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Coronavirus infection cases have reached daily records in Tokyo, now playing host to the Olympic GamesBy YURI KAGEYAMA AP Business WriterJuly 30, 2021, 7:25 AM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleTOKYO — Coronavirus infection cases have reached daily records in Tokyo, which is now playing host to the Olympics. The Japanese government has declared the capital and several other regions under a “state of emergency” during the entire Games. With such a global sporting event unfolding, what does that mean? Here’s a rundown.WHAT IS JAPAN’S STATE OF EMERGENCY?It doesn’t mean a lockdown. In fact, Japan has never had a lockdown. Its “emergency” measures are centered around having bars and restaurants close early.Under the latest emergency, extended through the end of August, serving alcohol is restricted. The measures have been widely criticized as arbitrarily targeting a sector without scientific foundation. Some establishments are ignoring requests and staying open. Theaters and clubs limit crowd size.SO THE MEASURES AREN’T WORKING?Some would say so. The state of emergency, Japan’s fourth, has lasted through much of this year. Some cynics are wondering how a supposed emergency has become the new normal. Although violating businesses can technically be penalized with fines, such action has been rare.The government has urged people to stay home, socially distance and wear masks. Japan is generally an extremely orderly and conformist nation. But commuter trains are still packed, and the streets of Tokyo are bustling with throngs of mask-wearing people. Remote work isn’t a viable option for many Japanese “salarymen” and “salarywomen.”The Olympics hasn’t exactly helped. With Japan on its way to possibly winning more gold medals than ever, people are flocking to sports bars to cheer for their teams en masse, and to stores to buy Olympic goods.BUT THE GAMES MUST GO ON?Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has said the recent surge in cases isn’t related to the Olympics. Olympic athletes are getting tested daily. No fans are allowed in the stands at the Games, just team members, media and guests.Suga’s ratings have been plunging as doubts grow over his apparent decision to hold the Olympics, despite repeated warnings from medical experts about health risks.WHAT ARE THE HEALTH RISKS?The vaccine rollout in Japan has lagged among developed nations, with about a fourth of the population fully vaccinated so far. That rate is lower for Tokyo.Japan relies totally on imported vaccines. Japan has had about 15,000 COVID-related deaths. Daily reported new cases in Tokyo reached 3,865 people Thursday, a record for the third straight day.CAN JAPANESE CHEER FOR OLYMPIANS?Critics say the government’s message is confusing. Even as people are being told to stay home, Japan is going ahead with a big festival that gathers tens of thousands of athletes, corporate sponsors and other dignitaries from more than 200 nations.Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike rejected notions that the Olympics may contribute to growing infections, and she urged people to watch the Games on TV with family and close friends. “The Olympics,” she said, “are helping boost the rate of those staying home.”———Follow Yuri Kageyama on Twitter at https://twitter.com/yurikageyama. More AP Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/2020-tokyo-olympics and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports
An incredulous Japan is saying “masaka” — or, in English, “No way.”By YURI KAGEYAMA AP Business WriterJuly 27, 2021, 8:09 AM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleTOKYO — “Masaka” — or, in English, “No way.” That’s how an incredulous Japan reacted Tuesday to the unexpectedly early loss of Naomi Osaka at the Tokyo Olympics, erasing her chances for gold.And people quickly turned to an outpouring of sympathy.“Watching you gave me courage. You don’t have to win a medal. Watching you play is enough for all your fans,” said Yuji Taida, a novelist.Japanese media relayed urgent reports on her loss, with “masaka” in the headlines.“Her mother’s motherland. Her dream to stand at the pinnacle, with the rising sun on her heart, was not to be,” reported Sports Hochi, a Japanese daily sports newspaper.The stock of Japanese tennis racket maker Yonex, one of her major corporate sponsors, plunged Tuesday, just as she lost to former French Open finalist Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic 6-1, 6-4 in the third round. The stock recouped some of the losses but ended down 1.8%.The disappointment came just four days after Osaka left the nation teary-eyed by running up a Mount Fuji-like set at the National Stadium and lighting the Olympic cauldron with her torch to open the Olympics.For many here, the Japan-born Osaka, whose father is Haitian, has grown to personify a ray of hope for diversity in a nation long linked with discrimination and intolerance for differences.“Undoubtedly the greatest athletic achievement and honor I will ever have in my life,” Osaka had written on Instagram about her role in her first Olympics.Some Japanese said it broke their hearts to imagine how much Osaka had wanted to win the gold for her country.“She has her principles about her pride for Japan, and playing for Japan, while also being proud of her diverse roots in having a Haitian father and living in the U.S.,” said lawyer Atusko Nishiyama, who was already starting to worry Osaka might get attacked for her loss.Nishiyama said she had been impressed by Osaka’s statements on Black Lives Matter, such as last year when she wore masks bearing names of black people who had been killed.“Compared to her courage, it is so sad some people are still at a very low level,” Nishiyama said.While news reports speculated whether it hurt her not to play for two months and referred to how Osaka had talked about her bouts with depression and then sat out Wimbledon, Japan’s response was overwhelmingly one of doting love.Japanese media made a point to say Osaka had answered “hai,” or “yes” in Japanese, when asked a question by reporters in Japanese and noted that tears were running down her cheeks.Shotaro Akiyama, a university student who loves to play tennis, said he hoped Osaka wouldn’t give up.“The opponent just played a smarter game this time,” he said. “She will have another chance at the gold.”———Follow Tokyo-based Associated Press journalist Yuri Kageyama on Twitter https://twitter.com/yurikageyama. More AP Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/2020-tokyo-olympics and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports
Japan’s top automaker Toyota is adding two companies specializing in tiny “kei” cars, Daihatsu and Suzuki, to a partnership in commercial vehicles set up with Hino and Isuzu earlier this yearBy YURI KAGEYAMA AP Business WriterJuly 21, 2021, 8:18 AM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleTOKYO — Japan’s top automaker Toyota is adding two companies specializing in tiny “kei” cars, Daihatsu and Suzuki, to a partnership in commercial vehicles it set up with Hino and Isuzu earlier this year.In announcing the deal Wednesday, Toyota Motor Corp. Chief Executive Akio Toyoda said it will speed up efforts to become more ecological and sustainable because kei cars make up about 40% of the Japanese auto market.Fuel-efficient kei cars, defined by their small size and maximum 0.66 liter engine size, are popular with farmers, deliveries and retailers. Their tiny size is a plus for maneuvering through Japan’s tiny roads and fitting into small parking spaces.“We want to deliver better lives for people,” Toyoda said in an online news conference. “Kei cars make for a practical and sustainable lifeline for Japan.”Under the tie-up, Commercial Japan Partnership, that was announced in March, Toyota, Isuzu Motors and Hino Motors are working together in electric, hydrogen, connected and autonomous technologies.Those three automakers combined control 80% of Japan’s truck market.The addition of Daihatsu and Suzuki strengthens the partnership, and the manufacturers may work together in developing electric models together, the companies said.Under the latest deal, Suzuki and Daihatsu will each acquire a 10% stake in the Commercial Japan Partnership Technologies Corp. joint venture.Capitalized at 10 million yen ($91,000), it will be 60% owned by Toyota, and 10% each by Isuzu, Hino, Suzuki and Daihatsu, by the end of July.Toyoda acknowledged that the companies are rivals, but need to collaborate to benefit customers.Working together can help automakers cut costs and boost efficiency. Kei models also hold potential for other parts of Asia, such as India, where Suzuki is a major player.Toyota and Suzuki have had a partnership in small cars since 2016, and they entered a capital tie-up in 2019.Suzuki President Toshihiro Suzuki said he saw kei as “works of art” crucial to Japanese society.“I was so happy to learn President Toyoda had the same vision as me,” Suzuki said.———Yuri Kageyama is on Twitter https://twitter.com/yurikageyama
Japan has reported its exports in June jumped 49% from a year earlier, marking the fourth straight month of growthBy YURI KAGEYAMA AP Business WriterJuly 21, 2021, 3:39 AM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleTOKYO — Japan’s exports in June jumped 48.6% from the year before, marking the fourth straight month of growth, the Finance Ministry said Wednesday.Imports for the month grew 32.7%, totaling 6.83 trillion yen ($62 billion). Exports for the month totaled 7.2 trillion yen ($66 billion), according to government data.The increases were exaggerated by a plunge in trade last year due to the pandemic. But they highlight the recovery in the world’s third largest economy as a global rebound in business activity and travel boosts demand.Exports to the U.S. surged 86% in June from a year earlier, led by shipments of cars and computer parts. Exports to China rose 28%, with strong growth in vehicles, semiconductor making equipment and computer parts, the data showed.Japan logged a trade surplus of 985 billion yen ($9 billion) in the first half of the year, the second straight surplus in a row.The economy has been hit hard by the pandemic, shrinking at a revised annual rate of 3.9% in January-March, as COVID-related restrictions crimped domestic demand. Data due to be disclosed next month are likely to show the contraction continued into the second quarter.Worries are growing about coronavirus infections surging, as tens of thousands of athletes, team officials and other dignitaries enter the country for the Tokyo Olympics, opening this week.About 15,000 Japanese have died so far and just over a fifth of the population is fully vaccinated. Dozens of people affiliated with the Games have already tested positive for the virus.Japan has never had a lockdown, but parts of the nation, including Tokyo, have been under a government “state of emergency” much of the year, with restaurants and bars closing early to minimize crowds gathering.The government expects the economy to come roaring back as the vaccine rollout becomes more widespread by the end of this year.———Yuri Kageyama is on Twitter https://twitter.com/yurikageyama
European shares have opened higher after Asia tracked a retreat on Wall StreetBy YURI KAGEYAMA AP Business WriterJuly 20, 2021, 10:28 AM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleTOKYO — European shares opened higher Tuesday after Asia tracked a retreat on Wall Street as investors grew jittery over the possibility that surging virus cases could stifle the global economic recovery.Benchmarks rose in Paris and London but fell in Asia. U.S. futures were higher and the yield on the 10-year Treasury dropped to 1.18%.Alarm has been mounting in Japan where, with just three days to go before the Tokyo Olympics open, new coronavirus cases are being found among athletes and non-athletes affiliated with the Games.The Japanese government has repeatedly promised “a safe and secure” Games, but just about 22% of the Japanese population is fully vaccinated.The World Health Organization says cases and deaths are climbing globally after a period of decline, spurred by the highly contagious delta variant.France’s CAC 40 gained 0.4% to 6,322.92, while Germany’s DAX rose 0.1% to 15,150.96. Britain’s FTSE 100 added 0.3% to 6,861.42. The futures for the Dow industrials and the S&P 500 were up 0.3%.In Asia, Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 slipped 1.0% to finish at 27,388.16. South Korea’s Kospi shed 0.4% to 3,232.70. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 declined 0.5% to 7,252.20. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 0.8% to 27,259.25, while the Shanghai Composite inched down nearly 0.1% to 3,536.79.Given how tightly connected the global economy is, flare-ups in COVID anywhere can quickly affect the rest of the world.Even in the U.S., where the vaccination rate is higher than in many other countries, people in Los Angeles County must once again wear masks indoors regardless of whether they’re vaccinated following spikes in cases, hospitalizations and deaths.Any worsening of virus trends threatens the high prices that stocks have achieved on expectations the economy will fulfill those lofty forecasts.Besides the new variants of the coronavirus, other risks include fading pandemic relief efforts from the U.S. government and a Federal Reserve that looks set to begin paring back its assistance for markets later this year.This week brings a slew of earnings reports. Across the S&P 500, analysts are forecasting profit growth of nearly 70% for the second quarter from a year earlier. That would be the strongest growth since 2009, when the economy was climbing out of the Great Recession.In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude rose 7 cents to $66.42 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It sank $5.21 on Monday to $66.35.Brent crude, the international standard, added 2 cents to $68.64 a barrel.In currency trading, the U.S. dollar slipped to 109.41 Japanese yen from 109.46 yen. The euro fell to $1.1796 from $1.1802.
Toyota won’t be airing any Olympic-themed advertisements on Japanese television during the Tokyo Games despite being one of the IOC’s top corporate sponsorsBy YURI KAGEYAMA AP Business WriterJuly 19, 2021, 9:09 AM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleTOKYO — Toyota won’t be airing any Olympic-themed advertisements on Japanese television during the Tokyo Games despite being one of the IOC’s top corporate sponsors.The extraordinary decision by the country’s top automaker underlines how polarizing the Games have become in Japan as COVID-19 infections rise ahead of Friday’s opening ceremony.“There are many issues with these Games that are proving difficult to be understood,” Toyota Chief Communications Officer Jun Nagata told reporters Monday.Chief Executive Akio Toyoda, the company founder’s grandson, will be skipping the opening ceremony. That’s despite about 200 athletes taking part in the Olympics and Paralympics who are affiliated with Toyota, including swimmer Takeshi Kawamoto and softball player Miu Goto.Nagata said the company will continue to support its athletes.Being a corporate sponsor for the Olympics is usually all about using the games as a platform to enhance the brand. But being linked with a pandemic-era Games may be viewed by some as a potential marketing problem.Masa Takaya, a Tokyo 2020 spokesperson, said sponsors each make its own decisions on their messages.“There is a mixed public sentiment towards the Games,” Takaya said.”I need to emphasize that those partners and companies have been very supportive to Tokyo 2020. They are passionate about making these Games happen.”Toyota Motor Corp. signed on as a worldwide Olympic sponsor in 2015, in an 8-year deal reportedly worth nearly $1 billion, becoming the first car company to join the IOC’s top-tier marketing program.The sponsorship, which started globally in 2017, runs through the 2024 Olympics, covering three consecutive Olympics in Asia, including the Tokyo Games.The Tokyo Olympics, already delayed by a year, are going ahead despite the Japanese capital being under a state of emergency.It’s already virtually a made-for-TV Olympics with most events, including the opening ceremony, going ahead without fans in the venues. Some dignitaries, such as IOC President Thomas Bach and Emperor Naruhito, are likely to attend.Toyota is one of the most trusted brands in Japan. The maker of the Prius hybrid and Lexus luxury models prides itself on its quality controls, with its “just in time” super-efficient production methods praised and emulated around the world.Public opinion surveys reflect widespread concern among Japanese people about having tens of thousands of Olympic participants enter the country during a pandemic. Some already have tested positive for COVID.Motoyuki Niitsuma, a manufacturing plant worker who was banging on a bucket in a recent Tokyo protest against the Olympics, said he didn’t like the idea of cheering for the national team, and the pandemic has made that message clear.“The time to compete is over. Now is the time to cooperate,” he said. “We should never have gotten the Games.”———AP Videographer Johnson Lai contributed to this report.———Yuri Kageyama is on Twitter https://twitter.com/yurikageyama———More AP Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/Olympics and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports
Global shares have fallen across the board amid deepening pessimism over rising COVID-19 infections in the regionBy YURI KAGEYAMA AP Business WriterJuly 19, 2021, 9:14 AM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleTOKYO — Global shares fell Monday amid deepening pessimism over rising COVID-19 infections in much of Asia.Oil prices dropped further after oil producing nations agreed to raise production limits.France’s CAC 40 shed 1.1% in early trading to 6,388.62, while Germany’s DAX was down 1.1% at 15,370.28. Britain’s FTSE 100 dipped 1.5% to 6,906.69. The future for the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.8% to 34,283.5. The future for the S&P 500 lost 0.6% to 4,294.38.Experts are saying Indonesia has become a new epicenter for the pandemic as outbreaks worsen across Southeast Asia. Meanwhile, some athletes have tested positive for COVID at Tokyo’s Olympic Village, with the Games due to open Friday.“The more transmissible delta variant is delaying the recovery for the ASEAN economies and pushing them further into the doldrums,” said Venkateswaran Lavanya, at Mizuho Bank in Singapore.In Japan, the vaccine rollout came later than in other developed nations and has stagnated lately. Japan is totally dependent so far on imported vaccines and just one in five Japanese have been fully vaccinated.Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 shed 1.3% to finish at 27,652.74. South Korea’s Kospi slipped 1.0% to 3,244.04. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 dipped 0.9% to 7,286.00. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 1.8% to 27,489.78, while the Shanghai Composite lost a fraction of 1 point to 3,539.12.In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude lost $1.28 to $70.53 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It gained 16 cents to $71.81 per barrel on Friday. Brent crude, the international standard, fell $1.36 to $72.23 a barrel.OPEC and allied nations agreed Sunday to eventually raise production limits imposed on five countries, ending an earlier dispute sparked by the United Arab Emirates that roiled global energy prices.Iraq, Kuwait, Russia, Saudi Arabia and the UAE would see their limits rise, the cartel said in a statement.The plan would boost their production by 2 million barrels a day by the end of this year.OPEC+ agreed in 2020 to cut a record 10 million barrels of crude a day from the market to boost prices. It’s slowly added some 4.2 million barrels back over time, and prices have risen steadily this year, though they are still way below their peak in 2008.Investors’ attention now turn to earnings. Most companies will report their results this week and in following weeks. Hopes are high, with profits in the S&P 500 expected to jump 64% from a year earlier, according to FactSet.In currency trading, the U.S. dollar fell to 109.82 Japanese yen from 110.04 yen late Friday. The euro cost $1.1782, inching down from $1.1812.