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Japan Current Account Surplus Rises

Japan's current account surplus rose two-point-three percent in August from a year earlier. That is the 14th consecutive monthly increase in the account, which measures international payments for goods and services, and earnings on investments.

Japan's Finance Ministry says the gain is due to more money flowing into investments and a smaller services deficit.

The latest statistics also show Japan's trade surplus fell more than 15 percent, the first drop in 14 months, largely because of a surge in import costs, especially rising oil prices.

Japan's struggling Daiei supermarket chain has averted possible bankruptcy by accepting a government-backed bailout.

Trade Minister Shoichi Nakagawa welcomes Daiei's decision to accept help from the Industrial Revitalization Corporation.

Mr. Nakagawa says he respects the decision made by the company, which he sees as being in the public interest.

The Tokyo Stock Exchange says it is considering de-listing Seibu Railway, part of the giant Seibu conglomerate. The group's core company, Kokudo, has admitted actually owning a large number of the rail company's shares held in the name of several individuals.

Officials of the Tokyo Exchange call the irregularities unprecedented, and say they prevent investors from being able to assess a fair price for Seibu Railway's stock.

Kokudo chairman Yoshiaki Tsutsumi, one of Japan's wealthiest industrialists, says he takes responsibility. Mr. Tsutsumi says he will quit all his positions in the conglomerate, including stepping down as owner of the Seibu Lions professional baseball team. He will also resign as the honorary president of the Japan Olympic Committee, but he remains the largest shareholder of Kokudo.

Earlier this year, Mr. Tsutsumi resigned as chairman of Seibu Railway to take responsibility for a scandal involving alleged payoffs to racketeers.

A survey by the World Economic Forum shows Japan rejoining the top 10 of the world's most competitive countries for the first time since 1995.

Japan now ranks ninth, up from 11th last year. The Forum says Japan's corporate managers have recovered their confidence and that government efficiency has greatly improved.