Alternative assets that buck the markets have been a sweet spot for global investors seeking higher yields. For many in Japan, where the Nikkei 225 has fallen 36% since August 2000 and bond yields have been minimal, the search for that sweet spot led them to cows.
Several decades ago, Agura Bokujo, once Japan's second-largest beef producer, created a "wagyu beef ownership system" for retail investors, which promised returns of up to 8% every year, reports Japan Real Time. Investors could purchase "wagyu" cows for $35,000 to $58,000 per head with the promise of their spawning lucrative offspring. In Japan, wagyu cows are known as the "caviar of beef" because of the way their fat enhances flavor. They are pampered with beer and massages to enhance their unusual marbling, and they typically produce steaks that retail for several hundred dollars a pound. At the end of a several-year-long contract, the farm agreed to repurchase the cows from investors.
But as it turns out, the cows were in the wrong place at the wrong time. The discovery of foot-and-mouth disease in 2010 year caused beef prices to plunge, and the farm slaughtered 15,000 cows. Shortly thereafter, the region where the farm was located was leveled by a the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, which damaged the nearby Fukushima nuclear power plant.
Japan's parliament enacted Tuesday a bill aimed at merging some constituencies for the first time in a bid to reduce vote-value disparities in the electoral system for the House of Councillors, the upper chamber. (Jiji Press)
The operator of the disaster-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant began Tuesday dismantling the cover shrouding the No. 1 reactor building, installed in the wake of the 2011 disaster to keep radioactive materials from dispersing. (Kyodo)
The pilot of a light plane that crashed into a residential area in the Tokyo suburb of Chofu on Sunday had run a pilot training firm without permission from the transport ministry, it was learned Monday. (Jiji Press)
An investigation report from a middle school in Iwate Prefecture acknowledged on Sunday that bullying is considered to have partly contributed to the suicide of a 13-year-old male student at the school earlier this month. (The Japan News)
Wakayama Prefectural Police on Saturday arrested a 64-year-old man from Osaka after the body of a woman was found in a car parked in front of a love hotel in Gobo City, reports the Asahi Shimbun (July 26). (Tokyo Reporter)
Out of nearly 6,000 applicants, 22 young women and girls emerged from the final stage of highly competitive auditions on July 25 to be the first-generation members of idol group NGT48, based in Niigata Prefecture. (Asahi)
A tooth was found inside a dish served to a customer at the restaurant inside the Prince Hotel located in Tokyo's Shinjuku district. The hotel released a statement Friday saying that an investigation is being conducted into the incident. (Japan Today)
Tokyo Metropolitan Police on Friday announced the arrest of an organized crime member for riding atop a portable shrine at a festival in the Asakusa district, reports TV Asahi (July 24). (Tokyo Reporter)
The polarization between weakening and steady yakuza organized crime syndicates is growing in Japan on the back of the widening rich-poor gap among them and the aging of their members, the National Police Agency said in an annual report on Friday. (Jiji Press)
It doesn't take much to set Noel Gallagher off. We are sat in a backstage portacabin at London's peculiarly ragbag Clapham Calling festival, and I've just mentioned to the former Oasis songwriter that "Chasing Yesterday," the second solo album under his High Flying Birds banner, is the U.K.'s fastest selling of the year. (Japan Times)