News Column

Kyodo news summary -10-

February 25, 2014

TOKYO, Feb. 25 -- (Kyodo) _ ---------- Japan ready for early conclusion of FTA talks with Australia

SINGAPORE - Japan's economic and fiscal policy minister Akira Amari on Tuesday expressed willingness to conclude a free trade deal with Australia at an early date.

"We are making efforts to yield a concrete outcome in spring," Amari, who is also in charge of the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade talks, said at a joint press conference held by the 12 TPP countries after they wrapped up a ministerial meeting in Singapore.

---------- Cerberus agrees to sell portion of Seibu shares

TOKYO - Cerberus Capital Management LP, the biggest shareholder in Japan railway and hotel chain operator Seibu Holdings Inc., has agreed to sell some Seibu shares, paving the way for Seibu's listing on the Tokyo Stock Exchange in April at the earliest, sources familiar with the matter said Tuesday.

The holding company of Seibu Railway Co. and the Prince Hotel chain applied in January to list its shares on the Tokyo bourse. Seibu Railway was delisted in December 2004 for falsifying financial statements and reorganized into the current structure in 2006.

---------- Japan asks Saudi Arabia to scrap restrictions on Japanese food imports

TOKYO - Japan requested Tuesday that Saudi Arabia relax or eliminate import restrictions on Japanese food products, the Foreign Ministry said Tuesday.

Parliamentary Senior Vice Foreign Minister Nobuo Kishi lodged the request in a meeting in Tokyo with Nizar bin Obaid Al Madani, the Saudi minister of state for foreign affairs. Madani said the Middle East country will study the request with high interest, the ministry said.

---------- Vice defense minister to attend security conference in U.K.

TOKYO - The Defense Ministry said Tuesday it will dispatch Vice Defense Minister Masanori Nishi to an international conference on security to be held in Britain from Thursday.

Chinese and South Korean officials are also expected to attend the conference held by the Ditchley Foundation, with a major topic being a possible arms race in Asia.

---------- Japan-China-S. Korea cultural exchange project starts in Yokohama

YOKOHAMA - A cultural exchange program involving China, Japan and South Korea started Tuesday in Yokohama, with the hope of fostering better ties between the three countries.

The cultural event entitled "Culture City of East Asia 2014 Yokohama" comes at a time of strained ties between Japan and its two neighbors amid tensions over territory and differing perceptions of history.

---------- Malaysia remains bogged down by domestic concerns in TPP talks

SINGAPORE - The Malaysian trade minister said Tuesday that Malaysia will continue to seek flexibility and carve-outs on some contentious issues it faces such as its pro-Malays affirmative action policy and government procurement for a trans-Pacific free trade pact.

"I think we are the country with the most number of difficulties. On the scale of 1 to 12, we are No. 12," Trade Minister Mustapa Mohamad said in a press briefing at the end of a four-day Trans-Pacific Partnership ministerial meeting in Singapore.

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Source: Japan Economic Newswire

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