Japan

Toyota starts sales of 4th generation Prius hybrid

TOKYO (AP) — Toyota said Wednesday it expects annual sales of its newly-released fourth generation Prius hybrid to reach as many as 350,000 vehicles despite a big drop in oil prices making traditional gasoline cars cheap to run.

The automaker is promising mileage of 96 miles a gallon in Japan for its latest version of the gasoline-electric car, better than initially projected.

Lessons from Japan's progress in cleaning up smog

TOKYO (AP) — The face masks, thick dark haze and pollution warnings plaguing residents of China's capital this week once were a fact of life for people living in Japan's biggest industrial cities.

Japanese suffered from dire pollution problems for nearly a century, from the time the country first began industrializing in the late 1800s. But a combination of public protests and lawsuits, local government action, use of nuclear energy and upgrading of industries and technology helped to turn the tide in the 1970s and '80s.

Oil

Japan oil refiner JX Holdings to acquire rival TonenGeneral

TOKYO (AP) — JX Holdings Inc., Japan's largest oil refiner and wholesaler, plans to take over smaller rival TonenGeneral Sekiyu, forming a behemoth with combined sales of 14 trillion yen ($113 billion).

JX Holdings said Thursday that the two companies will combine through a share swap in 2017 in the latest move toward consolidation in a shrinking industry that's also pressured by falling oil prices.

Falling oil prices trigger Japan trade surplus for October

TOKYO (AP) — Japan racked up a trade surplus last month as exports of cars, computers and other goods grew, while imports dipped on falling oil prices.

Government data released Thursday showed that the trade surplus totaled 111.5 billion yen ($903 million) in October.

OECD countries to limit overseas financing for coal plants

TOKYO (AP) — A compromise struck by the United States, Japan and several other major nations will restrict export financing to build coal power plants overseas, but not eliminate it completely.

The agreement reached Tuesday is an important step forward that sends a strong political message ahead of upcoming international climate change negotiations in Paris, an American official and environmentalists said.

Japan fuel reprocessing plant delayed again, until 2018

TOKYO (AP) — The operator of Japan's nuclear fuel reprocessing plant said Monday it was postponing the opening to as late as September 2018, citing regulators' lengthy inspection procedures and time needed for safety upgrades.

The Rokkasho reprocessing plant in northern Japan has raised proliferation concerns because the plutonium it extracts from spent fuel — for the purpose of generating electricity — is enough to make thousands of nuclear bombs.

Japan regulator wants plutonium reactor operator replaced

TOKYO (AP) — Japan's nuclear regulator issued a rare warning Friday to the science minister, telling him to disqualify the operator of a plutonium-fueled reactor plagued with a poor safety record, a step that could finally shut it down.

The Monju plant was once considered a "dream reactor" that would make use of the plutonium produced by Japan's regular uranium-fueled reactors as a byproduct in their spent fuel. The ultimatum by the Nuclear Regulation Authority could add further uncertainty to Japanese energy policy, already shaken by the 2011 crisis at the Fukushima nuclear plant.

Oil

Oil down on growing stockpiles, fears of weaker demand

Source: 
Reuters

American Petroleum Institute data showing a 6.3 million barrel increase in crude stockpiles and weak Japanese manufacturing data helped pressure oil prices early Wednesday. U.S. benchmark crude fell 44 cents to $43.77 a barrel in electronic trading on the Nymex, while in London Brent lost 15 cents to $47.29, Reuters reports.

Australia, Korea seeking to scupper deal to restrict coal plant subsidies

Source: 
E&E

An agreement reached between the U.S. and Japan that would discourage financing for coal-fired power plants in developing countries has run into opposition from Australia and Korea ahead of a meeting of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development next week, E&E reports.

Cutback in overseas coal financing agreed by U.S. and Japan

Source: 
E&E

A deal restricting financing for overseas coal projects has been hammered out between the U.S. and Japan, E&E reports, although other countries that are part of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development have not yet signed on.

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