Media August 2014

News in brief

Bilateral missile study takes off

Tokyo and London will team up to develop missile technology for fighter jets, Japan Today reported on 17 July.

The initial emphasis will be on how current Japanese technology could enhance missiles developed in the UK. A Japanese defence official said that bringing together the finest technologies from both countries could lead to the creation of more sophisticated products.

The research is linked to a project called Meteor, which is developing missiles for Eurofighter planes. It is being led by Franco–British missile maker Matra BAe Dynamics, and involves other European firms.

Operator set to build theme park

Merlin Entertainment’s decision to open a Legoland in Nagoya will make Japan the second country in Asia to host the popular theme park, the Financial Times reported on 30 June.

The UK-based operator, which is the world’s biggest after Disney, will invest about ¥9.2bn in the project—to cost ¥32bn in total—over the next three years.

Merlin Entertainment said Legoland was a good fit with the market, given the success of other similar attractions and familiarity with the Lego brand. Local authorities have agreed to improve roads to access the park.

London more expensive for expats

Five UK cities have shot up the rankings for the most expensive cities in the world for expats, while Tokyo fell from third place to seventh, The Daily Mail reported on 10 July.

London—previously ranked 25th in the poll—is now at number 12. Birmingham, Aberdeen, Glasgow and Belfast have also become more costly than in previous years, thought to be the result of soaring house prices and the strength of the pound.

The survey, by Mercer LLC, compares the cost of housing, transport, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment in 211 cities around the world, measuring currency movements against the US dollar.

Footwear firm takes first step into market

A Wellington brand has signed a venture with Itochu Corporation in a bid to enter the Japanese market, The Daily Telegraph reported on 4 July.

Founded in 1856, customers of Scottish Hunter Boot Ltd. include members of the royal family. Now, the fashionable firm plans to hit shops in Japan with its 2015 spring/summer collection.

CEO James Seuss said the partnership reflects the firm’s commitment to the Japanese market and recognition of the potential growth for the brand here.

Interactive toy calms mental health patients

A new study on the effectiveness of a robotic seal—created by inventor Takanori Shibata—in a dementia care setting is being carried out in Sheffield, The Guardian reported on 15 July.

Paro, who has some artificial intelligence and can waddle when stroked, is being used in National Health Service units to help manage residents’ distressed and disturbed behaviour, while encouraging social interaction.

Of the 3,000 such seals worldwide, most are in Japan and are being used to befriend earthquake survivors, with around 10 currently in the UK. Initial results of the joint project, involving Sheffield’s Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Sheffield, are due out next month.

Visitors travel to see behind-the-scenes life

The popularity of British TV dramas has caused a surge in Japanese visitors to the UK, The Daily Mail reported on 24 July.

Travel experts say viewers have a desire to see the settings of, and lifestyle portrayed in, programmes like Sherlock—now airing its third series—and Downton Abbey, which began in May.

According to a travel industry seminar in London, a film about Paddington Bear set to be released later this year, could be the biggest draw of all.

Meanwhile, the scheduled September launch of the soap opera Massan, about the life of a Japanese whisky founder and his Scottish wife, is also expected to have an impact on tourism figures.