16 July 2007 02:00 [Source: ICIS news]
Asahi Shimbun, Japan (online edition) ?xml:namespace>
Many onsen lax about gas hazard
A nationwide survey of onsen facilities conducted after a fatal explosion at a Tokyo spa in June found that many operators are unaware of the danger of natural gas in hot-spring water.
The survey by the Fire and Disaster Management Agency found that 95% of onsen facilities with indoor hot-spring pumping systems do not have a gas detector installed.
Elevator safety in question amid a new scandal
Leading elevator manufacturer Fujitec used substandard steel in more than 12,000 elevators, 560 of which could fall short of mandatory strength standards, the infrastructure ministry says.
The ministry called on managers of buildings with Fujitec elevators installed to limit passenger numbers for each ride and carry out reinforcement work.
Business & Industry
Oji emitted illegal nitrogen oxide levels
Oji Paper Co., the nation's largest paper mill, said Friday that emissions from four of its plants over the last three years had exceeded the maximum level set by the Air Pollution Control Law.
The paper maker also said emissions at two other plants exceeded standards set by local governments but were under the levels set by the law.
Star Flyer to get 4 new Haneda slots
Star Flyer Inc., a start-up airliner based in Kita-Kyushu, will be allocated four daily slots at Tokyo's Haneda Airport in September for the route to Osaka, the transport ministry said Friday.
Star Flyer plans to start flight services on the route from Haneda to Kansai International Airport in mid-September.
North Korea shuts down reactor, calls on US to act
North Korea is ready to start disabling its nuclear programs following the shutdown of its sole operating reactor, a North Korean diplomat said Sunday, as long as the United States lifts all sanctions against the country.
Kim Myong Gil, minister at the North's mission to the United Nations in New York, confirmed the reactor was shut down Saturday after receipt of a South Korean oil shipment, and said UN inspectors would verify the closure Sunday.
Floods make comeback on Huaihe river
Chinese residents along the Huaihe River have been urged to gear up for their second tough combat against floods in a week as the receding flood water on some branches started rising again on Saturday after torrential rains.
The upper-reach Nanwan Water Dam and Shishankou Reservoir have got an average rainfall of 150 mm and 315 mm respectively on Friday, resulting a twist in the ongoing combat against the worst flooding on the Huaihe River since 1954.
Business & Industry
China's trade deficit with East Asia hits $87.5b
Although China has an overall foreign trade surplus, it had a deficit of $87.5bn in 2006 with East Asian countries, said Liao Xiaoqi, vice minister of commerce, on Saturday.
Liao said at the 3rd East Asia Investment Forum that economic and trade exchanges between China and East Asian countries have been growing very fast, with the combined trade volume reaching $502.4bn in 2006, accounting for 32.5% of China's foreign trade for the year.
Expert urges against buying luxury sedans
Stop buying foreign luxury sedans! An auto industry expert told the Chinese people Saturday, worrying about a blind, extravagant trend in car purchasing and ignorance to more economical, homegrown brands.
Many Chinese people are considering cars as a symbolic of their social status and vying for buying luxury, especially foreign-made sedans, said Guo Konghui, honorary dean of the Automobile Engineering College of Jilin University, at a forum at an on-going international auto fair held in the northeastern Chinese city of Changchun, a major base of China's auto industry.
Over 10,000 prisoners set to be released today
Nearly 11,000 misdemeanor offenders will be released from prisons all over the island today as part of a general amnesty to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the 228 incident and the 20th anniversary of the lifting of martial law.
In preparation for the freeing of a total of 10,969 prison inmates today, the Ministry of Justice established an emergency response center yesterday to deal with possible problems that may arise.
Exhibit focuses on democracy struggle
A photo exhibition marking the 20th anniversary of the lifting of martial law in Taiwan kicked off yesterday at the Presidential Office.
The photo exhibition, featuring scenes from the democratic movement following the lifting of martial law in 1987, offers the public a journey into Taiwan's political and democratic development.
Business & Industry
New IMF process seen producing same old results
The International Monetary Fund has opened the selection process for the next managing director, but it remains to be seen whether there will be more than one candidate.
Under an unwritten and increasingly scorned agreement, Europe chooses a European for IMF managing director and the United States picks an American president of the World Bank, the IMF's sister institution.
India becoming small automobile export hub
Cheap, fuel-efficient and versatile, compact hatchbacks are by far the most popular vehicles in India's rapidly growing auto market.
And as global automakers rush into the country to set up plants to make similar small cars, both established companies and newcomers see a bigger role for India: Asia's small car export hub.
North Korea shuts down nuclear reactor
North Korea has told the United States it has shut down a nuclear reactor as part of a disarmament deal, the U.S. State Department said on Saturday after a team of U.N. nuclear inspectors arrived in Pyongyang.
"We welcome this development and look forward to the verification and monitoring of this shutdown by the International Atomic Energy Agency team that has arrived" in North Korea, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said.
Korea, EU open 2nd round of FTA talks
Korea and the European Union will begin their second round of talks over a free trade agreement today, aiming to narrow differences on various regulations restricting trade.
About 130 Korean negotiators, led by Deputy Trade Minister Kim Han-soo, will meet with about 60 EU negotiators led by Ignacio Garcia Bercero, director of trade relations at the European Commission, in Brussels until Friday.
Business & Industry
Auto exports to Europe, S. America skyrocketing
Developing countries in Eastern Europe and South America are becoming increasingly important export destinations for local automakers.
The Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association said yesterday that between January and May this year, Korean automakers' exports to Eastern European and South American nations grew by 45.3 and 48.2% from the same period last year.
Korea a key to expanding DHL's U.S. market share
For Mike Lee, president of Solemio, a manufacturer of ladies apparel in Los Angeles, sending samples of his designs to his buyers as far away as China in a timely and prompt manner determines the fate of the business deal.
"The freight business is very important to the clothing business because fashion is a trend and is timely. We have to exchange samples before we make the final decision," said Lee during an interview in Los Angeles. "For instance, if my buyer has to receive the sample by 10 a.m., they need to receive it by then or else we won't get an order."
Raja may opt for global 3G auction
New Communications Minister A Raja is likely to opt for a global auction of third generation technology (3G) licences, a move that will allow virtually any global operator to bid for offering this service in India.
The telecom department is also likely to consider levying a one-time fee on existing operators for the additional second generation (2G) spectrum they have been allotted over the years.
RCom flays GSM rivals` inefficiency
In a sharp criticism of operators of global system for mobile (GSM) communications technology who have complained of spectrum shortage, Reliance Communications (RCom) has written to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) saying inefficient utilisation, and not shortage, could hamper growth.
The country’s largest operator of the rival code-division multiple access technology has also suggested that GSM operators are hoarding spectrum and not making fresh investments for expansion on the specious grounds that return on capital is poor.
Economy & Policy
FM may take RRBs out of tax net
Finance Minister P Chidambaram may give income tax exemption to regional rural banks, which are mainly financing farmers and the rural poor.
A decision in this regard is likely to be announced on Monday when Chidambaram meets the chairmen of the 96 regional rural banks.
Tuticorin Port faces capacity crisis
Singapore-based PSA International, which operates a container terminal at Tuticorin Port in South India, has reduced its annual handling capacity by 20% on the grounds that its current tariffs are not commercially viable.
This is the first time after ports were opened to global players that an international port operator has cut capacity.
Aussie funds poised to make a splash
Singapore looks set to benefit from a recent surge in retirement funds in Australia as managers look to diversify risks and to get better returns.
Significant changes to the tax treatment in Australia of the country's retirement savings scheme took effect recently on July 1, and the changes have fuelled a surge in retirement funds.
Eyes on Keppel, DBS as earnings season kicks off
The interim earnings season kicks off this week - providing investors with further clues as to where market valuations are heading.
Some 477 companies with a December financial year-end will be reporting results for the second quarter and first half of 2007. While companies with a market capitalisation of $75m and below - in view of the higher relative costs for smaller firms - are exempted from reporting quarterly results, all listed companies are required to submit half-year earnings.
Business & Industry
India hots up as a prime spot for Japanese companies
INDIA has moved up sharply through the ranks of countries that Japanese companies regard as promising destinations for trade and investment. It now ranks second behind China and ahead of many other Asian countries or even the United States, according to Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Investment.
India is also seen as having generally more favourable economic prospects for the future than China. Meti's latest White Paper on International Economy and Trade notes that just five years ago, Japanese businessmen ranked India sixth behind China, Thailand, the US, Indonesia and Vietnam as a promising place for trade and investment.
Most listing rule breaches in HK escape public censure
AN insignificant 12% of Hong Kong's listing rule breaches have resulted in some form of public rebuke since 2003, new figures show.
The vast majority of enforcement cases - more than 86% - by the stock exchange have been resolved in private, through reprimands or warning letters.
Public leery about Sonthi in politics
Thailand's junta leader may have to ponder again his potential plans to pursue a post-retirement political career, according to the latest public opinion poll.
The Suan Dusit Rajabhat University survey – better known as the Dusit Poll – conducted July 13-15 among 1,419 persons in Bangkok and neighbouring areas showed lacklustre encouragement for the military leader to take the plunge into electoral political life.
The constitutional test
Five weeks remain before the national referendum on the draft constitution to be held on 19 Aug. There is an intense lobbying campaign either to accept the draft charter as the best path to settle the political crisis or reject it for its undemocratic process.
On 6 July, the 306-article draft charter was approved by the Constitution Drafting Assembly (CDA). Now the referendum bill is under consideration in the National Legislative Assembly (NLA). It will almost certainly be passed into law soon, following expected changes in controversial points such as the stiff penalties imposed for publicly urging rejection of the draft in the referendum.
Business & Industry
Bankers watching baht and NPLs
Local bankers say it remains too early to estimate whether non-performing loans will rise as exporters have been hit by the appreciating baht.
Charnsak Fuangfu, a senior executive vice-president at Bangkok Bank, said that while it was clear that the strengthening baht was hurting exporters, this did not necessarily translate into declining credit quality for local banks.
Two vie to become SET chief
Pakorn Malakul Na Ayudhya and Goanpot Asvinvichit are among the leading candidates to take over as the chairman of the Stock Exchange of Thailand.
Vijit Supinit, the current SET chairman, will complete his term this month. The SET board has yet to formally set a date to consider a replacement, meaning that Mr Vijit will remain on the board at least temporarily until the next meeting in August.
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