AJMEDIA News Digest: April 1, 2024

Tokyo, 01 April, /AJMEDIA/

Driver overtime cap introduced as worker shortage worsens

TOKYO – An overtime limit of around 18 hours per week for drivers of trucks, taxis and buses took effect on Monday, as Japan looks to improve standard work conditions in an industry struggling with an acute labor shortage.

While the move seeks to address the widespread practice of driver overwork, the change has raised concerns about a drop in transport delivery capacity. The logistics shortfall, brought about by the new overtime restriction, is known in the industry as the “2024 problem.”


Japan big makers’ sentiment worsens for 1st time in 4 quarters: BOJ

TOKYO – Business confidence among major Japanese manufacturers worsened for the first time in four quarters, falling to 11 in March from 13 three months earlier, after a sharp drop in the auto sector caused by production cuts, the Bank of Japan’s Tankan survey showed Monday.

But large nonmanufacturers, including the service sector, benefited from a revival of inbound tourism and the passing of higher costs on to consumers. The index improved for the eighth straight quarter to hit its highest level since 1991, rising to 34 from 32 in the previous survey in December.


Japan names 16 airports, seaports to upgrade for possible defense use

TOKYO – Japan designated on Monday five airports and 11 seaports to be upgraded for possible use by its Self-Defense Forces and coast guard in case of a military conflict, amid concerns over China’s assertive posturing near Japan’s southwestern islands and Taiwan.

The scheme was approved by related government ministers and starts in the current fiscal year through next March, with a 37 billion yen ($240 million) budget earmarked for the first year, according to the Cabinet Secretariat.


80% of dietary supplement victims saw doctor in January or later: study

TOKYO – Around 80 percent of patients who developed health issues after consuming Kobayashi Pharmaceutical Co. red yeast rice dietary supplements went to the hospital in January or later, a study by the Japanese Society of Nephrology showed Monday.

The online survey analyzed 47 cases reported by the society’s member doctors between Wednesday and Sunday, following recent revelations of five deaths and over 100 hospitalizations among those who consumed the Osaka-based drugmaker’s supplements containing “beni-koji” red yeast rice.


Indonesian President-elect Prabowo to visit Japan from Tue.

JAKARTA – Indonesian President-elect Prabowo Subianto, currently his country’s defense minister, will visit Japan from Tuesday and meet Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Defense Minister Minoru Kihara, a spokesman of Indonesia’s Defense Ministry said Monday.

Prabowo won the presidential election in February. He will travel to Japan in the role of defense chief following a visit to China that started Sunday, Brig. Gen. Edwin Adrian Sumantha told Kyodo News.


Rakuten to reorganize financial units amid mounting mobile losses

TOKYO – Rakuten Group Inc. said Monday it plans to reorganize its financial units by consolidating its banking, brokerage, credit card and insurance operations as it grapples with mounting losses in its mobile business.

Under its restructuring plan, Rakuten Bank Ltd., Rakuten Securities Holdings Inc., Rakuten Card Co., and Rakuten Insurance Holdings Co. will be integrated into one group by October, the Japanese online retail giant said in a statement. The bank will play the leading role among the units to be streamlined.


Princess Aiko begins 1st day of work at Japanese Red Cross Society

TOKYO – Princess Aiko, the only child of Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako, began her first day of work on Monday at the Japanese Red Cross Society.

The princess joined as a contracted employee and is working at a department focused on training volunteers while also continuing to fulfill her official duties, according to the Imperial Household Agency.


Tan Tan, oldest panda in Japan, dies after postponed return to China

KOBE – Tan Tan, the oldest giant panda in Japan, has died at age 28 at a Kobe zoo after her planned return to China was delayed for medical treatment several years ago, the zoo in the western city said Monday.

The panda, whose age was equivalent to being in her 80s in human years, came to Oji Zoo from China in 2000 for breeding purposes.

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