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Kyodo economic news summary -3-.

TOKYO, April 26 Kyodo

---------- Tokyo stocks rise, Nikkei hits 32-month closing high

TOKYO - Tokyo stocks closed higher Monday on buying of technology issues on expectations that high-tech companies will release upbeat earnings results later in the week, pushing the key Nikkei index to a 32-month closing high.

The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average rose 43.23 points, or 0.36%, to close at 12,163.89, its highest closing since Aug. 7, 2001, when it finished at 12,319.46.

---------- Nissan's FY 2003 group operating profit hits record high

TOKYO - Nissan Motor Co. said Monday its consolidated operating profit hit a record-high 824.86 billion yen in the 2003 business year through March 31 due to strong sales worldwide.

Operating profit grew by 11.9% from the previous year, it said.

---------- McDonald's Japan founder Fujita dies

TOKYO - Den Fujita, the founder and former president of McDonald's Co. (Japan), died last Wednesday of heart failure, company officials said Monday. He was 78.

A native of Osaka, Fujita established the Japanese unit of the giant U.S. fast-food chain in 1971.

---------- 4 of 5 big Japan automakers post domestic sales rises in FY 2003

TOKYO - Four of Japan's five major automakers saw their domestic sales grow in fiscal 2003, according to figures the five released Monday.

Of the five companies, Honda Motor Co. was the only one that reported a fall in domestic sales, with its sales dropping by a hefty 16.1% over the previous year to 732,413 units, due partly to sluggish sales of its Fit subcompact cars.

---------- Business confidence up in Jan.-March to highest level in 15 years

TOKYO - Business confidence among Japanese companies jumped in the January-March period to the highest level in 15 years due to brisk exports and a pickup in domestic demand, the government said Monday.

The Cabinet Office said in a preliminary report that its business survey index for the overall Japanese economy jumped to 29 during the reporting quarter from a revised 18 the previous quarter.

---------- Business, labor leaders urged to join social security forum

TOKYO - Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on Monday urged Hiroshi Okuda and Kiyoshi Sasamori, the respective heads of Japan's top business and labor organizations, to set up a joint forum with the government to discuss reform of the social security system.

Koizumi made the proposal in separate meetings with Okuda, chairman of the Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren), and Sasamori, president of the Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Rengo), at the prime minister's office in the morning, government officials said.

---------- Investigators question ex-Mitsubishi Motors exec Hanawa

YOKOHAMA - Investigators have questioned a former managing director of Mitsubishi Motors Corp. over the automaker's alleged false reporting in connection with a series of accidents involving wheels that came off large Mitsubishi trucks, investigative sources said Monday.

Akio Hanawa, 63, was overseeing the group in charge of verifying the strength of wheel hubs of trucks, a group set up after the company issued a report in February 2002 attributing the cause of a fatal accident to inadequate maintenance by truck owners and an excessive load on the truck.

---------- Japan, S. Korea begin 3rd round of FTA talks in Seoul

SEOUL - Japan and South Korea began their third round of negotiations in Seoul on Monday in a bid to wrap up negotiations on a free trade agreement (FTA) by the end of 2005, South Korean officials said.

At the three-day talks, the Japanese team is headed by Ichiro Fujisaki, deputy foreign minister for economic affairs, while the South Korean delegation is led by Deputy Trade Minister Kim Hyun Jong, they said.

---------- Toray to make base ingredient of carbon fiber in U.S.

TOKYO - Major textile maker Toray Industries Inc. plans to begin manufacturing the base ingredient of carbon fiber for use in aircraft components in the United States in response to growing demand, company officials said Monday.

Carbon fiber is supplied as a composite material in sheet form after the base fiber is processed and mixed with resin. Toray now ships the base fiber from Japan and processes it in the U.S. to supply clients there, including aircraft maker Boeing Co.

---------- Imported beef prices fall for 4th week, domestic beef prices up

TOKYO - Retail prices of imported beef fell in the week ended last Friday for the fourth straight week, but prices of domestically produced beef rose for the first time in four weeks, the farm ministry said Monday.

The nationwide average retail price per 100 grams of imported chilled loin beef fell 9 yen, or 2.4%, from the previous week to 360 yen, while that of domestically produced beef rose 3 yen, or 0.4%, to 680 yen, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said.
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Publication:Japan Weekly Monitor
Date:May 3, 2004
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