An Insider's comments on Japan's high tech business world

* * * * * * * * 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, January 24, 2016, Issue No. 835

– What’s New — Bit Coin and Chinese Real Estate Purchases
– News — Another truckload of public money to hit stock market
– Upcoming Events
– Corrections/Feedback
– Travel Picks — Aquarium in Nagoya, Onsen in Izu
– News Credits

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It’s been an interesting last six months for the Bit coin community.
Starting with the October re-arrest of Mark Karpeles, the President of
failed Bit coin exchange Mt Gox, who was charged among other things with
procuring prostitutes with company funds, and ending with the government
in late December declaring that it considers Bit coin a security like
any other and will shortly legislate to regulate the trading of Bit
coins by corporates. The proposed new rules will include:

* Registered cryptocurrency exchanges will have to comply with
anti-money-laundering laws (this is a big one)
* Exchange operators will need to have a minimum amount of capital
* Operators will have to manage customer assets separately from their
own assets (so-called “Kapeles” law)
* Auditing
* Confirming new customer IDs before signing them on
* FSA reporting of unusual trading
* Transaction records
* Adequate security and protection of customer information

———– World Class Ski Resort Land For Sale ———-

While all the attention for snow sports properties has been focused on
Niseko in Hokkaido over the last ten years, now investors are starting
to realize that there are more convenient locations on Honshu that offer
the same snow quality and landscapes for more affordable prices. This
property is 25 hectares adjacent to ski lifts (approx 50m at nearest
point). Includes 3.3 ha with no development restrictions on 9 separate
contiguous titles (200% plot ratio), and 22 ha of Grade 3 national park
on 8 titles which can be developed within guidelines.

Available for asking price of US$2,000,000 or near offer. Contact

[…Article continues]

This laundry list sounds intimidating enough that it should deter most
companies from getting into the BitCoin business, although we note that
only “registered” exchanges are going to be subject to money laundering
oversight. That is a curious wording – what happens to unregistered
ones? Also, given the media frenzy over the case and the general
skepticism by most Japanese that BitCoin is a viable trading currency,
we expected the government to come down on BitCoin trading much more
aggressively. For example, they could have followed China’s 2013
reaction and banned the banks from handling the currency all together.

Instead, they appear to be accepting the currency but regulating
companies that might bring bit coins into the mainstream economy by
offering a means of converting to cash. The market of bit coins for
barter appears to be left alone. So why the mild reaction?

We can think of three possible answers:
* They are following the lead of the USA — big brother knows best, and
most of the new proposed legislation actually follows similar rules
passed in New York earlier last year.
* The technology underlying Bit coin transactions, i.e., block chain
databases and protocol, is likely to become the future of formal
banking, and Japan doesn’t want to get left behind.
* There is a side benefit to not killing BitCoin off that the government
isn’t sharing.

Yes, well, of those three reasons, it’s the side benefit that is most
interesting. It’s pretty well known that well-heeled Chinese use illicit
means to circumvent their government’s US$50,000 limit on foreign
exchange, by laundering money through relatives, fake billings, and more
recently through BitCoin purchases (and redemption). Although as of a
few weeks ago there has been a lull in real estate purchases in the USA,
Canada, Australia and other favored Chinese destinations, after the
latest round of government crackdowns on capital movement, interest in
BitCoin has never been higher and industry players expect that within a
year the flow of funds will resume. Probably it’s inevitable. Rich
Chinese don’t trust their own system, can’t own land anyway, and so will
naturally flee to places that are stable and trustworthy via means that
are relatively undetectable.

Real estate in Japan is becoming an attractive alternative to investing
in already overpriced western countries, and it’s a lot easier to travel
to Japan on a regular basis. And besides Taiwan, Japan is the only Asian
country in close proximity to China that allows foreigners to have
private ownership of land, and then later a lifestyle for their kids and
grandkids who may visit or study/live in Japan. For this reason, over
the last five years wealthy Chinese have been buying overpriced inner
city condos in Tokyo, Osaka, and Fukuoka, and keeping everyone involved
happy in the process. Then they come here and spend a whole bunch more
money on lifestyle. Our guess is that with a golden goose like that, why
would you want to kill it off?

The technology equation shouldn’t be underestimated, either. Adoption of
block chain technology is moving quickly because it does away with the
logistics of printing and distributing money, and allows the “overseers”
of such a system to know exactly who has how much. For the government,
this means eliminating or controlling the underground economy and opens
up the ability to apply system-wide taxes and fees simply by altering a
configuration file. It’s easy to see that the Japanese government
wouldn’t want to give this up, and is willing to have to deal with a few
miscreants in order to stay in the race.

…The information janitors/


—————– Home For Sale in Australia ————–


So much is on offer from this large modern home at Lammermoor Beach,
Yeppoon, Queensland, Australia. Boasting just the right elevation to
enjoy magnificent ocean and island views in a quiet, friendly
neighborhood. Just a short walk to one of the most pristine beaches on
the Capricorn Coast. The home features 4 bedrooms plus an office, 2
living areas, 2 bathrooms and 3 toilets, an in-ground swimming pool and
terraced backyard. There is a roomy balcony and plenty of storage room
in the double garage. Tenants are in place for the investor if required.
The owner lives in Tokyo and is available for inquiries at For detailed information on the property please see here.


+++ NEWS

– Plutonium transport ships due end of March
– Another Abe administration scandal surfaces
– Expired frozen food exported to China, North Korea
– Another truckload of public money to hit stock market

=> Plutonium transport ships due end of March

Two special nuclear materials transport ships complete with armed crew
members have set sail from the UK with the mission of picking up 331Kg
of unused plutonium from Japan’s stock pile of around 47 tons, and
transporting the material to its final storage destination in South
Carolina. The material, which was lent to Japan some years ago by the UK
for experimental purposes, is apparently enough to create 40 nuclear
bombs. ***Ed: No comments from the Japanese side about what they plan to
do with the other 46.3 tonnes of the stuff…** (Source: TT commentary
from, Jan 22, 2016)

=> Another Abe administration scandal surfaces

One thing you can be very sure of about the LDP, because it is built
from special interest groups the party will always be a ripe source of
scandals. The latest to surface concerns Akira Amari, the economy
minister, who was accused in the Shukan Bunshu of taking bribes for
favors. Apparently he was recorded admitting connection to a series of
unrecorded donations from a construction company, involving about
JPY12m. The construction company was seeking to win a dispute with the
government concerning a public works project. ***Ed: The LDP is trying
to shrug the accusations off by saying that presence of a recording
means Amari was unfairly targeted. On the other hand, it is more likely
that the construction company wanted an insurance policy in making the
recording, and, besides, it is legal in Japan to covertly record a
conversation and use it later as evidence.** (Source: TT commentary from, Jan 21, 2016)

=> Expired frozen food exported to China, North Korea

Frozen food that had passed its expiry date has apparently been exported
to China and North Korea, and in at least one case re-sold in rural
Japan, according to the Asahi newspaper. It is common knowledge that
frozen food expiry dates in Japan are unnecessarily short and brokers
are taking advantage of this fact by recycling expired goods to
consumers in both China and North Korea, who in any case, are not fussed
about old products. Apparently several shipments a month have been
procured by shady brokers from waste disposal firms, with chicken, fish,
veges, and other products at the top of the list. ***Ed: While everyone
is looking for a scapegoat in this latest incident, it’s pretty obvious
that Japan’s food industry has a lot of shady characters, including some
big players. In the Asahi’s investigation, they found that at least some
of the expired products came from 7-Eleven.** (Source: TT commentary
from, Jan 22, 2016)

=> Another truckload of public money to hit stock market

The government is planning to allow the world’s largest public
investment fund (the GPIF pension fund) to invest directly in stocks
rather than in investment funds as has been the case until now.
Apparently the GPIF will have an arsenal of JPY130trn, which it can
invest for up to 5% of any target company. Other institutional investors
are concerned that the GPIF will distort the market for individual
stocks, and cause price instability as speculators try to anticipate the
fund’s moves. ***Ed: In fact, when you inject JPY130trn into your stock
market, you are obviously trying to distort the markets. We can only
assume then, that the LDP wants such distortion in order to create
inflation, and goosing the stock market until retail investors can’t
resist joining the party is the plan. Let’s hope that they don’t
succeed.** (Source: TT commentary from, Jan 22, 2016)

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 inconvenience.



—————- ICA Event – February 18th —————-

Speaker: Fred Almeida – CEO – Reactive Inc.
Title: “Everything is Computation – In the Real World of Artificial
Intelligence “
Date: Thursday, February 18th, 2016. 6:30 Doors open. Buffet Dinner
included with charges and pay as you go cash bar.
Cost: 4,000 yen (members), 6,000 yen (non-members) Open to all. No sign
ups at the door!
RSVP: By 1pm on Monday February 15th, 2016. Venue is The Foreign
Correspondents’ Club of Japan.


=> No corrections or feedback this week.



=> Nagoya Port Aquarium, Nagoya
Vast, beautiful aquarium in hip district

The Port of Nagoya Public Aquarium was one of my biggest shocks when I
visited Nagoya. It doesn’t have the fame that it clearly deserves. What
I found was a very high-class aquarium that had a wide variety of ocean
life displayed in very comfortable, beautiful facilities. The half-hour
that I had to wait to enter (on a crowded national holiday) was well
worth it.

The facilities span across two buildings, each with a different theme.

The North Building is home to some of the more notable animals, which at
the time of this visit included four killer whales (orcas), along with
numerous dolphins and white whales (Belugas). A lot of thought went into
creating the aquarium facilities. For instance, one of my favorite areas
was a big, carpeted room with stadium-like seating where you can sit and
relax to watch the animals swimming, rather than having to stand and
fight through a crowd.

=> Mizunosato Marukyu Ryokan, Shuzenji
Lovely accommodation in Izu Peninsula

Located in the heart of the Izu Peninsula is the onsen town of Shuzenji.
A river flows through its center and many lovely Japanese inns line its
banks. With its friendly staff and cozy traditional atmosphere, the
Marukyu Ryokan is a perfect choice for anyone staying overnight in the
area. As you enter the front door, you are greeted by a lovely okami-san
(female inn owner) and her staff. You may even see your name,
handwritten in gorgeous Japanese script, on tall, thin paper signs at
the entrance. The lobby, decorated in a modern Japanese style, is very
inviting – especially the beautiful sitting area containing a table made
from an old wooden wheel. Nearby, there is a small souvenir shop and a
lounge where guests can enjoy coffee, tea, ice cream or gelato, and alcohol.

The first floor also contains segregated communal onsen baths with a
comfortable tatami resting area. There are both indoor and outdoor
pools filled with hot spring water that leaves your skin feeling clean
and silky. In addition to the first floor onsen baths, there are also
some private rotemburo (open-air baths) on the top floor that people can
use with their friends or family, free of charge. I find some onsen to
be too hot, but these were perfect, especially when bathing outside in
the crisp air.


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