携帯ゲーム規制 健全性を重視したビジネスに

2012-05-31 05:28:56 | 英字新聞

The Yomiuri Shimbun (May. 30, 2012)
Social networking games must be responsible
携帯ゲーム規制 健全性を重視したビジネスに(5月29日付・読売社説)

It is after all an improper business model to earn profits by exploiting child psychology and stimulating vanity and the desire to gamble.

The Consumer Affairs Agency has decided to ban "kompu gacha" (complete gacha) online games played on mobile phones from July under the Law against Unjustifiable Premiums and Misleading Representations. This is a reasonable step.

The phrase "kompu gacha" combines "complete" and the name of the "gacha gacha" game arcade machine that sells capsules of toys. It is a kind of lottery game played on a social networking service website via mobile phones.

Players pay about 300 yen per drawing in a lottery in the game to win virtual items. If they combine items they win in a certain order, they can obtain rare items. The possessors of these rare items gain an advantage in playing games, thereby becoming the envy of other game players.

Items can be bought and sold among players, so it is possible to earn profits by selling them at high prices.

Games played on social networking service websites enthrall players by stimulating a sense of superiority and achievement as well as a desire to gamble.

If players draw in the lottery many times, they end up having to pay a huge amount of charges added to bills for mobile phone service.


High price to pay

It is not a problem if mature adults play online games because they can take responsibility for themselves. But it is problematic if children are caught up in such games. Consumer consulting offices have received one complaint after another from the guardians of children, including one case in which a middle school student was charged 400,000 yen for one month.

The Consumer Affairs Agency has decided to regulate kompu gacha after concluding it is a sales practice banned by the Law against Unjustifiable Premiums and Misleading Representations, as in the case of selling the cards of professional baseball players, which was extremely popular among boys between 1945 and 1955. But it is difficult to apply the law to quasi-gacha games, which differ slightly from the practice of collecting and trading in baseball cards.


Restrictions necessary

In other mobile phone games, too, players are attracted by advertisements promising no fees "in principle." But players have to buy items if they want to take the games to a higher level. This framework is adopted in most of these games. They are no different from kompu gacha games in that children are tempted to pay a huge amount of money to play the games.

Six major mobile phone game operators, including GREE, Inc. and DeNA Co., have decided to abolish their kompu gacha games before the end of this month and study compiling self-restraint guidelines on all their social networking games.

Some measures must be taken to set the age limit for players of social mobile games. It will be also necessary to prevent virtual items earned through the games from being exchanged for money.

The social gaming market has grown by leaps and bounds, with annual sales now reaching 250 billion yen. If the market is to expand further, it will be necessary to restructure the business model for such games. Individual corporate visions and the industry-wide stance must be reviewed in this regard.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 29, 2012)
(2012年5月29日01時59分  読売新聞)


海底資源開発 政府主導で戦略を構築せよ

2012-05-30 04:46:39 | 英字新聞

The Yomiuri Shimbun (May. 29, 2012)
Govt must establish strategy to develop seafloor resources
海底資源開発 政府主導で戦略を構築せよ(5月28日付・読売社説)

Abundant natural resources are sleeping under the seafloor in Japan's exclusive economic zone.

We think the government needs to play a leading role in devising measures to aggressively develop and effectively use them.

The government has started to review the Basic Plan on Ocean Policy, a set of guidelines for medium- and long-term ocean policies. It plans to formulate a new plan within the current fiscal year.

The commanding organ for the work is the Ocean Policy Headquarters, which consists of the prime minister and all other cabinet ministers. We hope the headquarters will strategically work on not only the problem of resources but also other topics, such as measures to assist remote islands and environmental protection.


High hopes for 'ice that burns'

We have high expectations for the development of methane hydrate, dubbed "the ice that burns," and other important resources. Methane hydrate, which contains abundant amounts of natural gas, is widely distributed under the seafloor.

With nuclear power facing an unclear future, it is important for the country to increase the amount of natural gas it can obtain in its own backyard, from the viewpoint of securing a variety of energy resources.

The government carried out drilling operations in the Pacific Ocean off the coasts of Aichi and Mie prefectures in February and March. The existence of a methane hydrate layer was confirmed after digging 200 to 300 meters down from the seafloor 1,000 meters beneath the water's surface.

It has been estimated this sea area alone has reserves of natural gas equal to more than 10 years worth of Japan's annual imports of liquefied natural gas.

Following the drilling operations, the world's first production test for extracting natural gas from methane hydrate in the seafloor will start in January next year. Taking into account the future production of natural gas from methane hydrate, Japan should also promote the development of the necessary equipment.

Meanwhile, seafloor hydrothermal deposits, which contain copper, zinc and rare minor metals, are also seen as a promising natural resource. The government has been conducting deep-sea research in two ocean areas: one in the sea around Okinawa and the other between the Izu Islands and the Ogasawara Islands.


Utilize continental shelf

Based on results of test drilling and investigations of methane hydrate and seafloor hydrothermal deposits, the government plans to make final judgments on whether to go ahead with commercial production of the resources in fiscal 2018. We expect a path to utilizing seafloor resources will open.

The fact that a seafloor area of about 310,000 square kilometers in the Pacific Ocean off Japan was newly recognized as part of the nation's continental shelf is a positive factor for the nation's ocean resource development. We believe active utilization of the continental shelf must be clearly positioned in the new basic plan.

To promote seafloor resource development in a stable manner, it is necessary to set certain rules.

Enforcement of the revised Mining Law in January enabled the government to take the lead in specifying candidate sites for extracting seafloor resources, such as oil and natural gas, and selecting developers.

The revised law also enables the government to control illegal exploration activities for resources, including those conducted by foreign vessels. Patrol operations by the Japan Coast Guard must of course be beefed up.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 28, 2012)
(2012年5月28日01時17分  読売新聞)


島サミット 米と連携し中国進出に対処を

2012-05-29 09:43:03 | 英字新聞

The Yomiuri Shimbun (May. 28, 2012)
Strengthen intl ties in Pacific to deal with China's assertiveness
島サミット 米と連携し中国進出に対処を(5月27日付・読売社説)

Japan's efforts to support development of the island countries that dot the Pacific will surely enhance the stability of the region.

Bearing the rapidly growing assertiveness of China in mind, it is indispensable for Japan to beef up cooperation with the United States in tackling this task.

The Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting (PALM) in Nago, Okinawa Prefecture, with leaders of 12 island countries, including Palau, and one territory attending, wrapped up after finishing its two-day program on Friday and Saturday.

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, who chaired the meeting, said at a news conference after the close of the summit, "Both Japan and Pacific island countries are vulnerable to natural disasters, and we would like to share lessons of Japan's natural disasters [with them]." Noda stressed the importance of a joint declaration adopted in the latest PALM that puts top priority on antidisaster measures.

In the declaration, Japan promises to support improvement of an "early warning system for disasters" to help Pacific island countries prepare for earthquakes, tsunami and other natural calamities. Japan has also pledged to launch a "natural disaster risk insurance" program on a pilot basis to help Pacific island countries cover damage from natural disasters in cooperation with the World Bank.


A precious diplomatic asset

Noda said at the news conference: "Japan's fiscal conditions are tight, as we need to reconstruct areas devastated by the [March 11] disaster. Even so, we should not be inward-looking but seek to be a country that will continue to contribute to peace and prosperity in the world." The prime minister expressed Japan's intention to offer up to 500 million dollars (about 40 billion yen) in official development assistance over the next three years for such endeavors. The figure is equivalent to the sum the country gave out in the previous three years combined.

PALM has been held every three years under Japan's sponsorship since 1997. The latest summit is the sixth.

The Japanese government's continued support for the island countries, successfully nurturing their confidence in this country, is a precious diplomatic asset.

Notably during the latest summit, a meeting was held between leaders of the island countries and Japan's business leaders, including executives of Japanese companies, to expedite private investment. The government, together with the private sector, should proceed with carefully considered diplomacy to assist Pacific island countries.

Also taken up in the latest PALM were issues involving the marine environment and marine resources development.

China, too, has been proactively practicing assistance diplomacy toward Pacific island countries. Beijing has surpassed Japan in terms of the amount of assistance cash, and is believed to place third on the list of donor countries after Australia and the United States.


China's strategic thinking

In particular, China's assistance to such countries as Papua New Guinea and Fiji, which have abundant mineral and other natural resources, has been sharply increasing.

Fiji, which skipped the island countries summit this time, has seen its relations with the United States and Europe deteriorating recently. It may be inclined to deepen its ties with China.

Chinese leaders such as Premier Wen Jiabao and Vice President Xi Jinping have been making visits to these countries almost every year.

In addition to port calls to these countries by Chinese Navy warships and military assistance to them, the number of Chinese immigrants to Pacific island countries has reportedly been rising steadily. This may be part of China's strategic thinking.

This year, delegates from the United States took part in the triennial PALM event for the first time. The administration of President Barack Obama, with growing wariness toward Beijing, has shifted its diplomatic focus to the Asia-Pacific region and is building close relations with Pacific island countries.

The government should continue making efforts for stable development of the Pacific region by joining hands with the United States as well as Australia and New Zealand, which are PALM members.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 27, 2012)
(2012年5月27日01時42分  読売新聞)



2012-05-28 14:13:01 | 英字新聞








特許の国際戦略 「知財大国」中国への対策急げ

2012-05-28 05:17:03 | 英字新聞



The Yomiuri Shimbun (May. 27, 2012)
International patent strategy needed against China
特許の国際戦略 「知財大国」中国への対策急げ(5月26日付・読売社説)

Taking advantage of intellectual property rights such as patents and enhancing Japan's industrial competitiveness through them will be an engine for the nation's growth. In that sense, it is urgent to implement measures regarding China, which is becoming a superpower in terms of intellectual property.

A concern for Japan is the increase in patent applications in China.

China surpassed Japan in terms of the number of patent applications in 2010. China's total--about 530,000--became the world's largest last year, exceeding the about 510,000 applications in the United States.

The Chinese government has a plan to boost the annual number of applications for intellectual property rights, including patents and rights of industrial design, to 2.5 million in 2015, nearly twice the current figure.

Reflecting this government policy, Chinese companies are apparently changing their way of thinking and trying to acquire rights on their technology as soon as possible.

In contrast, the number of patent applications was only 340,000 in Japan last year, representing the sixth consecutive year of decline. Behind this might be the fact that Japanese companies apply for patents on only a carefully selected few of the technologies they develop.

Nonetheless, the number of patent applications is one index to show the fundamental strength of the economy and the stances of companies that place importance on technological innovation. The trend of decline in Japan should be stopped.


China a hotbed of piracy

Meanwhile, China is often called a hotbed of piracy, where illicit copying of technologies developed by other countries and trademarks is rampant and causes constant damage to rights holders.

It was learned last year that a Chinese company filed patent applications in the United States for technology used in the chassis of a high-speed railway car that allegedly copied Japanese technology.

The number of disputes on intellectual property rights between China and other countries is increasing.

Apple Inc., manufacturer of the iPad tablet computer, is involved in a dispute with a Chinese company that claims it obtained the iPad trademark right before Apple.

Japanese companies doing business in China need to revamp their strategy. While implementing every countermeasure at hand to deal with piracy, they should shore up defenses of their intellectual property by more actively filing international patent applications.


Govt must support firms

Meanwhile, the Japanese government must support Japanese firms in filing international patent applications by urging Beijing to take measures to prevent violations of intellectual property rights.

We praise the Patent Agency for beginning to consider granting design rights for icons displayed on screens of personal computers and smartphones.

The necessity to protect such design rights is growing quickly. If Japan is slow in taking action, Chinese companies and others may steal their rights.

In the United States, where the patent act was extensively revised last year, President Barack Obama's administration is placing more importance on protection of intellectual property rights. Intensifying competition with the United States will also force the Japanese government and companies to strengthen their countermeasures toward that country.

The government and private sectors should work together to enhance effective utilization of the nation's intellectual property rights.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 26, 2012)
(2012年5月26日01時03分  読売新聞)