News On Japan

Japan's vending machine culture is ahead of the curve

May 16 (Nikkei) - In today's Japan, millions of vending machines dispense a mountain of goods and services ranging from green tea, umbrellas, canned cakes, bananas, omikuji fortunetelling slips, noodles, batteries, T-shirts and shampoo.

Ever-adaptable to market trends, the manufacturers of vending machines responded with commercial alacrity to the COVID-19 crisis by providing medical mask dispensers, which have the added benefit for users of avoiding the need for interaction with pharmacy or convenience store staff. Obviating the need to sit in hospital waiting rooms -- notorious contagion zones -- are vending machines selling PCR testing kits.

Drinks remain by far the most popular item. Avid consumers of canned coffee, Japanese customers can also find buckwheat and oolong teas, English breakfast tea and cocoa. Sports drinks compete with energy-boosting health beverages. Many of the brands have helpful information in English. Enigmatic catchphrases such as "Refresh and Vital Drip," are less useful.

A combination of online shopping, competition from convenience stores, tougher tobacco and alcohol sale rules and a declining population has led to a drop in the number of machines nationwide (though there are still more than 4 million in service) but the industry is showing signs of rallying. Spurred partly by the pandemic, temperature-adjusting machines dispensing frozen and chilled food have done well. High-end food-dispensing machines now carry luxuries such as fresh sashimi, wagyu beef steaks and caviar. ...continue reading

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With the new currency release drawing near, unexpected issues are emerging. This month, known as the season of June brides, sees many weddings, but there are growing concerns over the difficulty in obtaining crisp banknotes for wedding gifts.

The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) is set to undergo a significant overhaul of its disaster weather information, with experts proposing the introduction of a new 'Danger Alert' between the existing 'Special Warning' and 'Warning' categories. The final report on this review was compiled on Tuesday.

Himeji Castle, a popular tourist destination and UNESCO World Heritage site, is currently considering a significant increase in admission fees for foreign visitors. The admission fee for adults is presently 1,000 yen, but the mayor of Himeji City has proposed raising the fee to 30 dollars for foreign tourists, a move that has sparked considerable debate.

In a move to make generative AI more accessible, major mobile carrier SoftBank has announced the free provision of its latest AI-powered search tool to mobile users.

Located in Shinjuku, Tokyo, the 'Kenno Cafe' aims to prevent dementia through recreational activities like exercises for those concerned about the condition.

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Aeon has announced that from June 21 it will sequentially introduce electronic receipts at 4,000 stores operated by its 19 group companies.

Machinery orders in Japan fell by 11.3% in April, with private sector demand declining for the first time in three months.

Toyota Motor Corporation has announced its decision to halt the production of three models, including the Yaris Cross, due to certification irregularities. The production suspension, initially set to last until June 28, will now continue at least until the end of the next month as investigations by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) and other authorities are ongoing.

An increasing number of Western confectionery shops in Japan, particularly cake shops, are going bankrupt. According to research released in June, from January to May, there have been 18 bankruptcies, the highest number since 2010. If this trend continues, it will surpass the record set in 2019.

The Bank of Japan decided on June 14th to reduce its government bond purchases following the conclusion of its Monetary Policy Meeting. The pace of the reduction will be determined at the next meeting.

LINE Yahoo has announced that it will discontinue its smartphone payment service, LINE Pay, in Japan by April 30, 2025.

Japan Post has announced its first price increase in nearly 30 years, set to take effect this fall, unveiling new stamps and postcards.

According to a survey released by the Financial Services Agency on June 12th, the number of NISA accounts as of the end of March was 23,227,848.