Next Wednesday will mark 49 days since Ryoichi Sugiura (杉浦良一), a director of the Sumiyoshi-kai (住吉会), a Tokyo Yakuza gang, was shot and killed around morning tea time on the sidewalk of the busy Roppongi Street in central Tokyo. In the Japanese Buddhist tradition, the soul of a dead man spends 49 days after the day of death uneasily straddling this life and the next, before a ceremony on the 49th day releases the soul. For the last couple of weeks, the streets of Roppongi have been eerily quiet, but the flowers at the scene of the crime are refreshed almost daily, with new messages from Sugihara’s Yakuza comrades Continue reading
Baidu.com. Heard of it? Possibly not, but Baidu is a $3 billion market capped internet beast in China with, according to Yahoo! Finance, over $125 million in cash. If you are of Chinese decent and live in Asia, chances are you know them very well.
Baidu listed on NASDAQ in 2005 and everyone who bought in won big. Google turned $5 million into a quick $60 million Continue reading
Changing jobs is always an emotional experience for the best of us, but what do you think was going through Yasuyuki Higuchi’s (樋口泰行) mind when he accepted the job of Microsoft Japan COO last week, switching Jobs in more ways than one.
While he was notably cagey at the press conference, it feels as though existing CEO, Darren Huston, has decided that he’s had enough of the land of the rising sun. Why else would Higuchi (who has recently served as the President of both Hewlett-Packard Japan and Daiei) accept the role of number two unless it came hand in hand with a guarantee of Continue reading
Yesterday morning at 10am in the well-to-do area of Tokyo’s Nishi Azabu, a member of one Yakuza gang (the Yamaguchi-gumi, 山口組) shot and killed a very senior member (a 幹部 or kanbu, which roughly translates to “director”) of another Yakuza gang (the Sumiyoshi-kai, 住吉会) on the side of the main road between Roppongi and Shibuya, all in broad daylight. This has lit a match of dangerous and lethal proportions, escalating a rift that has been brewing in Tokyo for some time now, starting the much feared “Yakuza war” in central Tokyo, that many have been predicting since the end of 2005.
This is directly relevant for a few of us who write for Stippy, because it has all happened literally right on our doorstep. One of the things we all like and respect about Japan – it’s shiny reputation as a “safe” country – seems to have become tarnished and is somewhat crumbling at the sides. Continue reading
“BNE has arrived!” – well that’s what the stickers tell us. What stickers? If you don’t know, then you either don’t live in any one of many big cities around the world where they are now officially everywhere, or you just don’t get out very much.
These BNE stickers have become the centre of a baffling worldwide “who dunnit” involving stickers, and graffiti in an ever increasing number of well known international destinations. Living in Tokyo, we have noticed these stickers are Continue reading
An old friend of mine, visiting Tokyo for the first time in 5 years, mentioned something interesting a few days ago that stirred dormant thoughts in my head about inflation in Japan. He mused:
“Sitting on the Narita Express, coming in to town, I started remembering the old Tokyo of five years ago and wondering how much prices had gone up since I was last in town. How much would a metro ticket cost? What would be the price of a beef bowl at Yoshinoya? But what surprised me was that everything was the same – as if Japan had been frozen in time for the last five years. How Strange. Back home, in Sydney, it’s taken for granted that the price of everything goes up at least once a year.”
But that’s what 12 consecutive years of deflation does to you. Continue reading
The way that Newsweek changes its front covers (and lead articles) to cater for its local audience is old news. It seems that Newsweek has particularly been sensitive to their US readership when it comes to the war on terrorism. You can read about the most recent editorialism here on this page detailing how the US English edition was different to other international English editions in September, this year. Our biking gaijin friend at ridingsun was also kind enough to point out a less known discrepancy between the Japanese language edition and the English language edition from May of last year. We were lucky that we noticed about these, but how regularly are the magazines that we read biased due to a US centric editorial policy in a more subtle way.
Every gaijin who was in Japan in 2005 remembers Takfumi Horie. Riding by the seat of his pants, his company, Livedoor, was the symbol of new Japan. Young people, breaking the rules, creating the rules and doing things that they truly believed would better Japan. Unfortunately, when Horie made a hostile take-over attempt for NBS in the first half of 2005 he made an enemy of those who had been his biggest supporter – the media. It’s no secret that Japan’s “old” media companies pay their employees the highest average salaries in the country and so its no surprise that Horie didn’t win any fans talking about “cutting the fat” at NBS and Fuji. Continue reading
Japan’s Supreme Court has rejected an appeal against the death sentence for Asahara Shōkō (麻原 彰晃), the former leader of the doomsday cult, “AUM Shinri Kyo” (Supreme Truth Sect, now known as Aleph). The decision clears the way for 51 year old Asahara Shoko to be hanged for his role in masterminding the 1995 subway gas attacks. Lawyers of the former head of the cult had argued that he was mentally incompetent, and asked for the case to be suspended. Asahara was sentenced to death by a Tokyo court 2 years ago for the attack. 12 people died and over 5000 were injured when the members of the cult released sarin, a lethal nerve gas on Tokyo’s subways. The attack was directed against trains passing through Kasumigaseki and Nagatacho, home to the Japanese government. This was (and remains, as of 2006) the most serious attack that has occurred in Japan since the end of the Second World War.
The former guru could be hanged at any time, once final approval is given by the justice minister.
At around 7:38am this morning, there was a widespread blackout in Tokyo. This is all but normal in this city. Stopping all trains, and traffic lights, it was a shock that lasted over an hour. A blackout of this scale has not happened in Japan for 30 years, some 800,000 households were affected.
The blackout seemed to be caused by a boat on one of Tokyo’s many rivers that was carrying a crane. The top of the crane clipped one of the high tension high voltage power transmission lines above the river, and ooops, who turned out the lights..