The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan



Doraemon Travels Abroad

Press-4The Japanese government’s Cool Japan initiative has sent popular cartoon character Doraemon, the robotic cat, to the United States (Bangkok Post, June 21).

The show, Doraemon, which debuted on Disney XD on July 7 and for which 26 episodes are planned, is based on a manga created in the late 20th century. It has already aired in 35 countries outside Japan.

To suit US audiences, there have been several tweaks: characters such as Shizuku and Gian are renamed Sue and Big G, respectively; and a food stall selling sweet potatoes has been replaced with one selling popcorn.

In addition, some scenes have been deleted in line with US content regulations, such as ones that show characters taking a bath or aggressively fighting.

Firms Team Up for Faster Drug Approvals

US clinical trial marketing firm BBK Worldwide has partnered with a Japanese contract research organization to create BBK + CROee (, June 17).

Tokyo-based CROee specializes in patient recruitment, and has collaborated with BBK since 2010. The newly formed entity is designed to provide cultural and marketing expertise to engage the Japanese pharmaceutical industry.

The partnership supports speedier drug approvals in Japan, which is the second-largest pharmaceutical market following the United States.

Workwear Fetches High Prices at NY Stores

Press-3New York City second-hand clothing retailers are finding favor with Japanese shoppers, and are doing well selling traditional Japanese garments (Public Radio International, June 26).

At Stock Vintage Manhattan, owner Melissa Howard said 30–50 percent of her buyers are Japanese. The customers seem to have a passion for American workwear, especially denim, she said.

In Brooklyn, traditional Japanese blue-collar textiles are all the rage at Sri Threads. The gallery is stocked with indigo noragi (farmers’) jackets and other items patched and stitched from rags, a post-war style of clothing known as boro (tattered). The store’s clients include some of the biggest names in the American fashion industry, the owner said.

The Rich Get Richer

The United States and Japan had the most millionaires in 2013, according to a report by consultancy Cap Gemini S.A. and RBC Wealth Management (GlobalPost website, June 19).

The total population of high-net-worth individuals worldwide rose 14.7 percent to 13.7 million last year. This was the fastest growth since 2000, except in the post-Lehman crisis recovery year of 2009.

US millionaires currently account for 29 percent of the global total, at 4.01 million. There are 2.33 million millionaires in Japan, a 22.3 percent spike from 2012.

Chubu Hedges LNG Costs

A regional Japanese power company is pursuing its first investment in a US shale gas field (, June 25).

Chubu Electric Power Co. is the world’s third-largest liquefied natural gas (LNG) buyer. It is seeking its first stake in a shale field abroad to hedge against planned future purchases from the Freeport LNG project in Texas, according to the power company. Chubu has agreed to buy 2.2 million tons of LNG from Freeport each year, starting in 2018.

In 2013, Japan imported a record 87.5 million tons of LNG, in the wake of the shutdown of most nuclear reactors in the country.