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Japan in energy breakthrough

Resource-starved Japan has extracted methane hydrate - better known as "fire ice" - from its seabed in what has been described as an energy breakthrough. A consortium led by the Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC) on Tuesday started a trial aimed at proving the feasibility of the deposit of the fossil fuel that looks like ice but consists of dense methane surrounded by water molecules. The solid white substance burns with a pale flame, leaving nothing but water. In a statement, JOGMEC said the project team planned to separate methane - the primary component of natural gas - from the solid clathrate compound under the seabed using the high pressures available at depth. Initial work began in February last year and two-week experimental production started on Tuesday. A huge layer of methane hydrate containing 1.1 trillion cubic metres in natural gas is believed to lie in the ocean floor off the coast of Shikoku island, western Japan. That would be enough gas to satisfy Japan's consumption for 11 years. The resource-poor country has been seeking out new energy supplies after shutting down several nuclear reactors in the wake of 2011's tsunami. Only two of Japan's 50 nuclear reactors are operating, forcing the country to use expensive fossil fuels for electricity generation. According to reports, Japan aims to establish methane hydrate production technologies for practical use by the fiscal 2018 year. For more information visit Image: © Getty Copyright is owned by Asia Outlook and/or Outlook Publishing. All rights reserved.

By Editorial Team

Former Sony CEO to retire in June

Howard Stringer, Sony board chairman, who served as president and CEO from 2005 to 2012, is to retire, he announced. Stringer, the first non-Japanese executive to run the consumer electronics giant, said he would step down from his position as board chairman at Sony's annual shareholder meeting in June. The 71-year-old was speaking Friday at a meeting of the Japan Society in New York. "A new world is opening up for me ... one that allows me to complete my plan to retire from Sony, which I expect to do at the conclusion of my term later this year," he said. "That will allow me to move forward with new opportunities I've been presented with lately." Stringer was succeeded by Kazuo Hirai, a games and music veteran, who described a huge overhaul of Sony's business as "urgent", including thousands of job cuts, after it lost 456.66 billion yen in its last fiscal year to March, the fourth year in the red. Sony has forecast a 20 billion yen net profit in the current year to March. Image: © Getty Copyright is owned by Asia Outlook and/or Outlook Publishing. All rights reserved.

By Editorial Team

India car sales fall 26%

Car sales in India's passenger market fell by nearly 26 percent last month on an annual basis, industry figures show.

By Editorial Team

North Korea cancels non-aggression pact with South

North Korea is scrapping all non-aggression pacts with South Korea, closing its hotline with Seoul and shutting the shared border point after the United Nations Security Council unanimously backed toughened sanctions against the regime following nuclear tests in the country last month. The announcement, carried on the KCNA state news agency, said the North was cancelling all non-aggression pacts with the South and closing the main Panmunjom border crossing inside the Demilitarized Zone. It also said it was notifying the South that it was "immediately" cutting off the North-South hotline – a hotline installed in 1971 and intended as a means of direct communication at a time of high tension. In the run up to the UN vote on Thursday, Pyongyang issued a series of warnings and in the hours before the council met it raised the threat of a pre-emptive nuclear strike on the United States. The US said it took the threats seriously, but that "extreme rhetoric" was not unusual. "One has to take what any government says seriously," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said of the nuclear threat. "It is for that reason that I repeat here that we are fully capable of defending the United States. But I would also say that this kind of extreme rhetoric has not been unusual for this regime, unfortunately." South Korean defence ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok warned that if the North were to carry out a nuclear attack it would become "extinct from the Earth by the will of mankind". Image: © Getty Copyright is owned

By Editorial Team

Arsenal to play friendly in Vietnam

Arsenal will become the first Premier League club to play in Vietnam during their pre-season tour to Asia this summer. Arsenal will spend three days promoting the club in the capital Hanoi from July 15-17 and will field a full-strength team against the national side at the My Dinh National Stadium on the final day, the Vietnam Football Federation said on its website. Arsenal say they have an especially big following in the country. The Asia trip will be Arsenal's third tour to the Far East in three years. Arsenal's chief commercial officer Tom Fox said: "Arsenal Football Club has so many loyal supporters all across Asia. "The Club and the players have hugely enjoyed successful pre-season visits to Asia in the past two years, and we are all looking forward to bringing the team to this region again this year." Rivals Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool are also making trips this summer to Southeast Asia, where top European clubs have huge followings and draw large revenues from television and merchandising. Image: © Getty Copyright is owned by Asia Outlook and/or Outlook Publishing. All rights reserved.

By Editorial Team

Tokyo stocks back at pre-crisis levels

Tokyo stocks closed 2.64 percent higher Friday, recovering to levels seen not since before the 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers that heralded the beginning of the global financial crisis. The benchmark Nikkei 225 index ended up 315.54 points to 12,283.62, while the Topix index of all first-section shares added 1.61 percent, or 16.15 points, to 1,020.50. Shares in Tokyo closed higher for the seventh straight day. GS Yuasa, supplier of lithium-ion batteries to Boeing's troubled 787 Dreamliner, surged 6.40 percent to 465 yen, as US regulators said they are still looking for what exactly caused a battery fire on a Japan Airlines 787. Meanwhile, Japan's economy stopped contracting in the final quarter of 2012, figures have shown. GDP grew at an annual pace of 0.2 percent in the quarter, the government said, up from its previous estimate of a 0.4 percent contraction. Higher than expected corporate spending and household consumption are thought to have contributed to growth. Image: © Getty Copyright is owned by Asia Outlook and/or Outlook Publishing. All rights reserved.

By Editorial Team

Goodman fund acquires stake in Hong Kong port terminal

Sydney-based property fund manager Goodman Group has acquired a 25 percent stake in ATL Logistics Centre Hong Kong (ATL), the world's largest logistics facility. Goodman's Goodman Hong Kong Logistics Fund (GHKLF) acquired the interest in ATL through a co-ownership arrangement with DP World - one of the world's largest terminal operators. It also got an ownership interest in CSX World Terminals Hong Kong. Goodman said the acquisition would further consolidate its position as a leading player in the Greater China market. The co-owners will continue to oversee the management of ATL and the associated container terminal, consistent with the respective expertise of both parties. The transaction will be primarily funded via a $300 million targeted equity raising by the logistics fund, which has been fully subscribed by its existing investors. Goodman's Managing Director Greater China, Mr Philip Pearce said: "The transaction cements Goodman's position as a leading player in the Greater China logistics property market. ATL further enhances Goodman's ability to service its global customers across the region and combined with our development pipeline of more than four million sqm in China, Goodman is well positioned to take advantage of opportunities stemming from the continued economic growth in this key market." ATL is a 13 storey, ramp up logistics facility, constructed in five phases between 1984 and 1994. With a lettable area of 552,000 sqm, it is the world's largest logistics building. The facility is currently 98 percent leased to 60 customers. Goodman's Group Chief Executive Officer, Mr Greg Goodman said: "We are delighted with the

By Editorial Team

AirAsia airline proposal gets India approval

India on Wednesday approved a proposal by Malaysia's AirAsia to invest 800 million rupees ($14.5 million) to start a budget airline in a joint venture with India's Tata and a third investor, Telestra Tradeplace.

By Editorial Team

F1 2013: Pre-season testing in numbers

The excitement is building as this year's F1 season draws near. All the teams have been busy launching their new cars and pre-season testing has taken place. Testing was spread over three separate four-day sessions in Spain from early February to early March. Mercedes' Nico Rosberg left the Circuit de Catalunya near Barcelona with the fastest lap time and it was Sauber who completed the greatest distance of any of the teams - just over 5,300 kilometres. Ahead of the Australian Grand Prix on March 15-17 in Melbourne, all the stats from this year's testing have been released. There's some surprising figures. But do they mean anything?... Unofficial test kilometres completed (Drivers): 1. Esteban Gutierrez, Sauber - 2,768 2. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes - 2,640 3. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes - 2,584 4. Sergio Perez, McLaren - 2,538 = Nico Hulkenberg, Sauber - 2,538 6. Max Chilton, Marussia - 2,536 7. Paul di Resta, Force India - 2,520 8. Jean-Eric Vergne, Toro Rosso - 2,455 9. Charles Pic, Caterham - 2,364 10. Valtteri Bottas, Williams - 2,352 11. Fernando Alonso, Ferrari - 2,351 12. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull - 2,343 13. Felipe Massa, Ferrari - 2,336 14. Romain Grosjean, Lotus - 2,270 15. Mark Webber, Red Bull - 2,265 16. Pastor Maldonado, Williams - 2,218 17. Giedo van der Garde, Caterham - 2,149 18. Jenson Button, McLaren - 2,091 19. Daniel Ricciardo, Toro Rosso - 2,051 20. Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus - 1,182 21. Jules Bianchi, Force India/Marussia - 1,165 22. Adrian Sutil, Force India - 1,159 23. Luiz

By Editorial Team

Ronaldo strike sends United packing

Former Manchester United hero Cristiano Ronaldo stole the show and crowned his first match back at Old Trafford since leaving for Spain with the decisive goal as Real Madrid beat the English side 2-1 in their Champions League last-16 second-leg clash on Tuesday. Real advanced 3-2 on aggregate, although an uncharacteristically humble Madrid manager Jose Mourinho admitted the win was undeserved. "The best team lost, independent of the sending-off," he said. The match took a controversial twist when Manchester United were reduced to 10 men with over half-an-hour to go - Nani seeing red card for a high tackle on Alvaro Arbeloa. Real, who were one nil down before the sending off, grabbed two goals to seal their advance. Luka Modric scored the first with a beautiful effort and then came the Ronaldo show, the Portuguese star adding the second. Image: © Getty Copyright is owned by Asia Outlook and/or Outlook Publishing. All rights reserved.

By Editorial Team