Japan's Upper House approves free trade pact with EU by majority vote
Japan Times -- Dec 09
The Diet on Saturday approved an economic partnership agreement with the European Union that’s set to create a free trade bloc accounting for 30 percent of world output.

The Upper House passed the pact by a majority vote at a plenary session, with support mainly from the ruling coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito. The Lower House gave its approval late last month.

Japan is expected to finish necessary procedures, including amending governmental and ministerial ordinances, by the end of this year.

With the European Parliament slated to ratify the pact by year-end, the deal is seen coming into effect on Feb. 1, 2019.

The accord will follow the effectuation of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement among 11 nations including Japan slated for Dec. 30.

Tokyo hopes to demonstrate the superiority of multilateral free trade regimes over bilateral ones before it kicks off trade talks with Washington next year, officials said.

Under the EU pact, tariffs will be removed for over 90 percent of the trade items between Japan and Europe.

Tariffs will decline for a wide range of agricultural, forestry and fishery products, including European cheese, wine and pork, allowing Japanese consumers to enjoy such goods at lower prices.

News source: Japan Times
Dec 14
A Japanese government panel says a run of growth that began in December 2012 has now become the second-longest period of expansion in the post-war era. But that verdict comes as Japan struggles with sluggish wage growth and a chronic labor shortage. (NHK)
Dec 14
Traditional female entertainers in Kyoto have started offering early New Year greetings. (NHK)
Dec 14
The Japanese government plans to take measures to make regional labor markets accessible to foreign blue-collar workers to avoid them concentrating in large cities such as Tokyo when the country starts accepting them under the new visa system next year, the government's top spokesman said Thursday. (Japan Today)
Dec 14
Sixteen-year-old shogi prodigy Sota Fujii has reached his 100th victory in official matches of the Japanese board game, becoming the youngest professional player to reach the milestone at the fastest pace in history. (Japan Today)
Dec 12
Japan is seeking to possess its first aircraft carrier to allow for the deployment of U.S.-made stealth fighters as it seeks to bolster its arms capability under a new 10-year defense plan. (Japan Today)
Dec 12
A court in Beijing has sentenced a Japanese man in his 70s who was arrested in China in June 2015 to 12 years in prison for spying, sources well-informed about Sino-Japanese relations said Tuesday. (Japan Today)
Dec 12
Rakuten Inc and Walmart Inc officially opened the first Walmart e-commerce store in Japan, the Walmart Rakuten Ichiba Store, on the Rakuten Ichiba internet shopping mall. (Japan Today)
Dec 11
Major Japanese restaurant chain Gusto on Monday stopped providing plastic straws at its 1,300 locations nationwide. (NHK)
Dec 11
Tokyo prosecutors have indicted former Nissan Motor chairman Carlos Ghosn for understating his past compensation by tens of millions of dollars. They have also served an additional arrest warrant on him over similar allegations relating to his pay in the last 3 years. (NHK)
Dec 11
Winter bonuses at Japanese companies averaged an all-time high of 834,391 yen ($7,400) this year, according to a Nikkei survey released Monday, notching a sixth straight year of growth on strong corporate earnings. (Nikkei)