Move over azuki and sweet sticky rice. While Japanese pastry chefs may have started using cocoa a few centuries after the West, this once foreign flavour has captivated Japan's confectionery world. Japanese chocolate makers and pastry chefs were the star guests at the 17th Salon du Chocolat held in Paris this week. One of them, Susumu Koyama, 47, was even named "Best Foreign Chocolatier" -- winning out over top masters from celebrated chocolate-making nations like Belgium and Switzerland.
An app offering real-time translations is to allow people in Japan to speak to foreigners over the phone with both parties using their native tongue. NTT Docomo - the country's biggest mobile network - will initially convert Japanese to English, Mandarin and Korean, with other languages to follow. It is the latest in a series of telephone conversation translators to launch in recent months.
Softbank Corp. (9984)’s bid for control of Sprint Nextel Corp. (S) is adding to evidence that Japan Inc.’s overseas buying spree isn’t about to abate. Softbank, Japan’s third-largest wireless carrier, agreed to pay $20.1 billion to acquire about a 70 percent stake in Sprint, according to a statement issued in Tokyo today. That would make it the country’s biggest outbound acquisition on record.
Two of Japan's biggest steelmakers will formally merge on Monday, creating the world's second largest firm in the sector as they look to outpace their Chinese and South Korean rivals. Nippon Steel, the nation's number one steel company and third-ranked rival Sumitomo Metal Industries will combine to form a giant second only to India's ArcelorMittal.
Japanese retailers are vying to cash in on the country's drive for energy-savings this winter season by offering a new selection of thermal underwear. Major clothing retailer Uniqlo is expanding its lineup of popular winter underwear to include products for toddlers. Retail chain Seiyu has developed a new line of thermal underwear at a 20 percent discount to last year. Stores are expecting higher demand for winter underwear as consumers prepare to turn down the heat in the face of power rate hikes.
A regional bank in Gifu Prefecture on Wednesday began using new ATMs that allow customers to withdraw cash, make deposits and check account balances through simple palm scans. The cardless service offered by Ogaki Kyoritsu Bank requires customers to input their birthday, put their palm on the scanner and input their PIN code. Preregistration is required.