Ching Li Tor

Have been a journalist/writer/reporter for my whole career, starting from 2002, and have been in various mediums from newspaper, to newswires, magazines and TV reporting and producing. Keen practitioner of kendo but believes the pen is mightier than the sword.

A Recession-Dodging Stock

JUST AS THE AGRICULTURAL RAW materials that it supplies are essential to the global diet, Olam International is proving to be an important ingredient in diversified equity portfolios. As Olam Chief Executive Sunny Verghese describes his Singapore-based company (OLAM.Singapore) to Barron's, it is "fairly recession-proof." "From previous commodity cycles, I don't expect a recessionary situation to affect demand materially," says Verghese, who set up the agricultural-supply-chain management compan

Culver of Starbucks Asia On Getting Started: 'Be Passionate'

Starbucks Corp.'s first foray outside coffee-quaffing North America was in tea-sipping Japan back in 1996, when the concept of ordering takeout coffee was foreign and drinking while walking along the street considered rude. To break into the market, Starbucks strategists observed customers at its first outlet on a back street in Tokyo's Ginza district and soon caught on that women with disposable incomes would become the main patrons...

Tokyo Exchange Chief Aims To Make It a Choice Destination

Atsushi Saito is a man on a mission: to give the Tokyo Stock Exchange an extreme makeover and transform it into an alluring destination for companies, especially from overseas, to list their shares. It's an ambitious goal, given the recent turmoil that has roiled all the world's financial markets, including Tokyo's. "We desperately need investors to prefer listing here. We know what needs to be done but it will take one to two...

For Nidec founder, preserving jobs is paramount

Shigenobu Nagamori, founder and president of Japanese precision-motor manufacturer Nidec Corp., can be said to be both a traditionalist and a trailblazer when it comes to business. Mr. Nagamori's unorthodox track record includes executing the first cross-border merger and acquisition deal by a Japanese corporation, and subsequently exploiting M&As as a tool for growth. Nidec last year also became the first Japanese corporation to do the unthinkable when it launched a hostile takeover bid for el

To Enrich and Be Enriched by Way of the Sword

Kendo, the ancient Japanese martial art of fencing with long bamboo swords, is attracting increased attention from foreigners even as its popularity wanes among the Japanese. The spread of kendo abroad has been driven in part by 65-year-old Akira Kubo, the sensei who directs Kyumeikan Kendo Dojo, whose martial arts academies extend from Tokyo to China and Hong Kong, the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Israel, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan...

Fast Retailing Lives Up to Name With Global Gains

Despite the economic gloom brought on by Japan's shrinking domestic consumption, Fast Retailing Co. has had no trouble living up to its name: domestic same-store sales in May of its Uniqlo chain shot up 18.3%, extending on-year gains to seven consecutive months. Japanese consumers -- and for that matter, tourists -- can't seem to get enough of Uniqlo's inexpensive but high-quality products, from undergarments and T-shirts to tops, jumpers and jeans in a plethora of colors. But being dominant in

Nippon Paper Pins Growth on Overseas Markets

Yoshio Haga took over as president of Nippon Paper Group last year during a heated controversy involving the company's overstatement of the used-paper content in its recycled-paper products. His predecessor, Masatomo Nakamura, 68 years old, had stepped down after taking full responsibility for involvement in the industrywide scandal by Nippon Paper, Japan's second largest paper maker by revenue. Corporate fire-fighting is nothing new to Mr. Haga, 59, who has been with Nippon Paper for more than

The Importance of Acting with Noblesse Oblige

Hiroshi Kimura, Japan Tobacco Inc.'s president and chief executive, had to start last year's annual report with an apology. It wasn't about the sale of tobacco-related products but rather for pesticide-laced gyoza, or dumplings, imported from China and sold by the group's JT Foods subsidiary. That was just one of the challenges thrust his way since Mr. Kimura, now 56 years old, took the helm in 2006, in addition to declining domestic...

J-Power's CEO Emphasizes Hands-On Experience

Like most Japanese CEOs of his generation, Yoshihiko Nakagaki is still in his first job, or rather, company -- the Electric Power Development Co., better known as J-Power. And like many Japanese companies, J-Power has come under criticism from overseas investors for its corporate governance, its low dividends and cross-shareholdings. Earlier this month, however, J-Power ended a long dispute with its largest shareholder, The Children's Investment Fund, when it announced the buyback of the activi

Japan, Taiwan poised for new era in ties

The handover of power in Taiwan on May 20 will mark the dawn of a new era in Japan-Taiwan relations and, with it, a change in the dynamics of North-east Asian geopolitics in Tokyo's favour, analysts have said. Even before Taiwanese President-elect Tsai Ing-wen led her pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party to victory in the January presidential and legislative polls, reported rumours of a chance meeting between her and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe when she visited Tokyo last autumn

Enter the En'tour'preneurs

Never before in the 58-year history of Tokyo Kyumeikan Kendo Dojo had there been such an occurrence: Two young Japanese men making separate appointments to introduce themselves to the dojo master, coincidentally on the same day, to make the same unusual request. They were at the kendo dojo or academy to ask permission to use its training space regularly to conduct samurai "taiken" (or "experience") tours for their new ventures as entrepreneurs, or en"tour"preneurs, if you will. The slightly be

In pursuit of Japan's young voters

It was a sweltering summer's day in July 2014 and then­high school student Shunichiro Kobayashi was meant to be cramming for his university entrance exams at home. Instead, the 18-year-old was out on the streets in the middle of Tokyo shouting at the Prime Minister's Office, "Abe must go!", while waving a "No War, Just Peace!" placard. Together with some hundreds of demonstrators, Mr Kobayashi was protesting against the draft Bill for a "national defence military" adopted earlier that month by

Japan 2020: Robot revolution

TOKYO • Come 2020 when the Olympic Games are held in Tokyo, drone deliveries, driverless taxis, and home robots will be the norm in one part of Japan. Visitors will see a beeline of drones in the sky in Chiba prefecture, just an hour away from the capital by train. At the designated drone zone, to be called Drone City, there will be around 200 of these flying robots whizzing through the air across a 10km distance at any one time, delivering goods from warehouses in Tokyo Bay to apartments that

To many in Japan, Christmas is about KFC and romance

Christmas and the New Year come early in Japan, but for very different reasons than the nation's famous penchant for punctuality. First, for Noel, everybody celebrates Christmas Eve but ignores Christmas Day itself. Not only does Dec 24 come right after the Emperor's birthday on Dec 23, which is a public holiday, but it also marks the end of the academic year and the start of winter holidays. Just a few days later, on Dec 29, is when the New Year holidays start, as factories and offices usuall

Fight to save tattoo art

Tattoos have long been linked with the underworld, or yakuza, in Japan, as a mark of gang membership. But now, a small but growing group of lawyers, academics and other fans of tattoo art are lobbying to save the traditional - if somewhat subversive - industry from being extinguished by a robust interpretation of a medical law by the investigating authorities in Osaka. The supporters claim that the fight is not just for the freedom to be a tattoo artist, but for freedom itself. Around two yea

Mask appeal: The addiction of surgical masks in Japan

Spring has come - and with it, teary eyes and runny noses for those with hay fever, as pollen is released into the air with each gust of wind that comes with the change in seasons. This is the start of the peak sales season for surgical masks in Japan, which help to alleviate the cold-like symptoms of pollen allergy. Anyone visiting the country at this time of the year will find it hard to walk on the streets and not meet anyone wearing a mask. But if you stay in Japan long enough, you would
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