2018年10月15日 星期一

Japanese passport is the number one in the world – visa free to 190 countries and areas is possible


Recently the NHK News on-line reported the following:
日本のパスポートが世界1位 190の国と地域ビザなし渡航可能で
20181011 710

日本のパスポートが“世界で1位”になりました。ビザなしで渡航できる国と地域が190に達し、各国のパスポートを比較するイギリスの民間企業のランキングで初めて単独トップになりました。

このランキングはイギリスのコンサルティング会社が毎年、取りまとめていて、9日、ことしのランキングが発表されました。

それによりますと、調査対象の世界の199の国と地域が発行するパスポートの中で、ビザなしで渡航できる国と地域の数が最も多かったのは日本でした。その数は190に達し、2位のシンガポールの189の国と地域を1つ上回りました。

日本は去年のランキングではビザなし渡航が認められる国と地域は172と5位でしたが、その後、中央アジアのウズベキスタンや東南アジアのミャンマーなどが相次いで日本人のビザの取得の免除を認め、一気に順位を上げて初めて単独トップに立ったということです。

このほか3位はフランス、ドイツ、韓国の188、最下位はアフガニスタンとイラクの30の国と地域でした。

調査を実施した会社では「ランキングはそれぞれの国や地域がどれだけ多くの国や地域と密接な関係を築いているかを表している」と指摘していて、日本の多くの国々との友好関係が示された形となりました。


 Translation

The Japanese passport was “number one in the world". The countries and areas which one could make a trip without visa reached 190. A British private enterprise compared the passport of individual country and found that Japan for the first time was the only country that ranked at the top.

A British consulting company was compiling this ranking every year, and on the 9th the ranking of this year was announced.

According to that, the 199 countries and areas in the world that issued passports had become the investigation object, the one with the largest number of the countries and areas to which you could take a trip without a visa was Japan. The figure reached 190, and it exceeded Singapore by one which ranked second with 189 countries and places.

Last year Japan ranked fifth with 172 countries and areas where a visa free trip was allowed. But since then, Uzbekistan in Central Asia and Myanmar in South East Asia and others allowed exemption from visa requirement successively. It was said that its ranking order was raised quickly and for the first time became a single country to top the ranking.

Additionally, at the third place were France, Germany and Korea with 188 countries while the lowest in ranking were Afghanistan and Iraq that had 30 countries and areas.

The company that did the investigation pointed out that "the ranking showed to what extent the respective countries and areas were building a close relation with other countries and areas"; it was a form of showing Japan’s friendship with many countries.

          So, Japanese is welcome to most countries and areas in the world.

Reduced tax rate: in convenience stores that did not allow eating and drinking, everything would be at 8%


Recently the NHK News on-line reported the following:
軽減税率 コンビニは店内飲食禁止ならすべて8%に
2018107 600

来年10月に予定される消費増税の際に導入される「軽減税率」について、財務省は、コンビニやスーパーでは店内のいすやテーブルを飲食禁止とした場合にはすべての食べ物の税率を8%に据え置くという基準を明確にしました。

消費税率を10%に引き上げる際に導入される軽減税率の制度では、小売店で買った食べ物や、酒類を除く飲み物を持ち帰る場合には、税率は8%に据え置かれますが、店内で飲食する場合には10%となります。

このため店内にいすなどを置いて飲食ができるコンビニやスーパーでは、顧客への対応が複雑になると指摘されていました。

こうしたことから財務省は、コンビニやスーパーが店内での飲食を禁止にし、実際に飲食が行われていない場合には、店内で販売する飲食料品にはすべて8%の軽減税率を適用するという基準を明確にしました。

一方、店内での飲食を禁止しない場合には会計の際に持ち帰りかどうかを確認することが必要になります。

コンビニの関係者の間では、すでにイートインのコーナーを設けている店では飲食を禁止とするのは難しいという声も出ていて、今後各社がイートインを見直すかどうか注目されます。

財務省は国税庁が公表している軽減税率の事例集を近く改定し、周知することにしています。

Translation

About the "reduced tax rate" which would be introduced in connection with the consumption tax increase scheduled for October next year, the Department of Treasury had made clear that it would maintain a standard 8% in tax on food sold in convenience stores and in supermarkets if they did not allow eating at their seats or tables.

When increasing the consumption tax to 10%, there would be also a system of introducing a reduced tax rate. In a retail stores when food, and also drinks except for alcoholic beverages were bought, those that were meant to be brought home would be set at 8%, but when they were eaten or drunk in the stores, it would be 10%.

Regarding the above, it was pointed out that the treatment of customers would become complicated for the convenience stores and supermarkets if they had chairs in the stores for doing eating and drinking.

Because of this, the Department of Treasury prohibited eating and drinking inside convenience stores and supermarkets, and when it was clear that no eating and drinking was actually carried out, a standard reduced rate of 8% would be charged on food and beverage sold in the stores

On the other hand, for stores which did not prohibit eating and drinking,  at the time of billing confirmation was needed on whether the food was to be brought home.

Voice had come out from people related to convenience stores over the difficulties in prohibiting eating and drinking in stores where eat-in corner had already between set up, from now on whether individual company with eat-in corner might make reconsideration would be watched.
         

The Department of  Treasury made known to the public about the recently revised samples on tax rate reduction published by the National Tax Administration Agency.

It is disappointing to note that taxation in Japan will be increased soon.

2018年10月8日 星期一

40 percent of Yoshinoya restaurants would use a self-service system


Recently the NHK News on-line reported the following:
吉野家 店舗の4割をセルフ方式に
2018105 2111

人手不足が深刻さを増す中、従業員の負担軽減につなげようと、大手牛丼チェーンの「吉野家ホールディングス」は、およそ4割の店舗を客が料理を自分で運ぶセルフサービス方式に切り替えることになりました。

吉野家ホールディングスは、ことし8月までの中間決算を5日発表し、コメなどの原材料費の高騰や人手不足に伴う人件費の増加で8億5000万円の最終赤字になりました。中間決算での最終赤字は8年ぶりです。

こうした中、河村泰貴社長は記者会見で、吉野家の店舗の4割に当たるおよそ500店について来年から5年かけて、客がレジで注文をして自分で料理を運ぶセルフサービス方式の店舗に切り替える方針を明らかにしました。

吉野家では、これまで一部の店舗にセルフ方式を導入して検証したところ従業員の歩数が4割減るなど負担の軽減につながったほか、従来よりも客席を広くしたことで売り上げも増加したということです。

河村社長は「5年、10年先を見据え、おいしい牛丼を提供するだけでなく、ゆったりと食事を楽しんでいただくことで競争に勝ち抜いていきたい」と述べました。


Translation

Amidst increasing serious labor shortage and in order to reduce employee's burden, Yoshinoya Holdings as a major beef bowl chain was going to change approximately 40 percent of its restaurants into using a self-service system in which visitors had to get their ordered dishes themselves.

On the 5th Yoshinoya Holdings announced its interim closing ending August of this year, it was an 850 million yen in red in the final closing due to the soaring of raw material cost such as rice, together with an increase in personnel expenses accompanied by labor shortages. The previous deficit in interim closing was 8 years ago.

As such, Yasutaka Kawamura  the president at a press conference made clear a policy that in 5 years starting from next year, about 500 restaurants which was equal to 40 percent of all its restaurants would be affected by changes of being turned into a self-service system: visitors placed orders at the register and got their ordered dished by themselves.

When introduced a self system to certain Yoshinoya restaurants for checking, the number of steps of the employee decreased by 40 percent and led to a burden reduction. Furthermore, as the guest seats were made wider than before, it was said that the sales were also increased.

President Kawamura stated that "gazing into five or ten years ahead, we are not merely offering a good beef bowl; because we can offer a meal that could be enjoyed comfortably, for that we would win a competition.”

So, Yoshinoya restaurants are trying to improve their service system to increase profits.

2018年10月7日 星期日

The Trump administration just escalated its high-stakes competition with China


Recently Yahoo Finance carried the following article which was full of insights, I think. I attached it below for sharing purposes:

The Trump administration just escalated its high-stakes competition with China
CNBC   
Fred Kempe
CNBC October 6, 2018

Even with all news noise focusing on the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court confirmation fight and the "not NAFTA" trade agreement among the U.S., Mexico and Canada, it would be a mistake to miss this week's most significant geopolitical development:

The dramatic unfolding of the Trump administration's intensified offensive on China.

The administration's clearest and most comprehensive broadside on China yet followed what one official called "thousands of hours" of study and planning. It will involve agencies across the U.S. government, from the Pentagon to the U.S. Trade Representative. The consequences will be both immediate and potentially generational for global economic and security matters.

Senior officials in Beijing have increasingly worried that President Donald Trump , with his new tariffs on more than $200 billion of Chinese imports, wasn't just acting as a deal-maker seeking greater leverage for market openings. They suspected a shift was afoot in Washington to more fundamentally address the Chinese challenge.

Now the Chinese have their answer.

What lies behind a series of administration statements and actions was a deepening conviction that Trump's predecessors have done too little to respond to years of unfair Chinese trade practices, cyber transgressions, rapid military growth, growing technological prowess and the underlying strategic consequences of the so-called Belt and Road economic initiative, whose aggregate investment and loan figures are a multiple of the Marshall Plan.

Four pieces of news this week underscore the far-reaching, multi-faceted nature of the Trump administration efforts aimed at China, with senior officials promising more in the weeks ahead.

They include:

A landmark speech by Vice President Mike Pence at the Hudson Institute, calling out China as America's foremost threat, ahead of Russia, due to both the scope and seriousness of its activities abroad and within the United States.
An underreported aspect of the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement that requires all three parties to inform the others if they begin trade talks with "non-market economies" (read China). Trump administration officials view it as a template for trade deals to follow.
A leaked report that the U.S. Navy's Pacific Fleet has proposed a series of military operations during a single week in November to send a warning to China and to provide a deterrent to its Beijing's regional military ambitions.
On Friday, the Pentagon released the results of a yearlong look at vulnerabilities in America's manufacturing and military industrial base. "China represents a significant and growing risk to the supply of materials deemed strategic and critical to U.S. national security," including a "widely used and specialized metals, alloys and other materials, including rare earths and permanent magnets," the report says.
Pence went far beyond Trump's UN speech statement that China was acting to influence American elections against him. Pence said for the first time, echoing a view held by Trump since before his presidential campaign, that "what the Russians are doing pales in comparison to what China is doing across this country."

Pence acknowledged that Trump has built a strong personal relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping and that they've worked together on issues of common interest, particularly the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

But, said Pence, "the American people deserve to know … Beijing is employing a whole-of-government approach, using political, economic and military tools, as well as propaganda, to advance its influence and benefit its interests in the United States. China is also applying this power in more proactive ways than ever before, to exert influence and interfere in the domestic policy and politics of our country."

Some will argue that the timing of the Trump-China reset has an electoral purpose ahead of U.S. midterms elections. However, the comprehensive approach ensures it will last long beyond November. It also reflects a shift of thinking among American experts regarding China. Most have abandoned the hope that Chinese economic growth would bring with it democratic change, a greater embrace of individual rights and thus greater common cause with the U.S.

The Trump administration's new efforts carry with them considerable risks, which ultimately may be greater than during the Cold War years. For all of Moscow's nuclear capability, its sclerotic economic system never made it much of an economic competitor. The Soviet Union also never was as integrated in the global economy. By some measures, such as purchasing price parity, China already became the world's largest economy in 2014.

Although such epic, historic contests never begin with military conflict in mind, they frequently end that way.

"The real lesson of history," writes Anthony Cordesman of CSIS, paraphrasing Santayana, "is that it really doesn't matter whether one remembers the past or not. One repeats it anyway."

Graham Allison of Harvard popularized the concept of "Thucydides Trap," namely that when one great power displaces another, war is most often the result. He argued this week that to avoid that outcome this time around the U.S. and China will require the kind of "extreme imagination" that has failed them thus far.

The Trump administration's China shift is one of its boldest moves yet. Far more difficult will be to forge a strategy that manages the competition without conflict and deploys "extreme imagination" to create a world order that defends U.S. interests and embraces a risen China.

(Note: Frederick Kempe is a best-selling author, prize-winning journalist and president & CEO of the Atlantic Council, one of the United States' most influential think tanks on global affairs. He worked at The Wall Street Journal for more than 25 years as a foreign correspondent, assistant managing editor and as the longest-serving editor of the paper's European edition. His latest book – "Berlin 1961: Kennedy, Khrushchev, and the Most Dangerous Place on Earth" – was a New York Times best-seller and has been published in more than a dozen languages. Follow him on Twitter @FredKempe and subscribe here to Inflection Points, his look each Saturday at the past week's top stories and trends.)

My feeling is that It is time for China to rethink its future economic system in whether to truly open it up. But to change into a true market economy CCP would need substantial changes in its political system which it does not have the nerve to touch on. China is at the crossroad. Trump has fired his first short.



2018年10月1日 星期一

An investigation on job hunting students: the type of business that would not be needed any more due to AI - "banks, department stores..."


Recently the NHK News on-line reported the following:
AIで要らなくなる業種銀行 百貨店…” 就活学生の調査
2018915 1254

就職活動を進める大学生の半数近くが、AI=人工知能の発達で将来、人手が要らなくなる可能性のある職業を意識しているという調査結果がまとまりました。

就職情報サービス大手、リクルートキャリアは先月、来年卒業予定の大学生に就職活動についての調査をインターネット上で行い、1300人余りから回答を得ました。

この中で、AIの発達に伴って将来、人手が要らなくなる可能性のある職業を意識したことがあるか尋ねたところ、全体の46.9%が「ある」と答えました。このうち、文系では48.6%が、理系では43.1%が「ある」と答え、文系の学生のほうがAIを意識しているという結果になりました。

具体的な業種では、銀行や保険会社などの金融業界のほか、百貨店やスーパーなどの小売業界を挙げる学生が目立ちました。

また、仕事の内容では、事務部門を挙げた学生が最も多く、次いでトレーダーやアナリスト、生産管理や品質管理などとなっています。

調査した会社は「最近は安定した職に就きたいと考える学生が増える傾向にあり、こうした学生はAIが及ぼす人間の仕事への脅威に敏感になっているようだ」としています。

Translation

A survey result gathered had indicated that nearly half of the college students who were doing job hunting were conscious of the fact that certain occupations had a possibility being made obsolete in the future due to the development of AI= artificial intelligence.

Recruit Carrier, a major company on job information service last month conducted a survey on the internet on job hunting among the college students who planned to graduate next year, it received responses from about 1300 people.

Among them, when asked whether there was conscious of the fact that some occupations had a possibility that manpower for it would not be needed any more in future due to AI development, 46.9% of the total had answered "some". Among these those who answered "some", 48.6% were those from a faculty of liberal arts while 43.1% from a science faculty; the result was that students from a faculty of liberal arts were conscious about the AI.

For the business categories in detail, in addition to banking and insurance company in financial industry in which students had mentioned, department stores and supermarkets in the retail industry stood out as the example mentioned.

Next, by the contents of work, most students mentioned the administrative department; the next were traders, analysts, production controls, and quality controls and so on.

The investigating company assumed that " recently, students who would like to get a stable job tends to increase, and may be such students become sensitive to the threat exerted by AI on human’s occupation."

          Obviously, AI is changing the occupational pattern of some societies.

2018年9月25日 星期二

China-U.S. trade friction: Japanese manufacturers reconsidered their production systems


Recently the NHK New On-line reported the following:
米中貿易摩擦 日本メーカーが生産体制見直しも
2018924 1518

輸入品に高い関税をかけ合うアメリカと中国の対立を受けて、日本の大手メーカーの一部には生産体制を見直すなどの動きも出てきています。

トランプ政権が発動を発表した第3弾となる制裁措置を受けて「ヤマハ発動機」は、対象になった中国で生産しているゴルフカートのエンジンなどの輸出を増やしていて、制裁の発動前にアメリカの組み立て工場の在庫を積み増しています。

このほか、これまでの制裁措置を受けた動きとしては大手建設機械メーカーの「コマツ」が、中国で生産していたショベルカーなどの建設機械の部品の一部を先月から日本とメキシコに移しました。

大手電機メーカーの「三菱電機」は、レーザー加工機などの工作機械を中国の大連で生産していましたが、先月、名古屋市にある工場に生産を移しました。

機械メーカーの「東芝機械」は中国からアメリカ向けに輸出しているプラスチック部品を作る機械の生産を来月から静岡県沼津市とタイの工場に移すことを決めました。

一方で、事態を静観しているメーカーも多くあります。中国やアメリカに工場がある「トヨタ自動車」や「日産自動車」、それに「ホンダ」や「マツダ」の自動車メーカー各社は、車の生産や部品の調達の現地化を進めていて、生産をほかの国に移す対応は検討していないとしています。

半導体大手の「ルネサスエレクトロニクス」は製品の一部を中国の工場からアメリカに輸出していますが、売り上げの1%程度にとどまることから、当面は状況を静観することにしています。

中国でカーラジオ用のチューナーやパソコン用のブルーレイディスクの機器などを生産している「パイオニア」も、アメリカ向けの売り上げの規模は小さいとして具体的な対応は決めていません。ただ、米中の今後の対立によっては生産体制の見直しを検討するとしています。

Translation

After noting confrontations between China and the United States which high customs import duties were discussed, Japanese major manufacturers had a new appreciation on some of their production systems and moves had also come to light.

After noting the sanction which became the 3rd wave of imposition by the Trump government was announced, "Yamaha Motor" was increasing its export of golf carts that used engines produced in China which had been made the target of sanction; it also increased its stock in American assembly factories before the start of the sanction.

On top of that "Komatsu", a major construction machine manufacturer, had relocated some of their machine parts produced in China for the making of machines such as shovel car etc. to Japan and Mexico starting from last month as a move after noting the sanction so far.

"Mitsubishi Electric" as a major electric appliance manufacturer in Dalian of China that was producing machine tools for laser machines had moved its production to a factory in Nagoya-shi last month.

"Toshiba Machine", a mechanical manufacturer which exported plastics components to the United States had decided from next month to move the mechanical production from China to Numazu-shi in Shizuoka, and also to their Thai factory.

On the other hand there were also a lot of manufacturers calmly watching the situation: "Toyota Motor" and "Nissan Motor", which had factories in both China and United States; and also automobile companies  "Honda" and "Mazda"  which were advancing the localization the production of cars and the supply of parts. It was assumed that these factories were not considering moving their production to other countries.

"Renesas Electronics" was a major semiconductor company which exported some of their products from a Chinese factory to the United States; but because their export stayed at about 1 % of total sales, at present it calmly watched the situation.

"Pioneer" was producing in China tuners for car radios and blue-ray disc components for PCs; as their sales to the United States were small, it had not decided on making a response. However, it was assumed that they would review their production systems based on further China-U.S. confrontation.

          So, some of the Japanese manufactures were making movements in response to the China-U.S. trade war that was played out so far.

2018年9月24日 星期一

4 years later the buying price of photo-voltaic generated electricity would be reduced by more than half


Recently the NHK News on-line reported the following:
太陽光発電の買い取り価格引き下げへ 4年後にも半額以下に
2018912 1950

経済産業省は電力会社が太陽光発電を買い取る際の制度を見直し、買い取り価格の水準を一段と引き下げる方針を決めました。早ければ4年後には買い取り価格を事業者向けで、今の半額以下に引き下げたいとしています。

これは12日、経済産業省が開いた審議会で決まったものです。

再生可能エネルギーは、国が毎年買い取り価格を決めて、各電力会社が長期間、事業者から買い取ることを義務づけていますが、太陽光発電では事業者間の競争を促そうと、2000キロワット以上発電できる大規模な事業者については、入札で買い取り価格を決めています。

しかし、依然として発電コストが高止まりしているとの指摘があることから、今後、入札の対象をより小規模な事業者にも拡大することになりました。

経済産業省は入札への参加が増えれば、さらに競争が促され、太陽光発電の買い取り価格の水準が引き下げられるとしていて、事業者向けでは、2022年度にも今の1キロワットアワー当たり、現在の18円から8.5円程度に、家庭向けでは2025年度にも現在の26円から11円程度に引き下げたいとしています。

電力会社が太陽光発電を買い取る際の費用は電気料金に上乗せされていて、経済産業省は制度の見直しによって発電コストを抑え、家庭や企業の負担軽減につなげたい考えです。

Translation

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry had decided a policy to review the system in which a power company bought photo-voltaic generated electricity in order to reduce its price level. It was assumed that towards the enterprises that provided photo-voltaic generated electricity, as early as 4 years later the present purchase price level would be reduced to less than half.

This was decided by a vetting meeting of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry held on the 12th.

The country decided the purchasing price every year, for an extended period, all power companies were required to buy from the enterprises. Regarding the large-scale enterprises which could generate electricity over 2000 kilowatts, in order to induce competition between enterprises that generated solar electricity, renewable energy were bought through tendering to decide the price.

But because there were comments that the generated electricity cost was still high, from now on the targeted tenderer would be expanded to cover smaller scale enterprises.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry assumed than when participation in tendering was expanded, more competition would be brought in, and that the standard buying price of the photo-voltaic generated electricity would go down. For enterprise, in fiscal year 2022 it would go down from the present 18 yen per 1 kilowatt hour to about 8.5 yen; and for homes in fiscal year 2025, it also would be reduced from the present 26 yen to about 11 yen.

The power company added the cost of buying solar energy to its electricity charges, and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry had the intention to suppress the cost in generating electricity by reviewing the system and linked it to the reduction of burden on households and enterprises.

          This is good news for electricity consumers in Japan.