shortage of workers in certain economic sectors. One Aeon manager said the machines suit Japanese consumers, who often shop daily and buy in small quantities, making self-checkout an easy choice.

The United States still has 10 times as many self-checkers as Japan, but growth here is faster; the number grew 139 percent between 2009 and 2013, compared with a 28 percent increase in the United States over the same period.



Beer Brand Busted
Anheuser-Busch InBev, which owns the Kirin brand in the United States, is offering refunds for suggesting the Japanese beer was imported (Time, January 9).

The company recently settled a class-action lawsuit alleging “the packaging, marketing and advertising of Kirin beer is designed to deceive consumers into believing they are purchasing a product made in Japan.” In fact, US-bought Kirin is brewed in Virginia and California.

The terms include no use of the word “imported” on Kirin, more prominent disclosure on labels about where the product is brewed, and partial refunds to people who bought Kirin and have receipts.



Climate Change Fossils of the Day
An environmental conference has criticized the United States and Japan for their lack of initiatives to address climate change (The Japan Times, December 11).

The 20th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change met in Lima, Peru, in December. The group named Washington and Tokyo joint recipients of its “Fossil of the Day” award, given to nations resisting efforts to reduce global warming.

Participants said America insisted on editing out important text in a draft statement, issued at the conference, dealing with responses to natural disasters, and that Japan was supporting the US cause.



Favorite Holiday Spots among Chinese
Japan and the United States top the list of popular travel destinations for Chinese tourists in 2015, for the second year running (The Australian, January 7).

Thanks in part to currency deflation, Japan ranked first in the survey, by Travelzoo Asia–Pacific, with 39.6 percent of the 4,300 respondents saying it was their top choice this year. Eased visa regulations for Chinese in both Japan and the United States also boosted this year’s figures.

The survey showed that Chinese are becoming less fixated on shopping and that, as the yen continues to weaken, some visitors are coming to buy land in Japan.
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