A weekly roundup of news & information from Terrie Lloyd. (http://www.terrie.com)
General Edition Sunday, April 17 2011, Issue No. 610
- What’s new
- Candidate roundup/Vacancies
- Upcoming events
- News credits and subscription information
PBXL IP TELEPHONY AND CLOUD BCP
Since PBXL started in 2006, we have consistently focused on providing high quality, cloud based telephony services. Designed around a high-availability, data center based deployment, we are proud to report that our customers were able to both make and receive calls during the earthquake and ensuing challenges.
Additionally, due to PBXL’s flexible system design, PBXL was able to continue providing call center services and other enterprise connectivity to both offices and remote workers. With summer coming, and with it likely power shortages, PBXL’s remote access and office solutions enable a mobile workforce to continue to service customers regardless of location, without requiring a phone number change for many Tokyo and Yokohama offices.
———– PBXL is BUSINESS COMMUNICATIONS ————
Just about anywhere you go for business in Tokyo at the moment, whether a multinational’s corporate headquarters or the corner store, all conversations start off with the nuclear crisis and the possible power cuts in summer. Consumers and companies alike dread the prospect of no production/wages and no air conditioning from July through September.
And this year is supposed to be another scorcher like 2010 was.
So just how much power will we be short of, and is the possibility of office staff having to work in 30-degree+ temperatures likely to happen? Well, just after the quake, certainly there were dire predictions that the nation would be short 27 gigawatts (peak of 60GW down to 33GW now). The government’s reaction was that it would have to order across-the-board power consumption cuts of up to 25%, causing amongst other things for office thermostats to be set a few more degrees higher than normal (a sweat-inducing 28 degrees is "normal"). And this might still happen.
But over the last 5 weeks, the authorities have come to realize that simply squeezing out power cuts is going to have an extremely negative effect on national productivity and could cause lasting damage to the nation’s finances. Instead, they have turned their focus on to TEPCO, pressuring the company to find a ways to increase power generation to at least 50GW. As a result, TEPCO has developed a Rube Goldberg plan that allows it to cobble together a variety of old fossil fuel plants, mothballed hydro and geothermal plants, and simply buying in masses of temporary oil/gas generators and fuel, so that they can supply possibly 52W or more by the end of July — much closer to the anticipated peak August needs of 55GW – 60GW.
Amongst the things TEPCO will do to achieve this out-of-thin-air magic includes: a) pumping water upstream of hydro dams in the off-peak hours (early morning hours) so that the water can be reused to drive turbines the following day, b) re-starting furloughed nuclear generators elsewhere in their network, and c) putting off maintenance (although we are assured, not nuclear maintenance) to avoid peak demand periods. At the same time, major manufacturers are thinking to move employee hours earlier in the day to achieve a type of daylight savings, imposing longer summer breaks, and dispatching employees to other parts of the country.
Such measures are all well and good, but there is still going to be a gap come August, and what about winter and next summer? The Fukushima reactors will be entombed, so we can’t expect any future power production from that facility.
Surely there are some more meaningful/simpler ways to either reduce power consumption or increase its production?
Tokyo’s Fastest Growing Restaurant Guide
If you like eating out and want to explore a little, or help others to do so, then you need to try out the latest Metropolis Magazine food application, Metrodining.jp. The result of 2 years of development, the database already has 600+ foreigner-friendly restaurants, and is adding 100+ a week to the list. First in town to offer user rankings and cell phone additions/comments.
Watch the site closely, because in the next few weeks we will offer rewards for people adding more comments and establishments.
If you own and have an interest in a restaurant, registering your operation is free of charge. For ad and other enquiries, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
We think that the government needs to show some Energy leadership by setting some inviolable principles which will guide them in action — much the same as they used to hunt out surplus slush funds in the first two years of their term.
The first should be: "Electricity is the lifeblood of the nation and its cheap, continuous availability needs to be guaranteed". Another should be: "Irrational laws and pork barrel funding need to be put aside in the pursuit of stable, safe electrical power generation."
Once those principles are committed to, there are plenty of big, fat non-essential targets to root out. Here are just a few:
1. Pass a law to shut off power to all cooling/heating circuits of all vending machines around the Tokyo-thru-Tohoku region during the month of August. There are supposedly 5.5m vending machines in Japan and between them they use at least 1200kWh/year x 5.5m = 6.6TWh a year. Since most of the power is used for heating and cooling, we can probably assume that 15% of this is used in August (and in January next year). From what we can tell, about 1/3 of these machines are inside the TEPCO and Tohoku Electric Power service areas, and of these a bit less than half are drinks machines (according to the Nikkei, about 870,000 units).
Therefore, around 160GW/hrs could potentially be saved in the electrical service area by turning them off just during August. Since this law would not be about punishing the vending companies, TEPCO would then compensate Coke, Suntory, and others for staff and basic operations costs while on pause for that month. We appreciate that Coke and others are already taking measures to turn off machine cooling systems for a portion of the day during summer, but this year, they should simply switch off completely and garner the PR of helping out Japan. John R. Harris has more to say about this in his blog, http://bit.ly/ibHj1D.
2. Go after all major convenience and electrical store chains, because they use lots of cooling/heating and lighting. We’d direct them to at least install LED lighting in replacement of fluorescent tubes and incandescent bulbs, and for the electrical stores to shut for 4 hours in the afternoons during August. With a 3-month tax break or subsidies for these chains as well as other smaller store operators, the government could easily force a mass conversion to energy saving devices, and the beneficial effects of such a move would last far beyond the coming summer. Indeed, such a mass changeover would bring down the cost of these devices substantially, as well as providing a massive boost for domestic electrical manufacturers.
The process of becoming more power efficient has in fact already begun with some forward-looking companies. Seven/Eleven has said that it expects to save 125kWh a day per store by changing to LED lighting and installing solar cells on the roofs of 1,000 stores around the nation over the next few months. Now, if they were targeted to get government help, then we imagine they could speed up their program and do retrofits to all 6,000 stores in the TEPCO service area, saving a massive 750MWh/day in power. Then, if you included all the other operators’ 10,000 or so convenience stores in the same region, the savings could be increased to around 2GWh/day. Not a small sum… and with massive benefits to the manufacturers of LED lighting and solar cell panels.
3. Speaking of solar cells, Japan churns out such large amounts of photovoltaic panels that you have to scratch your head as to why there isn’t a crash program to increase production and purchase acres of them for installation into North Eastern Japan. One possible reason, pointed out by blogger/Market Entry specialist Tom Sato (http://www.tomsato.jp/tomsato.html) is that there is no where to physically install the huge number of panels that would be needed to replace a nuclear plant.
Actually, there is lots of vacant farm land, but the law says it has to be used for farming. Tom points out that if the Central Union of Agricultural Cooperatives (Nokyo) was allowed to get into the power generation business via tenant "solar farmers" in return for supporting legislative changes about land use, then suddenly TEPCO would have a major competitor and we the population would get a green alternative energy source and a farming sector that could be profitable again… This is a very cunning strategy and one that would be politically acceptable.
4. Turn to the private power generation capabilities of JR East and major manufacturing firms, and have them supply the grid during non-peak hours. To some extent this already happens, but it needs to be coordinated and purposeful. According to a report by Investment firm Martin Currie, the energy production capability of JR East and other private firms is about 30GW. Of course they need their daytime production for themselves, but in the evenings and early mornings these facilities could be operated to reduce loads on TEPCO resources — maybe they could be used to pump that water back up into the TEPCO hydro storage lake we were talking about before.
5. Then there are many interesting opportunities to develop the nation’s thermal resources. Given that volcanoes and thermal hot spots are one of the few resources Japan has in surplus, it is strange that government R&D spending for geothermal power production has been zero since 2002, and yet in contrast, nuclear R&D receives JPY200bn a year. One report from earthpolicy.org (http://www.earth-policy.org/plan_b_updates/2011/update94) reckons that Japan could with conventional technology harvest about 80GW of geothermal power a year if it wanted to.
What we hope, in any case, is that the Kan government starts to realize that while certain vested interests have had the nation focus on nuclear energy, these heavily populated and geologically unstable islands have to be the worst place in the world to build nuclear power stations. Instead, if they bite the bullet now and fund a build up of the installed user base of alternative energy, the resulting technology and market advances would stand Japan in good stead not only for energy independence, but also to provide the production base necessary for Japanese exporters to lead the alternative energy field in the future.
Lastly, there is a new Tokyo group of technologists with a website called RDTN.org. Their purpose is to provide an aggregate feed of nuclear radiation data from governmental, non-governmental and citizen-scientist sources. This data will be made available to everyone, including scientists and nuclear experts, who can provide context for lay people. They are kicking their project off by creating a mobile radiation sensor system to measure the levels near the schools in Fukushima. If this sounds interesting, then you might want to help them out. They are looking for cars and drivers to travel to Fukushima to take the readings in these areas. They also are looking for more funding. See more about them at: http://kck.st/hMXtdM.
Contact them at: Info@RDTN.org.
…The information janitors/
BIOS – Bilingual IT Systems and Support
BiOS full-service IT solutions has a new service.
Working with our fully licenced temporary dispatch group, we are now able to provide Japan in-country workers for companies not yet registered in Japan.
This innovative service is available for companies needing to hire staff for Japanese customers, but who are unable to commit to the expense and infrastructure of maintaining an office in Japan. We take care of all aspects of the employment, contracting, and dispatch — including management of the employee.
Also, if you’re thinking of Cloud office solutions, take a look at Microsoft’s new Business Productivity Online Standard Suite. Terrie mentions Exchange Online in TT602, and we can do the implementations for you.
For more information on this and other SI and IT services, in English or Japanese:
- March trade earnings plunge massive 40%
- Overall foreign departures from Japan
- Tokyo tourism plunges
- Australia to supply some temporary housing
- Solar-powered water purification units
March trade earnings plunge massive 40%
Although the final numbers are not in yet, according to a Quick Corporation study of economists, the expectation is that March trade volumes fell by at least 40%, with one economist predicting an actual JPY96bn deficit. While there is little consensus there will actually be a deficit for March, there does seem to be a consensus already for April — yes, the nation will be in trade deficit. Official numbers will be out on Wednesday April 20th. (Source: TT commentary from e.nikkei.com, Apr 16, 2011)
Overall foreign departures from Japan
We reported several weeks ago that around 190,000 non-Japanese left Narita between March 11 and 22, compared with a normal number of around 22,000. Now the Justice Ministry is supplying more numbers. Officially, 531,000 foreigners left Japan in the 4-week period March 12 through April 8. Of course some of these were tourists and about 302,000 people had re-entry permits and so are more likely to represent temporary departees. At the same time, 302,000 foreigners entered Japan, which appears to be about 30% less than normal, but in fact would have been even lower if not for the arrival (we believe) of many people to help with the relief efforts. (Source: TT commentary from mainichi.jp, Apr 16, 2011)
Tokyo tourism plunges
Confirming the fact that tourists are avoiding Tokyo, a Nikkei survey of major Tokyo hotels found that the average occupancy rate during March was just 49.8%, and for the higher-end hotels such as the New Otani, the occupancy rate was just 28.7%. Normally the occupancy at this time of year, cherry blossom season after all, would be in the high 80′s or above. (Source: TT commentary from nikkei.com, Apr 16, 2011)
Australia to supply some temporary housing
The Japanese embassy has asked Australian building firms to help in supplying some of the 30,000 temporary housing units that Japan will build over the next few months. Already building merchants, Carter Holt Harvey, and remote-site prefab builder Nomad Housing have said that they will offer flat-pack timber-frame homes to Japan. Apparently Japan will pay around JPY4.4m for a 30sq m home expected to house two families… ***Ed: Whoa! That’s pretty darned small!** (Source: TT commentary from theaustralian.com.au, Apr 16, 2011)
Solar-powered water purification units
No word on whether this is just a goodwill gesture or not, but US company WorldWater & Solar Technologies has tied up with Spain’s Gamesa Corporación Tecnológica to ship two solar-powered water purification systems to be installed in several towns near in Fukushima. The units screen radiation and other pollutants and provide up to 110,000 liters of fresh potable water daily. Each unit has its own 3.3kW solar cell array and thus needs no external power. (Source: TT commentary from solarserver.com, Apr 16, 2011)
NOTE: Broken links
Many online news sources remove their articles after just a few days of posting them, thus breaking our links — we apologize for the inconvenience.
Essential Business Reference in English
If you’re a manager or director of a company in Japan, you need these references with detailed explanations in English!!!
- Japan Staff Employment Law Guide -1st Edition Published June, 2010 (JPY 21,000)
- Japan Master Tax Guide 2010/11 Published July, 2010 (JPY 18,375)
- Japan Corporation Law Guide -2nd Edition will be published November, 2010 (JPY 22,050)
*Above prices include tax * As a limited time offer for readers of this newsletter, orders received by November 30 will earn discounts: 1 title: 5% off, more than 2 titles: 10% off.
BiOS, a Division of the LINC Media group, is actively marketing the following positions for customers setting up or expanding in Japan, as well as other employers of bilinguals.
BiOS is now urgently looking for On-site IT Support Engineer with experience supporting our client’s internal IT infrastructure at their office in the Shinagawa area. The candidate will be responsible for providing level-2 desktop support to 200 end-users in both English and Japanese, as well as setting up, installing, and configuring in-house hardware (network, server, printer, VoIP equipment, etc.). You will also be responsible for coordinating with the company’s internal helpdesk and IT headquarters team to provide smooth trouble ticket handling.
Due to the technical nature and demanding work environment, this position is suitable for someone with solid experience supporting overall in-house IT infrastructure including desktop support, and who has strong knowledge of network (CCNA level preferred) and server administration. In addition, since this role requires coordination between many different departments (internal IT team, IT team from headquarters, vendors, etc.), fluent communications skill in both English and Japanese is required.
Remuneration is JPY5m – JPY6.5m depending on your experience and skill level.
- Account Manager, global IT co, JPY7m – JPY11m
- Junior Helpdesk Engineer, BiOS, JPY3m – JPY4m
- Procurement Officer, global bank, JPY3.5m – JPY4.5m
- Senior Network Engineer, global IT co, JPY8m – JPY11m
- Bilingual Administrator, BiOS, JPY2.5m – JPY3m
Interested individuals may e-mail resumes to:
** BiOS Job Mail
Every 2 weeks BiOS sends out a regular communication to its job seeking candidates, called BiOS Job Mail. Every edition carries a list of BiOS’s current and most up-to-date vacancies, with each entry featuring a short job description and a direct link to the main entry on the BiOS home page. Regardless of whether you are unemployed and searching, thinking about a career change, or just curious to know if there is something out there that might suit you better, the BiOS Job Mail newsletter is an easy and convenient way for you to stay informed. If you would like to register for the BiOS Job Mail, or to find out more, please email email@example.com.
Interested individuals may e-mail resumes to:
Entrepreneur Seminar in Tokyo
Start a Company in Japan Entrepreneur’s Handbook Seminar 23rd of April, 2011
If you have been considering setting up your own company, find out what it takes to make it successful. Terrie Lloyd, founder of over 13 start-up companies in Japan, will be giving an English-language seminar and Q and A on starting up a company in Japan. Over 450 people have taken this course so far.
This is an ideal opportunity to find out what is involved, and to ask specific questions that are not normally answered in business books. All materials are in English and are Japan-focused.
For more details: http://www.japaninc.com/entrepreneur_handbook_seminar
ICA Event – April 21
Speaker: Marc Einstein, Industry Manager – Frost & Sullivan Title: APAC Mobile & Wireless Outlook in 2011
Details: Complete event details at http://www.icajapan.jp/ (RSVP Required)
Date: Thursday, April 21, 2011 Time: 6:30 Doors open, Buffet Dinner included and cash bar Cost: 4,000 yen (members), 6,000 yen (non-members) Open to all. Venue is The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan
In this section we run comments and corrections submitted by readers. We encourage you to spot our mistakes and amplify our points. Click here.
*** In TT608 we speculated on a power hit being the reason that Toshiba will see its NAND RAM output drop up to 20% over the next few months, but as several readers kindly pointed out the Yokkaichi plant is separated from the disaster area electrically. We agree that this was a point of dot-joining by us, and in fact the more likely reason for the drop in Toshiba output will be its Iwate packaging plant being severely damaged…
=> Reader: Just to alert you to a possible error in your latest Take. You said, "Although the Toshiba plant is in Yokkaichi, hundreds of kilometers to the south of the earthquake zone, the momentary power outage when Fukushima Daiichi went off line damaged sensitive equipment and Toshiba is saying that production will be affected for some time."
But in fact, as you will see from the following: http://bit.ly/125JiM, given that Fukushima is in the 50hz zone and Yokkaichi is in the 60hz zone, a disruption in power supply in one zone should not affect the supply in the other. While small volumes of electricity can be shunted from one zone to the other, it has to be converted and the conversion process itself should buffer any fluctuations in supply. Therefore it is very unlikely that a power surge or outage in the eastern zone would have caused a surge/outage in the western zone… but then again I am not an electrical engineer!
The irony is that the conversion capacity of the bridging circuits between the two systems is quite low, hence the challenge for eastern Japan in summer as not enough power can be drawn or diverted from the west to compensate for the loss in generation capacity in the east.
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Written by: Terrie Lloyd
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