BOJ PBOC Currency Swap: Saving Panasonic’s China Market Disaster

The on again off again currency swap deal between the Bank of Japan and the People’s Bank of China is on again for the tune of a curiously small sum of 3 Trillion JPY. Those in the know say that kind of sum is useless for anything more than helping out a company or two, in this case a life raft for Panasonic’s disastrous China market business.

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When Your Train Stops

Most rush hour train announcements , the real ones, are mundane. Occasionally they announce a short delay: somebody’s bag got stuck in a door or got sick and needed assistance. The worrisome ones are the emergency stops when somebody hits the platform panic button somewhere. Fortunately most of those clear in a reasonably short time. Then there is the dreaded “Jishin Jiko”, a jumper, a  guarantee your train is going nowhere. December and March are usually the worst times of the year for those cases because that’s when the Yakuza call in delinquent loans.

The acid test of a real Tokyo commuter is how fast you think on your feet the moment a Jishin Jiko announcement comes over the PA system. You know it’s serious when people around you pull out their smartphones and start searching for alternate routes or make phone calls. On the Yamanote line the train crew usually parks at the closest station so people can get off. If you are lucky enough to get a smart train conductor, they offer detailed alternate route information.

When I got stuck on the Yamanote line at Shibuya station once the conductor quickly instructed, “the Yamanote outside (clockwise) loop is running, if you need to get to Ebisu, Meguro or Gotanda stations take the Saikyo line on platform 4 to Ozaki station and double back on the outside loop.” It took a little extra time but I made it to Gotanda station and was on my way.

Another time I was not so lucky, the entire Yamanote line was stopped but the Saikyo line was still running so I took it to Ozaki station. From there I walked to the nearest Tokyu Ikegami line station and was on my way again. 20 minutes lost but no trouble getting to the office in time.

The scariest stoppage was March 11, 2011 when every train and subway in Tokyo stopped running during the massive earthquake. Early the next morning, a Saturday, every train was packed with very tired people who didn’t make a sound as they slowly made their way back home. In the silence you could feel the shock and sadness. In a crush of people on a train you could almost hear a pin drop.

Another January, another misleading iPhone supply cuts story from Nikkei

Apple Insider

Apple Insider’s Daniel Eran Dilger writes:

Every January, Japan’s Nikkei newspaper unloads a report suggesting that Apple is scrambling to slash production of its newest iPhone because of disappointing sales. Every year that report has been false, and every year the tech media falls for it.

Nikkei is notorious in the investing community, it’s about time they were called out on their iPhone reporting.

Another Nikkei iPhone related botch: independent (former Nikkei) reporter Tsutsumu Ishikawa broke the iPhone 7/Apple Pay Japan story in the JP press via Nikkei August 20, 2016. His story was later picked up in the English press by Bloomberg, without credit I might add.

What’s interesting is that Nikkei internal reporters then published their own story saying that Apple Pay Japan would not arrive until iPhone 8 due in ‘spring 2017’ which was blown out of the water at Apple’s iPhone 7 announcement. Of course that article no longer appears on any searchable Nikkei site but a post dated 9/7/2017 on LiveDoor News refers to it.

If you want to think the worst, you can see the Nikkei ‘fake news’ as pure market manipulation. More than one Nikkei reporter has been caught on insider trading so it’s not far-fetched.

But there is a much darker side. In December a former Nikkei newspaper delivery subcontractor ‘committed suicide’ in a men’s room at Nikkei Headquarters. The police reports said he doused himself with kerosene and set himself on fire.

This event by itself is odd and disturbing but there are several hush-hush low-level law suits going on between newspaper delivery subcontractors and large newspaper companies. The basic story on that is Nikkei and Asahi are accused of dumping newspapers on subcontractors to inflate delivery numbers (which are declining) to keep newspaper advertising rates from falling.

In that context the Nikkei building suicide sounds like something out of a Martin Scorsese directed Yakuza movie.

It’s probably not far-fetched either.

All The Proof You Need That Japan Has Left QR Codes Behind

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MMD Labs QR Code Payment Survey

Rakuten Pay, Origami Pay and the soon to be released Docomo ‘d Harai’ are trying to convince Japanese users that QR Code payments are the next big thing. Good luck with that.

As I said before Japanese left QR Codes behind and are not coming back. The latest market survey data from MMD Labs shows that less than 2% of Japanese use QR Code payments. 4% are considering it. 50% could care less, and the rest don’t care either.

However now that there about 1.2 million Chinese living in the Tokyo-Yokohama area alone, I think Rakuten and Docomo are simply servicing their Chinese customers. It would be interesting to see if usage patterns change over time: will long-term Chinese residents drop QR in favor of Japanese FeliCa payment networks?