Panasonic

Foundation: 1918

Headquarters: Kadoma city, Osaka

President: Kazuhiro Tsuga

Panasonic Corporation, formerly known as Matsushita Electric Industrial Company, is a Japanese multinational electronics corporation, which also produces home appliances and much more. Its annual income is in the range of US$75 billion.

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Toyota Doubles Down on Hydrogen-Powered Cars

Akihabara News (Tokyo) — Toyota Motor Company has unveiled its second-generation Mirai, representing the firm’s renewed commitment to hydrogen-powered vehicles at a time when most others believe that electric vehicles are the wave of the future.

The prototype zero-emission Mirai fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) will be previewed at the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show with the expectation that it will become publicly available sometime in late 2020.

The second-generation Mirai features a fully-redesigned fuel cell system, including its fuel cell stack, that Toyota says will delivers substantially improved performance over the current model, including a 30% increase in driving range.

The first-generation Mirai launched in 2014 to mixed reviews, selling approximately 10,000 vehicles.

Toyota’s more than two decade commitment to hydrogen-powered vehicles has been unique among global automakers, which have not been such big believers in the technology. Nevertheless, FCEVs do have shorter refueling times and longer driving ranges than the current generation of electric vehicles.

Two major hurdles to the popularization of FCEVs include their high material costs for production and the lack of a refueling infrastructure in most of the world, though Japan itself is making strides in this respect.

“We hope that with the new Mirai we will be a leader in helping to realize a hydrogen energy society,” comments Toyota.

Side view of the new Mirai
Interior of the new Mirai

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Toyota

Foundation: 1937

Headquarters: Toyota City, Aichi

President: Akio Toyoda

Toyota Motor Corporation is a Japanese multinational automotive manufacturer, and one of the largest companies in the world, with a truly global presence. Its annual income is in the range of US$270 billion.

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WeWork

Foundation: 2010

Headquarters: New York City (USA)

WeWork, the unofficial but better-known name for The We Company, is an American commercial real estate company that provides shared workspaces for technology startups, and services for other enterprises. SoftBank is its largest investor and supporter. The reported public valuation of the company is around US$10 billion.

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Japan Display

Foundation: 2012

Headquarters: Minato Ward, Tokyo

President: Yoshiyuki Tsukizaki

Japan Display is an LCD technology joint venture by Sony, Toshiba, and Hitachi. It became best known as a key supplier for Apple iPhones. Its annual income is in the range of US$65 million.

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Hitachi

Foundation: 1910

Headquarters: Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo

President: Toshiaki Higashihara

Hitachi is a highly diversified company that operates in a wide variety of business segments, including telecommunications, financial services, power systems, electronics, transportation, and digital media. Its annual income is in the range of US$90 billion.

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NTT Docomo

Foundation: 1991

Headquarters: Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo

President: Kazuhiro Yoshizawa

NTT Docomo was spun off from Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT) in August 1991 to take over its mobile cellular operations. It holds the largest share of the mobile market in Japan. Its annual income is in the range of US$45 billion.

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Nikon Releases Its First APS-C Mirrorless Camera

Akihabara News (Tokyo) — Following its release of two full-frame mirrorless cameras last year, the Z7 and the Z6, Nikon has now released its first APS-C model, the Z50, which should bring the mirrorless camera experience to consumers at a much lower price point.

Along with the release of the Z50, Nikon has also released two customized lenses for the new camera, the Nikkor Z DX 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 VR standard zoom lens and the Nikkor Z DX 50-250mm f/4.5-6.3 VR telephoto zoom lens.

The Z50 is a compact and lightweight, high-performance mirrorless camera, meant to be easily carried. Indeed, it weighs just 397 grams, compared to 675 grams for the Z6 full-frame camera.

This camera will be Nikon’s answer to rivals in its same class such as the Sony A6400, Fujifilm X-T30, and the Canon EOS M6 Mark II.

Among its key features are Eye-AF autofocus, 4K UHD recording, an LCD touchscreen that flips downward, and connectivity to with various smart devices.

It does lack in-body image stabilization, though some stabilization is provided by the two new lenses.

The camera’s Z mount supports both the Nikkor Z DX and Nikkor Z FX formats, so all Nikkor Z lenses, as well as S-line lenses, can be used with the Z50.

Low light performance is said to be quite good for an APS-C camera.

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Nikon

Foundation: 1917

Headquarters: Minato Ward, Tokyo

President: Toshikazu Umatate

Nikon, with its history of over a century, is a leading firm focusing on optical and imaging products, especially cameras, lenses, binoculars, and microscopes. It is a member of the Mitsubishi group of companies, with an annual income in the range of US$7 billion.

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Panasonic Develops Driverless Parking System

Panasonic (Osaka) — Society is increasingly seeking to build a safer, more comfortable automotive society through advancing automated driving and reducing traffic accidents. To achieve this goal, Panasonic has developed a driverless automated valet parking system and an AR-HUD (Augmented Reality Head-Up Display). The driverless automated valet parking system achieves fully automated driving in limited areas, while the AR-HUD offers safe, comfortable navigation so that the user can concentrate on driving. These technologies will be installed in Toyota Motor Corporation’s concept car, LQ.

Driverless automated valet parking system: This system is achieving driverless automated valet parking without dedicated expensive sensors. It accurately identifies the position of own vehicle by using multiple conventional in-vehicle cameras, sonars, and radar sensors as well as a 2D road map. The system enables safe parking by finding an empty space and detecting pedestrians who enter the roadway by linking to surveillance cameras in a parking lot and a control server. Driverless automated valet parking accomplishes parking in a very narrow space up to a minimum of 20cm clearance between cars, because it is unnecessary to open or close the doors after parking. An in-vehicle emergency braking system that detects people by using deep learning helps to prevent accidents.

This system is expected to offer the following advantages:

  1. Achieving driverless automated valet parking system, without dedicated expensive sensors. Reduce traffic accident in a parking lot at low cost and reduce significantly stress related to parking (e.g., finding a parking space, walking a long distance from a parking lot, dealing with adverse weather condition)
  2. Effectively utilize land by enabling the use of distant parking lots and small parking spaces

Large screen AR-HUD: A large image that gives a sense of depth is superimposed on the actual space in front of the driver’s seat. Based on the information from the vehicle, the AR-HUD indicates route information and obstacle alerts just like physical markings on the road. It presents a high-quality image on a large screen with minimal distortion by using the company’s proprietary optical technologies–refined through the development of audio-visual products–to reduce misalignment between the actual space and the image.

This system is expected to offer the following advantages:

  1. Assist with safe driving by reducing the movements and focus readjustments of the driver’s eyes by presenting information intuitively
  2. Reduce the misalignment caused by vibration between the actual space and the displayed image by using proprietary vibration compensation technology, achieving navigation that is easier to see and understand

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Sony

Foundation: 1946

Headquarters: Minato Ward, Tokyo

President: Kenichiro Yoshida

Sony is one of Japan’s leading firms focusing on a diversified range of consumer and professional electronics, gaming, entertainment, and financial services. Sony is among the global leaders in music, video games, electronics, and film entertainment. Its annual income is in the range of US$80 billion.

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Ghostbusters in the Park

Sony (Tokyo) — Ginza Sony Park’s 11th experimental program #011 Ghostbusters in the Park begins on October 12 (Sat), 2019. Commemorating the 35th anniversary of the Ghostbusters, this program will be packed with excitement featuring the legendary team that has inspired legions of fans since making their original debut 35 years ago.

Revisit old memories and discover new ones as technology and entertainment collide for a “chemical reaction” you won’t want to miss. Exterminate ghosts in augmented reality (AR) with the Ghostbusters Rookie Training demo making its Japan debut. These attractions and more will be waiting for you at Ghostbusters in the Park.

Ghostbusters Rookie Training: Be a member of the Ghostbusters! Led by trainers, participants walk about Ginza Sony Park working together to exterminate ghosts that appear throughout the venue in this new attraction making its demo debut in Japan. Experience being a Ghostbuster with an entirely new sense of immersion, equipped with a number of tools including an AR device (prototype) that utilizes the latest in augmented reality technology. Those who participate in this demo will also receive a nice present.

Caution: This activity will be conducted entirely in Japanese, and there will not be any language interpretation available. The application page and consent form are also only in Japanese. While participation is open to everyone, the activities rely heavily on instructions and team communication, so please kindly bear this in mind when considering whether to apply. We appreciate your understanding.

Location: Ginza Sony Park, B3 Level

October 12 (Sat) – December 8 (Sun), 2019

Two to four sessions are planned for each day. Please check the starting times for each session when you apply. Each session will last roughly 60 minutes, including the questionnaire and other formalities.

Application Window (Japanese)

Promotional Video: Ghostbusters in the Park

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Hitachi AI Used in Seiyu Markets

Hitachi (Tokyo) — Through collaborative creation with Hitachi, Ltd., Seiyu GK will introduce the Hitachi Digital Solution for Retail/AI Demand Forecast Auto Replenishment Service to stores all over Japan from October 2019 as a system for automatically replenishing based on demand forecasted by AI. The subjects of this service include approximately 250 items produced at Seiyu’s central kitchens among the products sold at the deli section. Conventionally, replenishment is implemented by experienced Seiyu associates (employees) in charge for each product based on past sales results and others. In contrast, in this system, AI conducts a high level of demand forecast for each store and product. The replenishment quantity is determined based on the results of the forecast, and thus the system enables automation of replenishing operations.

Through the introduction of this system, Seiyu aims to be able to concentrate more on the store operations, including processing food at the in-store kitchens and customer services, and to suppress stockout and food waste and losses, by having AI implement replenishment operations conventionally carried out by the persons in charge.

Recently, in the retail business in Japan, consumer needs have become more diversified and the labor shortage occurs due to the decreasing population of productive age. Reflecting these backgrounds, the demand for highly efficient store operations capable of immediately responding to changes in demand using advanced digital technologies have been increasing. In addition, food loss, which is the issue where a large amount of edible food is wasted, has become a social issue. On October 1, 2019, the law related to the promotion of food loss reduction came into force, which requires retail business operators to suppress food loss.

At Seiyu, the persons in charge at each store have conventionally predicted demand for each product in consideration of complex conditions, such as past volume of inventories, replenishment quantities, sales quantities, waste quantities, weather conditions and information about events; determined the replenishment quantities and implemented replenishment based on the forecast. These operations require the experience and knowhow of skilled workers and a certain number of operating hours.

Under these circumstances, Seiyu, advancing Every Day Low Cost and making efforts for innovating store operations, and Hitachi, offering the Hitachi Digital Solution for Retail that is a Lumada (Hitachi) solution for retail and distribution businesses which uses advanced digital technology, have unified their knowledge and expertise and started a collaborative creation for increasing the efficiency of replenishment operations using AI in 2018. For one month since March this year, Seiyu and Hitachi conducted joint demonstration tests for 19 items in the takeout food/delicatessen sales floors at three Seiyu stores, applying the Hitachi Digital Solution for Retail/AI Demand Forecast Auto Replenishment Service.

Moving forward, Seiyu, aiming to become an advanced and innovative value retailer under its corporate vision of Every Day Low Price, and Hitachi will activate the sales floors through further increases in store operation efficiency using digital technology including this system and advance their efforts for work-style reforms, and also contribute to achieving the SDGs by suppressing food loss.

Hitachi will develop the Hitachi Digital Solution for Retail/AI Demand Forecast Auto Replenishment Service applied as one of the Lumada solutions for the retail and distribution businesses.

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Canon Celebrates Production of 100 Million EOS Series Interchangeable-Lens Cameras

Canon (Tokyo) — Canon Inc. today celebrated a camera-manufacturing milestone as combined production of the Company’s EOS-series silver halide (film) and digital interchangeable-lens cameras surpassed 100 million units on September 20, 2019. An EOS R (released in October 2018) mirrorless camera was the 100 millionth EOS-series camera produced.

An acronym of Electro Optical System, EOS is also the name of the goddess of the dawn in Greek mythology. Boasting an attractive product lineup that caters to a variety of user needs and an extensive series of EF lenses, with which Canon strives to expand the boundaries of imaging expression, the EOS series has supported a great many users over its long history, and enabled Canon to maintain the No. 1 share of the global interchangeable-lens digital camera market for 16 consecutive years from 2003 to 2018.

The EOS series began with the EOS 650 (released in March 1987), a next-generation AF single-lens reflex (SLR) camera featuring the world’s first fully electronic lens mount. Production of the EOS series began in what was then Canon’s Fukushima plant and now takes place at a variety of locations—including Taiwan, Miyazaki, Nagasaki and the lynchpin Oita Canon—where production is carried out under stringent product quality management. Following the release of the EOS 650, Canon continued to introduce products featuring innovative technology that realize speed and comfort—such as the high-end EOS-1 (released in 1989) and the EOS Kiss (released in 1993)—expanding the EOS series to cater to users ranging from amateur to professional.

From the year 2000 onwards as the pace of digital SLRs (DSLR) adoption picked up, Canon sought to create even more appealing products. The EOS series’ core concept was expanded to include “high image quality,” achieved through such proprietary, cutting-edge technology as CMOS sensors and DIGIC image processors. In 2003, Canon released the EOS Kiss—a compact, lightweight DSLR with an affordable price—which contributed to the wider adoption of interchangeable-lens digital cameras. Through the EOS 5D series, which contributed to the use of interchangeable-lens cameras for video capture, and the establishment of the Cinema EOS System of professional digital cinematography products in 2012, Canon extended its video technology to the BtoB sphere as it entered the video production industry. Canon will continue to explore new approaches with the EOS series, such as the 2018 launch of the EOS R System, which employs the new RF Mount.

Expanding from its beginnings in still photos to the realm of video, the EOS series has come to support a wide range of users, from entry-level to professional. Canon will continue to pursue “speed, comfort and high image quality” as the core concept of the EOS series, further strengthening and expanding the EOS System towards expanding the culture of photographic and video imaging.

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iPhone 11 Success Boosts Japan Display Recovery Prospects

Akihabara News (Tokyo) — The brisk sales of the base model iPhone 11 is putting much-needed wind in the sales of Japan Display Inc. at a crucial point in its bailout process.

Japan Display produces the liquid crystal display (LCD) screens used in the base model iPhone 11, which is finding favor with consumers, significantly exceeding expectations in terms of the number of orders. Apple’s supply chain partners, including Japan Display, are increasing their production schedules and forecasts.

This boost in LCD demand couldn’t have come at a better time for Japan Display, which has fallen into financial crisis for several years and has been struggling to find investors to keep it afloat.

The latest reports suggest that it may be Apple itself which is doing the most to rescue its troubled supplier, intending to inject in US$200 million in funds in Japan Display.

A more fundamental challenge for Japan Display is that the smartphone market is largely shifting away from the LCD screens that it produces toward next-generation organic light-emitting diode (OLED) panels. The iPhone 11 Pro, for example, uses the OLED technology.

Japan Display would, of course, like to enter the OLED business as well, but has so far been far short of the investment funds it would need for that purpose.

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Sony Corporation

Foundation: 1946

Headquarters: Minato Ward, Tokyo

President: Kenichiro Yoshida

Sony is one of Japan’s leading firms focusing on a diversified range of consumer and professional electronics, gaming, entertainment, and financial services. Sony is among the global leaders in music, video games, electronics, and film entertainment. Its annual income is in the range of US$80 billion.



Source: Akihabara News – Sony Corporation

Mario Kart Tour Off to Successful Start

Akihabara News (Tokyo) — Nintendo launched Mario Kart Tour on iOS and Android devices, providing the company with a major success.

The company had long insisted that Mario only be featured on console games, and this was only the second time for the character to appear in mobile games, following Super Mario Run, which was released for iOS in December 2016 and for Android in March 2017.

Mario Kart Tour mobile game faced mixed news upon its launch. On the one hand, demand for the game was very high, but SO high that it overloaded the server for a while.

Nevertheless, according to Sensor Tower, Mario Kart Tour became the top free iPhone app in 58 markets, including Japan. It was downloaded about 20 million times in its first day. By the end of the first week, that figure had reached 90 million, almost 60% of them on Android devices.

Mario Kart Tour had by far the strongest launch of any mobile game by Nintendo.



Source: Akihabara News – Mario Kart Tour Off to Successful Start

New Leadership at WeWork Japan

Akihabara News (Tokyo) — WeWork has undergone major leadership changes at the instigation of its lead investor, SoftBank and its Vision Fund.

First, WeWork CEO Adam Neumann was made to step down under pressure, and SoftBank Chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son asked the former CEO of Sprint Corporation, Marcelo Claure, to help lead efforts to manage WeWork.

Days later, WeWork’s Japan branch leadership changed. Chris Hill, who led the 2017 launch in the country, was replaced. He was close to former CEO Adam Neumann. The new Japan boss is Kazuyuki Sasaki, the former managing director of WeWork Japan.

In conjunction with these personnel changes at the top, the much-anticipated IPO for WeWork was cancelled in light of growing doubts about the firm’s direction. Analysts have been saying that the company’s business model is vulnerable in the case of an economic downturn due to its high fixed costs.

SoftBank and its Vision Fund are WeWork’s biggest investors, with about 29% ownership. There are about 25 existing or planned WeWork Tokyo locations.



Source: Akihabara News – New Leadership at WeWork Japan

Nikon Products Receive Good Design Award

Nikon (Tokyo) — Nikon Corporation is pleased to announce that its products, the Nikon Z mount system and the Lasermeister 100A, have received the “Good Design Award” organized by Japan Institute of Design Promotion.

The Z mount system comprises mirrorless cameras featuring a larger-diameter mount, and compatible Nikkor Z lenses and accessories.

This system has been realized through the pursuit of a new dimension in optical performance. It has inherited Nikon’s tradition of quality, superior imaging technology, great operability, and high reliability, all innovated from its digital SLR cameras. Nikkor Z lenses realized its superior optical performance, by taking advantage of the high design flexibility made possible by the combination of the larger Z mount with its inner diameter of 55 mm, and a short flange focal distance of 16 mm.

The optical processing machine, Lasermeister 100A, is a Nikon’s proprietary metal processing machine that performs various metal processing with ease using laser. Its capability encompasses additive manufacturing as a 3D printer, laser marking and welding.

The advanced optical technology and precision control technology developed for Nikon’s lithography systems enabled us to realize a high quality, smaller sized and less expensive processing machine.



Source: Akihabara News – Nikon Products Receive Good Design Award

Playstation Now Reduces Subscription Cost

Akihabara News (Tokyo) — Sony’s PlayStation Now, the first and only console game subscription service using cloud technology to deliver games through streaming and downloading, has reduced its subscription prices from October 1 and has added new games to the library.

The new prices will be as follows:

US: $9.99 – monthly / $24.99 – quarterly / $59.99 – yearly
CAN: $12.99 – monthly / $34.99 – quarterly / $79.99 – yearly
EU: €9.99 – monthly / €24.99 – quarterly / €59.99 – yearly
UK: £8.99 – monthly / £22.99 – quarterly / £49.99 – yearly
JP: ¥1,180 – monthly / ¥2,980 – quarterly / ¥6,980 yearly

Current customers will see this new pricing reflected in their next billing cycle.

Playstation Now currently has the largest game library of any console game subscription service, with more than 800 games available. The new games available for three months are as follows:

-God of War
-Grand Theft Auto V
-inFAMOUS Second Son
-Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

These games will be available from October 1, 2019 until January 2, 2020. Each month, the service will add a new selection of games that will be available for a limited period. This content is on top of the existing offering of popular evergreen titles.



Source: Akihabara News – Playstation Now Reduces Subscription Cost