2019年3月27日 星期三

My visit to Tokyo 2018 (19)

Roppongi Hills  (Source: Toyko Metro Guide)

The Bronze Spider
The High-End Shopping Center

On the second of November I visited Roppongi Hills. There is a multi-complex building designed for different kinds of activities e.g. moving showing and shopping. One of the most iconic symbol here is the bronze spider known as the Maman that was created by the talented late Louise Bourgeois. Often people gathered underneath its legs to take photos. There is an observatory on the Mori Tower roof top where one can enjoy a panoramic view of Tokyo after paying a small fee.
A Theater inside the Roppongi Hills
Roppongi Hills is a place to meet international artists and their works. During my visit, the Tokyo international film festival was being held. The region around Roppongi Hills has a lot of embassies coming from different countries. Perhaps because of this reason, there are also a few high-end restaurants here, include a Japanese restaurant and a Chinese restaurant. According to my memory, a Chinese restaurant was offering a lunch that costed about 10,000 yen. Many world-wide famous brand names also open their shops here, the price of their product is beyond the reach of ordinary people. For example, a coat can cost you 388,800 yen.
The price lists of some items
Some of the Clothing on Display

At the basement floor of the building, there is a public place. It is a large  area where one can do reading and eating comfortably using the chairs and tables available there.

2019年3月23日 星期六

In-flight "cleanliness" ranking, ANA tops the world

Recently CNN. co.jp Reported the following:

2019.03.19 Tue posted at 11:16 JST

スカイトラックスによる機内の清潔さランキングで全日空(ANA)がトップの評価を受けた/The Asahi Shimbun/Getty Images

(CNN) 英航空サービス調査会社スカイトラックスが世界の航空会社について機内の清潔さを比べた2018年版ランキングで、アジアの各社が上位を独占し、全日空(ANA)がトップの評価を受けた。







2010.03.19 Tue posted at 11:16 JST

(CNN) In the 2018 edition rankings done by a airline service research company Skytrax that aimed at comparing the in-flight cleanliness of airlines around the world, Asian companies monopolized the top and All Nippon Airways (ANA) received the highest evaluation.

Skytrax annually announced a comprehensive, sectoral ranking of airlines based on passenger satisfaction surveys. In the category of cleanliness, the seating area together with tables in the cabin, the carpet, the inner wall, the toilet, etc. were evaluated.

This year's No. 1 was ANA, No. 2 was Eva Air in Taiwan, No. 3 was Asiana Air in Korea; followed by Singapore Air, Japan Airlines, Cathay Pacific in Hong Kong, Qatar Airways, Swiss International Air Lines, Hainan Airlines in China, and Germany Lufthansa in the top 10 list. The top 30 companies were mostly occupied by Asian airlines.

Regional tops were South Africa Airlines in Africa, New Zealand Airlines in Australia Pacific, Air Canada in North America, and Azul Brazil Airlines in South America.

According to a survey by Travel Mass, a travel information site, in 2015 it examined the number of bacteria at five airports in the United States and four flights of two major airlines. In the samples collected from the locations, the result showed that retractable tables used for in-flight meals etc. had the highest number of bacteria.

Skytrax in its rankings announced last year put Singapore Airlines at the top, Qatar Airways 2nd, and ANA 3rd.

           I am wondering why Asian airlines could stay at the top of the list all the time.

2019年3月21日 星期四

A place for Ryotei politics -"Kinryu" in Akasaka is closing

Recently the Nihon Keizai Shimbun (日本経済新聞) Electronic Edition reported the following:
2019/3/20 6:30日本経済新聞 電子版







"Kinryu" (金龍), a Ryotei (料亭) [ a high-class Japanese style restaurant] in Akasaka (赤坂) which many politicians had visited would be closed by the end of March. It was opened in 1928 and had been operating for over 90 years with relocation and temporary closures. It was a venue for “Ryotei Politics” where the LDP Nakasone faction repeatedly met the YKK”s - the  late Deputy Governor Yamazaki, the late Secretary General Koichi Kato, and the former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

It was said that in the old days meetings of politicians from several factions were held on the same day, and they were guided into the rooms so as to avoid bumping into each other. Mr. Koizumi seemed to have also visited Kinryu since the start of this year.

Criticism over closed-room politics had gradually made politicians leaving the Ryotei, Ryotei also decreased entertaining private companies, thus the situation in which Ryotei operated had changed.

Kinryu had been temporarily closed due to renovation of its dilapidated building structure etc. but was reopened in 2009. The restaurant was continued in a new business style with bar counters and table seats so that even “first-time customers” would enjoy. Akinobu Akiba, the Ryotei owner who decided to close the restaurant recalled that " in the old days, both sides of the restaurant and at the front were 3 restaurants".

In Akasaka, which was near Nagata-cho where the Diet was located, there were more than 60 restaurants at its peak, but now there were just a few. Akiba-san said, " I do not care demolishing a long-lasting restaurant building; I have not decided what to do after closing the restaurant."

              So, in future when Japanese script writers of TV dramas or movies try to write about the political activities of the LDP Nakasone faction and the “YKK”s, they should be true to history in that “Kinryu" in Akasaka was once the venue where politics were discussed.

2019年3月19日 星期二

For the first time international patent applications from Asia was over 50%, China took the lead: an investigation by WIPO

Recently the  Nihon Keizai Shimbun (日本経済新聞) reported the following:
国際特許出願、アジアが初の5割超、中国がけん引 - 世界知的所有権機関(WIPO)調べ

2019/3/19 8:07









2019/3/19 8:07
 [Geneva = Rintaro Hosokawa] The presence of Asians in intellectual property rights was increasing. According to the number of international applications filed for patents in 2018 announced by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) on 19th, applications from Asian countries exceeded 50% for the first time. China's momentum in the area of ​​communications, artificial intelligence (AI), etc. was rapidly catching up the leader the United States. Although Japan also maintained its presence, the composition of two strong players of US and China in play a leading role in technological innovation had become clearer.

According to WIPO, the number of applications year-on-year worldwide had increased by 4% to 253,000, an increase for nine consecutive years, reaching a record high. Fifty one percent of applications were from Asia, followed by Europe 25% and North America 23%. Competition for the development of new technologies such as AI and automatic driving was intensifying; companies and researchers from various countries were rushing to secure their intellectual properties.

China ranked second with 53,345, an increase of 9 percent and approaching the leading US (56,142, a decrease of 1 percent). On the other hand, US applications in leading technological innovation were on the decline. Japan ranked third which was the same as the previous year with 49,702 cases that was a 3% increase. According to WIPO's General Secretary Gurry, "China is spending a huge amount on research and development on a country-led basis to advance technology development," and predicted that "China will lead the United States within two years if this goes on."

The momentum of Korea and India also stood out. India’s year to year growth rate reached 27 percent. In India, the starting-up of 7200 to 7700 companies in six years was noted, more and more companies were making full use of the latest technologies such as IoT whcich everything would be connected to the Internet.

By individual companies, among the top 10 companies six were from China, Japan and Korea. Following the previous year, Huawei Co., Ltd., the largest telecommunications equipment company in China, accounted for about 30% of all patents related to the next-generation high-speed communication "5G". Mitsubishi Electric, which ranked second, focused on developing control technologies for automobiles. Sony, which was ninth in 2017, dropped to 13th.

As for the number of applications from educational institutions, in the top 10 list, 9 came from universities in the US and China, such as the University of California and Shenzhen University. Japan's highest was Osaka University at 11th place, and Tokyo University was at 14th place.

WIPO also announced the number of international applications filed in 2018 respectively for "trademarks" that protected the names of products and services, and "designs" that protected the shape of products. Trademarks increased 6% to 61,200, and the United States ranked first by country, second was Germany, and third was China. Designs was 5404, up 4%.

China had set a national strategy the "Made in China 2025" and focused on fostering semiconductor related companies. In response, the US Trump administration criticized China's infringement of intellectual properties and  governmental supports in forms of subsidies etc. The US’s sense of vigilance towards China was strengthening as the latter was threatening the supremacy of the former by rapidly putting resources on technological revolution.

              It seems that China is doing well in making new innovations. I am interested in knowing how the Trump administration could rectify China's infringement of intellectual properties and giving out governmental supports to companies in forms of subsidies etc. Probably, all these will be touched on in the trade negotiations now under way between the US and China.

2019年3月17日 星期日

Italy Turns Its Back On Russian Gas

Recently the Yahoo Finance reported the following:
Yahoo Finance
Italy Turns Its Back On Russian Gas
Oilprice.com  OilPrice.com, Oilprice.com Sat, Mar 16 8:00 AM PDT

Eastern Mediterranean Gas 

New natural gas discoveries in the Eastern Mediterranean might be a boon for the European Union’s efforts to move away from dependence on Russian energy supplies. In the current complex energy game between Europe and Russia, Italy could play an important role as an entry point for gas deliveries from Egypt, Israel and Cyprus, despite the current Italian government’s largely sympathetic stance toward the Kremlin (see EDM, April 10, 2018; June 6, 2018).

On February 28, the United States energy giant ExxonMobil announced it discovered natural gas off the southwestern coast of Cyprus (Exxonmobil.com, February 28). The new find adds to other giant offshore gas fields discovered in the region such as Aphrodite and Calypso in Cypriot waters, Israel’s Leviathan and Tamar, and Egypt’s Zohr (Iai.it, February 23).

By the end of the year, the governments of Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Israel are expected to sign a multilateral agreement to build the EastMed pipeline, which promises to bring a natural gas bonanza to Europe (Edison.it, accessed on March 4). Russia is currently the largest single provider of gas to the EU, and supplies from the Eastern Mediterranean basin are seen as a viable alternative to state-owned Russian gas monopoly Gazprom. Currently, Russia accounts for around 40 percent of the European bloc’s natural gas imports (Ec.europa.eu, November 19, 2018).

The planned EastMed gas corridor is projected to cost $7 billion and is backed by the European Commission. It is designed to initially transport 10 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas per year from offshore reserves in Cyprus and Israel to Greece and, thanks to its connection with the planned Poseidon pipeline, onward to southern Italy.

Yet, critics say the project is too expensive and faces serious technical challenges (Cyprus Mail, February 13, 2019; Bruegel.org, May 10, 2017). Furthermore, EastMed is opposed by Turkey, which has territorial disputes with the internationally-recognized Cypriot government in Nicosia, including competing claims to waters around the island.

Up to this moment Russia is the largest single gas provider to the EU, Russia accounts for around 40 percent of the European bloc’s natural gas imports and Germany is replying on Russia for energy supply. If EastMed can become a reality, I think the influence of Russia over some European countries will be reduced.

2019年3月16日 星期六

My visit to Tokyo 2018 (18)

Ikebukuro Station
Shops in Ikebukuro

On the first of November I visited Ikebukuro (池袋). As shown in a map of the Tokyo Travel Guide copied below, there are at least three different train stations of 3 different Metro lines that stop at Ikebukuro, respectively they are the F09 (Fukutoshin line) (副都心線), the M25 (Marunouchi Line) (丸の内線) and the Y09 (Yurakucho Line) (有楽町線). So, I think Ikebukuro is one of the most conveniently located district in Tokyo. In Ikebukuro, one popular tourist attraction is the Sunshine City, as introduced in the Tourist Guide.
Location map of Ikebukuro (source: TTG)
The Tokyo Travel Guide highlights the Sunshine City as a good tourist attraction. It is located at the east of the Metro stations. Inside this City there is the Sunshine Aquarium. 

My feeling is that Ikebukuro is a busy shopping district with big department stores. I visited the Seibu department store on that day. I am particularly interested in visiting its basement floors as there was a supermarket and a fresh food market with lots of merchandise on display.
Seibu Department Store basement
Seibu Department Store

Leaving the Seibu department store, I visited a Japanese restaurant to have some snacks and I enjoyed the shrimp tempura very much. By the way, it is interesting to note that there were three McDonald’s in the vicinity. So, if you want to date someone at a McDonald’s, be sure to say which McDonald’s is in your mind.
On of the McDonald's
Shrimp tempura

2019年3月12日 星期二

US will soon threaten to topple Saudi Arabia as the world's top oil exporter: IEA

Two days ago the Yahoo News On-line reported the following:
Yahoo Finance
US will soon threaten to topple Saudi Arabia as the world's top oil exporter: IEA
CNBC  Tom DiChristopher, CNBC 8 hours ago

The United States became the world's biggest oil producer in 2018, and over the next five years, the nation will take aim at becoming the top oil exporter, according to the International Energy Agency.

IEA forecasts U.S. exports of crude oil and petroleum products will nearly double, hitting about 9 million barrels per day by 2024. At that level, the U.S. will surpass Russia's shipments and threaten to unseat Saudi Arabia, the current top exporter.

The forecast from IEA comes just weeks after the U.S. exported a record 3.6 million barrels per day of crude oil. The country is also a major exporter of petroleum products, including refined fuels like gasoline.

Those shipments will surge in the coming years as crude production from the nation's shale fields continues to boom, IEA says in its annual five-year oil outlook. The Paris-based adviser to oil consumers and producers sees U.S. crude output — already at a record 12 million bpd — growing by another 4 million bpd through 2024.

"The second wave of the U.S. shale revolution is coming," IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said in a statement. "It will see the United States account for 70 percent of the rise in global oil production and some 75 percent of the expansion in LNG trade over the next five years. This will shake up international oil and gas trade flows, with profound implications for the geopolitics of energy."

Pulling ahead of Russia and Saudi Arabia in exports would further erode their influence in the oil market.

Saudi Arabia and Russia have formed an alliance in recent years, coordinating oil production among OPEC and other oil-producing countries. The so-called OPEC+ alliance has capped output for much of the last two years, helping to boost oil prices after a punishing downturn.

Most of the output growth from OPEC over the next five years will come from Iraq, IEA says. The group thinks the country will be the world's third-biggest source of new supply, helping to offset production declines in Iran and Venezuela, both of which are grappling with U.S. sanctions on their state-controlled energy industries.

On Monday, Birol said the IEA's long-standing effort to assess the oil market without much regard for geopolitics is becoming increasingly difficult.

"We are seeing that geopolitical concerns are casting an increasing shadow on the oil markets today and tomorrow," he said during a press conference at CERAWeek by IHS Markit, a major energy conference in Houston.

The world will need new supply, in IEA's view. The group sees no signs that growing oil demand will peak in the coming years. It forecasts the world's appetite for oil will increase at an average 1.2 million bpd over the next five years, roughly in line with recent growth trends.

While the group sees electric cars and fuel efficiency sapping demand for gasoline, IEA thinks rising petrochemicals and jet fuel consumption will offset any weakness at the pump.

In addition to the U.S. and Iraq, IEA sees countries like Brazil, Norway and Guyana meeting rising demand for oil.

In a major shift, the U.S. became the biggest source of oil demand growth in the world, overtaking China, long the engine of global commodity consumption. The robust U.S. consumption was driven by strong economic growth and high demand in the petrochemicals industry, which processes fossil fuels and by-products into chemicals like plastics.

"US oil consumption [growth] last year was about a half-million barrels per day, and as such it was the highest in all the countries around," Birol said on Monday. "It was the first time that the United States in the last two decades was the No. 1 driver of oil consumption growth."

The U.S. achieved the feat against a backdrop of slowing global economic growth, particularly in China.

My Translation
CNBC Tom DiChristopherCNBC 8小時前

據國際能源署(International Energy Agency)稱,美國在2018年成為世界上最大的石油生國,未來五年,美國將成為最大的石油出口國。



國際能源署在其五年石油年度展望中表示,由於該國頁岩油田的原油量持續增長,未來幾年這出貨量將激增。這家總部位於巴黎的石油消費者和生商顧問認為,到2024年,美國的原油 - 已達到創紀錄的1200萬桶/ - 将会再增加400萬桶/天。


在出口方面將領先俄羅斯和沙特阿拉伯, 并進一步削弱他們在石油市場的影響力。

沙特阿拉伯和俄羅斯近年來已經結成聯盟,協調石油輸出國組織和其他石油生國之間石油生。所謂石油輸出國組織+其他聯盟, 在過去兩年的大部分時間裡都限制了量,幫助提高在經歷了嚴重的經濟衰退後的油價。



他在休斯頓由IHS Markit舉行的一次重要能源會議CERAWeek新聞發布會上 “我們看到地緣政治問題正在給今天和明天的石油市場帶來越來越大的影響”







My Comments
The fact that the United States will account for 70 percent of the rise in global oil production and some 75 percent of the expansion in LNG trade over the next five years would surely change the global geopolitics of energy. I think the US’s ability to become the world’s leading oil exporter will give it another trump card in exerting global influence.

2019年3月9日 星期六


Recently the Yahoo News On-line reported the following:

Vietnam says fishing boat rammed and sunk by Chinese ship
Associated Press  HAU DINH, Associated Press Fri, Mar 8 3:15 AM PST

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — A Vietnamese fishing boat capsized after being rammed by a Chinese vessel in the South China Sea's contested Paracel Islands, a Vietnamese official said Friday. China said its boat came upon the fishing vessel after it started sinking and sought help for the crew.

The boat was fishing near Discovery Reef when the incident occurred Wednesday, said the Vietnamese official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the press. The Paracel archipelago is claimed by both Vietnam and China, which took control of the islands in 1974.

An online report by the newspaper Tuoi Tre said the five crewmen aboard the Vietnamese boat clung to the bow of their upturned vessel for two hours until they were rescued by another Vietnamese fishing boat.

The official Chinese Communist Party newspaper reported that a Chinese government vessel received a distress call from a Vietnamese fishing boat and sailed to the area, where it found the boat partly sunk. The online report, quoting Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang, said the Chinese ship immediately contacted China's maritime search and rescue center to dispatch a rescue vessel and the five Vietnamese fishermen were rescued.

Lu said nothing about a vessel, Chinese or otherwise, ramming the Vietnamese ship other than to cite the original Vietnamese report. He also didn't specifically say that the Chinese ship rescued the fishermen.

China's territorial claims extend far into the South China Sea, and it maintains a robust maritime presence that includes driving away non-Chinese fishing boats. Its coast guard performs most such actions, assisted by ships of the maritime militia — ostensibly civilian fishing boats that can swiftly be mobilized. There have been several previously reported incidents of Vietnamese fishing boats being attacked by Chinese vessels.

China has also built up reefs and islands, transforming them into military installations to further its claim to the disputed waterway and its resources, a major point of regional tension. A standoff between the countries in 2014 after China parked an oil rig near the Paracel Islands sparked deadly riots in Vietnam.

(Associated Press writer Christopher Bodeen in Beijing contributed to this story)

My Chinese translation
越南河AP - 越南官員周五表示,一艘越南漁船在南中國海有爭議的西沙群島被中國船隻撞後傾覆。中國說當船開始下沉及船員尋求幫助時他們来到這


青年報 (Tuoi Tre) 的在線版報導稱,越南船上的五名船員緊緊抓住他們上翹船隻的船頭兩小時,直到他們被另一艘越南漁船救起。



中國的領土主張遠遠延伸到南中國海,並保持在這海域作強勢出現,包括趕走非中國漁船。其海岸警衛隊在海上民兵的船隻協助下執行大多數此趕走類行動 - 他們明顯地是可以迅速動員起來的民用漁船。此前已有幾次越南漁船被中國船隻襲擊事件。

中國還建立了珊瑚礁和島嶼,將它們轉變為軍事設施,以進一步宣稱擁有有爭議的水道及其資源,這是地區緊張局勢的一個重點。因中國在西沙群島附近停放石油鑽井平台後所引發的2014年两國對峙, 曾引起越南發生致命騷亂。

My comments
              On and off, Vietnam reported to the world that its fishing boats were rammed by Chinese vessels in the South China Sea's contested Paracel Islands. Obviously, China is having territorial disputes on sea respectively with Japan, the Philippines, and Vietnam concurrently. I hope they can solve the disagreement by peaceful means eventually.