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.
The number of people missing after landslides early Wednesday in Hiroshima has risen to 51, from seven, as search and rescue operations continued Thursday in neighborhoods where 39 people died, police said. (Kyodo)
The National Police Agency reported Thursday that police gave correctional guidance nationwide to a total of 220 minors younger than 18 who tried to provide sex for money or sell their used underwear online from January to June this year. (The Japan News)
Tokyo Metropolitan Police on Thursday announced the arrest two suspects, including one organized crime member, for the alleged sale of drugs to troubled singer Aska, reports public broadcaster NHK (Aug. 21). (Tokyo Reporter)
The Hiroshima city government's response to the deadly rain-triggered landslides that left scores dead or missing will likely be questioned because it issued evacuation notices to residents after the disaster had already occurred. (The Japan News)
Police in Kawagoe, Saitama Prefecture, said Thursday they have arrested an unemployed 28-year-old man on a charge of attempted murder after he stabbed his 23-year-old female friend in the back with a large kitchen knife. (Japan Today)
Justin Timberlake recently called Madonna a "mother chucking ninja". Some people in the US were upset, saying the word had racist connotations. In Japan, some folks were baffled by this controversy. (Kotaku)
Thousands of rescuers combed through the wreckage of homes engulfed by landslides in western Japan on Thursday in the slim hope of finding survivors, a day after a wall of mud claimed at least 39 lives. (AFP)
The body of a 7-year-old boy who went missing on Monday was found Wednesday on train tracks in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture. Police said the boy appeared to have been run over by a train. (Japan Today)
A U.S.-based social media challenge daring people to douse themselves with buckets of ice water has spread to Japan, with celebrities from billionaire Masayoshi Son to singer Ayumi Hamasaki taking up the gauntlet to boost awareness of what is known as Lou Gehrig's disease. (Japan Times)
The chief suspect in the murder of a wealthy Swiss-based Japanese asset manager and his wife whose bodies were found buried in a vacant lot in Kuki, Saitama Prefecture, in February 2013, pleaded not guilty as his trial opened in Tokyo on Tuesday. (Japan Today)