6 February, 2006

japan blogs vs u.s. blogs

East meets west. Mutantfrog reviews the top-10 blogs in Japan and the United States.:

..what do other East Asian blogs look like? What about, just for example, the highest ranked Japanese blogs on Technorati?

(Note about Technorati from their About section: “Technorati displays what’s important in the blogosphere — which bloggers are commanding attention, what ideas are rising in prominence, and the speed at which these conversations are taking place.” Hence, these rankings are a measure of what people with blogs are linking to, not the number of page views, influence, revenue, or any other factor (as far as I can tell))

For starters, let’s see what’s out there. Here’s a quick rundown of the top ten blogs in Japan and the US/English-speaking world (for comparison)….

(Japan Number 5) Kaori Manabe is a popular (not to mention beautiful) model/actress/all-around talent, perhaps best known outside Japan for her role in the 2001 film Waterboys. Her blog has gained fame for its frequent updates, endless blathering on trivial topics, and plentiful photos of Manabe-chan.

Latest post: A Friendly Fire Festival

Inanity abounds:

There’s a very strange person called Mr. A that I see all the time on location. 

Is he an airhead? Well, he’s more of a socially inept ‘go my own way’ type of guy. H

His special feature is to make statements that surprise people without meaning to at all.

His hobbies are playing the horses and movies (mostly thrillers).

His private life is shrouded in mystery (but he absolutely does not have a girlfriend).


After that, we started talking about taking baths that only come up to one’s lower chest, something that he has been into recently, and he once again started in on his particulars regarding half-body-bathingI am also quite particular about my bathing habits, and have bath powders, candles, germanium, a bathroom television, plenty of bath goods, but Mr. A said “First I buy bath powders at a convenience store…”

“they sell them, you know? Something water, some such thing…”I see…… ( ̄~ ̄)

Mr. A: “And then, I fill the bathtub all the way with hot water…”Ooohhhhhh… (ー∇ー;)

Mr. A: “Then I put in the bath powder that I bought, and mix it in with my hands….”

Yes, yes? (_´ω`)

Mr. A: “And then….”

And then?!???????(’▽‘;;) (heart pounding)

Mr. A: “Then I get in”


I was stupid for listening with anticipation…

No more!

Looks like Mr. A might be an airhead after all…

And people read this! Reminds me a lot of Xia Xue


by @ 11:37 pm. Filed under Japan, Blogs, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Weblogs


At Worth 1000, real people photoshopped into manga-style characters:


(Via Boing Boing)

by @ 9:23 pm. Filed under Japan, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia

’irrational’ non-exuberance

After the sudden of burst of activity last week, when every second post here was about internet companies in China, AsiaPundit was not going to touch the topic today. However, Tom Zeller Jr today said something in the New York Times that struck a nerve.:

What if Chinese law required Internet companies to reveal the identities of all users who forwarded really bad e-mail jokes, lame chain letters or any messages containing the terms “free speech,” “Tiananmen Square” or “Super Freak,” because such activities carried a 10-year prison term?

“With all due respect to the memory of Rick James, the king of funk,” an executive might say, “we must abide by the laws of the countries in which we operate.”

And what if — as a mark of good faith for being permitted to do business in what any rational observer has to admit is now the most tantalizing Internet and technology market on the planet — an executive from each company were required to assist, mano a mano, in the beating of an imprisoned blogger?

While Tom makes a few interesting points, AsiaPundit is going to be “irrational” and suggest that China’s internet market is far from the most tantalizing on the planet. Off the top of the head, AsiaPundit would suggest that the most-tantalizing internet markets are — in descending order — the wealthy and tech-savvy United States, followed by the EU, e-commerce friendly Japan and possibly then the well-wired South Korea. China would certainly be in the top-10, and maybe even the top five, but it’s not the most tantalizing by a longshot.

Here’s a note from a MarketWatch item on Google’s prospects in China, issued after the China censorship issue was announced but ahead of the company’s earnings announcement. ():

One Wall Street analyst wrote in a report that Google’s China decision could cost more than it’s worth in the short term.

“We do not see meaningful revenue” in China for Google in the near term, UBS analyst Benjamin Schachter told clients Wednesday.

“We are concerned that the inevitable negative PR will damage Google’s brand,” wrote Schachter, who has a buy rating on Google shares.

Schachter downgraded Google to neutral after the earnings announcement, via Dow Jones:

UBS cut Google Inc. (GOOG) to neutral from buy, due to concerns over international revenue growth and the rising investment needed to potentially improve performance in key international markets.

The analysts said that while it agrees with Google that these markets provide important potential opportunities, it may take “longer than expected to effectively monetize them.”

UBS’ China analyst was bearish on the company’s prospects here ahead of the formal launch of the China portal:

Eric Wen, the UBS Internet analyst based in Asia, sums up what he believes are some of the prevailing issues in China for Google in a research report published this month.

Mr. Wen believes that Google is still testing the waters, and does not yet have a clear China strategy. Google has partnered with NetEase and Sina uses Google for some of its technology, but Google.com is facing a dilemma in China. The company recently began conforming to Chinese censorship standards, but Mr. Wen believes that Chinese users chose Google precisely because it was not censored. By conforming to the government standards, Google is trying to enable itself to enter the market in terms of attracting local businesses to advertise. However, by conforming, Google loses its differentiator. This is a dilemma for Google and the reason Mr. Wen believes that Google will not dominate the Chinese search market.

As Bill Bishop noted, China is not an essential market for Google to be in financially:

I am guessing that Google will be happy if they can generate $30M in revenue in China in 2006. Baidu, the market leader, is projected to generate somewhere between $65-70M in revenue in 2006. I believe Google is expected to generate over $8B in revenue worldwide in 2006. If my math is anywhere in the ballpark, China will account for LESS THAN 2 DAYS of Google’s 2006 revenue. And given the economics of the keyword value chain in China, that revenue should be significantly lower margin revenue than is US revenue. So if the China business went away, would investors care?

Perry Wu, in an exceptionally bearish item, says bluntly that Google will have about as much success as its Western rivals who are also getting lambasted on blogs, in the press and Congress. Basically, very little.:

Yahoo (YHOO) tried many times to adapt. As far back as 1998 (or Web 0.98 Beta) when its then-VP, Heather Killen, made high-profile visits to China, the Western Internet company tried to sit at the Chinese banquet table. But Yahoo finally gave up last year when it bought a billion dollar stake in China’s Alibaba.com and then gave Alibaba the rights to run Yahoo! China. There was not even a whimper from the company as its Chinese portal was torn down and replaced with a simple search engine. Sohu (SOHU), Sina (SINA), and Netease (NTES) had finally beaten the foreign interloper.

Lycos tried too. It bought firms like Myrice.com. Netscape tried, via AOL. MSN has also been bobbling along with a few victories here and a few setbacks there–nothing much to be proud of.

All of these companies have one thing in common: they entered China to win, but left only remnants of their power after a few years’ struggle. Chinese history is filled with tales of foreigners coming to the Middle Kingdom with money, but leaving the country poor, confused and embarrassed. Ask Chris Patten.

While the UBS boys, Wu, Bishop and others may be a touch , none are irrational. China’s internet penetration rate is still growing at an impressive pace, but the rate is slowing and the average user is still not deep-pocketed.

There’s a great deal of cash to be made in providing infrastructure for the build out of third-generation networks and broadband capacity, but there’s not a lot yet there for search- or advertising-based business models; certainly not when compared to Western markets.

Zeller is not the first pundit to hype the China market, most commentary seems to assume that the companies that are active here are putting principle at risk over in order to get massive returns. That’s far from true.

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by @ 7:16 pm. Filed under South Korea, Blogs, China, Money, Asia, East Asia, Economy, Northeast Asia, Media, Web/Tech, Weblogs, Censorship

prison camp musical

South Korea’s current leadership is allegedly pressuring sponsors to pull funding from a musical about a North Korean prison camp, which is apparently "too negative" about conditions in the camp. While AsiaPundit generally would not support a musical, especially one that is as of yet unseen, AP wonders: ‘Is there any way donors outside of South Korea can contribute funds to get this made?‘:

A planned musical about human rights abuses in North Korea’s Yoduk concentration camp has run into massive obstacles, not least from officials fearful of upsetting the Stalinist country.

South Korean government agencies are demanding changes to the story, which they say dwells too heavily on the negative aspects of the camp, according to producers. Officials also allegedly invoked the National Security Law to warn producers against showing a portrait of former leader Kim Il-sung and the singing of North Korean songs in the show….

200602050001 01

“Yoduk Story” focuses on a camp where 20,000 inmates work more than 14 hours a day living on just one bowl of cereal and a spoonful of salt. Those who try to escape are executed by hanging or stoning because the authorities do not want to waste bullets killing them.

But its scheduled debut in March is now in jeopardy. Reportedly under official pressure, more than half its budget of W700 million has disappeared, making it difficult to feed producers and cast.

"After reading our script, government officials demanded that we change part of the story, saying it’s too much,” Chung said. “I got a phone call, I don’t know if it was a government official, saying ‘It’s so easy to get you. You will be punished.’”

But Chung is determined to plough on. When Seoul KyoYuk Munhwa Hoekwan promised to show the musical in its theater last December, Chung borrowed W20 million against a contract to sell his left kidney. His father was publicly stoned to death in a Hoeryeong concentration camp in 2002. “I feel that my father is watching over our rehearsals,” Jeong says.

Private citizens are also chipping in. One elderly woman sent a gold ring, a jade ring and a pair of earrings after reading about the show, and an elderly man sent a box containing W500 coins, W1,000 bills and W10,000 bills totaling W10 million.

(Via Mingi)

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by @ 1:58 pm. Filed under South Korea, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, North Korea

domestic press and the firewall

Via the Taipei Times, Rebecca MacKinnon analyzes the role of search engines in China’s broader repression of the media.:

YahooWriting in Shanghai in the 1930s, China’s great essayist Lu Xun(魯迅) once observed: "Today there are all kinds of weeklies. Although their distribution is not very wide, they are shining in the darkness like daggers, letting their comrades know who is attacking the old, strong castles."

Muckraking broadsheets in the first half of the last century played cat-and-mouse games with Chinese government censors, ultimately helping to expose the corruption and moral bankruptcy of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government and contributing to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) victory in 1949.

If this sounds familiar, it is because the CCP never forgets its history — and is determined to prevent history from repeating itself. Thus, China’s rulers acted in character last December, when they cracked down on news organizations that were getting a bit too assertive.

The editor and deputy editors of Beijing News, a relatively new tabloid with a national reputation for exposing corruption and official abuse, were fired. In protest, more than 100 members of the newspaper’s staff walked out.

Most Chinese might not have known about the walkout if it hadn’t been for Chinese bloggers. An editorial assistant at the New York Times, Zhao Jing (趙京), writing under the pen name Michael Anti, broke the news on his widely read Chinese-language blog. He exposed details of behind-the-scenes politics and called for a public boycott of the newspaper, evoking strong public sympathy for the journalists, which was expressed online in chatrooms and blogs.

Zhao’s blog wasn’t under the direct control of the CCP’s propaganda department. It was published through a Chinese-language blog-hosting service run by Microsoft’s MSN Spaces. On Dec. 30, Zhao’s blog disappeared. Since then, Microsoft has confirmed that its staff removed the blog from an MSN Internet server, citing the need to respect Chinese law when doing business in China.

Microsoft’s contribution to Chinese political repression follows Yahoo’s role in the sentencing of a dissident reporter and Google’s decision not to display search results that are blocked by what has become known as the Great Chinese Firewall. Indeed, China has developed the world’s most sophisticated system of Internet censorship, thereby hiding information unfavorable to China’s rulers from all but the most technologically savvy. The system is bolstered by human surveillance carried out not only by government employees but also by private service providers.
(image stolen from here.)

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by @ 1:13 pm. Filed under Blogs, China, Cambodia, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Media

the pleasure

Indo-Japanese joint venture Hero-Honda has launched a new ‘women-only’ scooter named The Pleasure. Like Neelakantan at Interim Thoughts, AsiaPundit also wonders, does this bike have any features that would appeal to women - the name indicates some possibilities.:


Hero Honda is not really known for innovation as much as sitting on its laurels. With the base of its bread and butter models the stage was set for the company to do something spectacular. Both Bajaj and TVS have done so on their own right, but HH to me, is a fuddy duddy. The launch of Pleasure does nothing to change this perception. Note that I write this without riding Pleasure. Whats the big idea in marketing a scooter to women? Especially when there is nothing "different" about it? The variomatic segment has a solid performer in Activa, stylish Dio, good looking Nova, youthful Scooty and now a women only Pleasure?

I think Pleasure has got its strategy wrong. By saying women (and only women), they are losing a good part of the market. Now, no young college lad will ever buy it (they do buy variomatics, it is not only women who drive variomatics). I am not saying marketing to women is wrong, but I would go the Scooty way with a Preity Zinta, subtle yet leaving the positioning as "youth". Scooty does have some smart features too. Why will a girl buy Pleasure? Whats the compelling feature in it? There are many things that can be designed to appeal to women in a bike like this, but this is just hollow marketing.

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by @ 8:08 am. Filed under Japan, India, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, South Asia

the philippines vs india

In a BBC survey, the Philippines in the only country where the majority respondents have negative views of India. Manish at Sepia Mutiny asks “why does the Philippines hate India?”

A new BBC World poll says that people in the Philippines, South Korea, France, Finland and Brazil think India is a negative influence on the world (via Style Station). Pakistan was not polled. On the other hand, Iran, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, the UK and Russia rate India highly. Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the African countries polled are most neutral about India, while Sri Lanka and India are most neutral about the U.S.

Though India’s global profile has grown significantly over the last year, it fails to elicit strong feelings… The exceptions are two Muslim countries with positive views: Iran (71% positive) and Afghanistan (59% positive). The only country with widespread negative views is the Philippines (57% negative). Notably, India’s small neighbor Sri Lanka has a mere 4 percent reporting negative views and a robust 49 percent expressing a positive one.

Europeans are divided about India. At the positive end of the spectrum is Great Britain (49% positive, 30% negative) and Russia (47% positive, 10% negative), while at the other end are France and Finland—both being 27 percent positive and 44 percent negative. The US leans slightly positively (39% positive, 35% negative).


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by @ 7:50 am. Filed under India, Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia, Philippines, South Asia

we are all brack people



While traveling in South Korea, Boing Boing reader Newley Purnell
happened upon a box of black-colored condoms in a Seoul shop. The copy
on the box reads, "Keep it real. Keep on faith. Keep on going. Piece!
Stay real! We are all brack people." to one photo, and . "There’s so much to analyze that I don’t even know where to start," says Newley.

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by @ 7:21 am. Filed under South Korea, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia

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