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‘Top gangster’ arrested in Japan’

Posted by arnon_k On November - 19 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

Police in Japan have arrested a man alleged to be second in command of Japan’s biggest yakuza crime syndicate.

He is accused of extorting more than $400,000 (£250,000) from a businessman in the construction industry.

The arrest comes amid a crackdown on gangsters ahead of the expected release of the top boss of the syndicate, the Yamaguchi-gumi, in spring 2011.

Energised by a scandal over gangster involvement in sumo wrestling, Japan’s police are cracking down on the yakuza.

Now they have arrested a man suspected of being one of the most powerful crime bosses in the country.

Kiyoshi Takayama, a pencil-moustached 63-year-old, is accused of extortion.

He is alleged to be the second in command of the Yamaguchi-gumi, one of the world’s biggest crime syndicates.

The godfather of the 40,000-strong organisation, Kenichi Shinoda, is in prison but is due to be released in the spring.

For much of the post-war period the yakuza have been allowed to operate with relative impunity. Their headquarters are even listed in the phone book.

Involved in everything from illegal gambling and prostitution to the construction industry and stock market manipulation, their annual haul is estimated to be as much as $20bn.

But there has been growing concern about their activities, particularly after the Yamaguchi-gumi expanded from the area around Kobe to Tokyo, sparking turf wars with other gangs.

YOKOHAMA, Japan, Nov 14 — Government leaders of 21 countries, all members of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), agreed Sunday in the Japanese city of Yokohama to refrain from imposing any fresh barriers to trade and investment, or measures to stimulate exports, until the end of 2013, according to a declaration issued at the end of a two-day APEC summit.

The declaration titled “Yokohama Vision” said: “We commit to take steps to roll back trade distorting measures introduced during the (financial) crisis”.

Despite differences among several government leaders over currency policies which saw Asian currencies appreciated against the US dollar in recent months and other issues, several leaders at the two-day meeting appeared to agree on the significant role freer trade can play in sparking growth. They also agreed on the need to reduce trade imbalances and government debt and avoid sharp, potentially disruptive fluctuations in exchange rates, according to the Associated Press (AP) news agency.

Their commitment came after the Group of 20 major economies failed to make tangible decisions at the recent meeting held in Seoul, South Korea, and decided to discuss details in the first half of 2011.

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva told Thai News Agency after the APEC summit ended that although APEC members acknowledged satisfactory performances in the past years, certain restructuring especially on facilitation of trade and service are needed.

He said support for free, and qualitative trade — along with fairness and innovation — must be implemented as the world has changed rapidly.

Mr Abhisit also met with his Australian and Canadian counterparts on the sidelines of the summit as well as foreign investors and assured them that Thailand’s economy is on the road to recovery on a sustainable basis.

Both Australian and Canadian prime ministers reportedly wanted trade and investment of their countries widened with Thailand.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper reportedly told Mr Abhisit that his country wanted to increase bilateral activities with Thailand as the two countries are going to celebrate 50 years of diplomatic relations and Canada is also going to celebrate 35 years of relations with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) of which the Thai kingdom is also a member.

PM to visit China and Japan Nov 12-14

Posted by arnon_k On November - 11 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

BANGKOK, Nov 11 — Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva is scheduled to attend the opening ceremony of the 16th Asian Games at Guangzhou, China and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Yokohama, Japan during Nov 12-14.

The opening ceremony of the Asian Games on Friday will be staged in the middle of the Pearl River on Haixinsha Square, with residential buildings and the 610-metre high Guangzhou Tower as a backdrop. The 18th APEC Economic Leaders’ meeting will be held at Yokohama in Kanagawa Prefecture during Nov 13-14.

Mr Abhisit said that apart from attending the Asian Games opening ceremony, his China’s visit will be the follow up trip after he visited Beijing in June last year.

The Thai prime minister will discuss with Chinese leaders to foster cooperation particularly with Guangzhou and Guangdong.

The fruit market in Guangzhou is an important national distribution centre for imported Thai bananas, durians, and lychees.

The Thai premier said he would like to focus on promoting Thai fruit in the Chinese market. Ten good quality Thai fruits were selected as gifts for very important persons who are invited to the Asian Games and Thai fruits will be on the table during the banquet for athletes.

Mr Abhisit said he was scheduled to meet his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao who will attend the opening ceremony to follow up the wide range of bilateral cooperation including trade and investment, tourism, and railway development in Thailand.

The cooperation to promote Thai TV soap opera series in China will also be discussed, he said.

Mr Abhisit earlier told Chinese Xinhua news agency that he will witness the signing of a Letter of Intent (LOI) for promoting and distributing Thai TV series in China.

“There has been much talk about airing Thai series on Chinese television,” Mr Abhisit said. “There is so much of affinity in terms of what Thai and Chinese people like and culturally we are quite close.”

“It will be a good opportunity for us to showcase some of our entertainment,” he said.

As for the APEC Summit, Mr Abhist said the members would discuss balanced, sustainable, and fair economic growth and the future of cooperation in the region, the possibility to forge ahead with a free trade area.

Currency exchange rates will also be on the table for discussion, he said.

The meeting was expected to touch on the disasters that had impacted many countries, he said, adding that many countries worried about climate change which causes volatile weather conditions.