Chinese Inflation Soaring, Worrying Economists
The numbers are out, and things aren't looking so good for the Chinese. Inflation in the country reached 2.7 percent in February, reaching a 16-month high. Analysts had anticipated a boost to 2.3 percent from the January rate of 1.5 percent. "UBS economist Tao Wang said China may now raise interest rates, which have been on hold since December 2007," the BBC reported. "Others said inflation was simply lifted by the New Year celebration." But the Chinese New Year was in January, not February. Wang: "Our forecast is that a rate hike should happen relatively soon, if not this month then probably early in the second quarter." An economist from Goldman Sachs also weighed in, saying it was critical for the government to take steps toward tightening the economy in order "to prevent overheating."
Japan dealt blow after EU backs tuna ban
THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
Bluefin tuna line the floor at the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo. (ASAHI SHIMBUN FILE PHOTO)
Stung by a European Union decision, Japan is increasing its efforts to stave off a proposed ban on international trade of bluefin tuna from the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea.
At a gathering of representatives of the EU's 27 member nations on Wednesday, the EU decided to support the international ban to protect the species.
The decision raises prospects that the 175 signatory parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) will vote in favor of the ban at a meeting that starts Saturday in Qatar.
Japan, which gobbles up roughly 80 percent of bluefin tuna caught worldwide, will oppose the ban, proposed by Monaco.
Half of Japan's tuna supplies are Atlantic bluefin. And 90 percent of Japan's imports of cultivated bluefin tuna come from the Mediterranean Sea.
But Tokyo will need help to turn the tide in its favor.
"While it remains to be seen how things will develop, there is a 50 to 60 percent chance the ban will be adopted," said Yoshio Kaneko, a former director of the CITES secretariat at the United Nations Environment Program.
He said a two-thirds majority is needed to adopt the ban.
The EU said last September that it would not support the ban. But amid growing international calls to protect the Atlantic bluefin, France and Italy changed their minds after their fish farmers decided it would be better to stop catching tuna fry for cultivation and instead receive compensation for their financial losses.
On March 3, the United States said it would continue to support the proposed ban.
Japan has dispatched Fisheries Agency officials to seek support from African and Latin American countries. Several countries are expected to skip the CITES vote, so Tokyo hopes to draw around 50 opposing votes.
However, sources acknowledged that only 30 countries have expressed their outright support for Japan's opposition.
On Thursday, traders at the Tokyo Metropolitan Central Wholesale Market in the Tsukiji district began collecting signatures to oppose the ban. They said measures to prevent overfishing of the tuna should be implemented instead.
But even if the trade ban is adopted, Japan could opt to express its reservation and continue importing tuna from other countries that also express reservations. Japanese fishing vessels could also bring back tuna catches from the open seas.
But Kaneko said if Japan were to venture into the Mediterranean to catch tuna, it "had better be prepared to take on considerable criticism."
According to estimates by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), Pacific bluefin tuna stocks have remained flat, but stocks of grown Atlantic bluefin tuna have fallen from around 300,000 tons in the 1970s to 100,000 tons in recent years.
The Tokyo-based conservation group Traffic East Asia-Japan said there was "a more than 90 percent likelihood that the population has fallen below 15 percent of what it was when Atlantic bluefin tuna fishing took off."
The ICCAT agreed at its annual meeting in September 2009 to reduce the Atlantic bluefin tuna quota by 40 percent to 13,500 tons for 2010.
However, Greenpeace members, pushing for a trade ban, said that reduction would not be enough to prevent the extinction of the species.
Kaneko doubted the Greenpeace scenario.
"It would be very difficult to totally wipe out a species living in the sea," Kaneko said.
But he added, "There is a possibility that radical depletion could lead to extinction from a commercial standpoint."
The ban would likely not cause an immediate shortage of tuna in Japan.
According to the Fisheries Agency, Japan as of last December had about 20,700 tons of bluefin and southern bluefin tuna in stock, enough to fill the gap from halted Atlantic bluefin trade for about a year.
In addition, fish farms in Japan have increased production. In 2003, the farms had cultivated about 2,400 tons of tuna. For 2009, the volume is expected to exceed 7,000 tons.
Meanwhile, household demand for tuna has dropped from about 3.5 kilograms annually in 1998 to 2.5 kg in 2008, as families tighten their purse strings.
Nevertheless, some say the Japanese will have to change their eating habits because similar bans could expand as other nations have increased their fish consumption.
"Consumers will have to learn to settle for other tuna or even other fish instead of bluefin tuna," said Masahiro Yamao, a professor of fisheries economics at Hiroshima University.
流亡组织——世界维吾尔代表大会(World Uighur Congress)对达赖喇嘛的讲话表示欢迎，并呼吁北京方面尊重藏人和维吾尔人的政治意愿。
日本政府関係者らによって朝鮮の王妃が殺害された事件の真相を描いた「閔妃（ミンビ）暗殺」（新潮学芸賞）など、事実を克明に追うスタイルのノンフィク ション作品で知られた。戦争と軍人を題材にした作品も多く「責任 ラバウルの将軍今村均」で新田次郎文学賞を受賞。ほかに敗戦時の陸軍大臣阿南惟幾を描い た「一死、大罪を謝す」、「甘粕大尉」「東独のヒルダ」など。