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International News

India’s mega Hindu festival begins under cloud of toxic air


Giving up gas: China’s Shenzhen switches to electric taxis


Waning iPhone demand highlights Chinese consumer anxiety


From The Asian Reporter, V29, #02 (January 21, 2019), page 2.

Nissan unveils new Leaf car after delays

YOKOHAMA, Japan (AP) — Nissan is showing the beefed-up version of its hit Leaf electric car as the Japanese automaker seeks to distance itself from the arrest of its star executive Carlos Ghosn. The event at Nissan Motor Co.’s Yokohama headquarters, southwest of Tokyo, was postponed when Ghosn was arrested November 19. Ghosn has been charged with underreporting his income. Tokyo prosecutors then extended his detention, adding breach of trust allegations. Ghosn also made his first public appearance since his arrest and denied each allegation in Tokyo District Court. The new 4.16 million yen ($38,000) Leaf e+ is about the same size as the model on sale, but has more power and cruise range. The best-selling electric car competes against Tesla models and the Bolt by General Motors.

South Korea seizes North Korean paintings due to sanctions

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea says it stopped businessmen from bringing in North Korean paintings in a potential violation of U.N. sanctions. Observers say similar incidents could occur frequently as South Korea’s liberal government is pushing for deeper exchanges with North Korea. The Korea Customs Service said it has nine North Korean paintings that some businessmen tried to bring in after their trip to Pyongyang last November. It said those businessmen didn’t have required government permissions to take in North Korean products. South Korean media said the paintings were purchased from a North Korean art studio under U.N. sanctions. The Unification Ministry couldn’t immediately confirm the report and said related government offices would consult if any acts violating U.N. sanctions occurred.

China’s Huawei unveils chip for global big data market

BEIJING (AP) — Chinese telecom equipment giant Huawei has unveiled a processor chip for data centers and cloud computing in a bid to expand into an emerging global market despite western warnings the company might be a security risk. The announcement came as Chinese vendors that rely on western technology stepped up efforts to develop their own. Huawei Technologies Ltd., the biggest global maker of network gear and the No. 2 smartphone brand, said its Kunpeng 920 chip is designed to process a growing flood of data from smartphones, entertainment, and other services. The U.S., Australia, and some other governments have labelled Huawei and other Chinese suppliers a security risk and imposed curbs on use of their technology. Huawei has denied accusations it is controlled by China’s ruling Communist Party or facilitates spying.

Nepal, Japan agree to resume commercial flights

KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) — Japan and Nepal have agreed to allow state-run Nepal Airlines to resume flights between the two Asian nations. The agreement was signed at the beginning of a two-day visit to Nepal by Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono. No Japanese airlines fly to Nepal, and Japanese tourists who visit Nepal and Nepalese students and workers who travel to Japan have been forced to take indirect flights. Nepal Airlines discontinued its flights to Japan several years ago because it did not have enough planes and officials were involved in financial irregularities.

Japanese lawmaker under fire for LGBT comment

TOKYO (AP) — A Japanese legislator is drawing criticism for his comment that "a nation would collapse" if everyone became LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender). Remarks by Katsuei Hirasawa, a veteran lawmaker of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, were carried on Nippon News Network’s national broadcast. Outrage popped up on social media. Hirasawa told a crowd in Yamanashi Prefecture in central Japan: "Criticizing LGBT would create problems, but if everyone became like them then a nation would collapse." He also said he didn’t understand moves in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward and other local areas to recognize same-sex marriage. Same-sex marriages are not recognized in Japan nationally. Politicians have struggled to deal with Japan’s low-birth rate without success, mostly blamed on a lack of childcare and help for working women.

Bans dropped for two Cambodian opposition politicians

PHNON PENH, Cambodia (AP) — A veteran Cambodian politician and his son have become the first among 118 opposition members banned from politics for five years to have the restriction lifted. Kong Korm and his son, Kong Bora, had their bans lifted when Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni signed a royal decree approving their application for restoration of political rights. The two were among the members of the Cambodia National Rescue Party who were banned from politics when the group was dissolved by court order in November 2017 on a contrived charge of conspiring with the United States to overthrow Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government. The move against the opposition was seen as the government’s effort to ensure it won last July’s general election in which it swept all 125 National Assembly seats.

Bluefin sold for $3 million in first 2019 sale at Tokyo market

TOKYO (AP) — A 612-pound bluefin tuna sold for a record 333.6 million yen ($3 million) in the first auction of 2019, after Tokyo’s famed Tsukiji market was moved to a new site on the city’s waterfront. The winning bid for the prized but threatened species at the predawn auction was more than double the 2013 annual New Year auction. It was paid by Kiyomura Corp., whose owner, Kiyoshi Kimura, runs the Sushi Zanmai chain. Kimura has often won the annual auction in the past. Japanese broadcaster NHK showed a beaming Kimura, who said: "The quality of the tuna I bought is the best."

Volcano in southern Japan erupts; no injuries or damage

TOKYO (AP) — A small island volcano in southern Japan has erupted, blasting rocks and ashes into the air but causing no damage or injuries. The Japan Meteorological Agency said the eruption of the Shindake volcano on Kuchinoerabu island sent rocks flying and hot gas and debris pouring down the crater. It has not reached the residential area 1.2 miles away. Officials say no damage or injuries have been reported. About 80 residents initially took refuge at a shelter on the island but have since started to return home after an evacuation advisory was lifted. Shindake’s last major eruption in May 2015 temporarily displaced the island’s entire population of about 150. Kuchinoerabu is south of Japan’s main southern island of Kyushu.

Bank of Japan warns that Japan faces new risks as population shrinks

TOKYO (AP) — Japan faces unforeseen risks in guiding economic policy as its population of about 126 million ages and declines, the governor of its central bank said. Bank of Japan (BOJ) governor Haruhiko Kuroda told fellow financial leaders that policies must be devised to prevent the shrinking population from hindering economic growth. Since taking his post in April 2013, Kuroda has flooded Japan’s economy with cash through central bank asset purchases to help fight deflation and keep the economy growing. The BOJ also imposed a negative interest rate policy to keep lending costs ultralow in the longer term. Kuroda told a seminar that while the conventional strategy of controlling short-term interest rates is well understood, the unconventional methods the Bank of Japan has adopted can have unexpected consequences. Kuroda said one of the potential pitfalls could be if banks use cheap credit to seek higher yielding, high-risk investments harmful to financial stability. "Policy makers need to manage prudential policy appropriately, taking into account the fact that the risk profiles of financial institutions could be dramatically transformed during times of demographic change," he said.

On the other hand, aging populations create new markets for many products and services, so there are positives along with the challenges, he added. Japan’s population began shrinking several years ago and is rapidly aging. That has discouraged companies from investing and hiring within Japan, while they direct their efforts toward faster growing overseen markets.

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