Once-mighty NTT tries to break out of rut with Japan's answer to Zoom
Nikkei -- Aug 15
Faced with the popularity of the Line chat app in home-bound Japan, Katsuhiko Kawazoe, head of research and development planning at Nippon Telegraph and Telephone, has been asking himself: "Why could we not develop a service like this?"

NTT, once the most valuable company in the world just after its 1987 listing, no longer ranks among even the top 50. Group wireless carrier NTT Docomo, responsible for the first-ever mobile internet service, is stuck in a rut, and investors see little in the way of innovative new businesses on the horizon.

NTT President Jun Sawada hit on working from home during the coronavirus pandemic as a catalyst for change.

Because of the virus, "we're working quickly to introduce remote technology in settings where working from home is difficult," said Eiichi Sakamoto, NTT's head of general affairs.

NTT was once the most valuable company in the world. But its fortunes turned as it proved slow to innovate. © Reuters

In an earnings briefing Tuesday, Sawada unveiled seven new services aimed at companies grappling with the pandemic.

Perhaps the most symbolically significant is NeWork, an online workspace that lets co-workers chat with the click of a button and can also keep records and translate. The service could be considered NTT's version of Zoom, the videoconferencing software from Zoom Video Communications that has become ubiquitous amid the pandemic.

Sawada and Kawazoe began discussing NeWork in February and pushed group company NTT Communications to bring it to market quickly. With the help of Takuya Oikawa, an outside software developer and Google alum, the company put NeWork on track toward commercialization in just two months. The result of its efforts is a service that, while nowhere close to Line in terms of users, could compete with Zoom.

NeWork maintains its data on domestic servers because, Sawada said, "there will be growing demand from corporations that are strict on security" given the conflict over technology between the U.S. and China.

Meanwhile, NTT Com CHEO, a subsidiary of NTT Communications, has been drawing interest from businesses -- both inside and outside the group -- interested in setting up home-based call centers.

News source: Nikkei
Sep 22
The political friction between the U.S. and China over TikTok raises strategic questions for Japanese businesses that use the popular video-sharing app in advertising to young consumers. (Sep 22). (Nikkei)
Sep 19
The key inflation gauge went negative again last month, driven down by government discounts meant to boost consumer spending and help the pandemic-hit travel industry. (Japan Times)
Sep 19
The former chairman of Japan Life Co, a now-bankrupt company, was arrested Friday along with 13 others on suspicion of running a "rental owner" investment scam involving clothing, jewelry and other goods it claimed had health benefits, police said. (Japan Today)
Sep 18
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga hit the ground running on day one, meeting with ministers in charge of top policy goals from cutting red tape and digitizing the government to combating the new coronavirus. (Nikkei)
Sep 18
Policymakers at the Bank of Japan have decided to keep their current monetary-easing policy unchanged. (NHK)
Sep 18
Developers have released the details of a major construction project that's underway in central Tokyo. (NHK)
Sep 17
Two of Japan's largest rail operators now expect to report their largest full-year net losses since their 1987 privatization, as the coronavirus pandemic brings a deep and potentially long-lasting slump in passenger traffic. (Nikkei)
Sep 16
Fraudulent e-money withdrawals in Japan have expanded to five other service operators in addition to NTT Docomo Inc, internal affairs minister Sanae Takaichi said Tuesday. (Japan Today)
Sep 16
A former aide to Carlos Ghosn has fronted a Japanese court over allegations of financial misconduct related to the under-reporting of pay promised to the ex-Nissan chief. (FRANCE 24 English)
Sep 16
Gambling and casinos in Japan have not been legal for all that long. When looking at the history of casinos, it is easy to say that the future should be brighter than the past. (newsonjapan.com)
Sep 11
Amazon.com Inc's Japan unit has pledged to return around 2 billion yen ($18.8 million) to around 1,400 suppliers after having them shoulder part of the costs to cover discounts the online retailer applied on goods, the antitrust watchdog said Thursday. (Japan Today)
Sep 10
Workers in Japan may be looking beyond the pandemic. A government survey says their view of business conditions has improved, for the fourth month in a row. One index fell and that was for restaurants. (NHK)
Sep 08
A key gauge of business conditions in Japan rose slightly in July, but the uptick was not enough to change the assessment of the economy as "worsening". (NHK)
Sep 07
Massive job cuts caused by the coronavirus pandemic are concentrated on sectors that tend to employ many women, a trend that highlights a lopsided economic impact both at home and abroad. (Nikkei)
Sep 05
A powerful typhoon threatening record-breaking wind and rain for Japan has put companies and transportation networks on high alert, with some moving to cut operations starting this weekend. (Nikkei)
Sep 05
Amazon.com Inc.’s Japan unit has submitted to the country’s antitrust watchdog a set of proposed reforms including returning money to its suppliers after having them shoulder part of the costs to cover discounts the online retailer applied on goods, sources close to the matter said Thursday. (Japan Times)
Sep 04
Japan is making a bid to become Asia's premier financial hub as some institutions exit Hong Kong over political and legal concerns. (NHK)
Sep 01
Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway has bucked the trend of socially responsible investing by acquiring 5%-plus stakes in five Japanese trading houses deeply involved in fossil-fuel-linked businesses. (Nikkei)
Aug 28
A voluntary request to have food establishments in the capital’s central 23 wards operate under reduced business hours will be extended into next month, Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike announced Thursday. (Japan Times)
Aug 27
Reader, heal thyself! In many a bookstore in Japan these days, that appears to be the message from publishers to consumers looking for summertime page-turners or browsers in search of popular titles about golf, computers and business-and-finance trends. (Nikkei)
Aug 27
The ratio of women who hold senior positions at companies in Japan has inched up, but remains far below the government's target. (NHK)