Japanese Technology from the Future SATURDAY Because of Friday Night Corporate Hobnobbing!
This week it’s Japan moving to subsidize the purchase of fuel cell-powered automobiles made by Toyota but hopefully some other players, too, Japan is sharing its earthquake proofing/resistance tech with Bangladesh, and the world's biggest messaging service that no one outside of Asia knows about is investing in America!
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Welcome to Japanese Technology from the Future Friday Saturday!
It’s already Friday Saturday west of the international dateline – here in Japan, it’s totally the future. The weekly JTFF is our somewhat Technosnarky coverage of 2-5 particularly important, specifically Japan-related tech stories. Get yourself hip to the micro & macro that went down while North America was sleeping – check in with Akihabara News (usually) every Friday (not Saturday) morning and BOOM! Ahead of the game, you win.
:: JTFFS – July 19, 2014 ::
• Japan Moves to Subsidize Fuel Cell Cars
Long in development, and available here and there, fuel cell cars have been promoted as the great panacea to fossil fuel woes, something just around the corner, for decades. Unfortunately, it’s been a superduper long, seemingly endless corner that we’ve been going around...like NASCAR. In 2014, however, there are movements and developments pointing toward the possibility of the tech breaking out of niche market pipedream toward actual market breakthrough - and a great deal of that development rests on the shoulders of Japanese automakers, specifically Toyota, and to a lesser degree, Honda (see this May 3 JTFF for details on Toyota’s massive fuel cell investment both domestically and in the U.S.). Toyota’s blue FCV, a car they’ve been trotting out since long before last December’s 2013 Tokyo Motor Show where we first saw it live, is set to go on sale by March of 2015, and, unlike the relatively bargain-priced Prius, will run customers about $70,000. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has announced that, in an effort to speed adoption of these new clean cars, the Japanese government will offer an approximately $20,000 subsidy for Toyota’s customers. Honda’s also got a fuel cell vehicle they claim will be market-ready next year, but there’s no word on whether or not their customers will also get that cool 20 Gs off the purchase. This is all good news, and as non-H electrics begin to ramp up in parallel, the promise of competition between the two technologies bodes well for consumers.
[JAPANESE GOVERNMENT SUBSIDIES FOR FUEL CELL VEHICLES - NDTV GADGETS]
Japanese Electric Vehicle Tech News
• Japan Providing Earthquake Resistance Retrofitting Tech to Bangladesh
We all know that Japan’s shaking about all the time, and living here in the heart of Tokyo, one quickly becomes not only complacent about it, but also exceedingly confident in Japanese earthquake-proofing prowess. In fact, the destruction wreaked by the tsunami component of the 2011 Tohoku Disaster rightly overshadowed the fact that the 5th-largest earthquake in modern history didn’t collapse a single building. Hundreds were left damaged to a point of being declared “destroyed,” but no outright collapses. So it’s natural that nations around the world would look to Japan for technological known-how and expertise in this area.
[JAPANESE ASSISTING WITH ANTI-EARTHQUAKE BUILDING TECH - ENERGY BANGLA]
Earthquake Tech News
• Popular Japan-Based Messaging Service Partners with NY Venture Firm
If you’re reading in the U.S., chances are high you have little to no idea what Line is. Living in Japan, you kinda pretty much HAVE to know. Anecdotally, but probably accurate, we’d guess that statistically everybody in Japan under 40 and in possession of a smartphone is using Line. Though a startup just 3 short years ago, Line now has an estimated 450 million users (~50-60 million of those in Japan, making it technically Japan’s largest social network, but in truth it’s much less social and much more messaging). So, Line is huge in East Asia, but in the U.S. and Europe - not so much. In an effort to give the company a presence in the world’s largest economy, if even a non-messaging-based one, they’ve partnered with New York VC firm Collaborative Fund to provide direct funding to young startups. That’s pretty cool. They could like, you know, end up funding their own nemesis! Which would be funny.
[LINE PUTS A TENTACLE INTO AMERICAN VENTURE CAPITAL - NY TIMES DEALBOOK]
That was the JTFFS, and live from the future – that is all.
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Tokyo at Night via PhotoEverywhere.