Terrie's Take: Dateline Tokyo Journalism Project, Thai Babymaking, Birthrates, and eBay & Gree Invest!

Terrie's Take - AkihabaraNews.com

Terrie’s Take is a selection of Japan-centric news collected and collated by long-time resident and media business professional Terrie Lloyd. AkihabaraNews is pleased to present Terrie’s learned perspective; we all could use another take on the news - here’s Terrie’s:

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Terrie’s Take on August 11, 2014


  • Dateline Tokyo Journalism Project Kicks Off


  • Safe haven flows drive up yen
  • New international school in Karuizawa
  • Hubbie help determines birth rate
  • Japanese baby trafficker case in Thailand
  • eBay and Gree invest in Ticketstreet

Dateline Tokyo Journalism Project Kicks Off
This week Japan Travel KK started advertising on international websites a project to recruit working journalists for an innovative news generation program started by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG) and Foreign Correspondent's Club of Japan (FCCJ). The idea behind the program is to get more Tokyo-centric news, events, and lifestyle reportage into the international news distribution system, and thus start increasing international awareness as the city runs up to the 2020 Olympics.

Nothing special about that, you might think, sponsored journalist coverage happens all the time. However, in the Dateline Tokyo project, journalists will be in town not for a few days, but six full weeks. Further, the journalists themselves will mostly choose what they want to cover. It's not often that a major Japanese entity, like the TMG, will allow foreign journalists this level of freedom, and speaks volumes of the importance in having the FCCJ involved. We think this is a big step forward and will create some interesting content.

The full name of the project is "Dateline Tokyo -- 2014 Journalism Program" and will bring five foreign working journalists to Tokyo between the end of September and start of November this year. This is a first step for the two partners, and if the program goes well, there will likely be a ramping up in both the number of reporters and scope of coverage in coming years. Not to confuse things, Japan Travel also runs its own internship program, which involves bringing in about 40 interns in a year, and this program formed the basis for the Dateline Tokyo effort.

Thanks to the backing from TMG, Dateline Tokyo is offering an attractive package to journalists, which should bring in some good-quality applicants. The package includes return airfares, salary, accommodation, transportation, and local bilingual research and interview support. In the 3 days since we started advertising the positions, we have already received dozens of applications from all over the world, and so any fears that Tokyo might be perceived as a hardship posting are now removed. As you would expect from such a broad-based recruiting effort, applicants come from many walks of life, which should make for some interesting diversity. So far we have seen specialists in gaming, music and art, business, travel, architecture, cooking, sports, and even coverage of the Olympics itself.

In helping out with Dateline Tokyo, we also put up a discussion on the Business in Japan (BiJ) board on Linked In, to solicit member input on the types of stories that journalists should be asked to include. We like the BiJ group because of its size (44,459 members as of today) and its focus on Japan and pragmatic issues. If you're not a member of BiJ and you are involved with Japan to any extent, you should join. Jason Ball and the rest of the moderator team there do a great job of keeping everyone on track.

Anyway, the consensus of the 28 BiJ feedback is that food and Japanese curiosities are important points of focus. As you can imagine, though, everyone has an opinion about what turns on the fresh-to-Japan audience and that's why the Dateline Tokyo team decided to bring their journalists in from abroad rather than use local writers. They want coverage that doesn't get caught up in the layers of subtlety that local subject matter experts tend to focus on, and instead produce content attuned to the needs of each writer's respective market. That's also why the program is seeking journalists from primary English-speaking countries for this first phase, so that language and market variables are limited and audience reactions can be more easily assessed.

For more information on the Dateline Tokyo project if you are a working journalist living outside Japan or if you know one who'd be interested in this opportunity, please go to: http://en.japantravel.com/dateline-tokyo.


Last week we ran a Take on the issues relating to a Supreme Court ruling on the right of foreign permanent residents to receive welfare, as regular Japanese do. The court ruled against such a right and said that welfare was legally guaranteed only to citizens, not to foreign migrant workers (which means all non-Japanese). In that take, we mentioned several times about the 25-year pay-in rule for social insurance and how the ruling was unfair. A number of readers wrote in to tell us that the law on the pay-in period changed late last year, and now the minimum pay-in period is 10 years.

Actually, the new reduced pay-in rules don't start until 2016, but it was an oversight on our part, and we are running a correction below to remedy that. It also highlights one really good point about putting Terrie's Take together every week, and that is that we have over 7,000 eagle-eyed readers out there who help keep us on our toes... We like this feedback and really appreciate it. Readers provide us with a kind of crowdsourced fact checking process -- although of course we do our best to get the facts right to start with. It also means that if you want to know if something we've said really is correct, just wait a week to see if a correction comes out... :-)

Lastly, this coming week is Obon in Japan, and we will be up in the mountains of Gunma, enjoying white water rafting, and typhoons permitting, a spot of paragliding. Japan has so much to offer outside of temples and shopping, and that's what makes living in this country so satisfying. We will be back on board on the 24th. Email in the interim is of course very welcome.

Safe haven flows drive up yen
As we commented in our Take last week, Japan's yen is a safe haven in times of global turmoil, largely because the economy is large enough to absorb those flows without major impact, and because the country's major companies are diversified enough to be resilient to international problems. So it is that this last week, as tensions have risen in Russia/Ukraine, and the Middle East, the yen has climbed to JPY101.74. At the same time, the Nikkei stock index has fallen by 3%, its largest daily drop in 4 months. Gold was also up. (Source: TT commentary from wsj.com, Aug 8, 2014) - http://on.wsj.com/1oyCw2t

New international school in Karuizawa
It helps sometimes to have a rich dad. In the case of a 12-year old kid attending school in Karuizawa, his dad was a primary investor in the new school he goes to, which is apparently Japan's first international boarding school (versus boarder-accepting universities). The new school is called ISAK and will officially open this month to an initial intake of 50 students. Many of the kids attending are coming from abroad and just over 50% of them are attending on scholarships, while the other 50% are paying the JPY3.5m full fee (tuition and board). The target is to build the school to 150 kids over the next 3 years. ISAK classes are in English and students will study the International Baccalaureate Diploma curriculum. (Source: TT commentary from bloomberg.com, Aug 7, 2014) - http://bloom.bg/1oBbwuc

Hubbie help determines birth rate
A National Institute of Population and Social Security Research (IPSS) study shows once again that Japanese husbands are just too pooped by the time they get home to do anything to help around the house. The study found that of 6,409 relevant responses, where the woman also works, about 13% of men did no chores, while 30% did about a tenth of the chores. In homes where the woman stays at home, the percentage of no-helpers rose to 23%. Interestingly, the level of help the husband provides also seems to affect childbearing plans. Where husbands help out, 70% of women under 39 wanted to start a family. However, in homes where husbands don't help, the number of women wanting kids fell to 48%. **Ed: Interesting... maybe the IPSS has just stumbled on the key to the baby-bearing puzzle in Japan?** (Source: TT commentary from asahi.com, Aug 8, 2014) - http://bit.ly/XT6G6n

Japanese baby trafficker case in Thailand
Thai police are investigating a case of a Japanese man in his twenties who is believed to be the father of at least 14 babies born to surrogate mothers and who subsequently had them raised by individual nannies in a plush apartment complex in Bangkok. Apparently the man has already transported five of the babies abroad, and police suspect that he is at the center of a baby trafficking ring. The man under investigation is reported to have traveled to Bangkok 41 times in the last four years -- certainly a red flag to immigration authorities. Paid surrogacy is illegal in Thailand, despite the prevalence of the practice. (Source: TT commentary from smh.com.au, Aug 8, 2014) http://bit.ly/1kulv9t

eBay and Gree invest in Ticketstreet
Japanese ticket reseller Ticketstreet just got a huge boost in the arm with an investment from eBay and Gree Ventures. The company received JPY300m from the two companies, which will allow it to ramp up its web presence and scope of events coverage. eBay also owns Stubhub and apparently plans to provide Ticketstreet access to Stubhub events in the USA, such as major league baseball games. ***Ed: We expect a lot more of this kind of strategic cross-border strategic investment in the next 3-4 years -- mostly because tickets and similar commodities are the gateway to inbound travel as well.** (Source: TT commentary from nikkei.com, Aug 7, 2014) - http://s.nikkei.com/1pkLMr7

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That was Terrie's Take.

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