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Weekly thoughts: China and Japan: frenemies; Vietnam Airlines comes to Tokyo; and so does Eslite books; a robot for every home

Just a thought to start: far away from the noise of crashing share prices, Asian companies - especially the private ones that are our speciality at scoutAsia - are continuing to grow and build value. And here is this week's collection of news and insight you may have missed:

  • China and Japan perfectly encapsulate one of those ugly new terms we have inherited from the technology industry: frenemies. Geopolitically, their interests diverge sharply but economically they only stand to gain from co-operation. Both aspects will be on display as Shinzo Abe flies to Beijing today - the first visit by a sitting Japanese prime minister to China in seven years.
  • He is bringing a large delegation of Japanese business leaders and hoping to sign dozens of deals. The two countries are planning to start more than 50 infrastructure projects across the region, starting with a smart city in Thailand, and streamlining customs procedures to make bilateral trade easier.
  • While urging its companies to invest on the mainland, however, the Japanese government itself wants to end development aid to China.  Not surprising, perhaps, given a new report that shows China's household wealth, at $52 trillion, now exceeds Japan's.
  • Guess where else in the Asian region Japan is putting more and more focus and investment dollars? Vietnam Airlines is increasing its flights to Japan by 10 per week to 80. 
  • Also heading to Japan is Eslite, often described as the best bookshop chain in the Chinese-speaking world, which aims to open its first branch in Tokyo next year. Check out our profile of its Taiwanese parent company, which also operates restaurants, hotels and commercial centres. 
  • Meanwhile, Preferred Networks, Japan's top unicorn with an estimated value of $2 billion, is promising consumers an all-purpose household robot within five years. At this point, the company's robots can apparently tidy up a room...but making dinner is still a little complicated.

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