The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan


April 2014
Tokyo Club Honors Inspiring Women


The Tokyo American Club has awarded pioneering alpinist Junko Tabei, fashion designer Junko Koshino, and goodwill ambassador Norika Fujiwara its Distinguished Achievement Award (press release, February 25).

“The Distinguished Achievement Award honors outstanding individuals who have contributed to society and helped promote the interchange of culture among countries,” said Jeff McNeill, a member of the club committee that selected the recipients. “The three women selected this year have all demonstrated great accomplishments.”

Established in 1995, the prestigious award has been presented to a broad range of talented recipients over the years. Awardees include astronaut Mamoru Mohri (1998) and former UN High Commissioner for Refugees Sadako Ogata (1999).

Nippon TV to Buy Video Streaming ServicePress2.04.14-2

Hulu has announced the sale of its business in Japan to Nippon TV for an undisclosed price (Japan Today, February 28).

Hulu CEO Mike Hopkins said the subscription service had grown to a point where it believed the best path forward was to sell its Japan business to a strategic buyer.

Nippon Television Network Corporation plans to assume day-to-day operations of the service, which costs ¥980 ($9.60) per month for access to US programs such as Person of Interest and Japanese shows such as Spec. Nippon TV plans to add programs from its own network to the service.

Hulu will license its brand and technology, and provide services to the Japanese business.

Owned by 21st Century Fox, The Walt Disney Company, and Comcast Corporation, Hulu launched its Japan service in September 2011.

Electronics Giant Plans Joint Venture

Panasonic Corporation and California-based Tesla Motors, Inc. are in talks to build a $1 billion automotive battery plant in the United States (The Wall Street Journal, February 26).

Panasonic is inviting several other Japanese companies to join the project, with the aim of lowering manufacturing costs of the lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles.

Batteries represent a big part of the final cost of an electric car, and slashing prices is key to making the technology more accessible to consumers.

It is hoped that the new facility—scheduled to be built in 2017—will produce small, lightweight batteries for Tesla and other automakers.

Tesla wants to bring electric vehicles into the same price range as cars that run on gasoline, while also making home-use batteries for grid storage.

Panasonic has previously worked with Tesla to develop next-generation auto batteries and has extended its contract to supply lithium-ion units to the firm until 2017.

Hilton Bans Shark Fin

Hilton Worldwide will stop serving shark fin and accepting new orders for the dish on April 1, 2014 at all restaurants and food and beverage (F&B) facilities operated by its 96 properties across Asia-Pacific (Business Traveller, February 21).

The global hospitality company removed shark fin from menus across all its facilities in China and Southeast Asia in December 2012, only serving it on request.

The final step of the ban takes effect in Japan on April 1, when shark fin dishes will no longer be served in facilities operated by Hilton Worldwide’s properties here. The company hopes to ban shark fin in all restaurants and F&B facilities operated by its 645 hotels globally.

“Hilton Worldwide’s measured and step-wise approach toward responsible sourcing is a fine example of how businesses with strong leadership can, and should, take responsibility for their impact on the environment,” said Elaine Tan, CEO, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Singapore.

The shark fin ban comes ahead of the company’s ongoing efforts to develop a Sustainable Sourcing Policy, including sustainable seafood.

US Giving for 2011 Disaster Third-highest Amount Abroad

Since the March 2011 triple disaster, US citizens have donated $730 million to assist with the disaster response (press release, March 11).

According to a survey by the Japan Center for International Exchange, almost 1,200 non-profit organizations, corporations, and fundraising campaigns gave money to relief efforts. This makes the outpouring of US giving for Japan the largest American philanthropic response for a disaster in another developed country, and the third largest for an overseas disaster.

More than 120 of these groups sent more than $100,000 to Japan, and 46 of them collected more than $1 million each.

One of the important legacies of overseas funding—particularly US funding, and one that holds considerable promise for the future of US–Japan relations—appears to be the forging of new ties between Japanese and US groups, which can provide the foundation for deeper cooperation in the future.

Coffee Chain to Promote Temp Staff


Starbucks Corporation is to promote 800 temporary workers to full-time positions in Japan (Rocket News, February 25).

The coffee company currently has about 1,800 full-time employees in Japan, and the move will increase numbers to 2,600, a more than 40 percent increase in headcount.

The company said it will end its system of hiring “permatemp” employees, and only hire full-time workers. It wishes to place pressure on the Japanese market, so that it will provide better benefits for workers.

Promoting the 800 workers will give them the benefits, pay, and rights of a full-time employee. The company thus hopes to prevent the high worker turnover that is common in the food service industry here.

Clothing Brand Teams Up with MoMA and Starbucks


Uniqlo Co., Ltd. has introduced its SPRZ NY (Surprise New York) global project, which fuses art and fashion (Wallstreeter, March 4).

Inspired by famed and influential artists of our time, the project will feature specially designed items such as T-shirts, outerwear, and innerwear, as well as a collaboration with The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).

The MoMA Special Edition designs are based on the works of artists Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, Jack Pierson, Jackson Pollock, Lawrence Weiner, Ryan McGinness, and Sarah Morris.

The second floor of the clothing brand’s Fifth Avenue Global Flagship Store is being remodeled and will include the introduction of the Starbucks Experience with a full service coffeehouse, creating a place for family and friends to connect on Fifth Avenue.

Fast Retailing Chairman, President, and CEO Tadashi Yanai said, “We are extremely pleased to have such wonderful partners as MoMA and Starbucks. Through SPRZ NY, we will give customers worldwide a taste of enjoying exceptional art by wearing our specially designed clothes and items, reinforcing our LifeWear mission.”