MNCs in the News-2014-04-04

Recently, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), ruling on a case brought by Australia, ordered Japan to end its annual whale hunt in the Antarctic, concluding that Japan’s supposedly “scientific” whale research program lacked any scientific basis. In according with the ICJ’s ruling, Rakuten, a Japanese online shopping site with prominent Internet properties in the US and the UK, will remove over 1200 ads for whale meat products from its websites. Rakuten also faced pressure from a non-government organization called Environmental Investigation Agency (UK), which exposed the company as the world’s biggest online retailer of whale products and elephant ivory (Justin McCurry, “Japan’s biggest online retailer, Rakuten, ends whale meat sales,” The Guardian, April 4, 2014,

The Japanese Cabinet recently modified Japan’s existing three arms export principles. It loosened restrictions on arms exports partly to raise the level of competitiveness in the defense industry, with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. and Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd. already indicating an interest in participating in the co-development and production of defense equipment worldwide. Another factor driving Japan’s new arms export policy is China’s increasing maritime assertiveness. Japan feels that modifying its arms export restrictions will provide a way for Japan, in the face of this new challenge, to cooperate with the US and other allies through the co-development of arms (“For security assurance and cooperation, new guidelines with arms export, raising the level of defense industry,” Nikkei, April 3, 2014,

In conjunction with the National Tax Service, the Korean Customs Service is investigating forty-three multinational corporations from the US, UK, and Japan that are suspected of underreporting the prices of their exports or withholding information regarding royalties given to their parent companies to avoid paying higher customs duties. This investigation is part of President Park’s initiative to reign in and tax the “underground economy,” as she pushes to drum up resources to fund her welfare and other campaign promises that may cost US $120 Billion (Choi Kyong-ae, "43 foreign firms probed for cheating," The Korea Times, March 31, 2014,

Russia’s tense relations with Europe and the US are driving Russian companies to turn their attention to Asia Pacific Region (APR) destinations such as China and Japan. For example, Norilsk Nickel is looking to sell huge quantities of palladium, a metal essential for catalytic converters and thus the automobile sector, to China and Japan. Norilsk Nickel’s opportunity for greater business in the APR also links to labor turmoil in South Africa, which historically has been a major supplier of palladium. Of note, Norilsk may do its Chinese transactions in renminbi, which would help Russia further avoid the pain of sanctions (Jack Farchy, “Norilsk in Precious Metal Talks with China and Japan,” Financial Times, March 31, 2014)

*The information compiled in the MNCs in the News digest is gathered from sources believed to be reliable, but the Wong MNC Center does not guarantee their accuracy. The content of the MNCs in the News digest does not necessarily represent the view of the Wong MNC Center, its Board of Directors, or its Advisory Board, but is intended for the non-commercial use of readers in order to foster debate and discussion and to facilitate and stimulate research.