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Marubeni's chairman not awarded Russia decoration

Updated : 13.04.2017 / Category Capsule

Russia recently conferred the order of friendship to Masami Iijima, chairman of Mitsui & Co., and Yoshihiro Shigehisa, honorary advisor of JGC Corporation, for their contributions to economic exchanges between Japan and Russia. But Teruo Asada, chairman of Marubeni Corporation, which prides itself as Japan's trading house that contributes the most to economic cooperation between the two nations, was not selected to receive a decoration.

This omission has raised eyebrows because Marubeni has been more committed than Mitsui to forging cooperative economic ties with Russia. Marubeni has worked in tandem with Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry on this issue, and Asada reportedly spearheaded a business strategy to jointly develop energy resources with Russian firms, culminating in the signing of memorandums of understanding over liquefied natural gas development in the Arctic region with Novatek and oil development off Sakhalin Island with Rosneft.

Japan's Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance deceived client to seal major contract

Updated : 10.04.2017 / Category Economy

In March 2015, an Osaka-based section of Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Co., Ltd., was struggling to attain the sales target for the business year that would end that month. The section, which sells cargo insurance to major companies including Daikin Industries, Ltd., Teijin Ltd. and Sumitomo Rubber Industries, Ltd., was trying to surpass about ¥1.8 billion in sales it attained the previous business year.

To reach this goal, the section resorted to "unacceptable wrongdoing," alleges a Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance insider. The company is the core member of MS & AD Insurance Group Holdings, Inc., Japan's second-largest non-life insurance company.

Yamato Transport's price hikes to sting consumers, not Amazon?

Updated : 07.04.2017 / Category Capsule


Yamato Transport Co., Ltd., is set to start price hike negotiations with its major clients, but Amazon Japan G.K., which is believed to be Yamato's largest customer, reportedly has no intention to enter such talks.

Yamato persistently prodded Amazon, which had contracted Sagawa Express Co., Ltd., to deliver goods sold online until the spring of 2013, to switch to Japan's largest door-to-door delivery company, according to an Amazon insider. "It is very arrogant" for Yamato to suddenly demand price hikes or threaten to stop doing business with Amazon, he said.

How Trump's plans might deal a blow to Japanese firms

Updated : 04.04.2017 / Category Sentaku in The Japan Times

A key focus of U.S. President Donald Trump's inaugural address in January was on bringing manufacturing back to the United States and restoring employment opportunities. A number of American companies, including Ford Motor, have canceled plans to build new plants in Mexico to shift investments back to their homeland. If this constituted the first wave, the second may be transferring production back from China to the U.S., and the third might be a similar changeover from Southeast Asia. These moves could deal a serious unexpected blow to Japanese manufacturers that have been building a tight production network in Asia as a key source of their global competitiveness.

The Abes caught in political quagmire

Updated : 01.04.2017 / Category Politics

There is a passage in Great Learning, a Chinese classic describing the core values of Confucianism, that says the ancients who wanted to manifest their bright virtue to all in the world first governed well their own states. Wanting to govern well their states, they first harmonized their own clans. Wanting to harmonize their own clan, they first cultivated themselves.

If this teaching is applied to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, he appears to have failed to "harmonize" his own clan. Abe's wife, Akie, has found herself at the center of a swirling scandal over a controversial land sale by the state to Moritomo Gakuen, a private educational institution in Osaka.

Bomb ticking under North American project of JR Tokai subsidiary

Updated : 27.03.2017 / Category Capsule

The stock price of Nippon Sharyo, Ltd., a subsidiary of Central Japan Railway Co., has surged since the inauguration of U.S. President Donald Trump, who has touted a massive investment in the U.S. railway network.

But industry sources say Nippon Sharyo has a ticking bomb sitting under its U.S. project, which could make it difficult to receive new orders.

Hon Hai pushing Sharp to set up LCD factory in North America

Updated : 21.03.2017 / Category Capsule

Dark clouds are looming over a plan by Taiwan's Hon Hai group to construct a large liquid crystal display factory in North America with its Japanese subsidiary, Sharp Corporation, playing a central role.

Hon Hai Precision Industry Chairman Terry Gou announced the \800 billion plant construction plan in late January, but the group has not yet established a supply chain to procure equipment and components necessary to manufacture LCDs, informed sources said.

Employees of Japanese auto parts makers behind bars in U.S.

Updated : 15.03.2017

In the past six years, 64 employees from 39 Japanese auto parts markers were indicted for suspected violations of U.S. antitrust laws, and many of them remain behind bars across the United States, according to a Sentaku investigation.

These cases received scant media attention because many of the companies, including Denso Corporation, Furukawa Electric Co. and Bridgestone Corporation, generally do not publicize legal cases in the United States.

Ruling coalition reshuffle?

Updated : 13.03.2017 / Category Sentaku in The Japan Times

Four years after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe returned to power, his administration continues to enjoy an unusually high approval ratings of more than 50 percent, and the prime minister's grip on power remains unrivaled. And as if he still isn't satisfied, Abe has begun to take steps to solidify the political foundation of his administration, causing new friction among political circles.

On Dec. 22, Lower House Speaker Tadamori Oshima, who hails from Abe's Liberal Democratic Party, complained about the high-handed manner with which the LDP rammed through the controversial bill to legalize casino resorts. Speaking to his close aides, Abe himself did not hide his displeasure with the way Oshima ran the proceedings during the extraordinary Diet session, notably his decision to delay the vote for ratifying the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact. Such an open spat between the prime minister and the Lower House speaker, who is customarily chosen from among senior lawmakers from the party in power, is unheard of.

Not all Nissan employees happy with first Japanese president in 17 years

Updated : 10.03.2017


Nissan Motor recently--and unexpectedly--announced Carlos Ghosn will step down as president and chief executive officer and be replaced by Hiroto Saikawa, the automaker's co-CEO, on April 1. Saikawa will become Nissan's first Japanese president in 17 years, but not all Nissan employees are thrilled about his appointment.

According to a Nissan insider, Saikawa frequently gives excessively detailed instructions, and many employees consider him pedantic.

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