Young Japanese reluctant travellers

Tokyo - Having grown up during years of economic slumps and now seeing their country in a recession, young Japanese are bucking their national image of being globe-trotters and are preferring to stay at home.

Home is not only more comfortable, but overseas travel has lost the allure that it used to have.

"The number of young Japanese [customers] has dropped notably in the last years, and that's crucial for us," said Yumi Isozaki, a spokeswoman for the Japan Association of Travel Agents.

Crisis means good deals in Asia for flashpackers

Hong Kong - "It's a buyers market," Malcolm O'Brien said. "There's bargains out there if you have the money to spend - at least in the short-term."

O'Brien is not talking about property, or stocks - but holidays and particularly holidays in Thailand and Vietnam.

With occupancy rates falling as hard-hit travellers ditch their holiday plans, hotels are slashing their rates to fill rooms rather than see them go empty, said O'Brien, head of traveller feedback with Lonely Planet Asia-Pacific.

AirAsia forges ahead despite air travel slowdown

AirAsiaKuala Lumpur - Malaysia's budget airline AirAsia hopes to soar above the current global travel slump by defying the conventional, and introducing unorthodox mechanisms to increase passenger volume.

With travel experts predicting a major drop in tourism across the region, airlines across the board have taken to cutting back on growth and routes to reduce capacity and match lower demand.

AirAsia, however, has chosen to fly the path less travelled.

IMF: Sharp slowdown in Asian economic growth in 2009

IMF speeds emergency loans for cash-strapped governmentsWashington- Economic growth in Asia is expected to slow sharply into 2009 as the global financial crisis clamps down demand for exports and the turmoil hits domestic activity, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said Monday.

Growth is forecast to slow to 6 per cent this year from 7.5 per cent in 2007, the IMF's November regional economic outlook for Asia said.

NATO defence ministers confident 2009 Afghan polls can proceed

Cornwallis (Nova Scotia, Canada), Nov. 22: Defence MInisters of NATO countries with troops in Afghanistan have said they're confident about elections taking place in that country next year despite a rise in violence.

According to the Globe and Mail, International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) representatives said Friday that a planned “surge” in troops from the United States, along with greater training of Afghan security forces, will help stabilize Afghanistan''s outhern provinces by spring and summer.

South Korea, Japan and China to hold financial summit in December

Seoul - Leaders from South Korea, Japan and China will meet next month to discuss the impact of the global financial crisis, Seoul presidential officials announced Friday.

South Korea's President Lee Myung Bak, Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao will hold talks in the Japanese city of Fukuoka on December 13.

Though the three countries have met previously on the sidelines of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Plus Three summit, it will be the first such meeting held separately from a multilateral international forum.

Asian markets resume slide amid mounting US financial woes

Tokyo - Asian stock markets took heavy losses Thursday, reflecting widespread gloom about US economic troubles and another bad day on Wall Street.

Japan's key Nikkei 225 Stock Average plummeted nearly 7 per cent, ending the day below the 8,000 level.

Traders said the sell-off was the result of mounting concern over the US economy, particularly the Big Three automakers' financial fate.

The Nikkei 225 Stock Average tumbled 570.18 points, or 6.89 per cent, to close at 7,703.04.

The broader Topix index of all first-section issues also fell 45.15 points, or 5.46 per cent, to 782.28.

UN official warns of social strife in Asia

Bangkok, Nov. 19 : Ajay Chhibber, the head of the U. N. Development Program''s regional bureau for Asia and the Pacific, has warned of the prospect of social unrest in Asia because of the global meltdown.

He told the Washington Post in an interview here that the slowdown in major markets such as the United States and Europe poses fundamental problems for Asian economies that have used exports to fuel their extraordinary growth.

Chhibber said there are still 900 million Asians living below the World Bank poverty line, defined as an income of less than 1.25 dollars a day, Chhibber said, adding, "There are another 300 million who just came out of that group, so they are literally on the margin."

Asians skeptical about the motives of companies that go green

Hong Kong - The majority of consumers in Asia are skeptical about the motives behind companies that sponsor environmentally friendly initiatives, a global study published Tuesday claimed.

Most believed companies only sponsor green initiatives to improve their public image or to sell more products rather than because they cared about the environment, the study of green perceptions, attitudes and behaviour concluded.

Of the six Asian countries included in TNS Our Green World study, the Koreans emerged as being the most skeptical, with only 5 per cent of those questioned believing companies went green because they cared.

Taiwan's former vice president to attend Asia-Pacific forum

Taiwan, TaipeiTaipei- Taiwan's former vice president Lien Chan Monday headed to Peru for the November 22 leaders' summit of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, becoming the highest-ranking envoy from the island to attend the annual event.

Leading a 13-member delegation of foreign and economic affairs experts and officials, Lien was to stop at New York for three days before flying to Lima on November 20.

Suspected World War II bomb is blown up by police in Hong Kong

Hong Kong - Scores of office workers were evacuated from central Hong Kong Monday as police detonated a suspected Second World War bomb unearthed on a building site.

The bomb was discovered on the site of the new government headquarters next to Victoria Harbour on Hong Kong island on Monday morning, police said.

Bomb-disposal experts were called in, the site was cordoned off and a section of the busy harbour-side road closed down while the detonation took place. No one was injured.

Hong Kong was heavily bombed throughout World War II as British and Japanese armies battled for control of the strategically located former colony.

Indian markets slide as recession hits Asia

Indian markets slide as recession hits AsiaNew Delhi - India's stock indices dipped downward by more than 3 per cent Monday after a meeting of the world's leading economies failed to throw up any immediate solutions to the global economic crisis and Japan announced its economy had slid into recession.

The Bombay Stock Exchange's benchmark 30-share Sensex was trading at around 8,990 at noon, about 4.21 per cent below its previous close.

The broader 50-share S&P CNX Nifty of the National Stock Exchange was hovering around 2,704.80, 3.76 per cent below Friday's close.

Aso looks forward to US leader with Asian interest

Japanese Prime Minister Taro AsoWashington  - Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso said Saturday in Washington that he looked forward to working with US president- elect Barack Obama.

Speaking to reporters after a meeting of the Group of 20 nations to address the world economic crisis, Aso was asked about his thoughts on Obama.

"Obama-san?" he asked, before saying they had spoken over the phone since the November 4 election. And though it was difficult to know much about his personality from the brief discussion, Aso said that Obama appeared to show an interest in Asia.

Asian stocks tumble on Wall Street decline, economic worries

tokyo, japanTokyo - Asian stock markets were in a downward spiral Thursday, tracking overnight losses on Wall Street and falling on persistent worries over a US recession.

The Tokyo stock market extended its losing streak with the Nikkei 225 Stock Average falling 456.87 points, or 5.25 per cent, to close at 8,238.64, a two-week low.

The broader Topix index of all first-section issues was also down 4.31 per cent at 837.53.

Developing Asia urged to raise vehicle emission standards

Developing Asia urged to raise vehicle emission standardsManila - Developing countries in Asia should raise their vehicle emission standards to the levels of Japan, Europe and Asia to protect public health and quality of life in urban areas, an Asian Development Bank (ADB) study urged Thursday.

The report, A Roadmap for Cleaner Fuels and Vehicles in Asia, recommended steps to improve fuel quality and vehicle emissions for creating better air quality in the region.

The Manila-based bank noted that vehicle emissions continue to pose a significant threat to the environment and lives of Asia's urban population.

Indian premier calls for greater maritime cooperation at summit

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan SinghNew Delhi - Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called Thursday for focussed cooperation, especially in the area of maritime transport, in his opening remarks at a regional summit.

Top leaders and officials from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand attended the daylong summit in New Delhi of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multisectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC).

Iranian diplomat kidnapped in Pakistan's north-west

PakistanIslamabad - Gunmen on Thursday ambushed a car carrying an Iranian diplomat in north-western Pakistan and kidnapped the official after killing his guard, police and media reports said.

The diplomat was seized when he was travelling to the Iranian consulate in Peshawar, the capital of the troubled North West Frontier Province.

A police officer said the kidnappers intercepted the vehicle in the upscale Hayatabad neighbourhood and shot dead a police guard before whisking the official and his driver away.

Asians to cut back on spending

asia mapSingapore - In the wake of the world-wide financial crisis consumer confidence has turned pessimistic across the Asia Pacific region, according to a survey released Wednesday by MasterCard.

From India to China, and Japan to New Zealand the urban middle class were more pessimistic for the first half of 2009 than six months ago, according to the latest bi-annual Consumer Confidence survey by MasterCard Worldwide released in Singapore.

MasterCard found that only Vietnam, China, India and Singapore of the 14 markets surveyed are optimistic about the first half of next year.

Asian cities should grow up, not linearly, to reduce CO2

Asian cities should grow up, not linearly, to reduce CO2Bangkok - To reduce carbon dioxide emissions - blamed for global warming - Asian cities of the future should grow vertically instead of horizontally, a leading transport expert said Wednesday.

"In many Asian cities, people are building new housing developments 20, 30, 40 or 60 kilometres out of town and this means people are taking longer to get to work," said Charles Melhuish, technical director with the UK government's Transport Knowledge Partnership.

Champion of Beijing's Olympic air cleanup gets award

Bangkok - Shi Han Min, who led the Beijing's effort to clean up its air for the 2008 Olympic Games, on Wednesday won the first Kong Ha Award for excellence in air quality management.

The award, which included a 10,000-dollar purse, was granted to Shi at the Better Air Quality 2008 workshop in Bangkok, which has drawn 900 delegates from the region.

Shi, director of Beijing's Environment Protection Bureau, was credited for introducing many initiatives to clean up the Chinese capital's notorious air pollution for the Olympics which were later institutionalized and replicated in other Chinese cities.

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