Gov’t pension fund’s losses likely topped Y5 tril in FY 2015



Japan’s Government Pension Investment Fund is likely to record losses of more than 5 trillion yen for fiscal 2015 ended March amid a deteriorating investment environment since the start of the year, according to recent estimates by financial experts.

The GPIF, one of the world’s largest institutional investors, decided on a major shift in investment policy in October 2014 at the urging of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration, placing more emphasis on riskier assets such as stocks while cutting holdings of Japanese government bonds.

The fund, which manages employee and national pension funds overseen by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, reported last month 2.31 trillion yen of gains for the 2015 calendar year.

But the latest projections indicate that the policy shift worked negatively in the fiscal year as the fund recorded losses of 510 billion yen in the nine months through last December and the 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average tumbled around 12 percent in January to March quarter of 2016.

Domestic bonds used to account for about 60 percent of the GPIF’s portfolio. But it has set a target to raise the proportion of domestic and foreign shares to around 50 percent.

It would be the fund’s first red ink since fiscal 2010, when the massive earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011, pushed Japanese stocks sharply lower.

Hidenori Suezawa, an analyst at SMBC Nikko Securities Inc, estimated that the GPIF logged losses of around 5.5 trillion yen in the 2015 fiscal year, citing “lower stock prices and the falling value of overseas assets in step with a higher yen.”

The GPIF has decided to announce its investment results for the last fiscal year on July 29, rather than between late June and early July as previously, prompting opposition criticism that the decision has been made to avoid a negative impact on the ruling parties at the House of Councillors election to be held around July 10.

The fund’s investment losses are unlikely to have an immediate impact on pension benefits, which are mainly covered by insurance revenue, according to observers.

A GPIF official said the fund “has been producing profits since fiscal 2001, when it started investing on its own. We would like (the public) to have a long-term viewpoint.”


Most don’t support independence, says Anson Chan


Former chief secretary Anson Chan has criticised growing mainland interference in Hong Kong’s affairs – but says most people do not support calls for independence.

Chan, the convenor of the pro-democracy HK2020 thinktank, says they simply want to preserve the values, freedoms and lifestyle that make the city so special.

She made the remarks while delivering a keynote address at the 9th Annual China-US Symposium, at Tufts University in the US.

She said young people fear a bleak future – with job prospects looking increasingly limited and housing unaffordable. At the same time, she said they are becoming disenchanted with the quality of governance and distrustful of Beijing’s long-term intentions for the SAR.

Chan said there is evidence of increasing interference in the territory by the central government’s Liaison Office, and rights and freedoms guaranteed under One Country, Two Systems are being eroded – citing the case of bookseller Lee Bo.

She said the local government is ignoring the issue – and is more bent on pleasing Beijing than standing up for Hong Kong and its core values.

She said this state of affairs had led to the Umbrella Movement, and the rise of political movements such as “localism”. But she said calls for independence are not supported by the vast majority of Hong Kong people – who accept that it’s neither desirable nor realistic.

She said Hong Kong people simply want to preserve the city’s core values. She said if it becomes just like any other Chinese city – it will lose the ability to continue its unique and valuable contribution to the mainland and the world.

Swing Voters to Decide the Outcome of April 13 Elections


Rival parties are making every effort to win the support of swing voters with nine days remaining until the April 13 general elections.

The undecided voters are expected to determine the results of the elections as candidates from the ruling and opposition parties are neck-and-neck in many constituencies.

The ruling Saenuri Party claims that if the opposition party gains a majority, it would cause serious confusion for the country during the remaining term of President Park Geun-hye.

The main opposition Minjoo Party of Korea is calling for support to punish the ruling party, while the minor opposition People’s Party is trying to win the support of voters disgusted by old politics.

In a Gallup Korea survey on Friday, 25 percent of the respondents said that they did not support any party.

The ratio of undecided voters reached 43 percent among people between the ages of 19 and 29.

The survey had a 95 percent confidence level with a margin of error of plus or minus three-point-one percentage points.

Justin Timberlake sued by Cirque du Soleil for copyright infringement


Canadian-based Cirque du Soleil is suing American pop superstar Justin Timberlake, alleging his hit song Don’t Hold the Wall illegally borrows from one of the troupe’s original musical compositions.

A 10-page complaint filed in New York alleges that Timberlake illegally used parts of the song Steel Dream, taken from Cirque du Soleil’s 1997 album Quidam.

The circus troupe, which is asking for $US800,000 ($1 million) in damages, said it had filed the suit over the “unauthorised use of the musical composition and sound recording” in Timberlake’s song, which appeared on his 2013 album The 20/20 Experience.

The suit also holds the song’s three co-authors responsible, in addition to Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music and WB Music Corp.

Cirque du Soleil did not immediately respond to a request for comment by AFP news agency.

According to trade magazine Variety, the suit is not the first of its type to target Timberlake.

In February, an allegation arose that his song Damn Girl, which he collaborated on with, borrowed from the 1969 song A New Day is Here At Last, written by Perry Kibble.

Timberlake made his start as a child television star before joining boy band ‘NSync.

He more recently has become one of the music industry’s most popular solo singers and has starred in movies including the Facebook-themed drama The Social Network.

81yo woman sues Israeli airline after being asked to move for ultra-Orthodox Jew


An 81-year-old retired lawyer is suing an Israeli airline for discrimination after she was asked to move because an ultra-Orthodox Jew refused to sit next to a woman.

The incident occurred on December 2, 2015, when Renee Rabinowitz was traveling from New York to Tel Aviv on El Al Airlines.

Shortly before the plane doors closed, the passenger who had been allocated the window seat in Rabinowitz’s row boarded the aircraft. Upon seeing Rabinowitz, the man – who was wearing ultra-Orthodox garb – contacted a flight attendant and spoke to him in Hebrew.

Following the conversation, Rabinowitz was reportedly offered a “better seat.” However, the 81-year-old said it wasn’t a better seat at all.

“So I went back to my seat and I spoke to the man who was sitting there and I asked him if he had requested that I be moved, and he said ‘yes.’ So I asked him why,” Rabinowitz, who is also Jewish, told RT.

The man told her that “the Torah tells us.”

“And I said, ‘I know something about the Torah, I don’t think it says anything about sitting next to a woman or not sitting next to a woman.’”

Although she initially declined to move, she said she felt pressured to do so, to avoid any hassle or flight delays to other passengers.

“It made me feel insulted. I felt that this man wasn’t thinking about who I am, what I am, my age, my background – just my gender. And that was insulting. I spoke to the captain at the end of the flight, and I told him I was insulted, and felt bad,” said Rabinowitz, who was born in Belgium and forced to flee the Nazis in 1941.

However, the captain said it wasn’t the staff that made such decisions, but that it was company policy.

According to the airline, the flight attendant acted appropriately towards Rabinowitz and made it clear she was not obliged to move. She was offered a US$200 voucher towards her next flight.


Racist Feminist: Emma Watson Starred in Skin Bleaching cream advertisement

Feminism once again proves that it is racist  since the 19th century first wave days

The year is 2011: Emma Watson, in the prime of her post-“Harry Potter” success, signs on with beauty giant Lancôme as their global beauty ambassador.

Fast forward, it’s 2013: Watson wraps up her role with the brand by starring in the ‘Blanc Expert’ campaign.

So why are we telling you this as we all sit here in 2016? Well, the ad is currently facing backlash, three years after the fact (proving anything is possible on the Internet).

In an article entitled “Perfect Whiteness: The Code Switching Of European Cosmetic Companies” for Gal-Dem, writer Naomi Mabita shared a picture of Emma from the campaign. The story, focused on taking a stand against skin lightening, writes how many ad campaigns relate “whiteness” to “facial perfection.”

“Emma Watson, forever paraded in the media as a white feminist icon, is the face of Lancôme’s ‘Blanc Expert’ (Expert White) which contains disruptive ingredients intended to whiten the skin,” she writes. “Non-white women already have complexes about dark skin rooted in colonialism, racism and/or classism. They are exacerbated by these multimillion $ £ € campaigns designed to make us feel like our skin is a problem that we can pay for them to solve.”

So now everyone is asking: did Emma Watson really front a skin whitening campaign?

It appears the focus of the Blanc Expert Melanolyser Spot Eraser product is to dissolves dark spots. According to Lancôme’s Hong Kong website, the “intense whitening spot eraser” is, “empowered with the unique M.E.L. mechanism, the advanced formula targets, captures and dissolves dark spots, continuously prevents, control and dissolves even stubborn spot.”

As pointed out by The Independent, Lancôme describe the range as, “The next generation dark spot correctors from the No.1 whitening brand in Asia.”

In face of criticism, Luke Windsor, a spokesperson for Watson, told HuffPost Canada Style, “Many artists often have limited control of how their image is used once an endorsement contract is signed. I cannot comment on my client’s previous contractual arrangements with Lancôme. However my client no longer participates in advertising beauty products, which do not always reflect the diverse beauty of all women.”

Lancôme gave the following statement to Refinery29 as their response: “Blanc Expert was created by Lancôme 20 years ago. It helps brighten, even skin tone, and provides a healthy-looking complexion. This kind of product, proposed by every brand, is an essential part of Asian women’s beauty routines.”

The skin whitening is growing, as pointed out by Refinery29. The Global Industry Analysts predicts the whitening industry will be worth some $20 billion by 2018 and many people are still jumping on board to develop products to suit lightening needs.

So we ask the question: was this the reason why Watson broke ties with Lancôme? A realization that the product she was endorsing didn’t reflect her ideals? We’ll have to sit back and ponder that one.