Japan firms fall woefully short of meeting government goals on women in management – Reuters poll

TOKYO (Reuters) – About one-fifth of Japanese companies have no female managers and most say women account for less than 10% of management, a Reuters monthly poll found, highlighting the struggle for the government’s “womenomics” drive to make headway.

FILE PHOTO: A woman wearing a protective face mask uses an escalator in a quiet business district on the first working day after the Golden Week holiday, following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Tokyo, Japan, May 7,2020.REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

The survey results come as Japan is seen to delay its target this year to raise the share of women in leadership posts to 30% as part of the government’s campaign to empower women, dubbed “womenomics”, and cope with Japan’s ageing population.

The Reuters Corporate Survey, conducted Sept. 29-Oct. 8, found 71% of Japanese firms said women accounted for less than 10% of management, while 17% had no female managers at all.

Asked how much scope there was to increase female managers, 55% said by around 10%, a quarter said by about 20%, one in 10 firms said by around 30%, while 5% saw no room for that.

“Regardless of sex, we should hire talented people and promote them on their merits, rather than putting priority on the proportion,” a chemicals maker manager wrote in the survey.

A paper and pulp maker manager wrote: “We hire more female new graduates than male, but many female hires tend to leave the company after a while, making it hard to raise female managers.”

The survey, conducted for Reuters by Nikkei Research, canvassed 485 large and midsize non-financial firms. About 240 firms answered the questions on condition of anonymity.

The results were similar to the previous poll taken in 2018.

Japan’s global ranking on gender parity fell to 121st out of 153 countries in a

Big Money, Day Traders Both Love Japan Tech Darling Mercari

(Bloomberg) — Mercari Inc., the online flea-market operator that has become one of Japan’s most closely watched tech ventures, is closing in on new highs as the stock has drawn both big and small money.

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The company has already grown to command the largest weighting on Japan’s startup-focused Mothers index as individual investors buy in — of some 230 of the largest Japanese companies with market value of over $5 billion, Mercari has the third-highest percentage of individual shareholders. Then on Oct. 7, Los Angeles-based money manager Capital Group declared it had taken a 5% stake in Mercari.

That’s helping propel the stock to near the 6,000 yen mark it hit just once, on the day it listed to great fanfare in 2018. After a rapid decline, the stock has worked its way back up this year, fueled by its first quarterly operating profit. That’s been helped by the coronavirus pandemic, which has boosted usage of its online marketplace where users buy and sell items.



graphical user interface, chart, histogram: Mercari shares are nearly back to the post-IPO pop


© Bloomberg
Mercari shares are nearly back to the post-IPO pop

Mercari fell 0.2% in Tokyo on Tuesday. A gain of just 3.3% in the next trading session would see it match the 6,000 yen high.

Mercari is something of a rarity in Japan, which has few tech startups that have swelled to the size of the $8.6 billion company, according to Ikuo Mitsui, a fund manager at Aizawa Securities Co., who is still bullish on the firm after the share surge.

“In Japan there are very few companies like this, light on assets and not requiring large-scale capex,” he said. That’s why many are piling onto the stock, he added.

Video: Twilio CEO on the company’s stock jump and market opportunity (CNBC)

Twilio CEO on the company’s stock jump and market opportunity

Japan start-ups see hope on horizon

Hampered by cautious investors and a rigid corporate culture, Japan has produced just a handful of major start-ups. But there are signs that could be changing, industry insiders say.

Despite being the world’s third-largest economy, Japan is far behind the United States and China when it comes to producing “unicorns” — new comapnies valued at more than $1 billion in private funding.

There are nearly 500 unicorns worldwide, from Silicon Valley rental giant Airbnb to Bytedance, TikTok’s Beijing-based parent company.

But only four of these firms are Japanese, according to the latest list compiled by US analytics platform CB Insights.

“Relative to its GDP, Japan should have at least 50 to 60 unicorns,” said Gen Isayama, head of World Innovation Lab, a California-based company that provides advice and capital to start-ups, with a focus on Japan.

“In Japan, innovation efforts have always been led by big corporations,” he explained, with banks “more willing to loan money to these corporates rather than to invest in start-up companies.”

Japan’s venture-capital market, worth around $4 billion last year, is much smaller than the United States’ at $137 billion and China’s at $52 billion, according to several studies.

But even Japan’s own SoftBank Group, which has invested heavily in tech firms, tends to fund overseas prospects, including Uber and Alibaba, and has barely touched smaller homegrown companies.

– ‘Protected’ –

That lack of private capital for expansion can force Japanese start-ups to go public much sooner than their counterparts elsewhere.

But “if you go public too small you can never grow”, warned Isayama.

“In Japan, the standards for listing are very low, so there are a lot of tiny corporations, and many of them are satisfied with that,” said Takeshi Aida, founder and CEO of RevComm, a Tokyo-based AI start-up that hopes to launch

Five Eyes governments, India, and Japan make new call for encryption backdoors

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Five Eyes cyber panel at CYBERUK 19


Image: ZDNet/CBSi

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Cyberwar and the Future of Cybersecurity

Today’s security threats have expanded in scope and seriousness. There can now be millions — or even billions — of dollars at risk when information security isn’t handled properly.

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Members of the intelligence-sharing alliance Five Eyes, along with government representatives for Japan and India, have published a statement over the weekend calling on tech companies to come up with a solution for law enforcement to access end-to-end encrypted communications.

The statement is the alliance’s latest effort to get tech companies to agree to encryption backdoors.

The Five Eyes alliance, comprised of the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, have made similar calls to tech giants in 2018 and 2019, respectively.

Just like before, government officials claim tech companies have put themselves in a corner by incorporating end-to-end encryption (E2EE) into their products.

If properly implemented, E2EE lets users have secure conversations — may them be chat, audio, or video — without sharing the encryption key with the tech companies.

Representatives from the seven governments argue that the way E2EE encryption is currently supported on today’s major tech platforms prohibits law enforcement from investigating crime rings, but also the tech platforms themselves from enforcing their own terms of service.

Signatories argue that “particular implementations of encryption technology” are currently posing challenges to law enforcement investigations, as the tech platforms themselves can’t access some communications and provide needed data to investigators.

This, in turn, allows a safe haven for criminal activity and puts the safety of “highly vulnerable members of our societies like sexually exploited children” in danger, officials argued.

“We call on technology companies to work with governments to take the following steps, focused on reasonable, technically feasible solutions,” the

Sony Makes A Big PS5 Change In Japan, Swapping The Circle And X Buttons’ Functions

If you’ve ever played the Japanese version of a PlayStation game–or many games in the PS1’s library, including Metal Gear Solid–you were likely surprised to find that the menu buttons were reversed from normal. That’s because in Japan, the function of the X and Circle buttons are usually flipped, meaning that Circle confirms or selects, whereas X cancels. For the upcoming PS5, however, Sony is finally going to change the Japanese buttons to the Western standard, but not everyone’s happy about it.

According to Famitsu, this change will primarily affect the PS5’s user interface, but not the Japanese versions of PS5 games, which will likely lead to much confusion for many Japanese players who have “Circle for confirm” permanently etched in their brains. In the past, some PlayStation games have given players the option of changing their menu controls to their preferred standard, but it’s unclear if Japanese players will be able to change it in the PS5’s system settings.

This new information comes as several Japanese media sources have gotten hands-on time with the PS5. According to these sources, the PS5 is quite tall compared to existing game consoles, so players may have to move their setup around to get it to fit. The system is also surprisingly quiet compared to the original PS4, which–I can personally attest–whirrs like a jet engine when you’re playing demanding games like God of War or Ghost of Tsushima.