Media January 2012

News in Brief

EV Maker Plans Sales Drive
Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. expects to double sales of its Leaf electric car to full capacity of 40,000 this year, the Financial Times reported on 12 December. Nissan, which plans to produce the vehicle at its plants in Sunderland and in the US, says it sold more than 20,000 Leafs—mostly in Japan and the US—between the car’s debut late in December 2010 and late November 2011.

Mr. Men Rights Sold
Hello Kitty owner Sanrio Co. has bought the licensing rights to the Mr. Men children’s book series from a UK firm, reported on 8 December. Sanrio will buy the character’s animated film development and production unit from London-based Chorion Ltd. for an undisclosed sum. It will be the first character at Sanrio that the firm did not create. Sanrio wants to rely less on Hello Kitty, which earns about 80% percent of its licensing revenue, analysts said. The price of Sanrio’s stock more than doubled in 2011.

Midlands to Make New Hatchback
Toyota Motor Corporation will build its new C-series hatchback in Derbyshire, creating up to 1,500 jobs within two years, the Daily International Automotive Affairs e-newspaper reported on 24 December.

The Burnaston plant will be the only site in Europe to make the next Toyota Auris family car. The firm will invest more than £100mn, bringing its total investment in the UK to more than £2bn over 22 years.

Team GB Selects Envoy
A former employee of the British Embassy Tokyo has been selected for Team GB at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the embassy website reported on 12 December.

Diplomat and marathon runner Mara Yamauchi, who came sixth at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, recently visited Japan and came third in the Yokohama Womens’ Marathon, meeting the required time to be selected for the Olympics squad. Both her former employment here and selection of a Japanese spouse reflect her deep affection for Japan.

Rakugo for Disaster Zone Survivors
A British rakugo star has been visiting the Tohoku region to give comic storytelling and balloon art performances for people affected by the 11 March earthquake and tsunami the Mainichi Shimbun reported on 10 December.

Diane Kichijitsu, whose real name is Diane Orrett, began visiting disaster shelters in Iwate and Miyagi prefectures in April, when she flew there with 2,000 balloons. Kichijitsu said she felt the sadness of the quake victims in their words. “I hope to make them feel better by adding a little chat and laugh to their life”, she said.

Kichijitsu became fascinated by Japanese culture when she first visited Japan as a backpacker 21 years ago. Then, six years later, she dived into the world of rakugo after meeting rakugo performer Katsura Shijaku, who died in 1999. Kichijitsu now has a collection of 230 kimono and even teaches Japanese people how to wear them.

London Adopts “Free” Products Idea
A new retail phenomenon, borrowed from Japan, that allows customers to walk away with “free” products is to be launched in Britain, the Daily Mail reported on 15 December.

For a nominal annual membership fee of £60, visitors to SampleTrend’s central London store can try anything on the shelves, and all of the products can be taken home without charge. Participants are entitled to enter the shop once a month and help themselves to a total of £250 worth of goods during the year.

The only condition is that shoppers are required to complete a simple questionnaire about each product they try. Known as “try-vertising”, the concept allows manufacturers to test products and receive consumer feedback before launching the goods on the open market.

New Packaging for Ice Cream
Häagen-Dazs will introduce new packaging in the UK, after a similar move proved successful in Japan, the Talking Retail website reported on 8 December. “Implementation in other markets, such as Japan, has shown positive results, indicating an increased interest in purchasing amongst consumers”, the firm has said.

A more modern premium and shopper-friendly design helps shoppers recognise different flavours with eye-catching and enlarged ingredient photographs. This is expected to help increase visibility and appeal, according to the firm.

Southampton to Sign Hiroshima Striker
Tadanari Lee will sign for Southampton, the Asahi Shimbun reported on 4 January. The Sports Nippon reported the 26-year-old would join on a two-and-a-half-year contract with an annual salary of £800,000, almost twice his Sanfrecce Hiroshima salary.

Southampton are top of the second-tier English Championship, and if they are promoted to the Premier League this season, Lee’s pay will shoot up to £1.2mn, the sports daily reported on its website. Lee will sign after getting a visa and undergoing a medical, reports said. “I want to play in the Premier League, the world’s best”, Lee was quoted as saying before leaving Japan.

Born to Korean parents in Japan, Lee scored the winning goal as Japan lifted a record fourth Asian Cup in 2011. Jiji Press said he was expected to train with Southampton during his initial 10-day stay with the team.