Posts Tagged ‘Japan’

North Korea says missile meets all specifications, ready for mass-production — “Raining warheads on America!”

May 22, 2017

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un waves to North Korean scientists and technicians, who developed missile ‘Hwasong-12’ in this undated photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) May 20, 2017. KCNA/via REUTERS
By Ju-min Park and Jack Kim | SEOUL

North Korea said on Monday it had successfully tested an intermediate-range ballistic missile which met all technical requirements and could now be mass-produced, indicating advances in its ambitions to be able to hit the United States.

The North fired the missile into waters off its east coast on Sunday, its second missile test in a week, which South Korea said dashed the hopes of the South’s new liberal government under President Moon Jae-in for peace between the neighbors.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un supervised the test of the Pukguksong-2, which confirmed reliable late-stage guidance of the warhead and the functioning of a solid-fuel engine, the KCNA state news agency said.

It quoted Kim as saying the Pukguksong-2 met all the required technical specifications so should now be mass-produced and deployed to the Korean People’s Army strategic battle unit.

Pyongyang has defied all calls to rein in its nuclear and missile programs, even from China, its lone major ally, saying the weapons are needed for defense against U.S. aggression.

The U.N. Security Council is due to meet on Tuesday behind closed doors to discuss the latest test, which defies Security Council resolutions and sanctions, at the request of the United States, Japan and South Korea, diplomats said on Sunday.

The test could also alter the dynamics of Moon’s plan to review a controversial deployment of the THAAD U.S. anti-missile system in the South that is angrily opposed by China, which sees its powerful radar as a threat to its security.

“Saying with pride that the missile’s rate of hits is very accurate and Pukguksong-2 is a successful strategic weapon, he approved the deployment of this weapon system for action,” KCNA said, quoting Kim.

(For a graphic on nuclear North Korea, click


The launch verified the reliability and accuracy of the solid-fuel engine’s operation and stage separation and the late-stage guidance of the nuclear warhead which was recorded by a device mounted on the warhead, KCNA said.

“Viewing the images of the Earth being sent real-time from the camera mounted on the ballistic missile, Supreme leader Kim Jong Un said it feels grand to look at the Earth from the rocket we launched and the entire world looks so beautiful,” KCNA said.

The use of solid fuel presents advantages for weapons because the fuel is more stable and can be transported easily in the missile’s tank allowing for a launch at very short notice.

The Pukguksong-2 flew about 500 km (310 miles), reaching an altitude of 560 km, South Korea’s military said.

The South’s military said the test provided more “meaningful data” for the North’s missile program but whether the North mastered the re-entry technology for the warhead needs additional analysis.

The reclusive state has been working to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of striking the U.S. mainland and on Saturday said it had developed the capability, although Western missile experts say the claim is exaggerated.

Some experts believe it will be 2030 or later for the North to develop the technology. But KCNA said last week’s missile test put Hawaii and Alaska within range.

North Korea regularly threatens to destroy the United States which it accuses of preparing for invasion. South Korea hosts 28,500 U.S. troops to counter the threat from the North, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War.


Experts say solid fuel engines and mobile launchers make it more difficult to detect signs of launch preparations.

“For military purposes, solid-fueled missiles have the advantage that they have the fuel loaded in them and can be launched quickly after they are moved to a launch site,” David Wright, co-director of the Global Security Program at the U.S.-based Union of Concerned Scientists, said in a blog post.

“Building large solid missiles is difficult,” he said, adding it took decades for major superpowers such as France and China to go from a medium-range missile to an intercontinental ballistic missile.

U.S. President Donald Trump has warned that a “major, major conflict” with North Korea is possible, and in a show of force, sent the Carl Vinson aircraft carrier strike group to Korean waters to conduct drills with South Korea and Japan.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said economic and diplomatic pressure would continue.

“We cannot absolutely tolerate the missile launch on May 21 and repeated provocative remarks and actions by North Korea,” Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said on Monday.

“It is important to lower North Korea’s foreign currency earnings and prevent nuclear missile related shipment and technological transfer in order to prevent North Korea’s nuclear missile development. We will fully implement our own sanctions against North Korea.”

China repeated its call for all parties to exercise restraint to not let tension mount further.

On Monday, the South’s Unification Ministry spokesman Lee Duk-haeng said while Seoul will respond firmly to any provocations by the North, “it would not be desirable to have ties between the South and the North severed.”

Moon took office on May 10 after winning an election on a platform of a more moderate approach to the North, with which the South is still technically at war since no peace treaty was signed at the end of their 1950-1953 conflict.

(Additional reporting by Kaori Kaneko in TOKYO and Ben Blanchard in BEIJING; Editing by Michael Perry and Nick Macfie)


 (If you believe that, Maybe you’d be interested in buying some swamp land in Nigeria….)

Trust (xìn)

Asian Stocks Track Wall St’s Rally Despite Global Worries

May 22, 2017

TOKYO — Asian stocks rose Monday, cheered by the latest rally on Wall Street and relative quiet in U.S. politics as President Donald Trump began his first official trip overseas as president.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 gained 0.4 percent to 19,673.17. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 added 0.8 percent to 5,771.10. South Korea’s Kospi gained 0.5 percent to 2,299.52. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng jumped 0.9 percent to 25,412.26, although the Shanghai Composite lost 0.3 percent to 3,083.00. Southeast Asian markets were also higher.

MARKET WORRIES: Among the global developments adding to investor fears are the various controversies swirling around the Trump administration. But news was relatively quiet over the weekend as Trump visited Saudi Arabia, getting a reprieve from the controversies that have marred his young presidency. Trump will travel on to Israel and Europe and attend a summit of the Group of Seven nations.

NORTH KOREA: North Korea’s latest missile test, on Sunday, was a solid-fuel ballistic missile that can be harder for outsiders to detect before launch. The official Korean Central News Agency confirmed Monday the missile was a Pukguksong-2, a land-based version of a submarine-launched missile. The missile fell into the sea and generated scant reaction in markets.

THE QUOTE: “North Korea conducted a missile test on Sunday, but it is not expected to cause much financial market impact as both the U.S. and South Korea have been restrained in their reactions,” said Zhu Huani, an analyst at Mizuho Bank in Singapore.

WALL STREET: The S&P 500 index rose 0.7 percent to 2,381.73 and the Dow Jones industrial average also added 0.7 percent, to 20,804.84. The Nasdaq composite index gained 0.5 percent to 6,083.70.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude oil added 39 cents to $51.06 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose 42 cents to $54.03 a barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: In currency trading, the dollar rose to 111.50 yen from 111.39 yen late Friday in Asia. The euro edged up to $1.1187 from $1.1139.


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Singapore ‘supports joint efforts’ to sustain TPP

May 21, 2017

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Singapore’s Trade Minister Lim Hng Kiang (second from left) attends the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) 23rd Ministers Responsible for Trade Meeting at the National Convention Center in Hanoi on May 20, 2017. (Photo: Nam Hoang Dinh/Pool/AFP)

SINGAPORE: Singapore “supports the joint efforts” of the remaining Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) signatories to sustain the massive free trade deal, Minister of Trade and Industry (Trade) Lim Hng Kiang said on Sunday (May 21).

In a statement from the ministry, Mr Lim said: “It is important that we keep up momentum.”

His remarks come after the ministers and vice-ministers of 11 Asia-Pacific nations – including Singapore – agreed to launch a process to assess options to bring the agreement into force, even after the United States’ pullout.

They were meeting in Hanoi on Sunday on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Ministers Responsible for Trade Meeting.

According to MTI, Singapore was encouraged by the partners’ commitment to the TPP. The ministry added that the trade deal “will have a positive spillover effect on economic integration in the region, and the agreement will also provide for others to join in when ready”.

MTI said the signatories were united in their “desire to take the TPP forward”, having recognised the economic and strategic benefits of the trade deal and its potential to spur growth and increase opportunities for businesses and people.

“Singapore will participate constructively in this collective process to harvest the TPP’s benefits,” said Mr Lim.

The charge to save the TPP is being led by Japan, New Zealand and Australia. The other eight signatories are Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Mexico, Malaysia, Peru, Vietnam and Singapore.

Source: CNA/ek

North Korea Fires Missile in Latest Test, US and S. Korea Say — “Midrange ballistic missile”

May 21, 2017

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea on Sunday fired a midrange ballistic missile, U.S. and South Korean officials said, in the latest weapons test for a country speeding up its development of nuclear weapons and missiles.

The rocket was fired from an area near Pukchang, in South Phyongan Province, and flew eastward about 500 kilometers (310 miles), said South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff. It did not immediately provide more details.

The White House said it was aware that North Korea had launched a midrange ballistic missile.

White House officials traveling in Saudi Arabia with President Donald Trump said the system, which was last tested in February, has a shorter range than the missiles launched in North Korea’s most recent tests.

“South Korea and the United States are closely analyzing the launch for further information,” South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement. “Our military is closely monitoring the North Korean military for any further provocation and maintaining readiness to respond.

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North Korea Missile Launch, May 14, 2017

The launch comes a week after North Korea successfully tested a new midrange missile that Pyongyang said could carry a heavy nuclear warhead. Experts said that rocket flew higher and for a longer time than any other missile previously tested by North Korea, and that it could one day reach targets as far away as Hawaii and Alaska.

Under the watch of third-generation dictator Kim Jong Un, North Korea has been aggressively pursuing a decades-long goal of putting a nuclear warhead on an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the U.S. mainland.

North Korea conducted two nuclear tests last year alone, possibly improving its knowledge on making nuclear weapons small enough to fit on long-range missiles. The country has also conducted a slew of rocket launches as it continues to advance its arsenal of ballistic weapons, which also include midrange solid-fuel missiles that could be fired from land mobile launchers or submarines.

Such tests present a difficult challenge to new South Korean President Moon Jae-in, a liberal who took office on May 10 and has expressed a desire to reach out to North Korea. Pyongyang’s aggressive push to boost its weapons program also makes it one of the most urgent foreign policy concerns for the Trump administration, though Washington has struggled to settle on a policy.

North Korea’s latest launch came hours after Moon named his new foreign minister nominee and top advisers for security and foreign policy.

Moon held a National Security Council meeting at the presidential Blue House to discuss the missile launch, Moon’s office said.


 (China did not even criticize North Korea…)


North Korea Fires Medium-Range Ballistic Missile

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea fired a missile on Sunday, a week after its successful test of a new intermediate-range ballistic missile, South Korean officials said.

The missile took off from a location near Pukchang, northeast of Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, and flew 310 miles before falling in waters off the county’s east coast, the South Korean military said in a statement.

The United States Pacific Command said that it had “detected and tracked” a medium-range ballistic missile that was launched by the North about 9:59 a.m. Hawaii time and landed in the Sea of Japan. It said that “the missile launch from North Korea did not pose a threat to North America.”

The launch was made as President Trump, who has pressed China to rein in the nuclear ambitions of the North’s leader, Kim Jong-un, was traveling on a nine-day trip to the Middle East and Europe.

In a statement, the White House said: “We are aware that North Korea launched an MRBM. This system, last tested in February, has a shorter range than the missiles launched in North Korea’s three most recent tests.”

The Japanese military said it was analyzing the height and trajectory of the missile. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that with the missile test coming just a week after the most recent test, the North was “trampling on the international community’s efforts aimed at a peaceful settlement.”

Last Sunday, North Korea successfully launched what it called a new ballistic missile that can carry a large, heavy nuclear warhead. The ground-to-ground missile, known as Hwasong-12, landed in the sea between the North and Japan, sparking angry comments from Mr. Trump, as well as from the newly elected president of South Korea, Moon Jae-in, and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan.

Read the rest:

North Korea demands U.S. stop ‘hostile policy’ before talks — “He would prefer a diplomatic outcome.”

May 20, 2017


By Michelle Nichols | UNITED NATIONS
Image may contain: 4 people, people smiling, people sitting

North Korea’s deputy U.N. envoy said on Friday the United States needed to roll back its “hostile policy” toward the country before there could be talks as Washington raised concern that Pyongyang could be producing a chemical used in a nerve agent.

“As everybody knows, the Americans have gestured (toward) dialogue,” North Korea’s deputy U.N. ambassador, Kim In Ryong, told reporters on Friday. “But what is important is not words, but actions.”

“The rolling back of the hostile policy towards DPRK is the prerequisite for solving all the problems in the Korean Peninsula,” he said. “Therefore, the urgent issue to be settled on Korean Peninsula is to put a definite end to the U.S. hostile policy towards DPRK, the root cause of all problems.”

North Korea, also known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), has vowed to develop a missile mounted with a nuclear warhead that can strike the mainland United States, saying the program is necessary to counter U.S. aggression.

U.S. President Donald Trump warned in an interview with Reuters in late April that a “major, major conflict” with North Korea was possible, but said he would prefer a diplomatic outcome to the dispute over its nuclear and missile programs.

Trump later said he would be “honored” to meet the North’s leader, Kim Jong Un, under the right conditions. A U.S. State Department spokesman said the country would have to “cease all its illegal activities and aggressive behavior in the region.”

The U.N. Security Council first imposed sanctions on North Korea in 2006 and has strengthened the measures in response to the country’s five nuclear tests and two long-range rocket launches. Pyongyang is threatening a sixth nuclear test.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley raised concern on Friday about an application by North Korea to patent a process to produce sodium cyanide, which can be used to make the nerve agent Tabun and is also used in the extraction of gold.

“The thought of placing cyanide in the hands of the North Koreans, considering their record on human rights, political prisoners, and assassinations is not only dangerous but defies common sense,” Haley said in a statement.

North Korea submitted the patent application to a U.N. agency, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), for processing. The agency does not grant patents.

U.N. sanctions monitors said they are investigating the case for any violations. Under U.N. sanctions, states are banned from supplying North Korea with sodium cyanide and Pyongyang has to abandon all chemical and biological weapons and programs.

WIPO said in a statement that it has strict procedures to ensure full compliance with U.N. sanctions regimes. It noted that “patent applications are not covered by the provisions of U.N. Security Council Resolutions.”

Haley said: “We urge all U.N. agencies to be transparent and apply the utmost scrutiny when dealing with these types of requests from North Korea and other rogue nations.”

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Leslie Adler)

Chinese fighter jets intercept US military plane over East China Sea in ‘unprofessional and unsafe manner’

May 19, 2017

US says the intercept was ‘unprofessional’ and has raised the issue with China. Japan meanwhile protests a Chinese drone flight in disputed waters

Friday, May 19, 2017, 12:41pm

Two Chinese SU-30 fighter jets carried out what the US military described on Thursday as an “unprofessional” intercept of a US radiation detection aircraft while it was flying in international airspace over the East China Sea.

“The issue is being addressed with China through appropriate diplomatic and military channels,” said air force spokeswoman Lieutenant Colonel Lori Hodge.

An SU-30 fighter jet

An SU-30 fighter jet CREDIT: EPA

Hodge said the US characterisation of the incident was based on initial reports from the aircrew aboard the WC-135 Constant Phoenix aircraft “due to the manoeuvres by the Chinese pilot, as well as the speeds and proximity of both aircraft.”

“Distances always have a bearing on how we characterise interactions,” Hodge said, adding a US military investigation into the intercept was underway.

She said the WC-135 was carrying out a routine mission at the time and was operating in accordance with international law.

The incident follows a similar one in February when a US Navy P-3 spy plane and a Chinese military aircraft came close to each other over the South China Sea. The US saw that event as unsafe but also inadvertent.

Separately, Japan’s defence minister, Tomomi Inada, criticised what she said was a drone flight from a Chinese government vessel that had entered Japanese waters around disputed islands in the East China Sea, describing it as “a violation of sovereignty.”

“A drone flight from a Chinese government ship that entered our territorial waters is totally unacceptable, as we think it will lead to the escalation of the situation. The case is a serious violation of our national sovereignty,” Inada said at a news conference.

Japan’s chief cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga, said at a separate press conference that the drone flight was “a new type of action by China.”

“We have sternly protested that it is utterly unacceptable,” he said.

The incident took place after the Japan Coast Guard confirmed four China Coast Guard vessels had entered waters around the uninhabited islands, as well as the existence of a drone flying above one of the vessels on Thursday morning.

Japan and China have long been at loggerheads over the tiny, uninhabited islands, called the Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.

It was the first such flight near the islands witnessed by Japanese officials, although Thursday’s incident takes to 13 the number of intrusions this year by Chinese coastguard ships in the contested waters, Japan’s coastguard said.

 The disputed islands in the East China Sea, controlled by Japan which calls them the Senkaku islands, and claimed by China which calls them the Diaoyu islands. Photo: Reuters

Japanese government sources said an F-15 fighter jet was scrambled in response to the deployment of a drone. Japanese coast guard ordered the Chinese vessels to leave the waters and they did so nearly two hours later. The drone later disappeared from sight, Japanese coast guard said.

The Chinese embassy responded to the Japanese protest by reiterating “China’s own stance” on the islands, the official added.

In a brief statement on its website, China’s State Oceanic Administration confirmed that four coast guard vessels had been patrolling by the islands, but made no mention of any drone.

China routinely rejects Japanese criticism of such patrols, saying its ships have every right to operate in what China calls its territorial waters.

Additional reporting by Kyodo



Two Chinese fighter jets conducted an “unprofessional” intercept of a US Air Force plane, US officials said, with one flying upside down directly above the aircraft in a manoeuvre similar to the one performed in the Hollywood movie Top Gun.

The two Chinese Su-30 jets came within 150 feet of the US radiation detection plane during the confrontation over the Yellow Sea, CNN and other US media outlets reported. The Yellow Sea is between China’s east coast and the Korean Peninsula.

“The issue is being addressed with China through appropriate diplomatic and military channels,” said Air Force spokeswoman Lieutenant Colonel Lori Hodge.

Lieutenant Colonel Hodge said the US characterisation of the incident was based on initial reports from the US aircrew aboard the WC-135 Constant Phoenix aircraft “due to the manoeuvres by the Chinese pilot, as well as the speeds and proximity of both aircraft.”


“Distances always have a bearing on how we characterise interactions,” she said, adding a US military investigation into the intercept was underway.

She said the WC-135, a four-engine jet which monitors for elements that a nuclear test would emit into the air, was carrying out a routine mission at the time and was operating in accordance with international law.

The US Air Force operates two WC-135 jets from Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska that regularly fly to north-east Asia, CNN reported.

Donald Trump’s administration has been ratcheting up pressure on nuclear-armed North Korea to give up its military ambitions.

The rogue nation has carried out five nuclear tests, including two last year.

The incident between the US aircraft and two Chinese planes on Wednesday is the second this year.

A Chinese surveillance plane and a US Navy P-3 Orion aircraft experienced what US officials called an “unsafe” close encounter over the South China Sea in February.

Last year, Beijing rejected accusations from the US that its fighter jets carried out another unsafe manoeuvre over the sea.

Washington also raised concerns over China’s military in 2014 when it claimed a Chinese plane made a “dangerous” pass near a US aircraft – performing a barrel roll, apparently to display its weapons.

In 2001 a Chinese jet collided with a US Navy surveillance aircraft off Hainan Island, killing the Chinese pilot and forcing the Navy plane to make an emergency landing on the island.

Washington severed military relations with China after that episode. Officials in Beijing regularly call on the US to cut down the amount of patrols it carries out near China.

TT/ 19 MAY 2017 • 3:38AM

South China Sea: Japan, New Zealand Support International Law, Arbitral Ruling, Angering China

May 19, 2017
New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English, right, accompanied by his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe, reviews an honor guard prior to their meeting at Abe’s official residence in Tokyo, Wednesday, May 17, 2017. AP/Shizuo Kambayashi, Pool

MANILA, Philippines — Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English have expressed concern over the disputed South China Sea following their meeting in Tokyo on Wednesday.

In their joint statement released after the meeting, the two leaders called on concerned parties to settle disputes by peaceful means in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and in light of the award issued by an international arbitral tribunal.

On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration issued the award invalidating China’s nine-dash line claim over the disputed waters. The court also ruled that Beijing violated its commitment under the UNCLOS for building artificial islands within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.


The Philippines, under the Duterte administration, has decided to set aside the ruling in settling the dispute with China.


Abe and English called for the early finalization of a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea and full implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.

“They called on all parties to uphold freedom of navigation and overflight and ensure unimpeded trade while avoiding provocative actions that could increase tensions and erode regional trust and confidence, including land reclamation, building of outposts, construction and militarisation,” the joint statement read.

Beijing, however, finds the statement of Japan and New Zealand “rather inopportune.”

“Given all these, Japan still exerts itself in every possible way to stir up trouble and exaggerate what it called ‘the tense situation’ which does not exist at all,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said in a press briefing Thursday.

Hua stressed that the arbitration case on the South China Sea has “already been turned over as a page of history.”

Philippine-China bilateral talks

Beijing urged Tokyo to adjust its mindset for mutual trust between regional countries and for peace and stability in the region.

“We cannot help but wondering: what does Japan really want? Peace and stability in the South China Sea? Or is it exactly peace and stability in the South China Sea as well as improving relations between China and the Philippines and other ASEAN member states that worry Japan so much?” Hua said.

The Philippines and China are set to hold the inaugural meeting of their bilateral consultation mechanism on the South China Sea dispute on Friday.

“The two sides expect to have friendly exchanges during this meeting on the relevant maritime issue and properly manage disputes through bilateral dialogues so as to create favorable conditions for the final settlement of the relevant dispute and ensure a good atmosphere for the sound and steady development of bilateral ties and the smooth progress of practical cooperation in various fields,” the spokesperson said.

RELATED: China expects to ‘disperse suspicion’ in planned talks with Philippines


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For about five years China has been loudly proclaiming “indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea.” China has said, everything north of the “nine dash line” shown here, essentially, belongs to China.  On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China chose to ignore international law.

Asian Stocks Meandered Friday — Weighed Down by Trump, Brazil Worries — “I suspect traders will remain in a kind of Investor Purgatory where risk aversion dominates and fear mounts.”

May 19, 2017

TOKYO — Asian stocks meandered Friday following an overnight recovery on Wall Street, though investor optimism was tempered by U.S. political uncertainties and a crisis brewing in Brazil.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 gained 0.3 percent to 19,602.56. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 edged down 0.2 percent to 5,725.70. South Korea’s Kospi added 0.2 percent to 2,291.79. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 0.4 percent to 25,227.02. The Shanghai Composite edged 0.1 percent lower to 3,084.57. India’s Sensex gained 0.6 percent to 30,624.67 and shares in Southeast Asia were mixed.

U.S. FACTOR: U.S. shares rallied, partly cheered by a positive report jobs data, following their worst drop in eight months the day before. Fears have been growing that given his political troubles Trump may run into difficulties in enacting tax cuts and other business-friendly policies.

BRAZIL FACTOR: Markets are also being shaken by a deepening political crisis in Brazil, where President Michel Temer is facing calls for his resignation amid allegations of corruption. Stocks and the currency have plunged there.

WALL STREET: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 0.4 percent to 2,365.72 and the Dow Jones industrial average added 0.3 percent to 20,663.02. The Nasdaq composite index jumped 0.7 percent to 6,055.13.

THE QUOTE: “Given the heightened level of uncertainty, I suspect traders will remain in a kind of Investor Purgatory where risk aversion dominates and fear mounts that the investigation could open up a whole new can of worms which will do little more than compound the markets current panic syndrome,” said Stephen Innes, senior trader at OANDA.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude oil futures added 44 cents to $49.79 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It rose 28 cents to $49.35 a barrel on Thursday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, climbed 44 cents to $52.95 a barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The euro slipped to $1.1113 from $1.1153 late Thursday in Asia. The dollar strengthened to 111.41 yen from 111.17 yen.


AP Business Writer Alex Veiga contributed to this report.


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Japan Has What Trump Wants: Manufacturers Driving Growth

May 18, 2017

Japan reported its fifth straight quarter of expansion, with thousands of manufacturers providing ballast

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May 18, 2017 6:54 a.m. ET

TOKYO—Japan’s longest growth streak in more than a decade owes partly to a strength U.S. President Donald Trump would like to emulate: a robust manufacturing base that is shipping to overseas markets such as China.

The government said on Thursday that an 8.9% rise in exports helped the economy grow at an annualized pace of 2.2% in the first quarter of this year, marking the fifth straight quarter of expansion. That run, the longest since 2006, signals that the radical economic stimulus program introduced by Prime Minister…

Trump threatens to quit NATO: White House official

May 18, 2017


© Virginie Mayo – AFP | US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson leaves the stage after addressing the media at NATO headquarters in Brussels on March 31, 2017.

Text by Philip CROWTHER , our correspondent at the White House

Latest update : 2017-05-18

US President Donald Trump would consider leaving the North Atlantic Treaty Organization if member states do not follow through with pledges to increase their annual contributions to the Alliance, a senior White House official said.

The White House official said, on condition of anonymity, that Trump wants to see faster and more concrete developments at NATO.

This explicit threat to leave the 68-year-old Alliance comes ahead of Trump’s first trip abroad, which includes the NATO summit in Brussels next week (May 25th).

“We’ll either see real changes towards NATO or we’ll try to form a different way of going about things”, the senior White House source said.

“We don’t want to be paying for everyone’s defence”

Trump begins a five-nation tour this week, starting in Saudi Arabia and finishing at the G7 Summit in Italy.

“The one thing that he doesn’t have patience for is this kind of lip service,” the official said.

The lip service he is referring to is NATO member countries unfulfilled pledges to increase their defence spending, a key demand from the Trump administration ahead of the Alliance’s summit in Brussels.

After openly questioning the role of NATO in a post-Cold War era during the 2017 US presidential election campaign, Trump reversed his position last month when he conceded that the Atlantic alliance was no longer “obsolete” because “it is fighting terrorism”.

“So you’ll see what he says when he’s there (at the summit in Italy), but it’s a very serious issue for him and it’s a very serious issue for the American people because we don’t want to be paying for everyone’s defence and it’s just not fair to the American taxpayers and it’s not something that the president wants to see happen,” the official underscored.

China and Russia in G7?

Trump will end this critical first foreign trip in Sicily. The G7 summit, the economic alliance of seven countries, namely France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, Canada and Japan, could end up being dominated by the issue of the defence Alliance.

Most importantly, according to the White House official speaking on condition of anonymity, Trump appears to be considering whether China and Russia – who was a member but was suspended in the wake of the annexation of Crimea – would be welcome additions to the G7 alliance.

“Whether it’s fully productive to have the G7 without Russia and China there may be something that we would look at”, added the senior White House official.