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Fears mount over environmental destruction caused by Toshiba hydropower plant construction in Laos

Updated : 12.12.2016 / Category Capsule

Environmental experts are concerned that a hydropower plant construction project in northern Laos, for which Japan's Toshiba Corporation received orders through its Chinese subsidiary, poses an environmental threat to the region and will force ethnic minority residents to relocate.

"The settlements of ethnic minority residents will become submerged after the dam is constructed," said one such expert. "Not only that, the project could ruin the environment and the local fisheries industry."

Parts suppliers outraged over Sharp's high-handedness

Updated : 08.12.2016 / Category Capsule

Sharp Corporation has provoked the ire of parts suppliers for its de facto demand that they shoulder the cost of relocating several facilities in Hiroshima Prefecture, casting a dark cloud over the firm's rebuilding efforts.

The company, which is undergoing reconstruction after being acquired by Taiwan Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. earlier this year, is planning to transfer some facilities in Mihara City to Fukuyama City, both in the prefecture.

JT making questionable political donations in bid to stop tobacco tax hike

Updated : 07.12.2016 / Category Economy


Antismoking is a long-established social trend that makes smokers feel out of place. And with the International Olympic Committee championing smoke-free Olympics and Paralympics, Tokyo will likely stiffen regulations in the run-up to the 2020 Games—including the rules on passive smoking.

Despite the global antismoking trend, Japan Tobacco Inc. (JT) has been putting up resistance in an attempt to protect its huge profits and vested interests. The company is accused of prioritizing corporate gain over smoking-related health issues, allegedly providing donations to politicians "in return for favors."

This article tries to shed light on JT's behind-the-scenes maneuvering in a society where antismoking is the mainstream stance.

Dark clouds hover over Hitachi's IoT business

Updated : 05.12.2016 / Category Capsule

Hitachi Ltd.'s Lumada, an Internet of Things platform positioned as pivotal to the success of the firm's 2018 mid-term management plan, is in a sharp downward spiral, showing little prospect of returning the massive investment pumped into it by the Japanese electronic giant.

Hitachi President & CEO Toshiaki Higashihara introduced Lumada in May with much fanfare when announcing the firm's mid-term management plan. The core platform provides solutions for digital transformations in data analysis and artificial intelligence, among other areas.

Hitachi had aimed to sharpen its cost-competitiveness with Lumada by shifting its operations from a customer-specific software-development business model. But to date, it remains a high-cost, low-return project.

Family tensions and succession maneuvering darken Toyota's top ranks

Updated : 01.12.2016 / Category Economy


A complex network of family connections helped the Toyoda family create the giant conglomerate that today is centered around Toyota Motor Corp. Japan's leading carmaker now has more than 560 subsidiaries—either consolidated, or accounted for in the equity method—under its wing.

Yet amid the transfer of power at the company from Shoichiro Toyoda to his son Akio, there have emerged clear signs of friction between members of the main Toyoda family and relatives in other branches of the family, according to a former executive of Denso Corp., a Toyota group firm.

In the past, members of the sprawling Toyoda family tree were on more familiar terms, calling each other by their family nicknames, according to inside sources. Members of the three branch families—referred to as the Shinke, Oshikiri and Chikaramachi branches—would gather socially with their relatives in the main Toyoda family a few times a year.

Britain's aggressive sales tactics behind Japan-UK joint military drills

Updated : 28.11.2016 / Category Capsule

Senior officials of Japan's Self-Defense Forces (SDF) say the first-ever Japan-U.K. military drills carried out from late October to early November were driven by Britain's desire to sell weapons and military technology to Japan, a U.S. ally.

"Britain's reason for pushing military exchange with Japan is to pave the way for it to promote sales of its weapons and military technology, while accelerating joint weaponry development," said a high-ranking SDF personnel.

Narcotics flooding into Japan

Updated : 22.11.2016 / Category Sentaku in The Japan Times


In early February, the anti-narcotic unit of the Tokyo police was in the limelight after arresting Kazuhiro Kiyohara, a former star professional baseball player, on suspicion of unlawfully possessing stimulant drugs. But the case is just a tip of the iceberg as illegal drugs keep permeating through Japanese society with no end in sight.

A former anti-drug police officer has pointed to a lack of ability on the part of the authorities charged with controlling narcotics such as the police and the health ministry, saying, "Why did it take so long to arrest a guy like Kiyohara who had been heavily dependent on drugs?"

Indeed, it was in March 2014 that the weekly Shukan Bunshun magazine reported that Kiyohara, who had long been rumored to be using stimulant drugs since the 1990s, was rushed to a hospital after suffering drug poisoning.

There are two big hurdles that the police must clear before they can arrest a suspect in a stimulant drug case. They must be able to prove "possession" of a drug by arresting a suspect on the spot and they must be able to prove "use" of the drug by confirming that the suspect inhaled or injected the drug.

Uniqlo reprimanded for planning price hikes following Thai king's death

Updated : 21.11.2016 / Category Capsule

Uniqlo Co. Ltd. has been reprimanded by the Thai Ministry of Commerce over a plan to raise prices for black clothing following the death of Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who was revered as the "father of the nation."

Uniqlo was apparently trying to take of advantage of a surge in demand for black clothing following the king's death, but the Thai ministry deemed the move "inappropriate" and issued a stern warning regarding the opportunistic plan.

Toyota's new 'low-tech' robot baffles industry experts

Updated : 16.11.2016 / Category Capsule


Toyota Motor Corp.'s announcement that it will market a new palm-sized robot, Kirobo Mini, from 2017, has perplexed robot industry insiders, with one commenting, "It's simply like a toy; we can't fathom the motives behind Toyota's move."

When addressed, the 183-gram robot turns toward the speaker and engages in conversation, while moving its face and hands. The robot will cost ¥39,800 with a monthly fee of ¥300 to use a special application.

Ghosn's insatiable greed: How much will he receive from Mitsubishi Motors?

Updated : 14.11.2016 / Category Capsule


Carlos Ghosn, president and chief executive officer of Nissan Motor Corp., is set to become chairman of Mitsubishi Motors Corp. following endorsement by Mitsubishi shareholders at an extraordinary meeting in December.

But at Mitsubishi, which was recently buffeted by a bogus gas-mileage data scandal, employees are skeptical and resentful regarding the appointment. "What's going to change after his appointment?" said a high-ranking Mitsubishi insider. "Mr. Ghosn is the only person who'll benefit."

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