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Mon, Feb 21, 2005 - Page 12 News List

World Business Quick Take


■ Energy

Japan asks China for data

China should provide fresh data on natural gasfields it is developing in the East China Sea because they seem to extend into Japanese waters, Japan's trade minister said yesterday. "We will continue to tell China to submit data," Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Shoichi Nakagawa said. Japan, concerned that China may exploit reserves that extend into the Japanese exclusive economic zone, has been conducting a survey near the median line in the East China Sea. Issuing an interim report on the survey, Nakagawa said last week it was "highly likely" that the Chunxiao and Duangqiao fields which China is developing next to the median line stretch into the Japanese sector under the seabed. Asked if that move would further strain relations, Nakagawa asked: "Why do we have to be considerate as they have already been doing it [since 2003]?"

■ Food

Rice raises beef ban

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice raised the issue of Japan lifting completely a ban on imports of US beef while meeting with her Japanese counterpart. Rice met with Nobutaka Machimura for bilateral talks Saturday. The Japanese understood US concerns and were trying to accelerate procedures "and made a commitment the issue would be resolved," said a State Department official who attended the meeting and spoke on condition of anonymity. Japan imposed a ban on US beef imports in December 2003 after the US discovered its first case of fatal brain-wasting mad cow disease, known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy or BSE, in a Washington state Holstein. Earlier this month a Japanese government panel took a step toward partially lifting the ban, but the decision still has to be approved by the government.

■ United Kingdom

US probes bribery charges

US prosecutors have asked one of the richest men in Britain to visit the US to help in an inquiry into allegations of bribery surrounding multi-billion-dollar deals in Iraq, a report said yesterday. Iraqi-born Nadhmi Auchi claims to know nothing of any corruption and believes the case is politically motivated, the Sunday Times newspaper reported, citing a source close to Britain's 34th wealthiest man. Members of the US attorney general's office are investigating the awarding of reconstruction contracts in Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein. A staggering ?4.7 billion (US$8.9 billion) earmarked for much-needed rebuilding projects is unaccounted for and may have been mispent or lost as a result of corruption, it said.

■ Transportation

Railway executive kills self

The former president of a major Japanese railway operator hanged himself at home after investigators questioned him over a financial scandal, police said yesterday. Terumasa Koyanagi, who stepped down as president of Seibu Railway Co last month, was the second executive tied to the railway's business to commit suicide recently. Koyanagi, 64, was found dead by his wife on Saturday at their Tokyo home, a Metropolitan Police spokesman in the city said on condition of anonymity. Police found suicide notes written to his family, the spokesman said. Tokyo prosecutors and securities regulators have been investigating Seibu executives for allegedly falsifying securities reports and engaging in insider trading.

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