Several years ago, an investment subsidiary of the agricultural giant Cargill bought a group of so-called love hotels, which typically rent rooms by the hour, including the neon-lit Hotel Shine in this sprawling Tokyo suburb.
Though many industry analysts say love hotels in Japan are a good cash flow business - catering to young married couples living with family, as well as to philanderers, prostitutes and even penny-pinching tourists - the Cargill subsidiary was disappointed with its results. The unit, CarVal Investors, sold the 10 properties last week for about $20 million, far less than the $60 million it paid for them in 2004 and 2005.
It might have been just another fire sale. After all, many American funds invested in distressed properties at the height of Japan's economic woes without success.
But CarVal is now under fire from former employees and business partners in part because of the tough tactics of the new owner: an affiliate of a Japanese developer, the Kato Pleasure Group. Immediately after closing the sale on Thursday, the buyer dispatched groups of black-suited men to force out hotel workers and even hotel guests, barricading the entrances with wooden fences.
A collection of materials related to a 17th century mission sent by a Japanese feudal lord to Europe and the world's oldest autographic diary left 10 centuries ago by a Japanese regent have been selected for the UNESCO Memory of the World registry, the Japanese education ministry said Wednesday. (Global Post )
Almost 1,500 people were transported to hospitals by ambulance due to heatstroke last week, up sharply from 942 in the preceding week, the Fire and Disaster Management Agency said Tuesday. (Japan Times )
Among about 200,000 traffic signals nationwide, 16 percent are being used beyond the end of the expected lifetime of their electrical systems and some have even toppled over due to age, according to the National Police Agency. (Yomiuri )
In May, Akira Ikoma, the editor of a guide to men's entertainment called Ore no Tabi (My Journey), said that "Abenomics" had caused a spike in prices at high-end soapland bathhouses in Tokyo. However, the same editor tells Shukan Post (June 28) that the initiative is not impacting the low-end market in the same way. (Tokyo Reporter )
Tokyo District Court decided on Monday to open planned examinations of three witnesses who are former senior members of the Aum Shinrikyo doomsday cult and now death-row inmates, during an upcoming trial of another former senior Aum member. (Jiji Press )