Japanese cosmetics maker Pola apologizes for racist poster

Updated 26 November 2017
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Japanese cosmetics maker Pola apologizes for racist poster

TOKYO: A Japanese cosmetics firm has apologized for a sign banning entry for Chinese people posted in one of its outlets, highlighting lingering hostility to foreign visitors from some in Japan as it strives to extend a shopping-driven tourism boom.
Pola, a unit of Pola Orbis Holding, said that images of an “inappropriate” poster were shared on Chinese social media sites on Friday, without specifying the contents or location of the offending item.
Photos of a sign handwritten in Japanese saying “Entry by Chinese people prohibited” in a shop window were trending on Chinese and Taiwanese social media on Sunday.
Pola, which has around 4,600 stores across Japan, apologized for causing “unpleasant feelings and inconvenience to many people” and said it had removed the sign.
“As soon as we confirm the facts, we will suspend operations at the store and implement strict punishment,” it said in a statement posted at the top of its homepage in both Japanese and Chinese.
Pola’s mea culpa comes as Japan looks to boost a Chinese-powered inbound tourism boom ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics — a policy championed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government.
Japan is weighing looser visa rules for tourists from China, sources told Reuters earlier this year, as it looks to widen a tourism boom and lend support to consumer spending.
Some 23.8 million visited Japan in the year to October, setting it on course for an annual record. Visitors from China — the No.1 source — climbed 13 percent from a year earlier to 6.2 million during the period, government data shows.
— REUTERS


No need for more talks over draft budget: Lebanon finance minister

Updated 9 min 38 sec ago
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No need for more talks over draft budget: Lebanon finance minister

  • Lebanon’s proposed austerity budget may please international lenders but it could enrage sectors of society
  • Lebanon has one of the world’s heaviest public debt burdens at 150 percent of GDP

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s finance minister said on Tuesday there was no need for more talks over the 2019 draft budget, seen as a vital test of the government’s will to reform, although the foreign minister signalled the debate may go on.
The cabinet says the budget will reduce the deficit to 7.6% of gross domestic product (GDP) from last year’s 11.2%. Lebanon has one of the world’s heaviest public debt burdens at 150% of GDP.
“There is no longer need for too much talking or anything that calls for delay. I have presented all the numbers in their final form,” Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil said.
But Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil suggested the debate may go on, telling reporters: “The budget is done when it’s done.”
While Lebanon has dragged its feet on reforms for years, its sectarian leaders appear more serious this time, warning of a catastrophe if there is no serious action. Their plans have triggered protests and strikes by state workers and army retirees worried about their pensions.
President Michel Aoun on Tuesday repeated his call for Lebanese to sacrifice “a little“: “(If) we want to hold onto all privileges without sacrifice, we will lose them all.”
“We import from abroad, we don’t produce anything ... So what we did was necessary and the citizens won’t realize its importance until after they feel its positive results soon,” Aoun said, noting Lebanon’s $80 billion debt mountain.
A draft of the budget seen by Reuters included a three-year freeze on all forms of hiring and a cap on bonus and overtime benefits.
It also includes a 2% levy on imports including refined oil products and excluding medicine and primary inputs for agriculture and industry, said Youssef Finianos, minister of public works and transport.
“DEVIL IN THE DETAIL“
Marwan Mikhael, head of research at Blominvest Bank, said investors would welcome the additional efforts in the latest draft to cut the deficit.
“There will be some who claim it is not good because they were hit by the decline in spending or increased taxes, but it should be well viewed by the international community,” he said.
Jason Tuvey, senior emerging markets economist at Capital Economics, said: “The numbers will be of some comfort to investors, but the devil will be in the detail.”
“Even if the authorities do manage to rein in the deficit, it probably won’t be enough to stabilize the debt ratio and some form of restructuring looks increasingly likely over the next couple of years,” Tuvey said.
The government said in January it was committed to paying all maturing debt and interest payments on the predetermined dates.
Lebanon’s main expenses are a bloated public sector, interest payments on public debt and transfers to the loss-making power generator, for which a reform plan was approved in April. The state is riddled with corruption and waste.
Serious reforms should help Lebanon tap into some $11 billion of project financing pledged at a Paris donors’ conference last year.
Once approved by cabinet, the draft budget must be debated and passed by parliament. While no specific timetable is in place for those steps, Aoun has previously said he wants the budget approved by parliament by the end of May.
On Monday, veterans fearing cuts to their pensions and benefits burned tires outside the parliament building where the cabinet met. Police used water cannon to drive them back.