Japan Travel

* * * * * * * * TERRIE’S TAKE – BY TERRIE LLOYD * * * * * *
A weekly roundup of news & information from Terrie Lloyd, a long-term
technology and media entrepreneur living in Japan.

General Edition Sunday, September 21, 2014, Issue No. 773


– What’s New — Social Capital and Poverty in Japan
– News — Plan to reward the healthy
– Web Content/Tech Job Vacancies — Community Manager position
– Upcoming Events
– Corrections/Feedback
– Travel Picks — Temples in Kofu, Little-known north coast of Kyoto
– News Credits

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Back in July this year, the Japan Times ran a good story about the
prevalence of poverty in Japan. Currently the poverty level is defined
as households where income is less than half the national median
income. This means that based on the welfare ministry’s 2012 numbers,
those below the poverty line survive on less than JPY2,680,000 a year.
Now, if you’re a household of just one person this amount is probably
manageable. But given that 16% of all Japanese children (about 2.6m
kids) were apparently living in poverty in 2012, we are probably
looking at almost a million households of 2-4 people who have to live
on this same meager amount. If correct, it’s a serious problem and one
that can only be getting worse now that Abenomics is fueling inflation
and leaving the wages of single-parent families (54.6% of single
mothers are irregular workers) behind.

Poverty is a largely ignored issue for many Japanese, perhaps because
poor people seldom make the news or make a fuss. The government
appears to have an actively negative attitude to addressing the issue,
as demonstrated early last year when the welfare ministry’s Social
Security Council said that single-parent families were being
“over-paid”. Usually such commentary is a precursor to intended budget
cuts and was nervously received by single parents around the country.
Unfortunately this negative attitude is not just confined to the
government, and there were some pretty nasty 2-channel comments mostly
focusing on how single parents are leeching off others’ taxes.
Certainly not much sympathy or understanding for people who are
already under significant financial and emotional stress…

Because of such attitudes, non-profit organizations dealing with
Japanese in poverty also have a tough time gaining traction. Securing
donations and public empathy is an ongoing challenge that is overcome
by only a few organizations. One such success story is Second Harvest
Japan, an organization that recycles food to those who need it. We
invited its founder and head, Charles McJilton, to comment on an
interesting business aspect of his operation, that of building and
maintaining Social Capital. The following comments were originally
prepared by Charles for an article that will appear in the Stanford
Social Innovation Review journal.

[Charles says:]

Any new enterprise [Ed: in this case, Second Harvest Japan] suffers
from a common challenge: lack of resources. We were no different when
we incorporated the first food bank in Japan on March 11, 2002. We had
three major challenges. First, we were pioneering an entirely new
model that had never been tried before in Japan. Second, the Japanese
nonprofit sector was, and still remains, small and under-developed. In
2002 the NPO Law was just four years old and there were only 20,000
incorporated nonprofits. Moreover, less than 20% of NPOs had paid
staff, with the average being 1.5 Full Time Equivalents (FTE). One
major reason for this state of affairs is lack of funding in the
sector. Annual giving per household in Japan is just $35 dollars as
compared to $1300 for the US.

Perhaps the most significant challenge, though, was our proposed core
activity — that of food banking — which relies on deep cooperation
with the food industry. While government and for-profit sectors up to
that point were used to working closely together, the same could not
be said with regards to the nonprofit sector. The for-profit players
traditionally held a deep distrust of the nonprofit sector, because
they felt that such organizations were primarily made up of amateurs
and do-gooders.

[Continued below…]

———– WILD TOUR KICKOFF 2014 ———————

Ever thought about raising venture capital in the USA rather than
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Valley/San Francisco tour event for new start-ups, growth/mid-sized
companies from Japan ready to pitch their businesses on a unique
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Silicon Valley.

Our “Wild Tour Kickoff 2014”, part of the larger Wildcard Incubation
Program, will be held during October, from the 12th – 19th, and we are
currently accepting participants based in Japan, who are willing to
take the challenge!

More info (Japanese) at:
http://www.innovations-i.com/release/13597.html. Contact:

[…Article continues]

To better appreciate the deeper challenge we faced one must look at
the culture. Japan is considered to be a risk-adverse society. People
go to great lengths to mitigate risks. The positive side is a safe,
well-run society. The downside is that entrepreneurial efforts are not
encouraged and risk is not rewarded. The food industry takes this
approach and magnifies it. They not only take a belt and suspender
approach, but will pack a suit just in case. If a product is not
perfect, pristine, or presentable it will not be put in the market to
be purchased. And this does not just apply to the final product but
the cases in which it is transported. This helps to explain why each
year 3-5 million metric tons of perfectly safe, unexpired food is
destroyed each year.

I lay this out to explain the enormous challenges we faced in 2002.
Our key partners were from an industry that was highly risk-adverse
operating in a sector that distrusted nonprofits. Our model relied on
accessing this available food and getting it to those in need. In
spite of these challenges, we have made tremendous progress in the
last 12 years. We have since received $8.9 million in cash donations,
about $45 million in-kind food donations, and have helped companies
save $15 million in waste and disposal costs.

But here is the amazing thing that sets us apart from any other food
bank both inside and outside of Japan. We do no fundraising, no
cold-calling to food companies, and no solicitations for in-kind
donations. Moreover, we are known to turn down cash and food
donations. How do we manage to do this? Quite simply, due to our solid
base of social capital.

Francis Fukuyama’s seminal 1999 essay, “Social Capital and Civil
Society” gave the definition: “Social capital is the instantiated
informal norm that promotes cooperation between two or more
individuals.” Building on this, I will now break down social capital
into three core attributes: trust, proximity, and reciprocity, and
comment on how these factors have contributed to our success.

=> Trust
Whenever a food company comes to negotiate a food donation I will say
at some point, “I’m not interested in your food. I’m interested in a
mutually beneficial, trusting relationship. We will match your pace to
create that relationship.” Although this sounds better in Japanese, it
does convey what we see as the most important issue on the table —
trust. Of course you can also imagine the look on the faces across the
table when I said this! “But I thought you wanted our food?” Well,
yes, I do, but I also know of a basic human relationship principle
that can create a much better relationship…

You see, companies are like people when it comes to trust. For
example, you can meet person A and immediately feel you can trust
them. Then you meet person B and at first there is distance but in
time you come to realize they are trustworthy. On the other hand, if
the chemistry is wrong, with Person C, you may never develop deep
trust no matter how often you meet them. Companies are no different.

We have several tools we use to create trust. The first is the letter
of agreement we exchange with each donor that spells out rights,
obligations, and expectations of both parties. We understand that it
takes time for companies to gain internal consensus to enter into an
agreement. In one case, we dealt with a major food company which only
took three weeks to sign, while in another case, the company took five
years to do so. We do not care. We will match their pace. First this
gives relief to the representative visiting us, knowing that we are
not going to pressure them. Second it provides time/space for the
trust to grow naturally.

The next tool we have is encouraging them to join us in delivering
food to the welfare agencies we serve. We have found that this
experience profoundly impacts them and they come back more motivated
to push ahead. One reason is that this is probably the first time they
have set foot inside a welfare institution. Second, and just as
important, they have a face to put on those who will consume their

Lastly we have our Food Advisory Board (FAB), which we created in
2007. It is a study group made up of professionals in the food and
logistics industry. We meet several times a year for frank discussions
about food banking. Current donors and potential donors come. We never
solicit donations and everything is off the record. This environment
reinforces our commitment to the relationship and their concerns and
not an immediate donation. Moreover, we find this to be an invaluable
resource to us and it gives potential donors a chance to speak with
current donors about their experience working with us.

=> Reciprocity
Whenever I enter into a negotiation I keep in mind we are offering a
solution to the people sitting across the table from us. This helps me
frame the discussion and define who we are. We are not merely a
nonprofit seeking resources, but a potential partner providing
something of value. No one in the food industry takes joy in
destroying food. But they also have to take into account risk
management when looking at the alternatives. Framing the relationship
as a reciprocal one helps both parties become more deeply engaged. We
know that if the other side feels they are getting something out of
the relationship then they are more likely to continue.

As I mentioned above, food companies have an opportunity to see a side
of Japan they previously did not have access to. It is doubtful they
have ever set foot inside an orphanage before. But now, through us,
they can envision their food being consumed by kids in need. That adds
tremendous value to them and increases their motivation. But this is
not only the case with food donors. We have many other companies who
have similar experiences with us. They have been looking for a trusted
partner to work with to impact society. They know community engagement
increases morale and fosters a stronger connection to their own core
values. This is something we can give to them.

Let me give a concrete example. Haagan Daz is a long-time supporter.
We were visiting them when their representative brought in their
president and told him this story. “President, you know we have been
helping Second Harvest Japan for many years. Did you know our product
goes to a hospice they serve? But here is something you probably
didn’t know. When someone is near death it is very difficult for the
patient to eat. In this case they give them our ice cream.” The
president was visibly moved. My guess is that no amount of customer
research could have topped the emotional impact of that story.

=> Proximity
It may seem a paradox that in a country with such a high population
density, Japanese work to foster proximity and familiarity. This
ranges from communal sleeping and co-bathing in families to daily
morning meetings and after-work drinking for workers. It also extends
in the business world to salespeople and senior managers alike
preferring to go see clients and vendors personally rather than
dealing with them sight-unseen by phone or email. As an example,
several years ago a production company spent two months filming us for
a national TV program that would include us appearing live.
Approximately one week before the program was to be aired we learned
they had broken our trust and we pulled out. It was not an easy
decision and they pleaded with us to reconsider. I remained firm on
our decision. Then about a week later I received a request from the
producer that he would like to come by and share a beer. Even though I
do not drink, and they were clearly in the wrong, I agreed to the
meeting. It only lasted about 20 minutes, but I knew that it was
important for this person to still feel a sense of proximity towards
us. It was a small investment of my time.

Social capital serves many roles for us. It leads to both in-kind and
financial donations. It helps me to see how we can strategically
increase our cooperation with specific companies by looking at which
attribute we are lacking. But more importantly it serves as an
insurance policy that I can turn to.

Shortly after the disasters on 3.11 our donors contacted us and asked
what financial support we needed. In each case I said we needed to
wait and see how things would play out. In fact for three weeks in
April 2011 we posted on our website that we were no longer accepting
large donations until we determined the true extent of our need. As
background, just 2 months earlier, in February 2011, we were facing
the prospect of having to close our operations within six months
because of lack of income. Yet, despite our obvious need, temporarily
declining financial donations actually increased our social capital in
ways I had not anticipated. Indeed, by the end of fiscal 2011 our
revenue was five times more than it was in 2010.

Social capital is not a panacea to accessing resources. You still need
a sound plan, good people, and the ability to execute. However,
understanding the attributes of social capital will help you analyze
why certain relationships are not producing the results you had hoped
for. It will also help you plan strategically how you want to increase
social capital among your key stakeholders.


[Ed: Thanks Charles, for a great essay on something we easily forget
in the business world, how to look after our relationships, and to
build social capital. For readers who may be interested in learning
more about Second Harvest and its food programs for orphanages, the
homeless, single-parent families, and the elderly, you can either
contact Charles at charles@2hj.org, OR, you can attend their upcoming
social innovation evening, advertised immediately below.

…The information janitors/


—— Social Innovation to Increase Food Security ——–

Are there really nearly 20 million people in Japan living below the
poverty line? Does Japan really destroy 3-5 million tons of perfectly
safe food each year? Is there really only one place in Tokyo where
needy households can access emergency food? We believe in a society
where anyone in need has access to safe, nutritious food. Join us and
other community leaders as we share our vision of using social
innovation to develop a food safety-net for those in need. This is an
opportunity for you to learn how together we can make a difference in

Cost: 3,000 yen (to cover drinks and food)
Time: 19:30 ~ 20:30 (doors open at 19:00)
Date: October 15th (Weds)
Location: Shangri-La Hotel
Reservations can be made here: http://2hj-social-innovation-night.peatix.com


+++ NEWS

– Kitazato prof wins Ig Nobel prize
– The venture oracle from Tokyo
– Business mood turns pessimistic
– Plan to reward the healthy
– Child abuse deaths sadly not unique to Japan

=> Kitazato prof wins Ig Nobel prize

A parody award that has become famous in its own right, the Ig Nobel
prize, was awarded to a Kitazato professor for physics, for proving
that banana peels are slippery. The prof and his team conducted tests
with shoes and a variety of fruit on lino flooring and found that
banana peels are 6 times more slippery than having nothing between the
shoe and floor. The team found that that the follicular gel in the
peel was the main source of slipperiness. The results were published
in the journal of the Japanese Society of Tribology. ***Ed: In case
you didn’t know, Tribology is the science of researching and
engineering solutions involving friction, lubrication, and wear of
rubbing surfaces.** (Source: TT commentary from wsj.com, Sep 19, 2014)


=> The venture oracle from Tokyo

Not many people know that Warren Buffet was already 65 before his net
wealth passed US$10bn. In the meantime, Softbank founder and CEO,
Masayoshi Son, comfortably passed that mark last year (at 58 years
old) for the SECOND time. Although this time around Son is a lot more
diversified than he was when he lost an estimated US$75bn in the
dotcom bust in the early 2000’s, it is the same style of dotcom
investments that is paying off for him this time around. This week’s
Alibaba IPO in the USA has vaulted Son back into the position of the
richest man in Japan, with a net worth of US$17bn (approx.). (Source:
TT commentary from fortune.com, Sep 17, 2014)


=> Business mood turns pessimistic

Business sentiment among Japanese firms turned pessimistic in the
Jul-Sep period compared with the preceding 3 months. The unexpectedly
severe impact of the 3% increase in consumption tax, coupled with a
slow recovery in exports has meant that companies are likely to cut
back capital investment and inventories in coming quarters. The
worsening mood was surveyed by the Reuters shadow Tankan survey, which
precedes the official Bank of Japan one, and which normally mirrors
the official one closely. Other factors to dampen spirits have
included the rainy summer and rapid increase in import costs. ***Ed:
The general expectation of analysts is that the Oct-Dec period will
turn back up again, if only slightly, and everyone is hoping that is
the turning point.** (Source: TT commentary from gulf-times.com, Sep
19, 2014)


=> Plan to reward the healthy

We think it’s long overdue, but finally the health ministry is
realizing that it’s sick people who are burdening the nation’s health
system. As a result, they appear to be moving to a rewards program
that acknowledges those who stay healthy. The program will consist of
testing the public for lifestyle-related health measures, especially
for problems that lead to conditions such as Type 2 diabetes,
hypertension, or other preventable diseases, and rewarding those will
good results. ***Ed: Not sure if the rumored JPY10,000 in health
coupons or cash will help chronic lazy bones types get out on the road
or the gym every couple of days, but certainly it’s a good start for
those who do. Look forward to the ministry not only implementing this
system but expanding it to discounts and rebates for those of us who
never use the hospital system as well.**


=> Child abuse deaths sadly not unique to Japan

One particularly sad aspect of media reporting is the annual
statistics on child abuse and deaths. Health ministry numbers for the
year ended March show that there were a record 66,807 child abuse
cases reported to the authorities. This flood of child attacks
resulted in 51 kids dying in FY2012, excluding kids dying from
murder-suicides. Almost half the victims were under a year old and
contrary to popular belief, 80% died at the hands of their biological
parents not a step parent or boyfriend, and particularly at the hands
of the mother. ***Ed: Although the OECD does not track child abuse
rates relative to other countries, due to different legal systems,
Japan’s homicide rate for kids is apparently the second lowest in the
OECD, and so it compares favorably in the big scheme of things,
although even one abusive death is one too many.** (Source: TT
commentary from the-japan-news.com, Sep 19, 2014)


NOTE: Broken links
Some online news sources remove their articles after just a few days
of posting them, thus breaking our links — we apologize for the



=> Are you in web content, sales, or engineering- If so, this section
is for you.


– Community manager

www.japantravel.com‘s “special sauce” as a travel website is its
community. We are recruiting a bilingual person with an outgoing and
friendly manner to manage our 3,000-person community both in Japan and
abroad. The person will be involved in recruiting, contracting,
managing, and motivating the key leaders in the community, as well as
assisting with troubleshooting of downstream contributors and other
participants. Ability to multitask, show empathy, and yet maintain
discipline in terms of results are important attributes for this
position. Location of the job for the first 12 months will be in
Tokyo. Some travel around the country is also anticipated. JPY4M –
JPY6M base + incentives. We are interested in both Japanese and
foreign applicants. For language fluency, ability to listen, speak,
and read emails in your non-native language are necessary.

Interested individuals may e-mail resumes to: info@japantravel.com.




————– BizDo Introduction Seminar —————–

Discover The Secret of Leadership Success : Gyoku Shin

On November 7th, during the height of Kyoto’s beautiful foliage
season, we will hold our next BizDo Introduction Seminar which
introduces the secrets of Leadership success hidden in the philosophy
and principles of the Japanese Martial Arts. This event is exclusively
for senior executives and only 20 seats are available.

To hear what other top Executives in Japan say about our Seminars and
to reserve your seat, visit: http://www.bizdo.co.jp/seminars/terrie/

————- Cancer Awareness in Ueno Park —————

“Relay For Life Tokyo Ueno” is a cancer awareness event that started
in the USA and has now spread to over 20 countries. Every year, more
than 4,000,000 people participate in this event. This event promises
to be lots of fun and will provide the opportunity for cancer
sufferers and advocates to come together and share their courage and
their laughter.

Even if you do not plan to participate in the 24-hour walkathon, you
are still welcome to come out and meet us, just to talk, distribute
information, or otherwise enjoy the festivities. Keep an eye open in
particular for Paul, one of the founders of Team “Over The Rainbow” —
Japan’s first melanoma patients association. http://melanoma-net.org

For more information about this event: http://bit.ly/1qO5tIF (in Japanese).

—————— ICA Event – October 16th —————

Speaker: Rei Hasegawa, Head of Corporate Communications, Japan and
APAC Social Media at LinkedIn Japan
Title: “Branding You”
Details: Complete event details at http://www.icajapan.jp/

Date: Thursday, October 16th, 2014
Time: 6:30 Doors open, Buffet Dinner included and cash bar
Cost: 4,000 yen (members), 6,000 yen (non-members) Open to all. No
sign ups at the door!!!!!!!
RSVP: By 10am on Monday 13th October 2014, venue is The Foreign
Correspondents’ Club of Japan



=> No feedback or corrections this week.



=> Inshie no Michi in Kofu, Yamanashi-ken
Gozan temples between Takeda Shrine and Kai-Zenkoji

During the Southern Song Dynasty in China (1127 – 1279), there was a
system of state-sponsored temples commonly known as the ‘Five
Mountain’ system. ‘Five Mountains’ really meant five temples (temples
were often located on mountains). It was the duty of these temples to
pray for the protection and safety of the state.

In the late Kamakura Era (1185 – 1333) this system was also adopted in
Japan, notably in Kamakura and Kyoto. The Kamakura Gozan temples are
Kencho-ji, Engaku-ji, Jufuku-ji, Jochi-ji and Jomyo-ji, and are
ranked in order of importance. The Kyoto Gozan temples are Nanzenji,
Tenryuji, Shokokuji, Kenninji, Tofukuji, and Manjuji, again in order
of importance. All of the temples were under the patronage, and the
control, of the ruling shogunate.


=> Cavorting at Kyotango, Kyoto
A day trip of kayaking and swimming from Kyoto

Like the north shore of Hawaii, its namesake in Kyoto Prefecture is
little known to Japanese and International travelers alike. Its quiet
lifestyle attracts those marching to a different drum. In summer
Kotobiki Beach is a Mecca for locals frolicking in the sea, and in
winter surfers come out to ride some of the best waves in the area.
Unlike Hawaii, this coasts faces Siberia on the other side, with the
winter storms bringing forth stories of ghosts of long past. These
days modern seafarers on kayaks pay homage to those of long ago, like
the ancient Eskimos who moved around the icy land bridge on the north
pacific ring of fire.

Slosh, splash, slosh. How do you describe the sound of kayak oars as
they connect with the water in a regular, metronome like rhythm? It is
like meditation, the moment the oar makes contact, but then pulls you
to another place. The reflection of the sunlight creates a thousand
different reflections, like a tapestry of jewels dancing and teasing
the ocean below. In many ways the sea is a great leveler. Whether you
are a monk or barrister on land, once you are on water these man-made
titles disappear, as you become comrades looking out for each other.
It may not be man vs nature, but if the current turns, you need to
work together to get out of trouble.




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Written by: Terrie Lloyd (terrie.lloyd@japaninc.com)

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