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The China-U.S. relationship will dominate the APEC agenda this year as Japan takes the reigns. Three top teachers union members are arrested over a political funding scandal. The strength of the tsunami caused by the Chilean earthquake is overestimated, prompting governmental apologies. A record number of refugees are allowed to stay in the country. A record $1 trillion government budget is passed. Average incomes are down, and the number of families living in poverty is up. Nissan, Suzuki and Daihatsu also announce recalls. Newspapers charge for online content. And the Prime Minister enjoys Tweeting.
The political funding scandal surrounding the Democratic Party of Japan continues to deepen as three teachers union senior members are arrested.
The Chilean earthquake was predicted to cause a major tidal wave on the shores of
South Korean President Lee Myung-bak’s omission of any criticism of Japan in a speech commemorating his country’s independence movement is taken as a sign of improved relations.
Tokyo Sky Tree, the metropolis’ new digital transmitting facility, has reached 330 meters (984 feet) and will be the world's tallest self-standing tower at 634 meters (2,080 feet) when it’s completed. The current facility, the iconic Tokyo Tower, is working hard to remain a tourist attraction.
Money: Speculation is increasing both domestically and overseas on the sustainability of the enormous national debt. The record $1 trillion budget, passed on March 2, will do nothing to help in that direction, as around half of it is financed with new government bonds.
Meanwhile, household spending rose for the sixth month on the bounce in January, further easing fears of a double-dip slowdown, although average incomes have continued to slide downwards over the same period, but paid overtime is rising slightly. To add to the mixed economic messages, unemployment took an unexpected dip at the start of the year, while social workers are struggling to cope with their caseload due to an increasing number of families living in poverty.
Japanese firms, particularly trading houses, are on a global quest for copper assets, which are predicted to be in high demand in the future, while Chinese firms are taking over more Japanese firms, not to the delight of everyone.
Japanese newspapers, whose circulation has held up relatively well compared to those of most countries, are beginning to charge for online content. The country’s last “Newspaper Train,” which have delivered evening editions to areas that were hard to reach by road, will make its final run on March 12, when truck deliveries will take over the route.
Elsewhere: Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has apparently been enjoying communicating his message without pesky journalists and opponents asking difficult questions, by tweeting to his hearts content.
The captain of an anti-organized crime unit that was investigating the shooting of a police officer in
Former New York Yankees pitcher Maximo Nelson has been suspended from his current team, the Chunichi Dragons, after a live bullet was found in his bag at the airport in