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Editorial: Kirin-Suntory merger

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Taking up herewith Japanese Business Trend News by Media of the week.
Business Trend in Japan will be read via these News. 
Jul 16 Investment firm unveils Paramount Resort Osaka plan (AP)
 An Osaka-based investment firm said Thursday it will cooperate with an affiliate of U.S. movie company Paramount Pictures Corp. to develop a theme park named Paramount Resort Osaka in Suita, Osaka Prefecture. The theme park, including entertainment facilities and a five-star hotel, will be built on the site of the failed Expoland amusement park, Sun Capital Management Corp. said.
Jul 16 Editorial: Kirin-Suntory merger (Asahi)
 Kirin Holdings Co. and Suntory Holdings Ltd., Japan's two largest food and beverage makers, are negotiating a possible business merger. If a deal is struck, their combined sales of 3.8 trillion yen would easily create the nation's single largest food and beverage corporation.
Jul 16 Overseas package tours booked for September up 51% on year (AP)
 The number of people who had booked overseas package tours for September as of early July was up 50.9 percent from a year earlier, the Japan Association of Travel Agents said Wednesday. Although people had been refraining from traveling abroad due to the spread of the new strain of influenza, the demand for overseas trips recovered from late June and many people have made reservations to take advantage of a five-day holiday in Japan from Sept. 19, the association said.
Jul 16 Lotteria to give refunds if customers do not like new hamburger (AP)
 Hamburger chain Lotteria Co. said Wednesday it will give refunds to customers who are not satisfied with the taste of its new "zetsumyo" hamburger to be sold starting Thursday. Under the campaign, set to last until the end of July, a customer who buys the new hamburger, priced at 360 yen, will receive a refund if at least half of the hamburger is left uneaten and returned to the store it was purchased from on the same day along with the receipt.
Jul 16 Honda CR-Z and Fit hybrid planned for 2010 (New York Times)
 The Honda CR-Z, when it first appeared at the Tokyo Motor Show in 2007 as a concept car, caused quite a stir, both good and bad. On Monday, Honda announced that the CR-Z would move from concept to reality and that it would go on sale in the United States next year.
Jul 16 Condo industry crisis a chance for buyers? (Yomiuri)
 While the financial crisis and the prolonged recession have plunged the nation's condominium market into a deep slump, this situation could be a great opportunity for condo buyers looking for a good deal. The number of new condominium units offered for sale in the first half of 2009 fell 26 percent from the same period a year earlier in the Tokyo metropolitan area.
Jul 15 Japanese banana boom is boon to Dole as imports surge to record (Bloomberg)
 Japanese banana imports are headed for a second straight record gain this year, fueled by fad diets and households looking for cheap food amid the recession. Imports of the fruit, mostly of the Cavendish or Senorita varieties, rose 34 percent from a year earlier to 540,000 tons in the five months to May, after totaling a record 1.09 million tons in 2008.
Jul 15 Citibank Japan to suspend retail sales after FSA order (AP)
 Citibank Japan Ltd. will suspend sales activities at its retail banking division for one month from Wednesday in line with an order from the Financial Services Agency over its slack money laundering controls that allowed the opening of several hundred accounts for crime syndicates and other "antisocial" bodies.
Jul 15 Toyota widens hybrid lineup with new Lexus (Japan Times)
 Toyota Motor Corp. on Tuesday launched its first Lexus built as a hybrid from the ground up, widening its gasoline-electric lineup amid the recent spike in demand for fuel-efficient vehicles.
Jul 15 JAL darkens planes on ground to keep them cool (Japan Times)
 Japan Airlines Corp. started an experiment Tuesday aimed at reducing the use of energy for air conditioners inside aircraft, hoping to curb carbon dioxide emissions and lower operational costs.
Jul 15 Haneda flights to Beijing start in late October (Japan Times)
 Japan and China have agreed to launch regular flights between Tokyo's Haneda airport and Beijing Capital International Airport on Oct. 25, transport minister Kazuyoshi Kaneko said Tuesday. Kaneko said four round-trip flights - two each by Japanese and Chinese airlines - will be offered on a daily basis.
Jul 14 DreamWorks looks for 'Monsters' to be big in Japan (Reuters)
 Like a creature rising from oceans deep, the DreamWorks Animation SKG film "Monsters vs. Aliens" hit Japan on Saturday, where the 3-D animated comedy reportedly had a sizable opening of $1.2 million in only 390 theaters over the weekend, and where box office watchers say it stands to perform strongly by tipping its hat to Japanese-born giants like Godzilla and Mothra.
Jul 14 Kirin, Suntory hold merger talks (Japan Times)
 Kirin Holdings Co. and Suntory Holdings Ltd. have begun negotiating a merger aimed at surviving the shrinking beverage market amid the low birthrate and aging population, sources said Monday. The merged entity would be Japan's top firm in both the beer and soft drink markets and one of the world's largest beverage companies. Combined, the two firms had consolidated sales of around ¥3.82 trillion in the business year that ended in December 2008.
Jul 14 Finally, no-alcohol beer that packs taste (Japan Times)
 For decades, low-alcohol beer has taken a back seat in the Japanese brewing industry, the victim of complaints about taste and fears that drinkers were still prone to the risks of drunken driving. But a new product by Japan's second-biggest brewer, Kirin Brewery Co., appear to be beating the odds with the rollout of what it claims is the world's first truly alcohol-free beer - Kirin Free.
Jul 14 Japan's 'Love Hotels' (BBC)
 Here's one business sector that's proving resilient in the current economic downturn - the 25,000 love hotels in Japan. Charging around $30 for a short rest, the hotels are attracting interest beyond the obvious market of couples looking for a place to spend a few private hours.
Jul 13 Rail staff face 'smile police' (BBC)
 A Japanese rail firm has introduced a system to check that staff are smiling enough at all times. Computerised scanners around 15 Tokyo stations will measure the smile's curvature to ensure it is broad enough. Those failing to measure up - literally - will be advised to look less serious and more cheerful.
Jul 13 Yamanashi firm brings color to dining tables (Yomiuri)
 Hakubaku Co., a manufacturer of cereal grain foodstuffs based in Masuhocho, Yamanashi Prefecture, has scored a massive hit with its Jurokkoku Gohan (16-grain meal). Customers mix it with rice and boil to easily make zakkoku gohan, a rice dish of combined with various grains. Jurokkoku Gohan has seized more than 50 percent of the market for multigrain products.
Jul 13 Game makers target Nintendo DS (Yomiuri)
 The latest edition of the 'Dragon Quest' role-playing game series released Saturday was specifically designed for the Nintendo DS portable game device, a move that reflects game creators' increasing awareness of the importance of the portable gaming market.
Jul 12 Net company boss, ex-employees arrested over 'pyramid scheme' targeting students (Mainichi)
 The head of an Internet-related company accused of operating a pyramid scheme targeting students has been arrested, along with several former company employees, law enforcers said. Takeshi Kume, 37, president of Osaka company Cyber Club and the four former employees, aged between 24 and 30, were arrested on suspicion of violating the Endless Money Chain Prevention Law.
Jul 12 Seven-eleven to cut royalties payable by franchisees from July (AP)
 Seven-Eleven Japan Co. said Saturday it will cut the royalties it collects from its franchise convenience stores by up to 3 percentage points starting this month in an effort to give them additional financial support. Under the new plan, owners operating their stores for more than five years will see a reduction of up to 3 percentage points in their royalties when they open multiple stores. The same discount also applies to employees becoming an owner and opening a store after working with Seven-Eleven for more than five years.
Jul 11 Japan's New Entrepreneurial Samurai - Women (ABC News)
 Lynko Morimoto, a 30-year-old business owner in Tokyo, doesn't look back nostalgically on her days when she worked as an "office girl" in her hometown of Osaka in western Japan. "Starting up my own business in my mid-20s was definitely not an easy proposition," says Morimoto, who has been running her company AILA International since 2006 selling belts that make use of fashion scarves called "Belticaf."
Jul 11 Credit squeeze in Japan threatens firms' survival (Bloomberg)
 Healthy Japanese companies may fail for lack of financing as banks throw the baby out with the bathwater to avoid bad loans, says one Tokyo financial chief. Bank of Japan Governor Masaaki Shirakawa said July 6 many companies are struggling to borrow, and the Tankan report on business confidence showed companies consider access to finance is close to a record low.
Jul 11 Toyota Considers Closure of California Plant (wsj.com)
 Toyota Motor Corp. said it is considering closing a vehicle-assembly plant in California that it jointly operates with General Motors Corp., after the U.S. automaker decided to pull out. "We need to determine whether it can be economically feasible to contract with NUMMI without GM," Toyota said in a statement referring to the plant called, New United Motor Manufacturing Inc.
By J.S. on Jul 17, 2009



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