02 February 2007 01:47 [Source: ICIS news]
Asahi Shimbun, Japan (online edition) ?xml:namespace>
Opposition boycott over Yanagisawa continues
Opposition parties Thursday continued to boycott the Diet session and demand that Hakuo Yanagisawa resign, but ruling party lawmakers stood behind the health minister who described women as “birth-giving machines.”
It was the first time in seven years for all opposition lawmakers to miss the opening stage in the Lower House Budget Committee during an ordinary Diet session.
JR West defends safety systems at crash hearing
Kazuaki Maruo, vice president of West Japan Railway Co (JR West), on Thursday disputed an official report on the cause of the nation’s worst rail disaster in 40 years, but also admitted he had no answers.
The 25 April 2005 derailment in Hyogo Prefecture killed 107 people.
Business & Industry
Nikko’s delisting to be judged on revised report, TSE chief says
Tokyo Stock Exchange President Taizo Nishimuro said Tuesday the bourse will make a final judgment on whether to delist Nikko Cordial Corp. after examining the revised financial statements the company will submit by the end of February.
He made the comments after Nikko’s special investigation committee concluded on Tuesday that the securities house systematically falsified its earnings reports for fiscal 2004.
FTC to revise merger rules to spur M&A, raise competitiveness
A Liberal Democratic Party panel on Wednesday approved the Fair Trade Commission’s plans to ease regulations on mergers and acquisitions to raise Japan Inc.’s international competitiveness.
Specifically, the FTC will revise its screening guidelines to ensure that a merger or acquisition does not hinder competition or create an oligopoly that pushes unreasonable prices on consumers.
PLA ‘not involved in arms race’, poses no threat
The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) will not engage in any arms race and its development poses no threat to any country.
That was the firm reassurance from Lieutenant-General Zhang Qinsheng, Deputy Chief of General Staff of the PLA, who said the Chinese army is modernizing to increase its combat abilities in the information age.
EU seeks joint efforts on energy
The European Union is seeking to take the Sino-EU strategic partnership forward in the new year by stepping up co-operation in improving energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Serge Abou, the EU ambassador to Beijing, said energy security and climate change are priorities for the EU this year and neither issue can be effectively addressed without China’s participation.
Business & Industry
Rail operators banned from ending discounts
China’s rail operators have been banned from ending discount fares until after this year’s Spring Festival travel rush, said a spokesman of the Ministry of Railways (MOR) on Thursday.
Wang Yongping made the remarks in response to questions about complaints from travellers that some rail fares had risen despite a government imposed price freeze on all train tickets over the holiday.
Areva deals with China on 2 nuclear reactors
Areva SA, the world’s biggest builder of nuclear-power plants, signed an agreement with China Guangdong Nuclear Power Group to built two nuclear reactors for an undisclosed amount, Le Figaro reported without saying where it got the information.
Areva’s Chief Executive Officer Anne Lauvergeon signed an agreement last week, after the company lost an earlier multi-billion-euro nuclear contract in China in December to Toshiba Corp’s Westinghouse Electric, the daily said.
Rebar founder & wife likely to be extradited back to Taiwan
Taiwan authorities are seeking help from Singapore to arrest Rebar Group founder Wang You-theng and his wife, Chin Shyh-ying, who left Los Angles Wednesday for a destination in Southeast Asia, after leaving behind huge debts in Taiwan.
The couple are believed to travel with passports from other countries as Taiwan has revoked their passports. The plane carrying them is expected to arrive at Singapore at 6:10 Friday morning.
Kaohsiung mayoral recount set for March
The Kaohsiung District Court yesterday announced that a full recount of ballots cast in December’s Kaohsiung mayoral election will be conducted starting March to clear up suspicions of vote-rigging.
According to the court, 20 judges will each lead one team of election commission members, and the project is expected to be completed in a week.
Business & Industry
PRC war on Taiwan could end world’s chip supply, official says
Chinese provocations against Taiwan could result in an extended disruption to the world’s chip supply chain, particularly as Taiwan is set to become the world’s leading manufacturer of DRAM chips in 2007, US-Taiwan Business Council President Rupert Hammond-Chambers said Wednesday.
Hammond-Chambers said the recent destruction of a satellite by a Chinese ICBM renewed concerns over China’s military intentions and its “peaceful” rise in Asia. “It also drew the world’s attention to potential flash points, including Taiwan and the possibility that China would resort to using force to reunify with the island, “ he said.
Positive return forecasted in ‘07 equity markets
Taiwan’s equity market is expected to deliver another year of positive double-digit return in 2007, a global investment bank said yesterday.
Releasing its Taiwan investment strategy report for 2007, Deutsche Bank said it favors industries in technology, selected financial stocks and the under-valued domestic asset plays.
Seoul considers more trade zones
The government is considering expanding the number of free economic zones to further spur foreign investment, Finance Minister Kwon O-kyu said yesterday.
“We will newly evaluate the development projects in free economic zones in the first half of this year, and review the feasibility of new zones,” Kwon said at a ground-breaking ceremony for the Northeast Asia Trade Tower in New Songdo City, a key part of the Incheon Free Economic Zone.
Uri leader fighting uphill battle to deter mass exodus
Governing Uri Party leader Kim Geun-tae yesterday slammed the party’s separatists for trying to defect ahead of the December presidential election.
“The act of leaving the party is a betrayal to the people and democracy,” Kim told reporters.
Business & Industry
Songdo breaks ground for Trade Tower
New Songdo City Development LLC, a joint venture of New York-based developer Gale International and Korea’s POSCO E&C, broke ground on the 65-story, $500m Northeast Asia Trade Tower yesterday at the New Songdo Marketing Center.
Construction in the western city of Songdo, part of the Incheon Free Economic Zone, also began for the $100m, 300-room Convention Center Hotel and the $200m, 400,000-square-meter Songdo Central Park. The facilities, slated for completion by 2009, are part of a bigger project to develop the city that is a key part of the Incheon Free Economic Zone.
Hyundai, Kia recruiting foreigners
Hyundai Motor and affiliate Kia Motors Corp are recruiting foreigners to work at their headquarters in a bid to streamline global operations and encourage an international working environment.
The carmakers had been active in attracting Koreans who have studied abroad but this is the first time it has issued a recruitment advertisement exclusively for foreigners.
Stanchart will remove caps on India exposure
Standard Chartered Bank, the country’s second-largest foreign bank, is removing the ceiling on its India exposure to tap into the 9% economic growth and expand operations, especially in infrastructure funding.
“The country limit has become meaningless for India. Nothing seems to be enough in this kind of a growth scenario,” Peter Sands, the visiting group CEO of the UK-based but Asia-Africa focussed bank, said here today.
No job cuts, Corus union tells Tata
Community, one of the largest steel and metal industry unions in Europe, has signalled that it would oppose job cuts by Tata Steel at its newly acquired Anglo-Dutch steel company Corus Group.
Analysts tracking Corus said the steel company’s workers had witnessed nearly 8,000 job cuts in the last eight years and were, therefore, apprehensive of Tata Steel’s intentions.
Economy & Policy
SPV planned for coal mines abroad
In an extension of the country’s policy of securing its energy needs from overseas sources, the government is finalising a plan to set up a “special purpose vehicle” (SPV) to acquire coal mines abroad.
The entity will be set up jointly by five public sector companies – the largest producers in their respective industries -power producer National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), steel-maker Steel Authority of India (SAIL), Rashtriya Ispat Nigam , Coal India and the National Mineral Development Corporation. Private participation may be considered.
NGOs want to be in the Budget loop
“Talk to us.” This is what non-governmental organisations are now pressing for in the countdown to Union Budget 2007-08.
They are not content with handing out a charter of demands or organising rallies. They want the finance ministry and the Planning Commission to consult them on the Budget.
MAS lowers barrier for bank loans
Half-a-m people on lower incomes are to be offered access to bank loans for the first time, it was announced yesterday in a statement which also removed restrictions on the interest moneylenders may charge.
From the middle of the year, banks will be able to offer unsecured loans to people with an annual income between Singapore dollar (S$) 20,000 ($13,037) and S$30,000, the Monetary Authority of Singapore and Ministry of Law said yesterday in a joint statement.
Surveys show dip in business sentiment
After riding a year-end festive high, business sentiment - especially among manufacturers - has weakened. The majority expect things in the first six months of 2007 to get no worse, but no better either. And even in services, only those in the property sector remain wildly exuberant.
The findings of two government surveys released yesterday show a dip in the main indicator - the net weighted balance of optimistic companies.
Business & Industry
Need to rethink biomed research drive: Lee Wei Ling
Singapore should reassess its strategy for creating a biomedical industry after spending billions of dollars without achieving significant results, Singapore’s head of the National Neuroscience Institute said.
Paediatrician Lee Wei Ling told Reuters in an interview that research resources had been spread too widely.
SPC set to enjoy output from Oyong oil field
The Oyong oil and gas field in Indonesia is set to start producing soon, says operator Santos - which is good news for Singapore Petroleum Company.
SPC has a 36% stake in Oyong, which will be its second producing field and should easily triple its crude production of 2,540 barrels per day (bpd).
Third bird flu outbreak found in Ang Thong
The Livestock Development Department has confirmed this year’s third bird flu outbreak, found in indigenous chickens and fighting cocks in the central province of Ang Thong.
Livestock chief Pirom Srichan said on Thursday that his staff were alerted to the unusual deaths of six of 15 chickens belonging to a villager in Samko district last week.
Politicians and business may have colluded on airport
Investigators believe two contractors of Airports of Thailand Plc colluded with 22 politicians and officials accused of involvement in the “overpriced” procurement of a baggage-handling system for Suvarnabhumi airport. The system included the 26 CTX bomb-scanning machines.
A source in the inquiry team said on Thursday that a sub-panel under the Assets Scrutiny Committee, chaired by Amnuay Tantara, will ask the ASC on Monday to file a complaint against ITO Joint Venture and Quatrotec as well as six of their representatives of criminal offences for their alleged collusion.
Business & Industry
BoI pushes for biotechnology, R&D projects
The Board of Investment (BoI) is moving aggressively to promote biotechnology and research and development projects to encourage industries to enhance their competitiveness.
Projects will be offered an eight-year exemption from corporate income tax without capital restriction and will be allowed to be based in any BoI promoted zones.
Weak oil will depress rate
The Commerce Ministry yesterday revised down the forecast for this year’s headline inflation rate, as measured by the consumer price index, to 1.5% to 2.5% from 2.5% to 3.5% earlier.
The ministry’s previous 2007 forecast, made in December, was based on an average Dubai crude oil price of $60 per barrel.
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