Correspondent, Commodities and Energy
James's Feed
Oct 21, 2014

Japan’s power failure: Bid to forge national grid stumbles

TOKYO, Oct 22 (Reuters) – After the Fukushima disaster
crippled Japan’s nuclear energy sector three years ago, the
government pledged the biggest shake up in the history of the
fragmented electricity industry to boost competition and contain
a surge in power prices.

But a first crucial phase of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s
plan – to set up a national grid company to allow new suppliers
to sell electricity to the residential sector – has been watered
down so much that even people directly involved in creating or
running the body say it will not have enough power to succeed.

Oct 16, 2014

As Japan eyes nuclear restarts, renewables get shut out of grid

TOKYO, Oct 17 (Reuters) – Japan’s biggest utilities are
blocking most new solar and other renewable energy from
transmission grids, stirring concern among green power advocates
that Japan favours restarting idled nuclear plants at the
expense of other fossil-free supply.

Seven out of Japan’s 10 regional power monopolies have
blocked further grid access for renewables, saying new supplies
would strain distribution systems, and that solar and wind
energy are not reliable enough for uninterrupted power flows.

Sep 29, 2014

Brent falls below $97 on weak Chinese data, stronger dollar

TOKYO, Sept 29 (Reuters) – Brent crude oil fell below $97 a
barrel in Asian trade on Monday, moving closer to a two-year low
hit last week due to weak data from major buyer China and a
stronger U.S. dollar.

The London benchmark has fallen from $115 in June as
geopolitical tension in the Middle East has failed to derail
petroleum output, while concerns about slow demand have grown.

Sep 11, 2014

Japan’s Mitsui may miss metals profit target on iron ore slump

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese trading house Mitsui & Co may miss the current year’s profit target of $1.1 billion for its metals business due to the slump in iron ore, warned a senior executive, who said prices may fall to as low as $80 a tonne before rebounding.

Mitsui expects prices to rebound to $100 as early as the end of the year and the trading house’s iron ore business will remain profitable even if prices fall as much as 30 percent, Hiroyuki Kato, Mitsui’s executive in charge of energy and metals, told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday.

Aug 21, 2014

Japan firms hit by labour crunch, many see profits squeezed -Reuters poll

TOKYO, Aug 22 (Reuters) – Some 60 percent of Japanese firms
are finding it increasingly difficult to secure sufficient
workers, hit by a pervasive labour shortage that is pushing up
hiring costs and starting to eat into profits, a Reuters poll
showed.

Stemming from a rapidly ageing society where immigration is
limited, the labour crunch has emerged amid an economic
turnaround engineered by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and threatens
to drag on growth.

Aug 8, 2014

After shopping spree, Japanese trading houses take hard look at resources

TOKYO (Reuters) – After going on a spending spree during the global commodities boom, many Japanese trading houses have stretched their balance sheets and are now looking to sell off some of the assets to fund future investment plans.

Japan’s five biggest trading houses all booked lower profits in their metal resources businesses for the April-June quarter, making coal and other minerals prime candidates as they look to offload unprofitable assets and find others with more promise.

Jul 31, 2014

Asian buyers take 25 pct more Iran oil in first half

TOKYO, July 31 (Reuters) – Iran’s biggest clients took in a
quarter more oil in the first six months of 2014 than in the
same period of last year, with China and India holding to the
higher volumes they started after the agreement that relaxed
Western sanctions on Tehran.

Iran’s exports to its top four oil buyers – China, India,
Japan and South Korea – may keep rising even though a deadline
for a final deal on its disputed nuclear programme had to be
extended. The lead U.S. nuclear negotiator on Tuesday said
participants aim to reach a resolution on the decade-old dispute
by the end of the four-month extension.

Jul 29, 2014

Future grows darker for solar energy growth in Japan

TOKYO, July 30 (Reuters) – On the second anniversary of a
scheme aimed at boosting Japan’s renewable energy after the
Fukushima crisis, its powerful industry ministry is taking steps
critics say will choke off solar investment and pave the way for
a return to nuclear power.

Japan’s ambitious plans for solar in the past two years –
if they were to come on stream — could allow the country to
surpass Germany as the world’s biggest consumer of solar power.

Jul 18, 2014

One third of Japan firms say business hurt by China, South Korea tensions: poll

TOKYO (Reuters) – Diplomatic tensions with China and South Korea are hurting business for a third of Japanese firms, a Reuters poll found, with executives citing a drop-off in sales and difficulties in making deals work.

Under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Japan has angered its neighbors with assertive foreign policies and looser restraints on the military, although tensions with China have not returned to levels seen in 2012 when territorial disputes prompted violent anti-Japan protests.

Jun 20, 2014

Japan Inc hopes to use corporate tax cut windfall on capex: Reuters poll

TOKYO (Reuters) – More than half of Japanese companies would consider investing the windfall from a promised corporate tax cut on operations at home, a Reuters poll showed, underscoring an increasingly bullish outlook for the economy.

Boosting domestic capital spending and ending deflation are central goals for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is keen to build upon success that bold monetary easing and hefty fiscal spending have had in weakening the yen and boosting stocks.