Wednesday, April 14, 2010

News Blast

AFP/File/Yoshikazu Tsuno

Risk of Japan going bankrupt is real, say analysts

Greece's debt problems may currently be in the spotlight but Japan is walking its own financial tightrope, analysts say, with a public debt mountain bigger than that of any other industrialised nation. Public debt is expected to hit 200 percent of GDP in the next year as the government tries to spend its way out of the economic doldrums despite plummeting tax revenues and soaring welfare costs for its ageing population. Based on fiscal 2010's nominal GDP of 475 trillion yen, Japan's debt is estimated to reach around 950 trillion yen -- or roughly 7.5 million yen per person.

As violence escalates, Japan firms cringe

The nearly month-long street clashes in Bangkok have bought much commerce to a standstill. Japanese companies with operations in Thailand are no exception. Because of its location, Bangkok is ideally situated as an export base for Japanese companies with business dealings in the West and in Asia. Some business leaders fear that a prolonged suspension could hurt the trend toward a global economic recovery.

ANA prospers while rival suffers

Business was booming for All Nippon Airways Co. in February as ailing rival Japan Airlines Corp. suffered its second successive double-digit fall in international passenger numbers. JAL said Monday that the number of passengers on international routes stood at 804,191 in February, down 10.3 percent from the same month in 2009. Passenger numbers fell 10.7 percent in January.

Start-up rents out Tokyo's tight spaces

Japan is famous for its ability to make the most of limited space. The cocoon-like capsule hotels were first developed here and many single city dwellers live in tiny studio apartments known as rabbit hutches. Now, a new online real-estate marketplace is taking that trait to new levels., named after the Japanese word for the space that juts out from the edge of a building, seeks pockets of "dead space" around cities and converts them into short-term rental property. In Tokyo, where every sliver of land is at a premium, a few feet of unused private property near the front entrance of an apartment building can be used to sell muffins.

Not shaken, Japanese martinis are stirred. And stirred.

Thirteen stirs. Plus one-half. That's just part of the recipe for a classic Japanese cocktail called mizuwari. Cocktail culture in the United States has blossomed, with bartenders across the country rejecting syrupy sweet-and-sour mixes and fluorescent cherries for homemade bitters and microdistilled spirits. But in Japan, things are even more serious. Bartenders spend 10, maybe 20 minutes, carving individual cubes out of blocks of ice. After liquids and ice are poured into a shaker, bartenders jostle the thing just so, to achieve the right temperature and texture.

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