May 24, 2014

Convenience Store Coffee Drives Japanese Coffee Market

Sales of freshly brewed coffee at major convenience stores are increasing in Japan. Japanese coffee drinkers are flocking to convenience stores to get reasonable coffee priced around ¥100-¥200 per cup. The estimated total sales volume of 2013 of five major convenience stores is said to exceed 700 million cups.

Seven-Eleven Japan Co. introduced automatic coffee dispensers at its convenience stores across Japan, it sold almost half a billion cups of coffee. Customers pay at the register, where they are handed cups in one of two sizes, priced at ¥100 or ¥150 for hot coffee, and then serve themselves.

Lawson Inc. introduced brewed coffee three years ago, with store employees making the coffee behind the counter and handing it to customers themselves. The chain stocks 10 different coffees. The company plan to offer more sandwiches and sweets that go well with coffee and to increase the number of stores that serve coffee.

FamilyMart Co. offers a blend coffee for ¥120 or ¥150 and uses an espresso coffee machine made in Germany. The company purchases quality coffee beans from contractor farms in Brazil.

Convenience store coffee topped the Nikkei Trendy’s annual ranking of popular products of 2013, the ranking is based on sales, novelty, and power of influence.

Japanese consumers have a tradition of buying canned coffee from vending machines or convenience stores, however, as foreign cafes began being adopted by Japanese society, many people stopped buying canned coffee and started getting fresh coffee at same foreign coffee chains.

In order for convenience stores to have those customers back, they started installing self-service coffee machines and selling coffee for a very cheap price around ¥100-¥200. Major coffee chains such as Starbucks Corp. sell coffee priced around ¥400 in a country where that is sometimes enough to buy lunch. Those machines also enabled people living in remote areas to buy fresh coffee with a taste similar to that of coffee chains at convenience stores near by.

According to All Japan Coffee Association, the domestic consumption volume from January to September was a year-on-year increase of 4% to 334,500 tons. Japan was the world’s fourth-largest consumer of coffee in 2012, although its annual per-capita coffee consumption that year, 3.36 kilograms, was less than that of the United States and all European countries outside of the United Kingdom. As the number of businesses selling coffee increases, the market may see further expansion.

(May, 2014)
posted by atfuji at 12:37 | Food&Beverage

May 23, 2014

Japanese broadcasters begin 4K HDTV test run in June

NexTV-F, Japanese broadcaster forum backed by the govermet, accounced a test run of 4K-resolution broadcasts on June 2nd. The 4K-resolution boast four times the resolution of high-definition TV.

NexTV-F hopes that 4K will be the spark that reignites Japanese consumer interest in buying televisions.

Even though broadcasting compatible with 4K ultrahigh-resolution has yet to start, the major electronic manufacturers are expanding their lineups of 4K TVs. Sony Corp., Toshiba Corp. and Panasonic Corp. will put on the market new models of 4K TVs.

Japan raised its sales tax on April 1. While some better-off Japanese have splashed out on luxury goods and vehicles, most consumers remain wary.

Hoever, 4K TV manufactures expect that sales of 4K TVs will be boosted by the test broadcasting and that the 4K TV sales campaigns will lead to increased demand for home appliances, which has been sluggish since the tax hike.

(May, 2014)
Image courtesy of kangshutters /
posted by atfuji at 17:12 | Technology

May 22, 2014

Japan ranks 32nd best place to be a mother

Japan is ranked 32nd best place in the world to be a mother in a report issued by the international charity Save the Children. The rank was the worst among the Group of Seven top industrialized nations.

In its 15th year, the latest report looks at the well-being of mothers and children in 178 countries. The countries were ranked on five indicators: lifetime risk of maternal death, under-5 mortality rate, expected years of formal schooling, gross national income per capita, and participation of women in national government.

Finland, Norway and Sweden took the top three positions in the overall ranking. Japan was ranked high in health, education and economic status, but lower in female participation in government.

South Korea was ranked 30th, U.S. was in 31th, and China was in 61th.

(May, 2014)
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /
posted by atfuji at 15:11 | General

Japan rose to 21st in world competitiveness ranking

Japan rose to 21st from 24th last year in the world in an annual competitiveness released Wednesday by Swiss business school IMD. Weakening of the yen driven by Japanese economic policy called Abenomics boosted the competitiveness abroad.

The United States remained the most competitive in the world for the second consecutive year because of resilience of its economy, better employment, and its dominance in technology and infrastructure. In Asia, Singapore has reclaimed the No 1 spot, inching past former titleholder Hong Kong after three years.

This year IMD ranked 60 countries across the world, measuring “how nations and enterprises manage the totality of their competencies to achieve increased prosperity.”

Japan improved its ranking of "international trading" to 51th from 56th. Its ranking of "employment" and "administrative organization" also rose to 8th and 12th, respectively.

(May 2014)
Image courtesy of Ambro /
posted by atfuji at 14:29 | General

Burberry sets sights on Japanese stores

British maker of luxury clothing and accessories Burberry does not intend to renew its licensing contracts in Japan. The contracts will conclude by the end of June next year.

Burberry has been taking back control of important parts of the business from licensed vendors who sell its goods and investing heavily to develop them alone in such markets as Spain.

Burberry signed licensing deals with Sanyo Shokai and Mitsui & Co. in the 1970s, granting the Japanese partners the right to plan, manufacture and sell Burberry products. However, clothes Sanyo Shokai is licensed to sell in Japan have different designs and use different materials than the products the U.K. company sells elsewhere, and their prices are lower than at Burberry's directly run stores in Japan. It want to shore up its brand by unifying the quality, prices and other attributes of its products globally.

The British company plan to open more directly run stores here once the contract expires next year. Burberry has four stores and 10 concessions in Japan which, combined with its small wholesale business in the country, generated revenues of about £25m in the full-year period. It is now aiming for revenues of £100m in Japan by 2017, as it doubles its store presence mainly in Tokyo and Osaka.

Sanyo Shokai will retain licensing contracts for clothing currently sold under its Burberry Black Label and Burberry Blue Label brands, though they will no longer carry the Burberry name.

(May, 2014)
posted by atfuji at 11:38 | Fashion

March 06, 2014

Luxury goods sales picking up at department stores

Major department stores in Japan say sales of luxury goods are picking up on the back of bullish stock markets.

Sales at 4 major department store chains were up in February compared to the same month last year even though February 2012 had one more business day because it was a leap year.

Department store officials say consumer sentiment has gradually improved with the recent increases in stock prices and the weaker yen.

(March, 2013)
posted by atfuji at 19:20 | Retail

May 30, 2013

Benefits from Abenomics reach to the night streets

Effect of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's policies, known as "Abenomics,” which attracts consumption of luxury goods is spreading to the nightlife circuit such as Ginza, Tokyo. Busy customer traffic has returned to the exclusive club and well-established sushi shop. However, most of restaurants are not crowded at all compared with those were in the past and the recovery seems to be unstable.

Individual investors who received benefit from the high stock price caused by Abenomics and corporate employees who belong to a part of companies which brought back social expenses support the prosperity at the nightlife district. According to JCB, a Japanese credit card company, the amount of payment by corporate credit cards at Ginza from January to March in 2013 increased by 27.7 percent year-to-year basis. In April 2013, the amount jumped up by 41.6% compared with the same month of the last year.

Social expenses were reintroduced in some companies because of their business recovery. According to SMBC Nikko Securities, the amount of profit among all companies listed on the first section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange in March 2013 increased by 24.1 percent compared with the last year. The amount still seems to increase by 48.4 percent this year.

Small-to-middle-sized companies also have some benefit from the new policy. The maximum amount of annual social expenses which can be included in deductible expenses was raised to 8M JPY because of the tax reform in 2013.

On the other hand, securities only accounts for 13 percent of domestic households’ financial assets and only a part of restaurants such as expensive restaurants benefit from the high stock price.

(May 30, 2013)
posted by atfuji at 19:22 | Retail

Luxury hotel battles in Osaka

Foreign brand hotels are moving into the Osaka city one after another. United Kingdom-based luxury hotel "Intercontinental Hotel Osaka" will open in June at Grand Front Osaka, a new shopping and business complex, to the north of JR Osaka Station. Because of the recent large-scale development in the area, those hotels expect increasing demand for accommodation among visitors from within the country and abroad. However, competition with the existing hotels will be getting harder.

Increasing number of foreign tourists is one of the reasons for the movement. The number of visitors to Osaka from abroad in 2010 was the highest record of 2,340,000 people. Although it decreased to 1,580,000 in 2011 because of the East Japan earthquake, the number seemed to rebound in 2012.

Launch of LCC (low cost carriers) has increased number of tourists from South East Asia countries. Newly developed facilities for large-sized meeting may also increase visitors from Europe and America who attend international conventions.

“There are needs for luxury hotels in Osaka because the number of those hotels has been fewer than that in Tokyo”, an industry analyst said.

“Although economic recovery has brought demands for hotels, the number of hotels still exceeds those demands. It is required for hotels to propose new and distinctive offerings to attract more customers.”

(May 30, 2013)
posted by atfuji at 19:22 | Commodity

March 09, 2013

Japan Returned to Growth in Fourth Quarter

Japan's economy returned to growth in the fourth quarter, bolstering Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s campaign to end 15 years of deflation and revive the world’s third-biggest economy.

Gross domestic product rose an annualized 0.2 percent in the three months through December, although a preliminary calculation was a 0.4 percent contraction. The current account deficit in January was 364.8 billion yen ($3.8 billion), the finance ministry said.

Private consumption and public investment fueled the nation’s growth. Because of a weakening yen, which is easing corporate pessimism, fall in capital spending was less than initially estimated. Exporters from Toyota Motor Corp. to Nintendo Co. raised their profit forecasts as a yen boosts the value of overseas sales.

Economists expect the pace of growth to pick up in coming quarters backed by government spending, improving corporate profits and the global recovery. They think Japan’s recession is over and the economy is heading to a recovery.

(March 2013)
posted by atfuji at 19:21 | General

March 06, 2013

Japan customs see record fake cases in 2012

Japan Customs saw the number of counterfeit cases rise 14.3 percent from a year before to a record 26,607 cases in 2012, the Finance Ministry has said.

Customs-seized fake goods totaled 1,117,592 items, up 53.5 percent. If genuine, the goods would be worth about 19.5 billion yen, the ministry said Friday.

Of the cases, Chinese exports accounted for 94 percent, up from the previous year's 91.2 percent and keeping the top share for the eighth straight year. China's share was only 7.9 percent a decade ago.

In 2012, Hong Kong and the Philippines followed with 2.7 percent and 1.2 percent shares, respectively.

Of the seized goods, medical products, including fake Viagra drugs, accounted for 390,000 items, up 7.3-fold from the previous year. Smartphone-related goods accounted for 63,000 items, up 2.2-fold year-on-year.

(March 3, 2013)
posted by atfuji at 19:20 | Other