News Column

Kyodo Top12 News (13:10)

May 1, 2014


Japan, China, S. Korea finance chiefs to forgo meeting for 2nd year

TOKYO - Japan, China and South Korea are likely to forgo a meeting of their finance ministers and central bank chiefs for the second consecutive year on the sidelines of the Asian Development Bank-related meetings starting Friday in Kazakhstan, sources close to the matter said Friday. South Korean financial chiefs are expected to skip the meeting even if it is held, in light of the April 16 sinking of a ferry that left more than 300 people dead or missing. Last year, no such meeting was held due to political tensions over issues such as the territorial dispute between Japan and China over the Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, which China claims as Diaoyu.


S. Korea court rejects suit seeking return of statue to Japan

SEOUL - The Seoul Administrative Court on Friday rejected a suit filed by a citizen's group seeking to have a Buddhist statue stolen from a Japanese shrine and smuggled into South Korea returned to its Japanese owner. The court said the plaintiff, Buddhist monk Hye Moon, is ineligible to file the suit, as he is not the owner of the statue. The standing statue of Shaka Nyorai, a nationally designated important cultural property, was stolen from a shrine on the Japanese island of Tsushima in October 2012. Moon, 41, leads an organization that seeks the restitution of cultural artifacts that were taken from the Korean Peninsula.


Abe calls for concluding Japan-EU free trade talks by end of 2015

LONDON - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called on Thursday for ongoing free trade negotiations between Japan and the European Union to be concluded by the end of next year. In remarks at Guildhall in London's financial district, the Japanese leader also noted his government's plans to reactivate commercial nuclear reactors to secure a stable supply of energy at low cost. "Why don't we both target a conclusion within next year" to the free trade talks between Japan and the 28-member regional bloc, Abe said. On rebooting Japan's nuclear reactors, all of which are currently offline, Abe said Tokyo has decided to allow reactors to be reactivated one by one, after deliberate steps, if they meet the safety standards that are among the strictest in the world.


TPP talks with Japan make important progress, says U.S. trade chief

WASHINGTON - The United States and Japan made important progress in talks on a Pacific free trade initiative during last week's summit in Tokyo, U.S. trade chief Michael Froman said Thursday. The U.S. trade representative told a congressional session that the results of the latest U.S.-Japan talks will give "significant momentum" to the overall negotiations on the 12-countrty Trans-Pacific Partnership deal. "The United States and Japan crossed an important threshold in our bilateral market access discussions" during President Barack Obama's three-day visit to Tokyo through April 25, Froman said in a hearing of the Senate'sFinance Committee.


Biden, top Japanese lawmaker agree to strengthen bilateral alliance

WASHINGTON - U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and a top official of Japan's ruling party agreed Thursday to strengthen bilateral relations and make efforts toward signing a Pacific free trade pact. Shigeru Ishiba, the No. 2 man in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe'sLiberal Democratic Party, told reporters he and Biden agreed it is important that the Japan-U.S. alliance remains strong "to deal with various Chinese activities" in the Asia-Pacific region. The LDP secretary general did not elaborate but was apparently referring to China's maritime activities to press its claims in territorial disputes with other countries in the East China Sea and South China Sea, including Japan.


U.N. opens periodic review of N. Korea's human rights situations

GENEVA - The U.N. Human Rights Council on Thursday opened a working group session on North Korea under its periodic peer review, with more than 80 countries expressing their views on Pyongyang's treatment of its citizens. At the second working group meeting on North Korea following the 2009 session, Takashi Okada, a Japanese ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, said rights violations such as those associated with political prisoners' camps and the abduction of foreign nationals "could constitute crimes against humanity" and called on the North to take concrete actions to end the violations. So Se Pyong, North Korea's ambassador, said, "A series of human rights-related laws were adopted" during the period under review, "thus securing full legal guarantees for the implementation of policies of the state on the protection and promotion of human rights."


NATO feels compelled to treat Russia as adversary

WASHINGTON - The NATO alliance now feels compelled to start treating Moscow as an adversary as Russia's annexation of Crimea and the Ukraine crisis fundamentally changed the NATO-Russia relationship, the second-ranking NATO official said Thursday, according to The Associated Press. "Clearly the Russians have declared NATO as an adversary, so we have to begin to view Russia no longer as a partner but as more of an adversary than a partner," Alexander Vershbow, the deputy secretary general of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, was quoted as saying. Vershbow, a former U.S. diplomat, noted views that differ from Russia's on European security and said that "Russia clearly is trying to re-impose hegemony and limit their (neighboring European countries') sovereignty under the guise of a defense of the Russian world," according to the report.


Malaysia recommends real time tracking of civilian planes in report

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia on Thursday released a preliminary report on the missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner with a recommendation that the International Civil Aviation Organization looks into introducing a standard for real-time tracking of commercial aircraft. After facing criticism over a lack of transparency especially from family members of the 227 passengers on board MH370, the Malaysian authorities finally made public the five-page report that was presented April 9 to the ICAO, a U.N. watchdog on global aviation. According to the report, the Boeing 777 disappeared from the air traffic control radar at 1:21 a.m. (Malaysian time) on March 8, barely an hour after take-off from Kuala Lumpur International Airport en route to Beijing.


Japan's March job availability improves for 16 months in row

TOKYO - Japan's job availability improved in March for the 16th straight month, while the jobless rate was flat at 3.6 percent from the previous month, as a recovery in corporate profits prodded companies to boost employment, government data showed Friday. The ratio of employment offers to seekers climbed to 1.07 in the reporting month from 1.05 in February, which means 107 positions were available for every 100 job seekers, according to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. The number of unemployed people rose a seasonally adjusted 1.3 percent from February to 2.36 million, as those quitting jobs voluntarily climbed 1.1 percent to 910,000, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications said in a preliminary report.


Japan's March household spending jumps at fastest pace in 39 years

TOKYO - Average Japanese monthly household spending jumped at its quickest pace in 39 years, up a price-adjusted 7.2 percent in March from a year earlier to 345,443 yen, ahead of the first consumption tax hike in 17 years on April 1, the government said Friday. The average monthly income of salaried households, however, fell 3.3 percent in real terms to 438,145 yen, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications said in a preliminary report. The results came as fears intensified that the 3-percentage-point tax hike to 8 percent would stifle the nascent economic recovery, as wages have shown little sign of growing at a pace that can ease the negative impact of the tax increase on consumer spending and investment.


Tokyo stocks fall in morning, dollar stays in lower 102 yen zone

TOKYO - Tokyo stocks fell slightly Friday morning in light pre-holiday trading as investors locked in recent gains ahead of a closely watched U.S. jobs report due out later in the day. The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average went down 33.48 points, or 0.23 percent, from Thursday to 14,451.65. At 1 p.m., the Nikkei index was down 62.86 points, or 0.43 percent, at 14,422.27. The broader Topix index fell 3.81 points, or 0.32 percent, to 1,178.39. On the currency market, the U.S. dollar stayed in the lower 102 yen zone. At 1 p.m., the dollar fetched 102.34-36 yen compared with 102.28-38 yen in New York late Thursday afternoon. The euro was quoted at 141.86-89 yen against 141.86-96 yen in New York.


Weather forecast for key cities in Japan

TOKYO - Weather forecast for Saturday: Tokyo=fair, occasionally cloudy; Osaka=fair, occasionally cloudy; Nagoya=fair; Sapporo=fair, then occasionally rain; Sendai=fair, then occasionally cloudy; Niigata=fair, occasionally cloudy; Hiroshima=fair; Takamatsu=fair, occasionally cloudy; Fukuoka=fair; Naha=fair.

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Source: Japan Economic Newswire

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