Economy watcher sentiment up in July with tax hike fears receding
TOKYO - Business confidence among people in Japan with jobs sensitive to economic conditions improved in July for the third straight month, amid receding concerns about the adverse impact of the April 1 consumption tax hike, government data showed Friday.
The diffusion index of sentiment over the nation's current economic situation among so-called "economy watchers," such as taxi drivers and restaurant employees, was up 3.6 points from the previous month to 51.3, moving above the threshold line of 50 for the first time in four months, the Cabinet Office said in a monthly survey.
47th ASEAN foreign ministers meeting begins in Naypyitaw
NAYPYITAW - ASEAN foreign ministers, now in Naypyitaw, the administrative capital of ASEAN chair Myanmar, are meeting Friday to exchange views on regional and international issues and to review the state of relations and cooperation within the group itself.
Diplomats said Thursday the ministers are expected to call after the meeting for "determined actions" to reduce mounting tensions in the South China Sea, saying recent incidents have strained relations among countries, increased levels of mistrust and heightened the dangers of unintended conflict.
Nikkei plunges to 2-month low on intensifying geopolitical risks
TOKYO - Tokyo stocks dropped sharply Friday, with the Nikkei index hitting a two-month low, as intensifying geopolitical risks including possible airstrikes on Iraq by the United States took a toll on investor sentiment.
The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average ended down 454.00 points, or 2.98 percent, from Thursday at 14,778.37, its lowest finish since May 30. The broader Topix index of all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange finished 29.86 points, or 2.37 percent, lower at 1,228.26.
Gov't to offer Fukushima 300 bil. yen for 30-yr nuclear soil storage
TOKYO - The government is planning to offer some 300 billion yen in subsidies over the next 30 years to local authorities in Fukushima Prefecture in exchange for storage of contaminated soil amassing from radiation cleanup work following the 2011 nuclear disaster, sources familiar with the matter said Friday.
As its proposal in July to pay some 100 billion yen was dismissed by Fukushima authorities, the central government has decided to triple the amount in a bid to obtain consent to building facilities for the storage it envisions will end within 30 years amid continued local opposition, the sources said.
Sprint needs to improve its business on its own: Softbank CEO
TOKYO - Softbank Corp. CEO and Sprint Corp. Chairman Masayoshi Son said Friday the U.S. company needs to improve its business on its own following news reports that the Japanese communication giant is suspending negotiations to acquire the No. 4 U.S. mobile carrier T-Mobile US Inc.
"Improving the network of Sprint on its own in a steady manner is the top priority for the time being," Son said at a press conference in Tokyo, while declining to comment on the recent news reports.
ANA pilot-training unit to open in Sept. in Thailand
TOKYO - ANA Holdings Inc. said Friday its pilot-training company in Thailand's capital Bangkok will begin operating in September amid growing demand for flight crew training in the Asia region.
With initial capital of $8.3 million, the Pan Am International Flight Training center will install a simulator for the Airbus A320 and plans to expand to a total of four flight simulators -- two A320s and two Boeing 737NGs -- in 2015.
Haier's 2 Japan units to merge to sell Aqua brand in Southeast Asia
OSAKA - Leading Chinese consumer electronics manufacturer Haier Group Co. will merge its two Osaka-based Japan units in October to boost sales of Aqua-brand white goods in Southeast Asian markets, one of the merging companies said Friday.
The group's Asian operating arm Haier Asia International Co. said it will merge with Haier Aqua Sales Co., responsible for sales in Japan, to form Haier Asia, after spinning off its research and development division into another company called Haier Asia R&D, both effective Oct. 1.