The New Context Conference 2008

We are holding The New Context Conference 2008 again this year, and it's admission free!

Please check out the website, register and be there to meet all the cool folks! This year's theme is "Open Business Network - Backbone of the internet venture business –".

*****Basic Info*****

Dates: November 5th and 6th, 2008
Venue: Ebisu Garden Hall/Room, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

*****11/5 Program*****

==10:00-11:00 Keynote by Reid Hoffman==

“How LinkedIn and Facebook are developing Open Business Network”

Reid is the founder of business network service "LinkedIn" as well as an investor of "Facebook".

==11:15-12:30 “The new business dynamic content distribution brings”==

Jean-Marie Hullot, founder of fotonauts
Eric Young, CEO of iKnow
Mitsuhiro Takemura, professor of Sapporo City University
Tetsuya Mizuguchi, game creator, producer of Genki Rockets

==13:30-15:00 “Electronic commerce across the border”==

Matt Flannery, founder of Kiva
Teruhide Sato, CEO of Netprice
Hitoshi Ushiku, CEO of e-context

==15:30-17:00 “Silicon Valley Connect in Tokyo”==

Ellen Levy, VP of LinkedIn
Jiro Kokuryo, professor at Keio University
Mikiyasu Yasuda, COO of Kakaku.com

*****11/6 Program*****

==10:00-11:00 Keynote by Tsuyoshi Natsuno==

“The future of mobile internet and video streaming service”

Natsuno-san was one of the core members creating business models for NTT Docomo's i-mode service. He is currently a professor at Keio University as well as advisor at Dwango.

==11:00-12:30 “Mash-up as a key for the rapid progress of internet consumer service”==

Tsuyoshi Natsuno, advisor of Dwango
Andrew “bunnie” Huang, CTO of Chumby
Loic Le Meur, founder of Seesmic
Lisa Sounio, founder of Dopplr

==13:30-15:00 “The future of advertisement with Open Network”==

Spencer Hyman, COO of Last.fm
Marko Ahtisaari, responsible for the brand and design of Blyk
Hiroyuki Watanabe, Nikkei BP

==15:30-17:00 “What’s the next big thing?”==
Joi and other speakers


Blog Action Day 2008

I am joining Blog Action Day 2008.

Today, 10/15 is called "Blog Action Day", when bloggers around the world unite to discuss a single issue - poverty.

If you are not familiar with what it is, please visit Blog Action Day 2008 website, and join the event.

There are 3 ways for you to participate:
1) Publish: write about poverty on your blog, and your thoughts on solutions.
2) Donate: Donate to a micro-finance loan or charity.
3) Promote: Spread the word!

1) Thinking about poverty in Japan (as "what's happening in Japan" is the core theme of this blog)

When we use the word "poverty", we usually refer to developing countries where there are starvation, homeless people, etc.

This is the Human Development Index chart, and you can see that Japan is one of the most developed nation in the world.

* This chart is licensed under public domain

I have seen a TV program that shows how convenience stores throws away food that is still able to eat- but has exceeded the use-by-date (shoumi kigen, in Japanese). I have heard some people goes to trash cans to find those trash foods... Japanese people are generally very far from poverty and starvation.

However, there still is poverty problem in Japan- called "the working poor problem".

There was a vicious circle in the Japanese companies when they were in a depression - they tried to lower the HR expenses, they started to decrease full-time employment and increased part-time workers with low salary and intense labor.

This data is a bit old, but you can see how lower-range salary workers are increasing whereas higher-range salary workers are decreasing.

With such environment as a background, some people came to be called "working poor" - they are working hard, but not gaining enough salary to maintain their (or their families') lives, and "working poor" has become a social concern, with TV programs created and books published about the issue.

"Poverty" is a problem in developing countries, "working poor" is said to be a phenomenon in developed countries not only in Japan... Korea, US, UK has similar problems, where cost of sustaining lives is relatively high.

So I've talked about people who are working but poor. As you know there are people who can't find jobs and not working hence poor. Another social problem in Japan is people who abandoned to make efforts to work. They are called NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training) , Hikikomori (not coming out of the house) or Jitaku-keibi-in (Guardian of my house- ironically referring to themselves not going out of their houses, and claiming that they are guarding their house). Some of them are watching the internet the whole day, watching BBS such as 2 channel or watching video sharing sites such as Nico Nico Douga.

Although I agree that most of these people are "consumers" and merely consuming the contents. But because they are watching the net the whole day, and because they have so much time to kill, some of those people becomes "creators" and start creating astonishing things- contents, programs, etc. I am hoping that some day, we can make a system where we can help them monetize those creations.

Japanese society has created people who are not very good at communicating with others, and those people have a lot of difficulty working at normal companies. Nevertheless, some of them has talents that the "company employees" rarely have, and I am greatly interested in those talents. They are not properly evaluated by the public now... but I am hoping someday, we can make a system where we can cultivate those talents and help them gain reward out of those talents and works. I think websites like Nico Nico Douga helps to cultivate those talents.

2) KIVA- a way you can help people

I am a member of a service called KIVA, which is also supporting "Blog Action Day".

It's actually a great system where you can go to the website and register, search on entrepreneurs in developing countries who are looking for people to loan so that they can start/grow their business and make their dreams come true. You can search by gender, sector, region etc.

There are many virtues about KIVA, but one of them is that 100% of the money you give goes to the entrepreneur that you selected to support. There are many programs out there in the world such as "foster parent" program etc, but basically those organizations take a bunch of money for their operation and give what is left to the people. KIVA is good because you get to select who you are supporting, you can give 100% of the money to the person you want to support.

Another great thing about KIVA is that you can start loaning from 25 USD per loan. Also, as you do not have to pay monthly fee or anything, you can lend when you have some money, you have no obligation when you don't.

I have supported a 51 year old woman in Nigeria who has been selling drinks for a long time but learned to produce Nylon within the past 2 years and want to sell more drinks and Nylon production. Gosh, she learned how to create Nylon while running her store selling drinks... I think that's great!

I have supported a cameraman in Ghana who has been a general photographer for 10 years and shoots videos too, and wants to expand his photo studio. I love shooting photos and videos too, and it is my pleasure to support him.

I have supported a Mexican woman who started a business because she had to support herself and her family after her husband's death... Look at her crafts- they are so cute, and I am hoping she can buy more materials to make more crafts.

I have supported a butcher in Togo- you should really see this photo of the huge meat!

I have supported 2 women's group of farmers in Samoa- this and this. Those photos with the bright sun and the group of women with strong expressions in their faces made me imagine about the vegetables they grow... I hope I can visit them one day to taste the products they grew :D

Anyone can have their own reason to pick who they support... but KIVA gives us a great opportunity to do so, and I am a great fan of this service. Although I am not rich and am not able to give a lot of money, I feel I am helping their lives. Getting emails for their repayments makes me happy as I know those people are making progress :D

3) So last but not least, this is the Blog Action Day 2008 promotion video!

Blog Action Day 2008 Poverty from Blog Action Day on Vimeo.


Is Japan the #1 broadband country?

BBC news reported that "Japan tops world broadband study "

Basically it's an article about the quality of the broadband network, not penetration etc.

It is based on a 42-nation study carried out by a team of MBA students from the Said Business School at the University of Oxford and the University of Oviedo's Department of Applied Economics and sponsored by Cisco Systems.

They (researchers) said Japan's early commitment to investing in broadband made it the only country prepared to deliver the necessary quality for next-generation web applications over the next three to five years.

This is the actual ranking:

There is another article from last year's worldwide broadband speedtests:

Japan has an average speed of 93Mbps according to the OECD, but this falls to 10.6Mbps according to speedtest.net, which could be indicative of the fact that fibre is concentrated in the towns and cities.

Cable broadband is quite strong in Japan but the biggest market is in fibre to the home.

This has proved so popular with consumers that DSL is actually in decline. Companies are so advanced with fibre delivery that they are beginning to find DSL surplus to requirements.

The speeds fibre provides means applications such as sharing video files are standard.

Fibre also dramatically improves upload speeds, making it much more suitable for web 2.0 communication, with individuals contributing back to the internet with pictures and videos.

Okay, quality is quality. What about the penetration? You may ask.


Here you see Japan in the 3rd place with 27,152,349 subscriberes as of June 2007. (their data is a bit old)

On 2008/9/17, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications reported [ja] Japanese subscription of broadband services are 29,341,909. You can see some more detailed numbers of each service (FTTH, DSL,CATV, FWA).


Japan is not even in top20 here.
#1 is Bermuda, they only have a population of 64,574, of which 23,600 are broadband subscribers which leads them to have 36.5 % penetration rate.

This is really contrary to China, which was ranked 2nd in the subscription ranking but not in the top 20, they have 48,500,000 subscribers, but have a population of 1,317,431,495 which makes their penetration as low as 3.7 %.

It looks like this report brought a lot of debate, this article being one of them. OECD Broadband Report Questioned - US Broadband Penetration Grows to 81.8% Among Active Internet Users - May 2007 Bandwidth Report

The post mentions that The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) suggests that adding speed and price to the equation would show a more complete picture of a nation's broadband rankings.

So, this is the report using ITIF suggestoin creating overall broadband score based on penetration (subscribers per household), speed (average speed) and price (price per month for 1 mbps, fastest technology).

According to this ranking, Korea is #1 with 15.73points, Japan is #2 with 14.99points.


Ad spending

According to Nikkei Ad Research, ad spending of listed companies in Japan in FY2007 has decreased 1.9%, totalling 3 trillion 392.4 billion yen.

This is TOP 10 Japanese ad spending listed companies.

This is US version (data source Ad Age, you can see the whole list of top 100 companies here)

I see Toyota, SONY and Nissan here... and SONY is not in Japanese version.

BTW, according to Masayuki Hagiwara, CEO of Netratings Japan, Softbank was placed 4th in last year's ranking and it is not in the ranking this year despite the fact that we see Softbank's ads everywhere.

He went on to check Softbank's financial report [ja] and the numbers are as follows:

FY 2006: 62,692(million yen)
FY 2007: 22,397(million yen)

This is because Softbank included sales promotion fees in ad spending fees till last year, and from FY 2007 they changed it to another category (which was 53,484 million yen).

If the category was the same, the numbers would have been:

FY 2007: 75,881(million yen)

This means that it would be ranked 4th again with 21% increase from last year.

"This number makes more sense" says Hagiwara. Totally agree :)


Cabinet Support Rate

Taro Asou became the prime minister of Japan after Yasuo Fukuda's sudden resignation.

As usual, Newspaper companies started the "cabinet support rate survey" (内閣支持率調査, Naikaku Shijiritsu chousa) .

**Asou's cabinet support rate (compared with Fukuda/Abe)**

Jiji press article[ja]
Nikkei article[ja]
Mainichi article[ja]
Sankei/FNN article[ja]

You can see how different the numbers are, based on which newspaper company did the survey. Nikkei result says Asou has 53% support rate whereas Sankei's number is 44.6%- 10 points lower than Nikkei. This has become a debate in people interested in surveys - there could be various factors that made this difference - it could be due to how the questions were phrased, what method they did the survey (some are telephone interview, some are F2F, etc), what time they did the survey, whether it was weekday or weekend, etc.

This is the latest political party support rate.
Yomiuri's result says DPJ has 22.8% whereas Nikkei has a score 10 point higher- 33%.

**Party support rate**

**Abbreviations I used for the political parties**

LDP - Liberal Democratic Party
DPJ - Democratic Party of Japan
Komei - New Clean Government Party
JCP - Japan Communist Party
SDP - Social Democratic Party
PNP - The People's New Party
NPN - New Party Nippon

Following is the historical chart of the cabinet support rate of prime ministers... I listed the data of Yomiuri and Asahi.

**Historical Cabinet Support Rate**

This debate is nothing new however- this article on J-Cast pointed out the difference of the survey results conducted after the cabinet reform of Fukuda last month (Survey period was 2008/8/1-8/2)

**Cabinet support rate differences (this data is from 2008/8/1-8/2)**

* "point change" refers to the comparison between the survey result from last time and this time.

There was a huge difference in those numbers here too.

Whichever company's data you use, certain facts- such as the fact that Asou's cabinet support rate is lower than what LDP expected- lower than recent prime ministers such as Abe and Fukuda- does not change.

2010/4/30 update:
Sankei/FNN did a cabinet support rate survey on 4/24-25 and the result was as follows. Blue line is support rate of Hatoyama cabinet (which fell from 68.7% last September to 22.2% this April), red line is non-support rate...

Cell Phone Novels

***Atashi Kanojo***

Keitai Shousetsu means "Cell Phone novels", which are short novels meant to be read with cell phones.

Today, "The 3rd Cell Phone Novel Award" was awarded[ja], and a novel called "Atashi Kanojo (I, girlfriend) "[ja] won the grand prize (with 2million yen prize).

I have never read Cell Phone novels before,but I tried reading this for a moment now...

The screen looks like this:

You can see from the image that all of the lines are really short with one or two words, and it has dozens of line breaks.

This is the translation of the first page:





Well this year 24



Of course

I have

I mean

Why not?



is ordinary


I'm dating him


-end of page1-

and it goes on and on with all these line breaks and "mitaina"s.

I don't think there is any translation for "mitaina" as it doesn't mean anything, it's there at the end of some of the sentences. Someone counted this "mitaina"s and it is said that there are 423 pages for this novel, and there are 210 "mitaina" in this novel.

Those line breaks and "mitaina"s are unique and it is so different from what we read as paper novels or within the internet world that we see on computer screens.

This unique "Atashi Kanojo" grammer was not acceptable to most of the grownups and there is a big buzz online by the adults making fun of this.

"Atashi blog"[ja] is a joke website that enables you to put your blog URL in the box, and returns contents in a "Atashi Kanojo" grammer. Of course the enter button says "mitaina(みたいな)"

On the other hand, others got used to this style where there is a certain rhythm and got sympathetic about the story - some even blogs that they had cried out with tears reading this.

***Impact of Cell Phone Novels***

Whether we like it or not, the impact of cell phone novels are becoming so huge that we cannot ignore.

The year 2007's best selling novels ranking shocked the industry. 5 out of top 10 best selling novels had cell phone novels, especially all of the top 3 were cell phone novels written by amateurs. The best selling novel in Japan in 2007 was a cell phone novel "Koizora" which was read by 25 million readers, got published and sold approximately 2 million copies, was made into a film with gross revenue of 3.9 billion yen, with 3.14 million people visiting the theater.It was later adapted into drama series too. Koizora was 10th in the year 2007's best selling book ranking.

***Who are the players?***

The biggest company providing the cell phone novels is "Mahou no Island (magical island)"[ja] which Koizora was originally uploaded and published.

Following is based on a translation of an interview article with Akira Taniguchi[ja], the CEO of Mahou no Island on Chiyoda Portal site, plus what I heard from my friend who works for Mahou no Island.

Mahou no Island is a website that enables you to create websites, novels, poetry etc for free. It started in December 1999, and has 5.7million users (of which 80% are female) and has monthly page view of 3.3billion. Their business model is advertisements, content business, content management, publishing and EC.

The service "Mahou no Island" started 8 years ago, but the company actually started 19 years ago. They were a IT developer company then, they did the developing work during the day, and developed Mahou no Island during the night as a side project. The first server was placed under the CEO's desk.

The first day they had 300PV, the first week 30 thousand PV/day, the first month they had 400thousand PV/day and in 3 months they grew to 1.2 million PV/day.

The reason why Mahou no Island had a competitive advantage was that they started with cell phones and grasped the customer needs and coped with them rapidly, whereas for the competitors, cell phone site was like an appendix to the PC site. They grew up with the cell phone users together to make the website better. It is said that the users were amazed by how fast the fixes were made on the site when they gave requests- it is funny when you know about the fact that they were doing a big company's work during the day and those fixes were made during the night... with all the passions toward creating a better site.

Cell phone websites are always fighting with the problem of unethical contents for their young users. Mahou no Island has a service called "i-police" which checks the community sites within Mahou no Island and warns or deletes certain contents when they find them. As most of the users of Mahou no Island are teenagers, harmful contents (such as bullying) is a serious problem. 70% of the checks are done by computer, and 30% is by human. They say deleting the contents is easy, but it will not solve the problems. The real solution is to educate "why" such usage is bad, and stop that child from repeating that mistake. Mahou no Island invites students to visit the company now and then, to learn / experience from them.

It was also revealed today [ja]that Jakucho Setouchi, an 86 year old novelist secretly created a cell phone novel. Many people points out that cell phone novels has a bad influence on Japanese novel culture, but she says she wanted to know the reason why cell phone novels are read so much. Cell phone novels has strange grammers that are used by the youngsters, and Setouchi tried using such grammer for the novel.

***Cell Phones***

We really can't live without cell phones in the current society.

We wake up
- cell phone is your alarm

Commute (Go to school/office)
- cell phone serves as your wallet(osaifu keitai), train ticket
- you use cell phone to read e-mails, browse the web, play games, listen to music, watch TV (one-seg), etc

While at school / work
- you use cell phone for phone calls / internet / e-mails, etc

After school / work
- email / call your friends to get together
- use train timetable applications for changing trains
- use GPS to find restaurants etc
- use to pay for tickets, get coupons, etc

We're using the cell phones the whole day, and more so with the children.

Some children are addicted to cell phones, some are bullying other children using cell phone emails and BBSs, etc. I think I should write about this in another post, but some of the children seems to have a weird rules that they have to reply to cell phone emails within 3 minutes which accelerates the cell phone addictions...

***Some numbers on cell phones***

There are more than 100 million cell phones in Japan.

**Internet usage research by Ministry of General Affairs**

- Use PC to access internet 78,130,000 (88.7%)
- Use cell phone to access internet 72,870,000 (82.7%)
- Use Games and TVs to access internet 3,580,000(4.1%)

- PC and cell phone 59,930,000(68.0%)
- PC only 14,690,000(16.7%)
- cell phone only 9,920,000(11.3%)

**Mobile contents business market research report by Ministry of General Affairs[ja]**

Mobile business market is 1.1464 trillion yen(2007)23% increase from last year.
Within this, mobile contents market is 423.3 billion yen(16% increase from last year)
Mobile commerce market is 723.1 billion yen.(29% increase from last year)

red:mobile content market
blue: mobile commerce market

Mobile content market

ring tone : 55.9 billion yen(34% decrease from last year)
ring song : 107.4billion yen(42% increase from last year)
mobile game : 84.8 billion yen(13% increase from last year)
e-books : 22.1 billion yen(220% increase from last year)
fortune telling : 18.2 billion yen(15% increase from last year)
standby display image : 22.7 billion yen(8% decrease from last year)
other : 112.2 billion yen(34% increase from last year)

**Mobile websites data**(08/11/12 update)

major mobile websites in Japan

data source: Nikkei IT PLUS

**Mobile industry study group**(08/10/07 update)

Taguchi-san did a study group on mobile industry with Sato-san of froute as the lecturer.

Post from IDEA * IDEA [ja]
Post from Akiyan.com [ja]

-mobile search industry trend

indexing by (1) directory by manual (2) parser by crawler (3) DB
vertical search
specialized search engine (music etc)
PFI(pay for inclusion)ads
mobile search word trend are becoming specific words such as artist name (not ring tone etc)
users search periodically (such as once a day) on specific words
cross media (TV to mobile)
mobile search used to be a pass time- it has now become a tool to use "when in need"


mobile search results are displayed in the following order: Official site - mobile site - PC site
best to become PC site.
include meta tag to claim it is a mobile site

- how to increase access

Getting exposure on the news of mobile SNS is important
Get introduced in GIGAZINE or narinari.com, and you will be on mobile SNS which will drive you traffic

- contents

comics, games about love
highschool students find interesting contents through SNS
people in their thirties use Gmail and YouTube

- monster sites

there are monster sites in the mobile world with more traffic than Yahoo or Google
partnership with those companies helps your business a lot.
Megaview (BBS), Zenryaku Profile (前略プロフィール), AWalker (エーウォーカー), Peps! (ペップス)


CTR depends on number of unique user and how much users are used to ads.
banner ads on imenu has higher CTR(3-10%), portals (0.1-0.5%), CGM sites has lower CTR(0.01-0.05%)

-market trend

E-commerce will grow in terms of sales, but may not be very profitable

-industry trend

There might be a big change in 2010-2011
openness, standardization of pictogram, etc.

-why there is not many engineers in the mobile world

Making a mobile site alone is not easy. Coding 20%, testing 80%... leads to demotivation, mobile-native youngsters are not working yet, no way to promote= do not get access= demotivation

- current trends of difficulties in these couple of years for the developers

there are increasing number of engines (Java etc) that the applications run
basically support only the applications that are tested with real machines


don't use too many images

-Japanese mobile contents that are popular outside Japan

games are popular in EU

**Some numbers on DeNA**[ja]
DeNA is the company that operates mobage-town

2008 Apr-June sales 9 billion yen (60.7% increase from last year), 4.337 billion yen (108% increase from last year)

***Cell phones to be banned in schools?***

Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology told the elementary schools and junior high schools all over Japan to prohibit students from bringing cell phones to schools[ja]. It says 1) elementary school children and junior high school children are basically prohibited to bring cell phones to schools 2) if it is going to be allowed for safety reasons etc, the usage must be limited to certain functions such as GPS 3) Cell phones that are allowed to be brought into schools may not be used in the schools.

Although it is understandable that there are various negative effects for the children especially by becoming cell phone addicts, is banning the usage really the right solution? Isn't it more important that we try to educate them and make them understand what is wrong and what is right and why? Innovation starts when you use them- and currently, Japan is fortunately advanced in the mobile world because the users are using cell phones so much and the manufacturers are trying to keep up with the demands, creators are creating applications to meet those demands, and new culture including cell phone novels - whether you like it or not - came to exist. We all know that there is going to be even a bigger market in the mobile world- are we trying to lose Japan's competitiveness by decreasing the exposure of the children to mobile world? sigh...


Mobile device market in Japan

IDEA * IDEA had an interesting post: summary of mobile devices sales [ja]

I think this is very interesting, so made them into a chart:

30% of NintendoDS and 25% of PSP are sold in Japan.

■ worldwide market

iPhone 3G
3,000,000(as of 8/11)

Source: 1 2

iPhone (original+3G)
7,120,000(as of 7/13)

Source: 1 2

Nintendo DS
77,540,000(as of 7/30)

Source: 1 2

41,000,000(as of end of June)

Source: 1

cell phones
1,152,840,000(in 1 year: 2007)

Source: 1 2

■ Japan market

iPhone 3G
70,000(as of 7/21)

Source: 1 2

Nintendo DS
22,970,000(as of 7/30)

Source: 1

10,000,000(as of 7/15)

Source: 1

cell phone
52,300,000(in one year: 2007)

Source: 1


Google Street View

Google started Google Streetview [ja] service (GSV) in Japan.

Google Streetview is a service that Google's car with a camera runs around in town taking photos of everywhere and is located in Google Maps.

***The camera***

Photo CC-BY-NC by boingboing

Google Streetview service launched in August in Japan which invited LOTS of debates.

Photo CC-BY-SA by Knife-thrower


There is a hot debate over GSV. Google insists that they are taking photos in the public road so there shouldn't be any problem. Some say it is useful and interesting. Others say it is infringement of privacy, might be used by thieves or terrorists, etc.

Osamu Higuchi wrote his blog titled "a letter to Google"[ja] asking to exclude Japanese cities from Google Street View because of the cultural differences between the U.S. and Japan. The notion of privacy is linked to cultural lifestyles that differs in each country, and in Japan - in his opinion- Google Street View is not suitable.

Chris Salzberg posted on Global Voices the full translation of this letter: and this is abstract from that post.

-The residential roads of Japan's urban areas are a part of people's living space, and it is impolite to photograph other people's living spaces

-In our way of living, you do not unilaterally, and in a machine-readable form, lay open people's living spaces to the whole world

-Before this problem gets more tangled, please make a decision and take action on this based on your own sense of morals

Discussion went on, and Chris wrote another post "Japan: Debate over Google Street View continues" a week later on Global Voices summing up comments on Higuchi-san's blog, blog posts and comments on this issue. Some of the comments are:

-Certainly it satisfies a certain sense of curiosity to see these places that you normally wouldn't be able to see, and there is a kind of guilty pleasure in that, but when you really think about it carefully, it's actually pretty scary.

-At Baldanders.info, another blogger offers a perspective on privacy [ja] as someone who grew up outside of these urban areas:Maybe it's because I'm from the country, but although I can sympathize with the idea that [Japanese] alleyways [”roji”/路地] are a part of the living space, I don't think that this is connected to the problem of privacy. The reason [I say this] is that this “living space” is a shared space of the neighborhood community in the area, and is not a private space. In other words, this “foreign substance” Street View which has entered into people's “living space” is not something that intrudes on people's private space, but rather something that intrudes on the shared space of the neighborhood. So although I don't see it as a problem of privacy, I do hope that this issue will form the starting point for a discussion on the relationship between the tight spaces that are peculiar to Japan and what is outside of these spaces. This must also have an impact on the way that security is managed in everyday life.

Interestingly, after the discussions about GSV in Japanese were translated into English, the English blogosphere had another round of discussion about this in English, and a blogger "Essa" summarized those discussions and translated some of the debates and responses back to Japanese in his blog [ja/partially en] . So it was 1) a Japanese debate on Japanese GSV and cultural issues 2)translated into English, debated there and 3) those English feedback translated back into Japanese again :)

-Hebohebo programmer diary, had a post on summary of blog posts discussing GSV [ja]

- This blog is fully dedicated to finding interesting stuff in GSV.

***MIAU symposium***

MIAU held a symposium on GSV, and Shinyai liveblogged it [ja] and IT Media wrote an article [ja].

Q: Situation outside Japan?

- In U.S.,Google is sued because of privacy infringement (shot inside room)
- In Canada, GSV was launched and then terminated due to privacy infringement
- In England and France, service launched but in France they only shoot big roads.

Q: Similar services to GSV already exists

- Location View
- Everyscape
- Alps Lab Video
- Iseemedia

Location View launched 2 years ago, but there had not been any complaint filed to the company. This was probably because the company deleted photos with privacy concerns by hand. Google took the opposite "Optout" approach- they shot everything, publicized, and told the users if there is anything that has problems they will take them off. The latter is obviously easier, cheaper and faster, but this approach was questioned by the panelists.

Q: Notion of "Privacy" in Japan

- "The notion of "privacy" changed a lot during those 20 years." says one of the panelists and a lawyer, Toshimitsu Dan. People put their names and phone numbers in the phone book. Name lists were sold and it was not illegal then- now it's illegal.

- Another panelist Masayuki Hatta points out that in the U.S., there are front yards and you can't really see the houses. In Japan, we don't have yards so GSV car can easily take photos of the houses. On the other hand, he says "saying GSV is grose is similar to pre-camera era when people thought "if you get photos taken, your soul gets stolen."


Want to see more of the statistical data of people's perceptions towards GSV?
Those issues depends on who you ask and what they know etc so nothing is definite, but here are some examples.

MIAU symposium's participants were 50% positive 50% negative to GSV.

Hatena user id:gohshi reported that they had surveyed all the bookmark comments [ja] on the original Letter to Google (in Japanese), and reported the breakdown:
Positive: 65 were against Higuchi
Negative: 112 agreed with Higuchi
Neutral: 93

Hatena user id:matsunaga, posted a question [ja] to Hatena Question asking users about GSV and the result was:

Positive “Doesn't bother me. Seems like a good thing.” 123 (41.0%)
Negative “It's creepy and inexcusable. Stop it right now.” 125 (41.7%)
Don't know “GSV, what is that?” 52 (17.3%)

Japan.internet.com carried out an online survey [ja] on this topic:

Q:Have you ever used GSV?
Used Japanese GSV 67.6%
Was using non-Japanese one already 5.6%
Have not used it 26.6%

Q: Have you searched on your own house?
Searched and found my house: 50.9%
Searched but my house was not displayed: 31.6%
Have not searched my house 17.5%

Q: Have you or your friends been found in GSV?
Neither I nor my friends were found 64.9%
I don't know 29.8%
I found myself in GSV 1.8%
I found my friend in GSV 1.8%
other 1.8%

Q: What do you feel about GSV?
-I feel I am watched
-infringement of privacy

***Hiromitsu Takagi***

Hiromitsu Takagi, a security consultant has been looking into GSV problem more than any person I know of.

His series of GSV related blog posts started with this one:

- Notes from Telecom Platform Research Group
Various companies including Yahoo, Google, MicroSoft, NTT, KDDI, JR-West, etc were present. During this meeting, Google said "In Japan, houses has the name plates in front of the house. People do not care about privacy as they are pubicizing their names on public roads."" Value criteria of what is harmful and what is harmless differs among each person, and it is questionable to bind with the ethical sense of academists."

-Would Japanese houses' fence grow 70cm longer in accordance with Google?
Investigating GSV, Takagi-san noticed that there are some places that shows houses inside of the fence, and he went to interview the residents. The issues are 1) cameras were in a high position 2) in the US, GSV cars probably didn't go to small streets and therefore the angle from the camera wasn't that steep, and as a result it did not cover houses inside the walls. Japanese GSVs goes into even extremely narrow roads and takes photos there which could shoot even inside the house if the curtains are open. GSV car cameras seems to be taller than the fences and covers that the citizens put to hide things from the eyes of the public.(Location View which is a similar service sets its camera in a lower position)

-He goes on investigating how GSV car went on to shoot private roads, car license plates, etc.

-He started a survey using Hatena's survey system. The purpose of this research was to check if the tendency differs by the respondants' housing environment.

SURVEY1: What do you think about GSV- positive or negative? [ja]

positive 47%
negative 33%
I don't know 20%

General findings from this survey were:

-people whose own house was shot has the tendency of being more negative about GSV.
-people in houses are more negative compared to people living in apartments.
-people in lower floors are more negative compared to people living in higher floors
-peope who owns the apartments are more negative compared to people who are renting
-people who lives alone are more positive
-people who thinks they have high IT literacy are more positive

He comments that "Hatena people have higher IT literacy than ordinary citizens, so it might have pushed the "positive ration", and also as more people gets their own houses' shot, they might be more negative."

He did another survey.

SURVEY2: What should happen to GSV?" [ja]

No problem, Keep the service as it is 19%
Keep as it if the problems will be solved 33%
Terminate until the problems get solved 17%
Problem will not be solved. abolish the service 21%
I don't know 10%

General findings from this survey were:

-When their own houses get shot by GSV, they have clearer understanding and stance toward GSV.
-Women feel more negative toward GSV (only 9% responded that GSV has no problem and should keep as it is)

-"problems that should be solved by GSV" include:
Car license plates should be blurred (434),
Name plates in front of the houses should be blurred (385)
Publicize Google's criteria of photo deletion (345)
Do not shoot on private roads (342)
Google should delete or edit inproper photos before publicizing (332)
Blur clothes and futon (276)
Do not enter narrow roads (272)
Blur bodies not just faces (265)

-"Do you think the problems will be solved?"
no problem even now 13%
will be solved soon 8%
will be solved in a year 10%
will not be solved in a year but some day be solved 20%
will not be solved 34%
I don't know 16%

***being excluded from GSV***

- "Hey, if you don't want to be in GSV, write "rel="nofollow" on your forehead!" says Ichiru in his blog [ja]:D

- It looks like Alaskan GSV camera was covered with a plastic bag :P

- Japan: Street View's Missing Streets is another blog post on Global Voices by Chris, pointing out about the blank zone in GSV.

Ōta Ward [大田区] (Tokyo) in GSV. direct link to GSV

Hatena blogger id:buyobuyo compares the atmosphere of Ōta Ward in these pictures to Area 51 in the U.S.

A famous blogger Nobuo Sakiyama wrote a post on this:

Outside of Tokyo, a well-known large-scale discriminated community [被差別部落/hisabetsu buraku, or “burakumin area”] (a group from the area has bought a domain and has its own web site, but just to be safe I will avoid citing the actual name of the city and region here) hardly appears in Street View except for its periphery area. There are however many more areas in this city that are also blanked out, and also on the human rights board on 2channel [they are saying] that there is no causal relationship between Google avoiding this area and the fact that it is a burakumin area. Nevertheless, if you know the rough whereabouts of this region, then there is the potential to visualize it on the map.


It's a SONY

SONY held a dealer convention as well as blogger seminar last weekend.

Luckily, I was invited as one of the bloggers :)

They showed us their newest products so I will introduce some of them here:

"sountina" is a speaker, designed as an interior, made of organic glass. Beautiful design as well as sound.

sountina sountina
Photos CC-BY-NC-SA by Fumi Yamazaki

"ECM-HW1" is a wireless microphone for Handycam video camera.

Photos CC-BY-NC-SA by Fumi Yamazaki

Pros: you can get better sounds for your video - you can shoot from a distance, or in a different room, you won't get your own voice in the recording when you interview someone. It's light(as in weight).
Cons: It's big. It's 200USD. (some say it's expensive, some say it's not. But as video cameras become cheaper and cheaper, 200USD for a microphone seems a bit expensive for me.)

NAV-U (car navigation)

NavU nav-u
Photos CC-BY-NC-SA by Fumi Yamazaki

Being able to attach the car navigation to a car with those suckers is one of the features.

Photo CC-BY-NC-SA by Fumi Yamazaki

SONY has a team dedicated for this sucker development. He has been doing research on sucker for 3 years already.

Car navigations with GPS loses the location data when it enters tunnels.
Nav-u has acceleration sensor and calculates the speed and direction to keep track of the location even in the tunnels. Acceleration sensor miscalculates the gravity when there are hills etc and the road goes up and down. Therefore it has atmospheric pressure sensor to fix this. It also has Jairo sensor.

Applicast is a widget for televisions that you can use with SONY Bravia TVs.
You can check out information from the internet on the widget while you watch TV. Just like App store for iPhone apps, SONY will make a scheme for individual developers to upload and distribute their own Applicast widgets.

Photo CC-BY-NC-SA by Fumi Yamazaki

Life-X is a lifelog sharing service which enables you to aggregate your photos, videos, blog posts, twitter tweets, social bookmarks, and output them to your PC, Bravia(TV), Cell phones, PSP(portable game), and PS3(game).

Photo CC-BY-NC-SA by Fumi Yamazaki

It is sort of like Friendfeed, but one thing is that it is made by SONY and it supports various devices other than PC, also the interface is more catchy in a Japanese sense.

* Remember, Google Japan's simple interface and Yahoo Japan's colorful/contentful interface difference... and Japanese loves Yahoo Japan. According to Comscore,
Yahoo Japan: 46 million monthly unique visitors
Google Japan: 35 million monthly uniques

Other highlights were 9.9mm Bravia television.
9.9mm TV!! Isn't that insane?

Photo by Current

To the "small and thin extreme", they also had 0.3mm organic LED TV and golfball size speaker.

To the "large and powerful extreme", their demonstrations of the beautiful Blu-ray movies and 48:9 3-screen movies were pretty amazing.


Harukiya @ Ikebukuro

If you are an comic/anime geek visiting Japan and love AKIRA, you should definitely visit Harukiya(春木屋) -and you probably know why this place is called Harukiya ;) - .









Alcohol called Harukiya.





They will show AKIRA anime on the TV screen and has AKIRA comic books.





Harukiya (春木屋)

-Address 3-30-6 NishiIkebukuro Toshima-ku Tokyo Isono bldg B1F (東京都豊島区西池袋3-30-6 磯野ビルB1F)
-Access 5min walk from Ikebukuro station (JR, Yurakucho-line, Fukutoshin-line)
-Phone 03-5956-4422
-Open hours: 18:00-05:00(Mon-Sat) 18:00-0:00(Sun/Holiday)
Coupon (20%OFF if you go in before 20:00, 10%OFF if you go after 20:00)