Yeah I always wondered what their strategy for Japan was - didn't seem cheaper or better in any way than competitors, aside from a few foreign goods that few Japanese buy anyway (I bought a lot myself though). Would have thought they would try to differentiate themselves by instore bakeries or some such.
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The fee for the transfer isn't normally where the banks make their real money. The real money is in the "spread" (difference between what they will buy and sell currency at). Been using Ozforex for a while and get closer to bank rates (service operated by Macquarie bank out of Australia).
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I've never read this anywhere else - I assume it would be easy enough to check up on (if you read Japanese well) due to the amount of names & dates listed:
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Posted in: Empress Masako turns 58