Japan has moved one step closer to becoming a global gambling enclave with the passing of a long-awaited bill to legalize casinos. The legislation has been passed by Japan’s lower parliament and is expected to easily pass the upper house. Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister is convinced that casinos can bolster the nation’s economy, attract billions in investment and support tourism after Tokyo’s 2020 Olympics.
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Asia Business Report - December

Japan has moved one step closer to becoming a global gambling enclave with the passing of a long-awaited bill to legalize casinos. The legislation has been passed by Japan’s lower parliament and is expected to easily pass the upper house. Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister is convinced that casinos can bolster the nation’s economy, attract billions in investment and support tourism after Tokyo’s 2020 Olympics.

ADB says Philippines outperforms comparable Asian economies

The Asia Development Bank (ADB) said that the Philippines continues to outperform most of its Asia-Pacific counterparts in 2016 and that it expects the trend to continue in 2017 as a strong infrastructure push adds to “robust domestic demand”.  The Asian Development Outlook Supplement (ADOS) showed a 6.8% revised projection for Philippine gross domestic product (GDP) growth this year. 

Air Asia Plans IPO in Hong Kong

Air Asia Bhd., Asia’s largest low-cost air carrier, plans to place all of the its ASEAN holdings and operations into one entity for a future Hong Kong listing.   CEO Tony Fernandez said "It's (about) creating a single economic vehicle that allows analysts and investors to see the group as whole."  The company wants to simplify its accounts in order to expand the investor base and create greater visibility.

ANA plans to start flights from Myanmar in 2018

ANA Holdings, Inc. has invested in a new airline venture in Myanmar that aims to start international flights in 2018 as the Japanese carrier seeks to capture demand in Asia’s fastest-growing economy.  ANA has a 49% stake and a local company holds the remainder. The Japanese carrier restarted flights to Myanmar’s Yangon airport in 2013 and is the only airline to offer direct flights between Japan and the country. 

Asia Leads International in Patents

In 2015 Asia took the #1, #3, and #4 ranks in patent applications according to a report by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).  China took the #1 position and became the first country to file more than 1 million applications; Japan was #3 with 454,000+ applications and South Korea was #4 with 238,000+ applications.  Overall, 55% of global trademarks and 68% of design applications were from Asia.

China auto sales in November at all time high

Auto sales in China, the world’s biggest car market and crucial to manufacturers worldwide reached a record of 2.94 million units in November, up 16.6 percent year-on-year according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.  Total auto sales in the first 11 months reached 24.9 million units, exceeding the figure for the whole of 2015. 

China becomes leader in Patent applications

China became the first country in the world to file 1 million patent applications in a single year (2015) according to a report by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
The majority of applications were in the fields of electrical engineering, including telecoms.  Other areas were computer technology, measurement instruments, medical technology and semiconductors.

China Plans to build 600 km / hour Maglev Trains

China's CRRC corporation plans to construct 600km/h high-speed maglev train between Beijing and Shanghai that will bring the travel time to 2-1/2 hours, the same as taking a plane.  CRRC will start research and development and plans to complete the first sample maglev train for testing by 2020.  The initial R&D budget is estimated at $465 million USD.

Japan ready to legalize Casinos 

Japan has moved one step closer to becoming a global gambling enclave with the passing of a long-awaited bill to legalize casinos.  The legislation has been passed by Japan’s lower parliament and is expected to easily pass the upper house.  Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister is convinced that casinos can bolster the nation’s economy, attract billions in investment and support tourism after Tokyo’s 2020 Olympics.

Mizuho Bank Expands in Myanmar

Japan’s Mizuho Bank, which opened in Myanmar in 2015, will team up with Max Myanmar Holdings to help Japanese companies develop in the country.  Max is involved in a variety of industries the Myanmar government is focusing on, including agriculture, construction and energy.  With the lifting of U.S. economic sanctions, investment activities in Myanmar are expected to accelerate.

Myanmar Tourism Investment up but Visitors are down

The Ministry of Hotels & Tourism is cautioning tourism investors that they should make decisions based upon correct data.  Foreign investment in tourism in 2016 has increased by 15%, attracting US$3 billion across 56 projects.  There were 3.1 million “foreign” visitors at the end of September but only 900,000 visitors arrived at international ports.

Philippine AirAsia’s launches Manila – Taipei flights while Japan flights are delayed

Philippines AirAsia has launched its maiden Manila-Taipei flight, taking advantage of Taiwan’s decision to ease visa rules for Filipino tourists but may not be offering flights from Manila to Japan anytime soon due to limited slots at the Philippine capital’s main airport, a company official said on Tuesday.  Travel between the Philippines and Taiwan is up over 34% year-on-year.

South Korea Fines Volkswagen 37.3 Billion Won for False Ads

South Korea's Fair Trade Commission (FTC) fined Volkswagen and Audi 37.3 billion won (US$32.07 million), the largest fine the FTC has ever levied for false advertising and has filed complaints with prosecutors against five current or former Audi Volkswagen Korea and Volkswagen AG executives.  In addition, the Ministry of Environment (MOE) has ordered Volkswagen Korea to recall cars and fined it 14.1 billion won (US$12.12 million).

Thailand Offers Foreign Retirees 10-year Visas

In an effort to encourage foreigner retirees to live in Thailand, the government announced that foreigners aged 50 or more are now eligible for visas for 10 years, a change from the current visas of 1-year duration as long as financial and health insurance regulations are met.  Target groups for the visa include long-stay visitors from Australia, Canada, China, Germany, Italy, Japan, Sweden, and Taiwan.

Tokyo’s Haneda Airport to Expand before Olympics

Tokyo’s Haneda airport will undergo major renovation in preparation for the 2020 Summer Olympics with projections of 486,000 flights.  Terminal 1 will be redesigned with amenities, lounges and offices; Terminal 2 will be redesigned with immigration and customs facilities; and the current international terminal will be renamed Terminal 3 and also upgraded.