News Column

Kyodo Top12 News (19:00)

June 28, 2014


U.S. asking S. Korea not to join China-led development bank

WASHINGTON - The United States has asked South Korea to refrain from taking part in a Chinese project to establish a new development bank in Asia, people familiar with the matter said Friday. President Barack Obama's administration has put pressure on its South Korea behind the scenes, according to a U.S. government official and a diplomatic source, in an apparent bid to stave off the bid by China to expand its influence in Asia. Chinese President Xi Jinping last October proposed establishing the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank aimed at helping developing counties in Asia build and improve infrastructure. Many Asian countries have expressed interest in the bank which China says will have an initial capital of $50 billion. But China has shunned Japan and the United States, major donors to the Asian Development Bank.


China's top policy negotiator cuts short historic visit to Taiwan

GREATER TAICHUNG, Taiwan - China's Taiwan Affairs Council Minister Zhang Zhijun on Saturday ended his visit to southern and central Taiwan a day early following an attack on his party by pro-independence protesters. Zhang, the most senior Chinese government official overseeing ties with Taiwan, cancelled a planned trip to a fishing port in Greater Kaohsiung, southern Taiwan, and to a family mansion and garden in Wufeng in Greater Taichung, central Taiwan, scheduled for Saturday morning. He also canceled a plan to visit a temple in Changhua County, central Taiwan, where protesters, supporters and the police engaged in clashes Saturday afternoon.


Thai military leader promises to hold general election in 2015

BANGKOK - Thailand's junta leader Gen. Prayut Chan-Ocha told the nation on Friday the military plans to hold a general election in around October next year. In a televised address, Prayut laid out a more precise roadmap to restoring the country's democracy, saying the junta plans to declare a provisional Constitution in July and draft a formal Constitution in July next year. A rough timeline for democracy was presented just days after it seized power in late May. "The enactment of a new permanent Constitution is expected to be effective in July 2015 and Thailand will become a completely democratic country from that point," Prayut said. "It will take three months after having a new charter to organize a general election and the fully elected government will be installed within year 2015."


EU leaders nominate Juncker as next chief executive

BRUSSELS - European Union leaders on Friday nominated former Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker for the presidency of the bloc's executive branch, despite staunch opposition from Britain. The nomination was approved in a 26-2 vote, in which British Prime Minister David Cameron and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban objected. Cameron had for weeks argued that Juncker is too much of a federalist for the job and won't bring much-needed reform. Juncker is expected to be confirmed by the European Parliament on July 16. After being formally elected, the 59-year-old will serve as president of the European Commission in place of incumbent Jose Manuel Barroso, whose five-year term in office ends in late October.


Japan signs agreement with World Bank to boost financial assistance

WASHINGTON - Japan signed an agreement with the World Bank on Friday to increase its financial contribution to the bank's fund to reduce global poverty to more than 500 billion yen. Japan's contribution to the International Development Association, comprising over 310 billion yen in the form of capital and over 190 billion yen in the form of a concessional loan, makes the country the biggest contributor to the fund. The IDA secured a record $52 billion in December in financing over the next three years and the World Bank said the record outcome would not have been achieved without Japan's strong support. At a ceremony held at the bank's headquarters in Washington, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, said, "IDA's partnership with Japan remains very important to our efforts to achieving the World Bank Group's...goals."


Gov't to oblige mobile phone carriers to lift SIM restrictions

TOKYO - The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications is set to oblige Japanese mobile phone carriers to remove carrier-specific restrictions, or SIM locks, on handsets in fiscal 2015 starting next April, government sources said Saturday. The move is intended to spur competition and lower fees by making it easier for users to switch carriers while keeping the same handsets. The government is also considering setting a scheme to impose business improvement orders if carriers refuse to lift their restrictions. The ministry is expected to compile a detailed plan later this year. The removal of restrictions could lessen the market dominance of major carriers and make it easier for customers to use inexpensive services offered by mobile virtual network operators which lease and resell network capacity from major carriers.


Amari wants to see cap raised on NISA tax-free investments

KURUME, Japan - Economic and fiscal policy minister Akira Amari expressed a desire Saturday to see the cap raised on investment in tax-exempt NISA accounts from the current maximum of 1 million yen per year. "I think it's a nice idea to raise the ceiling to, say, 2 million yen," he said in a speech in Kurume in the southwestern Japanese prefecture of Fukuoka, in reference to the Nippon Individual Savings Account scheme. Dividends and capital gains are exempt from tax for an investment of up to 1 million yen a year in stocks and other financial instruments under the scheme launched in January to attract individual investors. Individual investors invested around 1,003.4 billion yen by the end of March through NISA accounts, according to the Financial Services Agency.


Japanese ballerinas snag gold, silver at U.S. competition

NEW YORK - Japanese ballerinas Shiori Kase and Tamako Miyazaki both grabbed the top two prizes on Friday in the senior female division of an international ballet competition held in Jackson, Mississippi. Kase, 22, who lives in England, said in a phone interview with Kyodo News that she was thrilled with the top honor and proud to represent her country at the USA International Ballet Competition, a two-week long event from June 14 that drew 91 competitors from 20 countries. "I am surprised myself and don't feel like it's real but can sum it up in one word -- happy," the Tokyo dancer said. "I feel it was worth all the effort I've put in." Miyazaki, 25, who is from Tokyo and lives in Washington, D.C., was also pleased her final result and inspired to push herself even further.


Baseball: Tanaka unlikely to pitch in All-Star Game

NEW YORK - Despite continuing the phenomenal success he enjoyed in Japan to the majors this year, first-year Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka is unlikely to pitch for the American League in this year's MLB All-Star Game, New York manager Joe Girardi hinted on Friday. Tanaka has a major league-best 11 wins in 15 starts and an AL-best 2.11 earned run average, but Girardi is keen to keep the 25-year-old newcomer from having to carry too much of the load. If Girardi doesn't tinker with his rotation, Tanaka is likely to start on July 13 against the Baltimore Orioles, and that would make him ineligible to pitch in the All-Star Game on July 15 in Minneapolis. When asked why he did not start Tanaka a day earlier against the Boston Red Sox instead of Vidal Nuno, who entered the day with a 5.88 ERA, Girardi showed some frustration.


Figure skating: Hanyu to skate at Cup of China, NHK Trophy

NEW YORK - Men's Olympic and world championship gold medalist Yuzuru Hanyu has entered the Cup of China and the NHK Trophy in this year's ISU Figure Skating Grand Prix Series, the International Skating Union announced Friday. Hanyu, who also won the Grand Prix Final last year in Fukuoka, will look to amass enough points in Shanghai from Nov. 7 to 9 and in Osaka from Nov. 28 to 30, the series' sixth event, to book a spot at this season's final in Barcelona. Japan compatriot Tatsuki Machida, who was second at March's worlds in Saitama, will compete at the first of the six Grand Prix events, Skate America, starting on Oct. 24 in Chicago, and at the Trophee Eric Bompard, in Bordeaux, France, from Nov. 21. Former world men's champion Daisuke Takahashi and three-time women's world champion Mao Asada have announced they will be taking the season off.


Soccer: Stojkovic denies report linking him to Japan coach's job

RECIFE, Brazil - Former Nagoya Grampus boss Dragan Stojkovic on Friday denied a report he has been approached by the Japan Football Association about the vacant national team coach's job following the resignation of Italian Alberto Zaccheroni. But the 49-year-old Stojkovic, who steered Grampus to the J-League title in 2010, admitted Friday he would be happy if his name was on the JFA's shortlist. "Officially I never spoke with anybody. These are just kind of rumors," Stojkovic told Kyodo News by telephone from Paris when asked if there was any truth to reports out of Serbia that he had been offered the Japan job.


Weather for key cities in Japan

TOKYO - Forecast for Sunday: Tokyo=cloudy, sometimes rain; Osaka=cloudy, sometimes fair; Nagoya=cloudy, then fair; Sapporo=cloudy; Sendai=rain; Niigata=cloudy, sometimes rain; Hiroshima=fair, sometimes cloudy; Takamatsu=fair, sometimes cloudy; Fukuoka=fair, sometimes cloudy; Naha=cloudy.

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Source: Japan Economic Newswire

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