November 29th, 2011
05:12 AM GMT
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Hong Kong (CNN) – From an economist’s point of view, the rallying cry to cure Japan’s ills the past two decades has often been, “Spend, Japan, spend!”

From a demographer’s point of view, the cry is more: “Procreate, Japan, procreate!”

A survey last week underscores the growing problems of the latter point.

The number of single men has reached a record high in the aging nation of 130 million, according to a survey by the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research.

The number of single men aged 18 to 34 rose 9.2% from the previous survey in 2005. About 61% of unmarried adult men don’t have a girlfriend, while half the adult women surveyed don’t have a husband or a boyfriend. Worse still, 45% of the men and women who don’t have a girlfriend/boyfriend/spouse are not interested in finding one, either.

One in four unmarried men and women in their late 30s have never had sex, the survey found.
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October 11th, 2011
06:55 AM GMT
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If you’ve always dreamed of seeing Tokyo’s cherry blossoms or Kyoto’s famous temples, or even the Anime maid cafes of Akihabara, the Japanese government wants to help turn your hopes into reality.

In order to boost visitor numbers in the wake of its recent disasters, Japan’s official tourism agency hopes to provide free flights for 10,000 foreigners to travel to the country. FULL POST

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October 3rd, 2011
04:17 AM GMT
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(CNN) – Optimists outnumber pessimists in a closely watched quarterly survey of business conditions by Japanese business leaders.

The Tankan Survey by the Bank of Japan showed the sentiment of large manufacturers for July to September improved to 2 from minus-9 in the June quarterly survey, which was released in the aftermath of the March 11 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant. That was slightly lower than the forecasted 3 by economists surveyed by Dow Jones.

Still, sentiment has yet to recover to pre-quake levels, notes Bloomberg. The Tankan survey in March had a reading of 6 (the survey of 2,355 large enterprises is derived by subtracting positive outlook from negative; a positive figure indicates optimists outnumber pessimists).

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September 22nd, 2011
12:53 AM GMT
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Hong Kong (CNN) – Care for some Japanese sushi, Spanish paella or Vietnamese pho for your next meal?

Or maybe just a steamy bowl of white rice to go with your Filipino adobo, Indian red curry or Indonesian beef rendang?

About one of every two people in the world relies on rice as a staple food, according to the Manila-based International Rice Research Institute.

So if the price of rice jumps, nearly half of the global population could be impacted.

HSBC noted Tuesday that the cost of the consumable commodity is rising – and will continue to do so.
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September 9th, 2011
02:41 AM GMT
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Tokyo (CNN) – Working at the weekend in sweltering offices and meager use of electrical devices in a country known for its gadgets: This is the new reality in Japan.

Six months after the March 11 earthquake, tsunami and Fukushima Daiichi nuclear meltdown, Japan is still struggling to get back to pre-quake power generation.

Across the country energy production is down 7% on last summer; in greater Tokyo power generation has fallen by 20%. To avoid blackouts, the government told big industrial energy consumers to cut their power usage by 15% over the summer.

Nearly all companies hit their targets or exceeded them, but it's been tough on everyone.
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September 8th, 2011
03:46 AM GMT
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(CNN) – Kei San is a Japanese chef who lives in Hong Kong. He also hosts a television cooking show showcasing Japanese seafood.

Lucky for him, his uncle is a fisherman in Hokkaido who supplies him with succulent Hokkaido scallops. But his uncle has seen his business plummet more than 50% because of the nuclear crisis in Fukushima. Even though Hokkaido is 840 kilometers from the nuclear site, the global concern over radioactive contamination has hurt all Japanese food exports.

"My uncle is 60 years old and he's thinking of retiring early. Business is so bad he's basically taking a few months off as a vacation," Kei San says.

Six months after the March 11 trio of calamities – earthquake, tsunami then nuclear disaster – sales of sushi, soba, ramen and other Japanese food industry staples has not fully recovered – and it may be some time before it does. The main obstacle is the lingering doubts about the safety of Japanese food both in Japan and overseas.
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August 18th, 2011
10:38 AM GMT
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Hong Kong, China (CNN) – Good economic news was lacking in Asia-Pacific this Thursday. With nothing to cling to, Japan’s Nikkei and Australia’s ASX 200 fell in morning trading. The Hang Seng and Shanghai Composite joined them down the slide in the afternoon. By the close, all major markets had fallen between 1% to 2%.

The strength of the Japanese yen hit export-related stocks hard, pulling the Nikkei down 1.25%. In early morning trade, the yen touched 76.41 to the U.S. dollar, creeping ever closer to its post-war record of 76.25. Toshiba and Hitachi were the biggest export losers all day, closing down 4% to 4.5%. As of 5pm Hong Kong time, the yen was trading at 76.61 to the dollar.
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August 15th, 2011
10:03 AM GMT
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Hong Kong, China (CNN) – Today in Asia-Pacific, markets closed the day higher across the board, adding to moderate gains this past Friday. Better-than-expected GDP data from Japan and four-month high retail numbers from the United States helped boost investor confidence. Markets started in the green and kept climbing through the day. By the close, we saw major markets gain between 1.30% and 3.26%.

The Nikkei ended up 1.37% to close past the psychological 9,000-mark. Japan’s latest GDP number also came out. They showed the country’s economy shrank 1.3% year-on-year. Anemic? Yes. A good number, regardless? Definitely. Forecasts had expected Japan’s GDP contraction to come in at about 2.5%.  The yen, though, is still a chronic concern for exporters. As of 4.30 pm Hong Kongtime, it was trading at 76.82 to the dollar. Automakers veered around the yen’s strength. Toyota rose 2.9%, Nissan rose 3.3% and Honda throttled ahead at 3.4%.
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August 9th, 2011
12:40 PM GMT
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Hong Kong, China (CNN) – Oh my! In the past 24 hours, three of Asia’s dragon economies have traded in their scales and roars for shaggy fur and whimpers. That’s thanks to the shock from S&P’s unprecedented downgrade of the U.S. debt rating last Friday.

China, Hong Kong and South Korea are now officially bear market economies. They’ve lost at least 20% of their value from their previous peaks.

Today, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng crossed into bear territory after falling 22% from its November 2010 high. China’s Shanghai Composite has fallen 20% from early April. South Korea’s KOSPI Composite has tanked 20% from its recent high in May.

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August 2nd, 2011
09:57 AM GMT
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Tokyo (CNN) - Imagine your paycheck gets slashed by 99.4%.

That would make me, and pretty much everyone I know, weep with sadness.

Well, that’s essentially what Toyota says has happened to its net income for the period between April and June this year - the first full quarter after the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami in Japan on March 11.
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