Japan’s New Mad-Cow Tracking System

Japan’s beef-tracking system to include retailers, restaurants
….Under the system, domestically grown cows and those imported live are each given a 10-digit registration number with which consumers can trace the background of the cow via the Internet.
…Japan introduced the system in December last year, after mad cow disease appeared in Japan in September 2001, hoping it would help improve management in the beef industry, prevent the disease from spreading, and restore consumer confidence.

Japanese carmakers “speak softly and wield a big stick”

Bloomberg.com: Japan
“In the past, the Japanese automakers would defer to Detroit on auto issues, even when it wasn’t in their best interest,” said Brian O’Neill, president of the Arlington, Virginia-based Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which works with automakers on legislative issues. “Now they’re being much more assertive, and their confidence is growing in line with their increase in U.S. plants.”
Already this year, Toyota and Honda used their influence to obtain from Congress an extension of tax credits that favor their hybrid-electric autos over those produced by U.S. companies. And Nissan earned a waiver from a rule relating to fuel-economy standards for its cars.

Hollywood supporting HD-DVD format

PC World | UPDATE – HD-DVD picks up Hollywood support
The group supporting the HD-DVD optical disc format for high-definition video has received a boost in its battle against the rival Blu-ray Disc format with pledges of support from a number of Hollywood studios.

The format will be used by Paramount Pictures, Universal Pictures, Warner Bros. Pictures and New Line Cinema, the HD-DVD group said on Monday. It will also be used by HBO, Warner Bros. announced the same day.

TRADE WAR BREWING: South Korea Bans Japanese Plasma TVs

South Korea bans some plasma TV panels
South Korea Monday temporarily banned imports of plasma display panels made by Japan’s Matsushita Co., the Financial Times reported.
The action followed a complaint filed with the Korean Trade Commission by LG Electronics claiming Matsushita violated its intellectual property rights.

Citigroup bitter about the Land Of Rising Sun

FT.com / Business / Asia-Pacific – Citigroup finds little to crow about in land of rising sun
…..The business-as-usual appearance, however, belies the reality of a business with no future.
Japan’s Financial Services Agency has ordered Citigroup to wind up its Japanese private bank by next September, accusing the business of misleading customers, profiteering and riding roughshod over regulations.
The closure will leave vacant up to six floors in the tower that Citigroup shares with Japan’s bankers’ association. And it will create an even bigger gap in the country’s private banking sector….

DoCoMo invades the UK

Bloomberg.com: U.K.
NTT DoCoMo Inc., Japan’s largest mobile-phone operator, and MMO2 Plc will introduce a cellular- phone service in the U.K., Ireland and Germany based on the Japanese carrier’s i-mode wireless Internet technology.

DoCoMo will assist MMO2, the U.K.’s fourth-biggest mobile- phone operator, with data distribution and content development, DoCoMo said

” Little Questions” about Japanese product names

The New York Times > Business > Media & Advertising > Advertising: Twenty Little Questions
Now that the Kia Sedona and Hyundai Santa Fe have been joined for 2005 by the Reno, from the American Suzuki Motor Corporation, and the Tucson, also from Hyundai, how long will it be before other automakers pay similar tributes to Western towns like Helper, Utah; Jackpot, Nev.; Carefree, Ariz.; Arriba, Colo.; Bountiful, Utah; and Bar Nunn, Wyo.?

Sony-IBM is a big hit with Wall Street

Dollar Worries Send Dow to Close Down 46
IBM Corp. and Sony Corp. have collaborated on a new semiconductor specifically designed for home entertainment products, according to The Wall Street Journal. The two companies are reportedly ready to announce a limited production run for the chip, the newspaper said. IBM rose 78 cents to $95.50, while Sony gained 40 cents to $36.37.

Japan and Philippines clash over foreign workers

Japan and the Philippines are near to clinching a free trade agreement (FTA) that will include letting a trickle of nurses into Japan to help cope with a shortage. But experts say planned restrictions show how cautious Tokyo still is about opening the door to foreign workers, despite an ageing society and an expected shrinkage in the population…..

Japan’s Economic Recovery May Be Ended by Yen’s Gain

The yen rose as high as 102.01 against the dollar last week, its strongest since January 2000. The yen below 105 to the dollar will further reduce profits of exporters, Hiroshi Okuda, head of the Japan Business Federation, said on Nov. 22.
Japan’s 18-month expansion is already faltering. The economy grew 0.1 percent last quarter, the slowest pace in more than a year….”The economy isn’t going to have anything to rely on for growth,” Shirota said in an interview on Nov. 24. “Should the yen stabilize at this level, the currency will be a negative factor for exports.”