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.