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Japan Tobacco to cut 1,600 jobs: media TOKYO: Japan Tobacco plans to slash 1,600 jobs and close four factories, downsizing domestic cigarette production as sales fall at home, media reports said Wednesday.In a major overhaul, JT will cut about a fifth of its 8,900 workforce in its core tobacco business, public broadcaster NHK said.In addition to the job cuts, which the company wants to make through voluntary retirement and other schemes, it will also close four out of nine factories in Japan and reduce the number of its branch offices from 25 to 15, the broadcaster said, citing unnamed sources.JT, one of the world's biggest tobacco firms, whose international brands include Winston and Camel, has a brisk overseas business but has suffered lacklustre domestic sales, as Japan's once huge number of smokers shrinks.An increased sales tax, set to be introduced in April, is also expected to take its toll on the domestic market, and observers say they ...

South Korean MPs make rare crossing to North SEOUL: A group of South Korean lawmakers crossed the fortified border into North Korea Wednesday to visit a jointly run industrial park that recently re-opened after military tensions caused a five-month closure.The rare cross-border trip by the 21 MPs comes as the two Koreas are struggling to build some momentum behind a series of stop-start confidence-building measures. They will visit four of the 100-plus South Korean companies with factories in Kaesong, which lies 10 kilometres ...
China stifles discussion of deadly Tiananmen crash BEIJING: A deadly car crash in Beijing's central Tiananmen Square received muted coverage in Chinese media Tuesday, as a vast censorship apparatus suppressed unofficial accounts of the incident.Newspapers across China carried news of Monday's crash -- which killed five people and injured dozens -- low down on their front pages and ran brief reports from state-run media, highlighting official efforts to control discussion of the incident, which struck at the symbolic heart of Chinese state ...
South Korea PM vows to get to truth of poll meddling charges SEOUL: South Korea's prime minister promised Monday to "accurately reveal" the truth behind allegations that the domestic spy service interfered in last year's presidential election.Opposition parties have spent weeks hammering President Park Geun-Hye's administration over the issue, suggesting that it calls the legitimacy of her December poll victory into question."The government will accurately reveal what happened and what caused it," Prime Minister Chung Hong-Won said in a public statement."The government will not hesitate to take ...
South Korea rescues, returns North Korean fishing boat SEOUL: Seoul returned four North Korean fishermen and their boat Sunday after it drifted into southern waters, military authorities said, two days after Pyongyang handed back six detained South Koreans. The vessel was picked up by a South Korean navy ship on Saturday after being spotted stranded off the country's east coast following engine failure, officials said.The fishermen and their boat were handed over to North Korea Sunday in an operation along the sea border, ...
Typhoon weakens off Japanese coast TOKYO: Typhoon Francisco weakened Saturday and veered away from Japan's Pacific coast after forcing more than 1,000 people to take shelter on an island where rain-triggered mudslides left 43 dead or missing last week.The centre of the storm, packing winds of up to 144 kilometres (90 miles) per hour, was located some 400 kilometres (250 miles) southeast of Tokyo at noon (0300 GMT) as it moved eastwards at 45 kilometres per hour, the Japan Meteorological ...
China school wall collapse kills two children BEIJING: Two Chinese children were killed and another four injured after a wall at their primary school collapsed, reports said.The victims, a girl named Wang Yuzhen and a boy named An Zhengguo, both 12, died as they were being taken to hospital in Linkou in Yunnan, according to The news portal, which is run by the southwestern province's government, added the other four victims, all fifth-graders at the school, were in stable condition with ...

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