Samsung workers in S. Korea stage first strike: union

By Claire LEE SEOUL, June 7, 2024 (AFP) – Workers at tech giant Samsung Electronics in South Korea staged the first strike at the company on Friday, the head of a major union representing tens of thousands of people told AFP. Samsung Electronics is one of the world’s largest smartphone makers and also one of the only companies globally to produce high-end memory chips used for generative AI, including top-of-the-line AI hardware from industry leaders […]

Japan household spending sees first rise in 14 months

TOKYO, June 7, 2024 (AFP) – Japan’s household spending rose in April for the first time in 14 months, official data showed Friday, as wages grow at the fastest pace in three decades. The figure was up 0.5 percent on-year with more money spent on education, clothes and transport, including cars, according to the internal affairs ministry. Eyes are now on a decision next week by the Bank of Japan, which in March hiked interest […]

Japan to build anti-tourist fence at Mount Fuji viewpoint

By Hiroshi HIYAMA TOKYO, June 6, 2024 (AFP) – A tall metal fence will be built to control unruly tourists who have annoyed locals at a popular Mount Fuji photo spot, a Japanese official said Thursday. It follows the construction last month of a black screen in another nearby town to block an Instagram-famous view of the snow-capped volcano rising from behind a convenience store. Now residents have complained about mostly foreign visitors venturing into […]

US trade gap widens to largest in 18 months

  WASHINGTON, June 6, 2024 (AFP) – The US trade deficit expanded slightly less than analysts expected in April, to the widest since late 2022, as imports rose more quickly than exports, according to government data released Thursday. The overall gap was $74.6 billion, growing from March’s revised $68.6 billion figure, said the Commerce Department. This was the largest deficit since October 2022, according to official data. US consumption has been more resilient than anticipated […]

Qatar signs 27-year gas supply deal with Taiwan’s CPC

DOHA, June 5, 2024 (AFP) – Qatar has agreed to supply the Taiwan-headquartered Chinese Petroleum Corp (CPC) with natural gas for 27 years, the emirate’s state energy company announced on Wednesday. Qatar will supply four million tonnes of gas a year under the deal, QatarEnergy said in a statement, without disclosing the cost of the agreement. “We look forward to further enhancing our relationship with CPC… and to further demonstrate our unwavering commitment to our […]

Japan transport officials visit Toyota HQ over testing scandal

TOKYO, June 4, 2024 (AFP) – Japanese transport officials inspected Toyota’s headquarters Tuesday after the top-selling automaker and four others including Honda and Mazda admitted failure to fully comply with national vehicle inspection standards. Five representatives visited the offices in central Aichi region to probe breaches declared by the company related to domestic shipment certifications. The transport ministry on Monday told five Japanese auto giants — Toyota, Honda, Mazda, Suzuki and Yamaha — to stop […]

Samsung Electronics union announces first-ever strike

By Kang Jin-kyu and Hieun Shin SEOUL, May 29, 2024 (AFP) – A major union representing tens of thousands of people at South Korean tech giant Samsung Electronics said Wednesday that workers will go on strike for the first time ever, potentially threatening key global semiconductor supply chains. A spokesperson said union members, around 20 percent of the company workforce, would use annual leave to strike for one day on June 7, leaving the door […]

Japan inflation slows to 2.2% in April

TOKYO, May 24, 2024 (AFP) – The pace of Japanese inflation slowed in April to 2.2 percent as gas bills fell, government data showed Friday, with the figure remaining above the Bank of Japan’s two percent target. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) excluding volatile fresh food prices eased from a 2.6 percent year-on-year rise in prices logged in March by the internal affairs ministry. Friday’s figure was in line with market expectations and comes as […]

One out of three Lebanese poverty-stricken: World Bank

BEIRUT, May 23, 2024 (AFP) – A third of Lebanese people are impoverished with poverty rates tripling in a decade, the World Bank said Thursday, as the country grapples with years of economic meltdown and war in the south. One in every three Lebanese “was poverty-stricken in 2022,” the World Bank said in a report covering about 60 percent of the country’s population. The institution could not access data from the eastern Hermel region or […]

OpenAI disbands team devoted to artificial intelligence risks

SAN FRANCISCO, May 18, 2024 (AFP) – OpenAI on Friday confirmed that it has disbanded a team devoted to mitigating the long-term dangers of super-smart artificial intelligence. OpenAI weeks ago began dissolving the so-called “superalignment” group, integrating members into other projects and research, according to the San Francisco-based firm. Company co-founder Ilya Sutskever and team co-leader Jan Leike announced their departures from the ChatGPT-maker this week. The dismantling of an OpenAI team focused on keeping […]

Japan’s Q1 GDP shrinks more than expected, raising recession fears

  TOKYO, May 16, 2024 (AFP) – Japan’s economy contracted by a worse-than-expected 0.5 percent in the first three months of the year, official government data showed Thursday. Gross domestic product in the world’s fourth-biggest economy was expected to have shrunk by only 0.3 percent from the previous quarter, according to economist forecasts. Exports shrank 5.0 percent, after growing 2.8 percent the previous quarter, while imports fell 3.4 percent, data from the cabinet office showed. […]

US sharply hikes tariffs on Chinese EVs and chips

By Beiyi SEOW, Danny KEMP WASHINGTON, May 14, 2024 (AFP) – US President Joe Biden took aim at China on Tuesday, saying Beijing is “cheating” rather than competing on trade as Washington unveiled steep tariff hikes on Chinese imports like electric vehicles and semiconductors. The move — which drew strong opposition from Beijing — comes as Biden gears up for a rerun of his 2020 contest with Republican rival Donald Trump in November’s election, with […]