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
Feb 16
Reservations for travel overseas are surging for this year's 10-day Golden Week period, during which the Imperial succession is set to take place, according to a JTB Corp. official. (Japan Times)
Feb 15
The Japanese government has mapped out a bill to officially recognize the Ainu ethnic minority as an indigenous people of Japan. (NHK)
Feb 15
Bullet train ticket machines have stopped working in many parts of Japan. (NHK)
Feb 13
Around the world, people use chocolate treats to express sweet nothings on Valentine's Day. (BBC)
Feb 13
As spring approaches in Japan, the country's weather forecasters face one of their biggest missions of the year: predicting exactly when the famed cherry blossoms will bloom. (straitstimes.com)
Feb 13
A new outbreak of swine fever has been confirmed on a pig farm in Aichi Prefecture, central Japan. It is the third farm in the prefecture to be hit by the highly contagious disease. (NHK)
Feb 12
Convenience store operator Family Mart Co. on Monday announced the dismissal of a male employee after the emergence of a video showing him licking items, the latest of several similar incidents involving a food-related company in the last week, reports TV Asahi (Feb. 12). (tokyoreporter.com)
Feb 12
A man in custody in connection with the death of a female university student whose body was found buried in a field in Kamisu City last month has also been accused in her murder, police said over the weekend, reports the Asahi Shimbun (tokyoreporter.com)
Feb 10
The number of influenza patients per medical institution in Japan in the week through Feb. 3 dropped from the previous week in all of the nation’s 47 prefectures, the health ministry announced. (Japan Times)
Feb 09
People in Sapporo shivered through frigid conditions on Friday as the city recorded a daytime high of minus 10.1 degrees Celsius, making it the first time in 40 years that the mercury has failed to reach minus 10. (NHK)