Entries in Japan (61)


Global Stocks Plunge After Japan Selloff

Hemera Technologies/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Wall Street may be in for a wild ride Thursday after a sharp retreat for stocks in Japan. U.S. stock futures dropped after the Nikkei index in Tokyo plunged 7.3 percent overnight, its worst one-day loss in more than two years.

Global stock markets are in retreat, hammered by a one-two punch.

The first blow was struck when U.S. markets turned from gains to losses after the release of minutes from the Federal Reserve. The minutes showed that a number of officials were ready to taper off the aggressive policy of quantitative easing, with the monthly purchase of $85 billion in government bonds. The Fed’s recent moves had helped push up stock prices.

The second shoe to drop came from China. The HSBC Purchasing Managers Index fell this month, adding to signs of a fragile economic recovery for the world’s second-largest economy is losing steam.

HSBC economist Hongbin Qu in a statement said, “The cooling manufacturing activities in May reflected slower domestic demand and ongoing external headwinds.”

China’s economic growth slowed unexpectedly in the first quarter and forecasters have cut their growth outlook for the year.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Japan Makes Bold Move to Help Boost Economy

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(TOKYO) -- Japan's prime minister is making a bold move -- and staking the country's financial future on it.

Shinzo Abe has proposed the unlimited printing of money and a 2 percent inflation target to lift Japan out of decades of economic stagnation. 

On Tuesday, the country's central bank, the Bank of Japan, agreed to enact Abe's policy, raising hopes of a Japanese comeback.

Deflation and a strong currency have plagued Japan for years, but expectations of a turnaround have sent stocks soaring in recent weeks.

Critics of Abe's plan say it only adds to the country's massive public debt.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Designers in Japan Create 3D Miniature Action Figures of Family

Courtesy Kaoru Utada(NEW YORK) -- Just in time for the annual holiday family portrait, designers in Japan have come up with a unique alternative to standard prints: miniature action figures of the family.

Gone are the days of photo sessions requiring nothing more than a still camera and lights.  The photographers behind the world’s first 3D studio, “Omote 3D Shashin Kan,” use a high-tech scanner that captures every wrinkle and every strand of hair.

The catch – you need to hold your pose for 15 minutes.

“CT-scans used to be the only way to accurately capture a person’s (body shape and texture),” said Naoki Ito, creative director for Party Inc, the group behind the project. “The advancement of technology has changed that.”

Data used to create the mini-mes are manually captured by a hand-held scanner with two built-in cameras. One scans the body’s shape, the other the texture. All the information gathered is processed through software, traditionally reserved for the medical field.

The result is a hyper-realistic figurine that brings every last detail back to life. The mini-mes range in size from four to eight inches, with prices starting around $260.

“I didn’t expect the replicas to turn out so realistic,” Ito said. “The minute I saw mine, I knew I had to go on a diet. I lost 11 pounds in a month.”

3D printers have been used to recreate everything from toys to prosthetics. In the most recent James Bond movie “Skyfall,” filmmakers used a large VX4000 printer to reproduce three 1:3 scale models of the Aston Martin DB85. One of them was auctioned off at Christie’s for almost $100,000.

Ito’s project is the first to bring full-body 3D replicas to life, but the idea is catching on quickly. Since word of Ito’s exhibit spread online a few weeks ago, he has been flooded with calls from the U.S. to India and Australia.

More than 500 people have already signed up, to get a mini-me.

“We’ve gotten so many requests, we’re trying to figure out how to meet demand,” Ito said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Is Japan Headed for a Recession?

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(TOKYO) -- New economic data out Monday suggests Japan may be inching toward a recession yet again.

The government reported that the country's economy shrank 0.9 percent between July and September, while its gross domestic product fell at an annualized rate of 3.5 percent.

It's a sharp reversal from the first half of the year, when Japan outperformed other G-7 countries.  Since then, the world's third largest economy's been plagued by a decline in exports, stemming from Europe's financial woes.

Japan's territorial spat with China has also hurt trade relations with its largest trading partner, forcing Japanese companies to reconsider its economic outlook.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Japanese Judge Rules Samsung Didn't Infringe Apple's Patent

SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg via Getty Images(TOKYO) -- A week after Samsung was ordered to pay over $1 billion to Apple for copyright infringement in the U.S., a decision on Friday in a similar, but much smaller, case in Japan didn't end in Apple's favor.

Apple sued Samsung in Japan for $1.3 million in damages last year, claiming Samsung's smart phones and tablet computers infringed a patent on an Apple invention that synced up the devices with servers.

But on Friday, the Japanese judge ruled in favor of Samsung, saying the South Korean company did nothing wrong.

Samsung welcomed the Tokyo court's decision, saying in a statement Friday that it "confirmed our long-held position that our products do not infringe Apple's intellectual property."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Shiseido Unveils World’s Most Expensive Cream?

YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images(TOKYO) -- Japanese cosmetics giant Shiseido introduced a limited-edition face cream priced at nearly $13,300 to mark its 140th anniversary, an eye-popping sum even in a country known for its high-priced cosmetics.

The “Cle de peau Beaute,” sold under the name “La Crème” internationally, claims to lift and tighten skin with powerful anti-aging properties.  It is already available in stores for about $632 for a 1.8 oz jar, but Shiseido decided it wanted to up the glitz to commemorate the line’s 30th anniversary.

They called on French designer Olivier Severe, who handcrafted jars using 30 layers of crystal, and three platinum rings.

Just three jars are set to go on sale at Shiseido’s flagship store in the glitzy Ginza district in September, but the cosmetics company is offering a more “reasonably priced” version of the product, at just over $1,000 for a limited time.

That may not scream affordable luxury at a time when many Japanese are struggling financially, but Shiseido spokesman Shoutaro Nagai says sales for its high-priced beauty lines have remained relatively flat, while middle-of the line products have declined.

“When La Crème was first introduced, only women with well-paying jobs would buy [our products],” Nagai said.  “These days, women in their 20s and 30s buy them.  Even if they can’t afford the whole line, they want the cream.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


KFC Japan's New Bar Serves Chicken and Whiskey 

KFC(TOKYO) -- A new KFC restaurant in Japan has given fast food a boozy boost with a fully-stocked bar featuring whiskey cocktails.

Located in Tokyo, the three-story restaurant opened Wednesday and is the company's first location to include a bar.  The first two floors of the restaurant feature an original KFC while the top floor functions as a bar after 5 p.m.                                                                                                                  

Called KFC Route 25, the bar is named after U.S. Route 25, which runs in front of the original Sanders Cafe in Kentucky.

The KFC Japan website notes that it aimed for a "good-old USA" approach with a casual and welcoming feel.

KFC Route 25's menu features classic items like the original recipe chicken and crispy strips in addition to pizza and pasta.  New items include a pizza with six kinds of cheese and maple syrup and a dessert menu that includes tiramisu and cream puffs.

The drink menu features a variety of typical bar options like tequila, rum and vodka.  Specialty cocktails include the Early Times High Ball or Mint Sparkle, which gives nod to the Mint Julep and the restaurant's Kentucky origins.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Japan 'Fortune Bags' Draw New Year's Shoppers

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(TOYKO) -- New Year's Day is the most revered holiday in Japan. Celebrated in a four-day period, most Japanese spend it with family, quietly visiting shrines and feasting on traditional New Year's dishes.

But the scene outside the popular Laforet mall in Tokyo's Harajuku district looked more like a concert Sunday. Lines of shoppers spilled out into the streets as security guards watched closely.

Laforet employees wore colorful Jinbeis (a Japanese traditional short jacket) with megaphones in hand, while the sound of traditional taiko drums echoed through the hip shopping district.

Once the clock hit 9 a.m., retailers opened their doors to screaming shoppers who frantically rushed to their favorite stores, to try their hand at New Year's luck. "I've been coming to Laforet to buy fukubukuro for five years now," Chino Murakami, 33, said. "The event only comes around once a year. Shopping sales on the first day of New Year is fun."

The New Year's Day excitement in Japan, reminiscent of Black Friday in the United States, includes an increasingly popular tradition: shopping for fukubukuros, or "fortune bags."

The surprise bags, sold only the first few days of the year, are sealed, so shoppers can't see what's inside. Clothing stores typically sell them for roughly $60 to $120, although retailers claim the value of goods inside can be two to three times the price of the bag.

"It's like a lottery ticket," Sophia University marketing professor Cheron Emmanuel said. "You don't know if you will get a huge surprise in terms of getting much more than what you have paid for."

The Matsuya Department store first introduced the fortune bag in 1908, to create buzz for the new year. The 1- or 2-yen bags contained traditional obis, or sashes, and casual summer kimonos.

Contents of the luck bags have evolved dramatically in the past century, with food retailers and electronics stores such as Apple taking part in the shopping frenzy.

This year, the Isetan department store unveiled a $192,000 travel bag, containing a 105-day cruise for two, around the world. In addition to the travel tickets, the bag comes with a limousine ride to and from the airport, and formal wear.

Matsuya took a more low-key approach, selling an eco-themed bag, in light of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. The $129 bag contains $480 worth of energy-saving products, as well as leg warmers and thermals to keep warm. Another disaster-themed luck bag features a survival kit, which includes non-perishable foods, a radio that also acts as a flashlight and cellphone charger, backpack, whistle and a portable water bottle.

Rui Kitagawa, 16, lined up for more than three hours in the cold, in search of more traditional fukubukuros. She walked away with her hands full: one bag full of accessories, including bracelets and earrings --another bag stuffed with a blouse, dress, top and skirt.

The grand total? Roughly $310. "I took the first train out at 5:20 a.m., but there were already 200 people ahead of me [when I arrived]," Rui said. "I am very satisfied [with my purchases]. It was worthwhile to wake up early."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Olympus Admits to Hiding Losses; Stocks Plunge

Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg via Getty Images(TOKYO) -- The dominoes keep falling in a corporate scandal that threatens to become the “Enron of Japan,” and now, the company at the center -- Olympus -- has admitted to concealing losses by paying massive advisory fees.

It all began to unravel three weeks ago, when then-CEO Michael Woodford was forced out after raising questions about excessive advisory fees ($687 million) the company paid in its takeover of British medical equipment company Gyrus.

Shuichi Kikukawa took over shortly after and defended the payments, saying the company had done nothing illegal.  But he abruptly resigned a few weeks later.

On Tuesday, Olympus fired its vice president and forced the auditor to step down, saying the two were involved in the cover-up, along with Kikukawa.

This is the first time the company has admitted any wrongdoing, and it comes after an independent panel found the company had been using advisory fees and takeover payments to cover up investment losses since the 1990s.

Olympus stocks have plummeted 70 percent in just three weeks, and now the Tokyo Stock Exchange says it’s considering de-listing the camera maker.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Japanese Cars Top 'Consumer Reports' 2011 Rankings

STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Japanese brands again dominated Consumer Reports' reliability survey, while Ford Motor Co. sank in the magazine's 2011 ratings, thanks to three new models that had problems.

The most reliable cars came from Scion, Lexus, Acura, Mazda, Honda, and Toyota, the non-profit group said in a statement today.  Of the 91 Japanese models Consumer Reports ranked, 87 were rated average or better in predicted reliability; 24 Japanese models earned the highest rating.

Ford’s fall from the 10th to the 20th spot this year stemmed from its new Ford Explorer, Fiesta, and Focus, of which had below-average reliability in their first year. That was the biggest slip for any carmaker this year.

“Ford’s drop can also be attributed to problems with new technologies: the new MyFord Touch infotainment system and the new automated-manual transmission used in the Fiesta and Focus. On the bright side, the Ford Fusion Hybrid sedan remained outstanding, and other Fusion versions were above average,” Consumers said in a statement.

The ranking is based on responses on 1.3 million vehicles owned or leased by subscribers to Consumer Reports or users of

Full reliability history charts and predicted-reliability ratings on hundreds of 2012 models can be found online at’s reliability section and in the December issue of the magazine.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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