Japan Foreclosed Property 2015-2016 - Buy this 5th edition report!

Over the years, this ebook has been enhanced with additional research to offer a comprehensive appraisal of the Japanese foreclosed property market, as well as offering economic and industry analysis. The author travels to Japan regularly to keep abreast of the local market conditions, and has purchased several foreclosed properties, as well as bidding on others. Japan is one of the few markets offering high-yielding property investment opportunities. Contrary to the 'rural depopulation' scepticism, the urban centres are growing, and they have always been a magnet for expatriates in Asia. Japan is a place where expats, investors (big or small) can make highly profitable real estate investments. Japan is a large market, with a plethora of cheap properties up for tender by the courts. Few other Western nations offer such cheap property so close to major infrastructure. Japan is unique in this respect, and it offers such a different life experience, which also makes it special. There is a plethora of property is depopulating rural areas, however there are fortnightly tenders offering plenty of property in Japan's cities as well. I bought a dormitory 1hr from Tokyo for just $US30,000.
You can view foreclosed properties listed for as little as $US10,000 in Japan thanks to depopulation and a culture that is geared towards working for the state. I bought foreclosed properties in Japan and now I reveal all in our expanded 350+page report. The information you need to know, strategies to apply, where to get help, and the tools to use. We even help you avoid the tsunami and nuclear risks since I was a geologist/mining finance analyst in a past life. Check out the "feedback" in our blog for stories of success by customers of our previous reports.

Download Table of Contents here.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Entry criteria for skilled foreign migrants entering Japan

The Japanese government is responding to calls from foreign governments that it facilitate a process of allowing skilled foreigners to enter, work and permanently reside in Japan. The entrenched conservatism of Japanese constituents has historically hindered this trend, however the Abe administration is taking measures to do exactly that. This of course flies in the face of fears of 'nationalism' by Abe. We can consider such moves as sure evidence that Abe is simply appeasing all parties - 'being all things to all interests'.

If you are interested in this skilled visa offering you can appraise your applicability by going to the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOF). There are various excel spreadsheets you can download to self-assess your suitability. I have people say that they have been rejected despite having scored better than these numbers. This may reflect:
1. A cultural prejudice - whether justified or not. For instance, a graduate of the Nepal School of Business might not be highly regarded in Japan.
2. An over-estimate of one's skills - whether people think 'being published' is simply writing a book, versus being reviewed by a distinguished journal.
3. When they applied - There might in fact be a 'relaxation' of standards.

The rhetoric however is that Japan is applying high standards to vet candidates of a 'high quality'. This is perhaps to be expected given their 'conservatism'. The fact is however that Japan needs foreigners to prop up their population, and they also need to appear to be doing so with some regard for cultural sensitivity. It might look like the Japanese government does not have a plan, but its telling that both increases immigration and heightened nationalism are occurring concurrently. It is no accident. The government is attempting to desensitise nationalist or ultra-conservative sentiments.

A word of wisdom. If you are looking to reside in Japan, it is better to buy foreclosed property through the court system than private property through the normal channels. In rural areas, such property gets ridiculously cheap, but there is still a discount in the cities.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Accessing internet or email in Japan using free or paid Wifi

Japan has among the best internet or telephony services in the world - unfortunately they regulate it as if they were in a police state....which in a sense you are. The good news is that - if you don't hurt them, they don't hurt you. The flipside of that is that there is a great deal of caution or apprehension about 'all things foreigner'. You will miraculously 'smell like roses' if you are accompanied or can call upon a Japanese person to account for your 'fitness for being in Japan'. It makes all the difference.
Alone =  Stranger
With Japanese = Street credibility

This looks like racism; but I'm inclined to think of it as just old-fashion ignorance wrapped up in a very tragic sense of life deriving from their ignorance and risk avoidance. So when it comes to securing wifi access its harder, because you are required to overcome a hurdle - and that is being recognised as a resident. The only way to overcome that is being 'sponsored' by a Japanese citizen/resident. Now, I don't mean a formal 'sponsorship', but for Japanese it carries that stigma. If you have a Japanese girlfriend who trusts you, its easy. If you don't, then there is stigmatism for someone to trust you, because Japanese are kind of paranoid about attracting the wrong type of attention. Maybe the same as Westerners feel about the tax office. ...ok, Americans and Australian tax offices....if they aren't all bad enough.

If you don't have residency, or someone to act as a proxy for your 'residency', then there are fewer options for internet, but they are pretty good anyway.
1. Gaijin house - If you can afford a hotel room for a long time, you can pretty well afford any communications option, however most won't'. A low-cost accommodation option that comes with wifi usually is a Gaijin House. They generally offer accomodation by the week - though possibly for  month minimum. Rents are Y50,000 - 130,000 per month usually, but there list of locations in the major cities is impressive.
2. Softbank is one of the largest telephony companies in Japan. They offer internet for Y490 ($US6) per 24 hours day, through a regional wifi/cellphone network. Its effectively unliimited, but having used this service, I often found it a struggle to access. I think the reason is that data users get low priority, so in busy times, you simply don't get access. It might depend on your location, so give it a go. Its discretionary, so its not a huge commitment. You can access the service through your wifi link (they are all over Japan, but typically around train station hubs), or you can purchase using a credit card at https://exsupport.sbwifi.jp/service_web/en/index_pc.html.
3. Food/Coffee franchisees: The international fast-food companies like Starbucks and McDonalds offer wifi in-store, usually with online browser sign-in. In the case of Starbucks, you need to pre-register.  i.e. You need to be able to pre-access your email to get the code that you send yourself. See http://starbucks.wi2.co.jp/sp/sma_index_en.html. These services are free, however of course you need to buy food or a beverage.
4. Modem rental: There are several companies which allow you to rent wifi modems at the airport for use around Japan. These services take advantage of the extensive network coverage of telephony companies to offer Wifi. See http://japan-wireless.com or http://www.globaladvancedcomm.com/pocketwifi.html and http://www.globaldata.jp/en/?gclid=CPSG_dCGr70CFVcHvAodj5kAfg. They charge $9/day, and you can pick up the modem at the airport and drop it off when you leave.

Now, if you do have friends in Japan who can act as a sponsor for you, then you can get a SIM card. This means that you can get a pre-paid service, or even a contract if you are sure of staying a long time. This would entail you and a friend going to the local telephony company and buying a SIM card and 'flash modem' to plug into your USB slot. If you need English language support, try Bic Camera in Ikebukuro, Akihabara or Shibuya (precincts of Tokyo). Most telephony offices don't offer English support. If your airport has a suitable telco office (Docomo or Softbank), and your friend is at hand, then maybe the place to get you connected.

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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Holidaying in Japan

Japan has always been a very appealing place for me, for numerous reasons. Over the last 20 years I’ve lived there 3 years, and probably been there about 30 times….mostly because I never found the 90 day visa sufficient. In any respect, its pertinent to note the current appeal of Japan:
1. Gaijin houses - The ease of staying in the inner cities cheaply – Pay by the month for ‘Gaijin houses’ for $700-1000 per month. For shorter stays, men might want to try the ‘capsule hotels’ in most major cities, offering all night bath & sleep for Y3000-4000 in the entertainment districts. A great way to travel around Japan. 
2. Japan Rail - The low cost of tourist travel – get a Japan Rail Pass before the ‘huge concession’ disappears. JR will get you to most places; even if there are other networks. You can even ride the shinkansen fast-train service. 
3. Technology centre - The appeal of Japan as a technology ‘hub’ is in decline. Japan has largely been overtaken by other countries. There was a time when Japan offered train schedules, weather, maps on phones; when I-mode was leading Japan’s telco revolution. Those times have past. Now, Japan is only leading in the bathroom with its ‘lifestyle bath’ and toilet. Hardly ‘riveting’ cultural developments. Be sure to buy some cheap electronics there – you might need to go to places like Bic Camera to get English operating system.
4. The appeal of a big city – great restaurants, pubs. Tokyo has 20 mil people. Roppongi is the centre for expatriates; however I have just as thrilling experiences in rural areas…its different. The most appealing cities to me where Tokyo (culture & expat life), Hiroshima (bars in Tenjin) and Fukuoka (relaxed people)
5. The appeal of nature – With a JR Pass you can see parts of Japan which most Japanese have not seen. Japan’s nature is very special. The mountains are actually less appealing that the rivers and riverside villages. Don’t expect beautiful coastlines. The trains are the best way to see these idyllic ‘remote’ areas. The JR Pass is the key – along with the www.hyperdia.com English train schedule. I would literarily get on a local train to go to central Tokyo (Shinjuku-Chuo Line) to jump on a shinkansen to go 200-300km in an hour, then get a local train to these idyllic areas, then come back on another shinkansen line without booking. You just need to optimize by planning your connections, but not needing to book is so flexible. 
6. Expatriate lifestyle – meet other Western expatriates as well as Japanese people who want to meet Westerners
7. Safety – You are less likely to get ‘knocked off’ here than anywhere in the world. 
8. Currency – It is far easy to get money in Japan since Japan Post offered Cirrus-Maestro connectivity for all major credit cards. Know where your post office is located. This is important! 
9. Cultural icon – Japan is different! I don’t know another place like it. The people are unique; they’ve defined their own style; they life differently. They are interesting; and you might just note that they were ‘successful’ as a culture for a reason, though it might not appear so endearing today after 20 years of stagnation. Not everyone is friendly; but not always for the reasons you might think. They are different! 
10.   Bicycle experience - The bicycle is another great way to travel in Japan. Make sure you have a GPS; and note the importance of stream channels and rivers in defining paths. Rivers are great open spaces in Japan. 
11.   Learn about Japan - There is a Japan Times in most public libraries - in and outside of Japan.

Many Westerners would not go to Asia - too undeveloped. This is not Japan. Korea has the 'feel' of Japan 30 years ago. I'd not go to Korea unless you paid me. I can count my positive experiences there on my hand. Japan, I can get that from a single person. Lovely people; great place. Better still if you can find an opportunity to live there; whether its working as an English teacher, finance, software, tattooing, restaurant, etc. The first step is a holiday experience. 

Friday, September 20, 2013

Strong recovery in Japanese tourism since March 2011 earthquake/tsunami

The decision of the Abe administration to opt for monetary and fiscal stimulus in Japan is destined to see an increase in tourist numbers to Japan. Tourism collapsed in the wake of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in northern Honshu. The tsunami crippled the Fukushima nuclear power station, resulting in a melt down of a reactor, as well as severe and irrepairable damage to other reactors, closing the plant permanently. Today, there is a 'no-go zone' of 12km2 around the plant, as well as problems containing the contamination from the plant. High radioistope counts in the river and offshore have sparked import restrictions from countries like Korea. The concern of course is that Japan will dump contaminated food in foreign markets. 

On the positive side, the weakness is the Yen has prompted many people to travel to Japan. Perhaps they are avoiding the 'nuclear zone', located about 100km north of Tokyo's Narita International Airport. In any respect, Japan is 'cheap' because:
1. It has not experienced inflation thanks to weak wages growth and growing competition
2. Travel is still appealing with the Japan Rail Pass
3. The weak Yen, which is the result of low interest rates, a falling savings rate over the last decade
4. Expansion of the monetary base in recent times, which has effectively debased the currency.

Japan will of course be looking to strong exports and tourism to make up for the difference. It is a very attractive policy for the Japanese for several reasons:
1. There is still strong support for opening up Japan to immigration. Tourism helps to familiarise Japanese people with foreigners, because they still carry a great deal of apprehension. 
2. The influx of foreigners can be expected to contribute to the Japanese economic recovery, and thus, rather than being associated with high crime, they might instead be associated with a strong economy and prosperity. 

Nationalists will of course lament the 'selling out' to foreigners. This of course more likely a point of vulnerability when the Conservatives are in fact in power, so they will need to offset disgruntled Nationalists by sustaining the support of former Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) supporters. This seems likely.

To date the policy is working for tourism, given that tourist arrivals at Narita alone have grown from 321,625 in April 2011 (right after the quake/tsunami) to a 30-month high of 834,089 (March 2011).* The implication is that tourism levels have normalised; so it remains to be seen whether this trend will be sustained because globally tourism is weaker. There is of course the concern of Japan 'stimulating' its economy when the rest of the world is struggling with difficult trading conditions. This will of course mean that Japan just sucks in more imports. Greater tourism from Asia might be the saving 'grace' for the country. 

Japan has a lot to offer. I spent a month in Japan at my holiday home; a foreclosed property I bought some 10 years ago now. Japan surprisingly has the cheapest property in the world. My property was purchased for $28,000 at the time, and it costs me just $300 per annum in fees. The land is more valuable. I bought 7km from a major city centre and rail head, and its just 36 minutes by express train to Ikebukuro, on the edge of Tokyo city. There are smaller cities like Tokorazawa which are even closer. My local city however has plenty of restaurants, bars and department stores, so I need only go to the city to meet foreigners, and perhaps to buy electronics. I bought the property as a tourist, however home ownership is not a basis for staying in the country. You need to leave every 90-days...so I generally fly to the Philippines or HK and return. It is common to seek sponsorship to work in Japan with an English school in the country. If you want more information on foreclosed property, you might want to view this page. For more information on Japanese tourism, read my other posts, or you can ask me questions, and I'll respond on this blog by directing you to the update. 
* “Narita to retire inter-terminal buses, use walkways” by Tomohiro Osaki, Japan Times, website, SEP 20, 2013.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Japan liberalises visa restrictions on immediate family - Thai, Malaysians, Filipinos, Vietnamese

Prime Minister Abe - you nice guy you! Asian immigrants thank you
The Japanese government has taken a ground-breaking step towards the liberalisation of its visa restrictions for citizens of emerging market countries who are immediate family of residents of Japan. This move follows similar measures by NZ, which allowed Filipinos to travel to NZ as long as they could demonstrate sufficient financial resources. 
In the case of Filpinos, Vietnamese, Thais, Malaysians travelling to Japan, they are now able to get a 1-3 year multiple-entry visa if they are immediate family members (spouse or sibling) of a Japanese resident, who of course will be on a recognised resident visa. Filipinos can find further information at their embassy website.

These are very interesting developments because people might be interpreted with a degree of apprehensions in terms of his policy direction. In some respects, he might be construed as placating nationalist sentiments by canvassing military pre-emption, but on the other hand he is canvassing liberal policies such as these. Is he attempting to be all things to all persons, or is he secretly, just a nice guy? 

The reality is I suggest that Japan is passing through another period of reawakening and this is just another step/sign that this is the case. This is not a 'nationalist' measure by any means. This is contemporaneously the type of policy we would expect of a third world country, and the fact that Japan has belatedly joined the trade negotiations is another sign. Its 'pragmatic' exclusion of rice from trade protectionism might be construed as contrary to these steps, but I simply see rice as Japan's welfare state for its aging population. Why would you not want to keep your aging population gainfully employed? Too many anti-intellectual 'conservative' libertarians would deplore such a policy, but in the context of an aging population that needs work, if their pay was not sucking in imports, as its not, its hard not to sanction such measures as supportive of domestic economic activity. In this sense, I have always welcomed the common-sense public policy that develops in Japan. Japan does not readily sink into the liberal-conservative false dichotomy. Some parties of course appeal to anti-intellectual constituencies. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Mixed nuts anyone?

One of the pleasures of living in Japan is the food. Japanese people are passionate about food. As it will be demonstrated; all types of food. There was an interesting story in Japan Today about a group of asexual men who served up their testicles to a group of attendees to a party.
There is no law against such practices in Japan, so you might wonder whether they should be charged. The police finally came up with a charge for 'the display of obscene objects'.
Since I lean towards the plant-variety of nuts, I was more interested in the ethical aspects of this story. It raises interesting questions about the efficacy of the law. Consider:
1. The apparent arbitrariness of laws that people can cause injury to others and seemingly get away with it because there is no historic case to draw a 'precedence' or no 'provision' for such an act, merely because there was no anticipation of the act.
2. The spectre of a police force charging a person with a dubious law merely because they are incensed by the act, or because it caused public outrage

The problem of course is that this act is indeed immoral; even if it is not illegal. The law ought to reflect legal concepts. This case illustrates the fact that there is no link. The problem with the acts of these men is clearly that they deceived the attendees of this event. Would there be so much outrage if the host had served water buffalo meat? Probably not. What if it was cow's testicles? What if the consumers were very pleased with the delicious taste of their 'mixed nuts' and only became incensed by the nature of their act, i.e. There is of course a psychological implication to their act. There is of course a difficulty defining exactly what is appropriate and what is not. Frog testicles are probably less controversial.
Certainly given the nature of the crime, the hosts intended to cause a spectacle. They did seek to determine whether their acts were illegal, but apparently they thought legality was a substitute for morality. There was no physical consequence; though there might well be a psychological impact. What punitive measure should be taken for such a deception:
1. Self-funded counselling and psychological admittance
2. Fine of Y2.5mil as indicated
3. Criminal incarceration
4. Refund for non-performance
5. Another appetizer?
I personally think the psychological counselling is an appropriate measure as well as a refund.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Longer 5-year working visa for expatriate residents of Japan

For Westerners getting a working visa in Japan, the terms are getting sweeter. It is now possible to get a 5-year visa, with an automatic multiple re-entry....well I'm assuming that is only if you have a job, but I'm not sure about that. What I can tell you is before that many people struggled to even get a 3-year visa. I had no problem, but that might be because my first visas to Japan were sponsored by two of the largest corporations in Japan - Sumitomo Group and Mitsubishi Materials. I've spoken to Americans who've said that they were only ever given 1-year visas, and that they had to go to Immigration to update them each year.
The new system will be much appreciated. Read about the revision of policy in this Japan Times article.

I fully recommend taking the opportunity to work in Japan - the most popular areas are English teaching, finance and recruitment. It is relatively hard to get a business visa. You need to set up a business, prepare a business plan, etc. Sounds reasonable, but for some the process will be too onerous.

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