In this summary of Asia business news, Japan's finance minister responds to a proposal for deeper tax cuts; Asian airlines are healthier than their U.S. counterparts according to one investment bank; and Rupert Murdock's Star TV is looking to cut costs in its satellite up-linking operations.
Last week Japanese Finance Minister Masajuro Shirokawa said he would not oppose cutting taxes even more than initially planned during the next fiscal year, if the cuts were followed by tax hikes in year to come.
The finance ministry has balked at the idea of greater tax cuts, which it says could further damage Japan's already-strained finances.
The finance minister also questioned an anti-deflation measure being considered, to use pension funds to buy investments funds tied to stock market indexes. Mr. Shirokawa emphasized that pension funds belong to the people and not the government.
The finance minister made the comments after private-sector members of the Prime Minister's top policy-setting panel called for tax cuts deeper than those already on the table.
Hong Kong investment Bank CLSA released a report last week suggesting that Asian airlines are in better shape than their European and American counterparts. The bank says the recent Asian economic crisis forced airlines in Asia to cut costs and improve their profitability.
The report also noted that air traffic in both the United States and Europe remains down since the September 11 attacks, while Asia is showing the potential for strong growth in inter-Asian tourism and cargo traffic.
Also in Hong Kong, Newscorp's Star Television group says it is planning to reduce its staff, only months after the company announced its first profit in Asia.
A spokeswoman announced that the Rupert Murdoch company plans to outsource its up-linking, the process of transferring content from the ground to a satellite. The move is aimed at bringing considerable savings to the cable network. The Hong Kong-based company broadcasts in 53 Asian countries and has a viewership of over 63 million.