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Japan's regional economies keep recovering despite tax hike: MOF

Japan's regional economies have continued to recover even after the first consumption tax hike in 17 years, the Finance Ministry said Wednesday, keeping intact its overall assessment for around four months from January through April. All 11 regions -- including Tohoku, ravaged by the March 2011 quake-tsunami disaster, Kanto centering on Tokyo, and Tokai in central Japan, where Toyota Motor Corp. is headquartered -- maintained their economic views, the ministry said.

Japan must keep economy strong to proceed with next tax hike: Aso

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso said on Wednesday that the country must keep the economy strong this year so that the government can proceed with next sales tax hike to 10 percent. Japan raised the sales tax to 8 percent from 5 percent in April in an effort to curb the nation's massive public debt. The government is expected to decide later this year whether to proceed with a planned second sales tax hike to 10 percent in October 2015.

Japan finance minister expects stronger Japan-U.S. alliance through summit

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso said on Tuesday that he expects Japan and the United States will strengthen their alliance through this week's summit meeting. "I expect the most that the Japan-U.S. alliance will be strengthened through the summit meeting in order to further promote peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region," Aso told reporters after a cabinet meeting.

Japanese parliament now unlikely to OK lawmakers' N. Korea trip

Japan's parliament has reversed its initial stance and is now unlikely to approve a planned visit by five opposition lawmakers to North Korea, a senior official of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party said Monday. "The prime minister's office said no," the official told reporters, referring to former professional wrestler Antonio Inoki and four other Japan Restoration Party members' planned trip to North Korea from late April.

Japanese parliament now unlikely to OK lawmakers' N. Korea trip

Japan's parliament has reversed its initial stance and is now unlikely to approve a planned visit by five opposition lawmakers to North Korea, a senior official of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party said Monday. "The prime minister's office said no," the official told reporters, referring to former professional wrestler Antonio Inoki and four other Japan Restoration Party members' planned trip to North Korea from late April.

Japan's new growth strategy to include GPIF role: Finmin Aso

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso said on Friday that the government will include a role of the country's $1.26-trillion public pension fund in its growth strategy to be unveiled in June. A senior official said last week that the Government Pension Investment Fund (GPIF), the world's largest, is looking at alternative assets as it seeks to diversify its holdings and generate higher returns to finance a rapidly ageing population. (Reporting by Kaori Kaneko; Editing by Dominic Lau)

Tokyo Gov. Masuzoe to visit Beijing on April 24-26

Tokyo Gov. Yoichi Masuzoe said Tuesday he will travel to Beijing on April 24-26 as part of efforts to strengthen ties with the city government of the Chinese capital. Masuzoe will be the first sitting Tokyo governor to visit Beijing since Yukio Aoshima in 1996. He was invited by the Chinese city government and is scheduled to have a meeting with Mayor Wang Anshun. "I would like to make it the first step toward strengthening ties with Beijing city through exchanges of views," Masuzoe said at a news conference. ==Kyodo

Obama's visit to Japan as state guest to be finalized as April 23-25

The government will finalize U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Japan as a state guest later this month as one taking place between April 23 and 25, not between April 24 and 25 as initially announced, a government source said Monday. The government had decided at a Cabinet meeting on April 4 to invite Obama to Japan between April 24 and 25 as a state guest, but the Japanese side was requesting that he stay in Japan for three days given the capacity in which he will be visiting.

G-20 hails Japan's efforts to boost economy, restore fiscal health

Finance Minister Taro Aso said Friday that Japan's efforts to boost the economy and restore its precarious fiscal health were welcomed at a two-day meeting of Group of 20 finance chiefs in Washington. Aso said he explained to his G-20 counterparts that Japan raised its consumption tax rate for the first time in 17 years to cover swelling social security costs for the graying population and it has taken necessary steps to ease the negative impact of the tax hike.

G-20 may cite Ukraine crisis as risk to global economy

Group of 20 finance chiefs may issue a warning of the geopolitical risks stemming from the Ukraine crisis in a communique to be released after their two-day meeting in Washington from Thursday, sources close to the matter said, underscoring concerns it could stifle the global economy down the road.
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