News

Toyota Stays Mum on Possible Fuel Cell Vehicle Deal With GM

Speculation is mounting that the two top automakers on both sides of the Pacific are going to cooperate to build cars powered by fuel cells. And, in the skies, Japan's flag carrier has returned to profitability but is losing its leader because of a bumpy safety record. Those are among the stories in this week's look at Japanese business news.

Japan and America's top automakers are staying mum amid intense speculation the two companies will soon announce a partnership to build vehicles partially powered by fuel cells.

Toyota and General Motors reportedly have been collaborating on alternative fuels research for more than five years. But Toyota President Hiroshi Okuda says there is nothing specific to announce yet.

Mr. Okuda says while Toyota may offer technology to GM, it is not thinking of working together with the American rival on building hybrid cars.

The Toyota president also announced a record fourth quarter profit of $2.8 billion with sales growth of more than four percent. For the full fiscal year, net income grew less than one-percent to total $11 billion.

A GM affiliate, Suzuki Motors, has reported record group sales and profits. The automaker says its group net profit for the fiscal year that ended in March jumped 38 percent and sales were up 7.6 percent. But, Suzuki expects its group net profit to fall nearly 21 percent to about $460 million this year, as it increases its investment and research costs.

Japan's economy continues its gyrations on the road to recovery. The Cabinet Office says a key gauge for the economy was above the boom-or-bust line in March for the first time in two months. The Index of Coincident Economic Indicators rose from 30 percent in February to nearly 67 percent in March. But the government warns that the index is likely to fall below 50 percent again when the April numbers are tabulated.

Despite returning his company to profitability, the chairman of Japan Airlines is resigning. Isao Kaneko's resignation comes after a series of safety-related incidents involving JAL aircraft, which have drawn reprimands from the country's Transport Ministry. The airline has also made an unusual announcement that the recent problems likely come from putting too much emphasis on punctuality.

Mr. Kaneko leaves with his airline reporting an annual profit of more than 285 million dollars after a loss of about $850 million the previous year.

The latest rankings for economic competitiveness find Japan in 21st place, up two positions from last year. But that is still far below where it was in the early 1990s, when it was the top-ranked nation. The World Competitiveness Yearbook, compiled by a Swiss business training center, has the United States retaining this year's top spot, followed by Hong Kong and Singapore.


Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs