12 July 2007 02:48 [Source: ICIS news]
Opposition leaders attack Abe on pension issue, Akagi scandal
Opposition leaders Wednesday fiercely attacked Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, blaming his government for the shambles in the pension system and accusing him of protecting a Cabinet minister involved in dubious spending.
The debate of party leaders at the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo came on the eve of today's start of official campaigning for the July 29 Upper House election.
Punishments planned for firms that leak data about residents
In response to a huge leak of personal details about residents, the internal affairs ministry is planning legal revisions to punish negligent data-processing businesses that spill such information, officials said.
The data leak, revealed in May, involved 550,000 pieces of information on residents in seven municipalities. The municipal governments had entrusted private companies to process the data.
Business & Industry
Steel Partners goes to Supreme Court
Steel Partners Japan filed an appeal Tuesday to the Supreme Court over a high court ruling in support of a "poison pill" measure by Bull-Dog Sauce Co. to stave off a takeover bid from the U.S. fund.
The Tokyo High Court on Monday rejected Steel Partners' application for an injunction to block the Bull-Dog Sauce anti-takeover measure, calling the investment fund an "abusive acquirer."
Aeon ties up with Maruetsu, Marubeni
Aeon Co. on Tuesday announced an alliance with grocery chain Maruetsu Inc. and trading house Marubeni Corp. to cooperate in merchandising and product development.
Aeon plans to draw on Maruetsu's expertise to expand operations in the Tokyo metropolitan area, where it lags in the number of outlets.
China tightens approval of new medicines
The country's top food and drug quality watchdog yesterday announced stricter rules for approving new medicines.
The move came a day after its former chief Zheng Xiaoyu, who headed the State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) from 1998 to 2005, was executed after being found guilty of taking bribes to approve substandard and fake medicines blamed for at least 10 deaths.
China to be third largest economy
China's sizzling economy grew even faster in 2006 than previously reported, the government said Wednesday, moving it closer to overtaking Germany as the world's third-largest and possibly adding to fears of overheating.
The National Bureau of Statistics raised its estimate of China's 2006 growth rate from 10.7 percent to 11.1 percent. It nudged up its estimate of total output by 146.4 billion yuan ($18.8 billion) to 21.1 trillion yuan.
Business & Industry
Chemical banned in toothpaste
The country's quality watchdog yesterday banned the use of diethylene glycol (DEG) - an industrial solvent used in antifreeze - in the production of toothpaste after Chinese toothpaste with the chemical grabbed global attention.
In a notice issued last night, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine said all Chinese toothpaste producers should immediately stop using DEG as a raw material.
Trade surplus up 84% in 1st half, growth set to slow
Growth in China's trade surplus will ease in the second half of this year as the central government's measures to curb exports begin to have an impact, a senior trade official said yesterday.
The surplus soared to $112.5 billion in the first half of this year, up 84 percent from a year earlier. The June surplus hit a record $26.9 billion.
University lecturer indicted for death of 4 people in fire
Prosecutors yesterday indicted a university lecturer on murder charges for allegedly setting a laundromat fire that killed four people last month in Kaohsiung City, and recommended that he be sentenced to death.
The Kaohsiung District Prosecutors Office insisted that the lecturer, Chen Pei-yuan, be given the death penalty because he killed four of his neighbors and has refused to confess to his crime or to show remorse for his alleged behavior.
Health bureau denies plans to restrict drug payments
An official of the Bureau of National Health Insurance yesterday denied claims that the bureau is planning to impose major constraints on payments for new drugs in an attempt to reduce NHI costs.
Huang Chao-ming, a BNHI official in charge of medication and pharmaceutical policy, said that the bureau discussed this issue with members of the pharmaceutical sector June 28 but that the talks did not bear any concrete results, adding that the matter hadn't even been recorded in the minutes of the meeting.
Business & Industry
Singapore, China make agreements on taxation, water
Singapore and China signed several pacts yesterday to increase cooperation in areas ranging from taxation to water management.
Under the pacts, the two countries - which are also in talks for a free-trade agreement - will amend laws to avoid double-taxing investors' income.
Pair said to be mulling bid for Dow Jones
Supermarket billionaire Ron Burkle and Web entrepreneur Brad Greenspan are exploring the possibility of combining forces on a bid for Dow Jones & Co. to thwart a takeover by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., according to a person familiar with the situation.
A committee of Dow Jones directors, including a representative for the Bancroft family that controls the company, met Tuesday afternoon in New York with Burkle and Greenspan to discuss how a deal might proceed.
Poverty amidst plenty: A liberal camp tale
Despite a keen interest in politics, Yang Seong-ho, a 51-year-old traditional liberal voter, has been avoiding political stories recently.
He believes that there are too many liberal candidates, but no viable ones.
Korea raises growth forecast
The government raised economic growth projections to 4.6 percent from 4.5 percent yesterday, echoing the optimistic view of the Bank of Korea, which revised its own forecast the previous day.
The Bank of Korea changed its projected GDP growth rate for the year to 4.5 percent from the previously projected 4.4 percent.
Business & Industry
Korea raises oil price forecast to $62
Crude oil prices rose to an 11 month-high as gasoline demand picks up this summer amid concerns over supply. The price hike is prompting the government and businesses to come up with countermeasures.
Unplanned shutdowns in U.S. refineries also stoked concerns that the global gasoline supply may not sufficiently meet demand, pushing the price of Dubai oil to $69.72 per barrel Tuesday, up about 30 percent from the beginning of the year.
Cheap U.S. beef at Lotte this Friday
Lotte Mart will begin selling U.S. beef in all its 53 outlets nationwide this Friday, the company said yesterday. It will be the country's first major discount store chain to market American beef since late December 2003 when Korea banned imports in the wake of a case of mad cow disease.
Lotte Mart's 40-ton order will include various grade-A beef cuts such as short ribs (boneless, due to current import conditions), and sirloin.
Re virus hits Infy Q1
The 7% rupee appreciation against the US dollar during the first quarter ended June 30, 2007 took its toll on the revenues and margins of Infosys Technologies, India's second largest software exporter.
It forced the IT major to, in a long time, miss its otherwise conservative revenue guidance (Indian GAAP) by over 3%. The stock today lost more than 4.47%. However, if the US GAAP guidance figures for the previous quarter are taken into consideration, Infosys beat the upper-level estimate of $908 million by 2.2%.
IOC, Reliance advance in Fortune Global 500 list
Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) and Reliance Industries are understood to have climbed higher in the Fortune Global 500 rankings this year, capturing the 135th and 269th places respectively.
IOC is understood to have moved by 18 places to 135, the highest ranked Indian company in terms of sales, while Reliance climbed 75 notches to 269 to become the top ranked private Indian entity in the list published annually by the CNN-Time Warner group magazine.
Economy & Policy
Gross distortion in PDS system: NSSO
A survey conducted by the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) has revealed that 51 per cent or more than half of India's rural households (marginal farmers possessing less than 1,076 square feet of land) have no ration card at all.
In all other land holding classes, 77-88 per cent of households, possessed ration cards of some type. At the all-India level, 81 per cent of rural households and 67 per cent of urban households possessed ration cards. BPL (below poverty line) cards were held by only 26.5 per cent of rural households and 10.5 per cent of urban households.
Pvt debt scope restricted for core sector financing
Several key decisions on infrastructure financing were taken at a high-level meeting in the capital today to facilitate the availability of long-term finance for infrastructure projects.
It was decided at the meeting to restrict private placement of debt to qualified institutional bidders (QIBs) against the current practice of opening the market to all players. QIBs are considered better equipped to assess and handle the risks involved in big-ticket corporate bond issues.
STMicro to ship Texas chip plant to S'pore
Singapore's efficiency has scored big with major chip player STMicroelectronics. The European multinational is shutting down its Texas unit and shipping the entire machinery and equipment to its plant here.
The move will ramp up its Singapore factory's output of six-inch wafer fabs by almost 50 per cent in just two years.
China firms to get 'green lane' to list on SGX
Chinese companies will soon find it faster and easier to get listed in Singapore. In addition, a free trade pact between the two countries could be ready by next year.
Deputy Prime Minister Wong Kan Seng yesterday said that Singapore would set up a 'green lane' mechanism to facilitate listing of Chinese enterprises in Singapore. He was speaking to reporters yesterday after the 4th Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC) meeting which he co-chaired with visiting Chinese Vice-Premier Wu Yi.
Business & Industry
No inflation from high oil prices
The steep rise in oil prices in recent years has not triggered either high inflation or a recession, in large part because consumers and businesses expect price increases to remain tame, Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke said on Tuesday.
That contrasts sharply with the experience of the 1970s, when spiking oil prices combined with expectations of high inflation to fuel double-digit price increases and slower economic growth, he said in a speech to economists at the National Bureau of Economic Research Summer Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Rising baht leaves Thai exporters cold
There seems to be no stopping the rise of the Thai baht, making the country's exporters increasingly worried about losing out to competitors in the region.
The baht has risen close to 4 per cent against the US dollar so far this year, and has been among the best performing currencies in the region. It rose to a new 10-year high against the greenback yesterday of 33.18 to the US dollar. It closed at 33.29, only slightly weaker following what dealers suspected was intervention by the Bank of Thailand (BOT).
Sonthi vague on political plans
Council for National Security chief Gen Sonthi Boonyaratkalin says he still had a few months to sleep on the issue: "I haven't decided. There is still time."
Gen Sonthi says he will consider the outcome of the referendum on the draft constitution when he decides.
Commentary: Green movement irresistible
Is the dark age when our country was under the military's thumb soon returning? You bet.
The draft constitution is complete. The referendum is around the corner. And if we say yes to it, the general election will restore our parliamentary democracy, the military will return to the barracks and we can all heave a big sigh of relief. If that is what you believe, WAKE UP!
Business & Industry
Capital inflows keep baht strong
The baht continued to appreciate yesterday on the back of capital inflows into the stock market even as the central bank yesterday warned local banks and exporters against currency speculation. The baht traded as high as 33.18 to the US dollar before closing at 33.32, compared with Tuesday's close of 33.45.
Tarisa Watanagase, the Bank of Thailand's governor, said the baht continued to strengthen on foreign equity inflows, but dollar sales by exporters had eased.
PTTEP wins six blocks in New Zealand
PTT Exploration and Production Plc has won six exploration blocks in offshore New Zealand, a step forward in its plans to increase its overseas energy investments.
The offshore block concessions, announced yesterday, are in the Great South Basin, south of New Zealand's South Island. They are part of the 40 blocks offered in the New Zealand Offshore Great South Basin bidding round 2006 organised by the Crown Minerals, Department of Economic Development of New Zealand.
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