Asia News

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By the latest economic measurements Japan’s economy has slumped into another recession. The definition of a recession is 2 straight quarters of economic decreases. In the 3rd quarter of 2012 Japan’s economy shrank 0.9%. At the same time revised figures for the 2nd quarter showed that the economy contracted 0.30% rather than the 0.1% growth that had been reported. The Japanese government is asking for caution in interpreting the figures.
The recent fire in a garment factory in Bangladesh that killed over 100 workers has shed more light on that country’s economy and the 150 million citizens who live there in abject poverty. It is now known that the factory was operating illegally because the local fire department had refused to renew its license.
The Capital Development Authority in Dhaka could have fined the factory or had it demolished, but didn’t because of the power wielded by the garment industry. Its $20 billion a year in revenues accounts for about 80% of the country’s export earnings and all government authority looks the other way rather than try to enforce safety rules.
Records at the factory showed that over 1/3 of its production lines were making goods for Wal-Mart. There is even a report that a Wal-Mart official raised opposition to having the cost to global retailers increased to fund improvements in factory fire and electrical safety.
Typhoon Bopha killed 6 people on the southern island of Mindanao last week. Now rescue workers are searching for more than 300 fishermen who are missing in the aftermath of the storm. In all of the Philippines almost 800 people are missing. Fifteen hundred people have been injured and over 300,000 have been forced to seek shelter in evacuation centers. Bopha is the most devastating tropical storm to hit Mindanao in decades. Much of its destruction was caused by flooding and landslides.
In another story from the Philippines, its Foreign Minister, Albert del Rosario, says he would strongly support allowing Japan to be rearmed to help balance power in the region with the aggressive moves China has been making in the South China Sea. He revealed this position in an interview with the Financial Times.

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