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.
A sudden volcano eruption on the small southern Japanese island of Kuchinoerabu-jima has forced authorities to raise the alert to the highest level and advise evacuation of the immediate area. (rt.com)
Twelve of the 29 suma mackerel tuna have died at Tokyo Sea Life Park in Edogawa Ward, Tokyo, since the aquarium released the fish into its tank less than a week ago, it was learned Thursday. There has been a mysterious die-off of kuromaguro bluefin tuna, hatsugatsuo and other species of bonito at the aquarium since December. (The Japan News)
The operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant said Wednesday it has finished filtering a total of 620,000 tons of extremely toxic water being stored in tanks on the premises of the complex to lower its radiation level. (Kyodo)
On May 21, police in Japan's Miyagi Prefecture arrested a woman on swindling charges after the cashier at a local store erroneously handed her an extra 45,000 yen (US$370) in change. (rocketnews24.com)
In a crackdown on a business believed to be supporting organized crime, Tokyo Metropolitan Police on Tuesday announced the bust of an illegal pornographic DVD business in Shinjuku Ward, reports TV Asahi (May 26). (Tokyo Reporter)