Japanese eel ad canned after comparison to ‘sexist horror film’

An advert meant to show how Shibushi’s eel industry is sustainable and its creatures pampered until they’re sold and barbecued has been pulled after complaints it is sexist and like a horror film. The ad shows a teenage girl in a swimsuit asking a man to feed her and help her grow. A male narrator describes how Shibushi farms are “growing eels carefully”, before the girl jumps in the pool and transforms into one. The picture then cuts to a sizzling eel on a grill. “This makes me think of a girl who is being kidnapped and locked up ... it’s the delusions of a pervert,” said one Twitter user. Others said it evoked images of cannibalism.

W HAT NEXT? Japan’s industry has for years been threatened by rampant overfishing, so prices have been rapidly rising. But showcasing the eel industry in a commercial that was seen as sexist probably hasn’t convinced many consumers to pick sustainably farmed eel. Japan lags behind in female workforce representation, ranking lower than Kazakhstan, Bangladesh, and Zimbabwe in World Economic Forum rankings.

South Korean prosecutors seek detention of Lotte chairman

A South Korean court rejected on Thursday a request by prosecutors to arrest Lotte Group Chairman Shin Dong-bin on embezzlement charges, setting back one of the country’s biggest corruption probes. Arresting Shin would have left a leadership void at the sprawling conglomerate, which generates over US$91 billion in annual revenue. An investigation into allegations of corruption at Lotte was temporarily halted last month after the group’s vice-chairman, Shin’s close aide, was found dead hours before he was to be questioned. Lotte is the fifth largest of South Korea’s family-run conglomerates, known locally as chaebol, that dominate the country’s business landscape.

W HAT NEXT? Though chaebol heads have been arrested and convicted of financial crimes in the past, they rarely serve jail time. SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won was jailed in 2013 for embezzling funds before he was pardoned by President Park Geun-hye. Shin is not out of the woods, as South Korean law allows for prosecutors to press ahead with indictments or gather more evidence to renew their request for an arrest warrant.

Duterte ends war games as relations with U.S. reach ‘point of no return’

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Monday he would visit Russia and China this year as part of an independent foreign policy, saying the Philippines was at the “point of no return” in relations with the US. Chinese ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua embraced the change, telling a function at the embassy in Manila on Tuesday that “the sun is rising ... and will shine beautifully on the new chapter of bilateral relations”. Duterte followed up his pledge during a visit to Vietnam on Wednesday, saying military exercises with the US this week would be the last.

W HAT NEXT? While Duterte sharpens his anti-US rhetoric – blaming the peso hitting a seven-year low on Monday on Washington – foreign minister Perfecto Yasay again contradicted his boss, insisting joint drills approved by the previous administration would continue until 2018. On Wednesday, Duterte also said he was not inclined to go to war or see Filipino soldiers massacred just to enforce an international tribunal’s ruling that supports Manila’s claims that not all Beijing’s territorial claims in the South China Sea are justifiable. “This is ours. I will talk to you but I will not go out of the four corners of this [arbitration] paper,” he said.

Singapore only Asian economy suffering nominal GDP squeeze

Singapore’s economy is the only one in Asia that experienced a contraction in nominal gross domestic product in the second quarter of this year, French bank BNP Paribas noted in a report released on Monday. Unlike real GDP, nominal GDP is economic output at current prices without adjusting for inflation. BNP Paribas said although Singapore’s real GDP growth of 2.2 per cent year on year was “respectable”, nominal GDP growth was the worst in the region. “Data suggests downward pressure on business profits are responsible, reflecting rising domestic labour costs and weak end-demand,” said the bank

W HAT NEXT? While Singapore’s shrinking economy “superficially” supports the case for monetary policy easing, under the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s (MAS) foreign exchange-based framework, this risks doing more harm to the real economy than good, said the bank. “The conundrum for the MAS is that easing policy via a re-centering of the SGD nominal effective exchange rate lower may boost export earnings but does little to address the underlying problem of weak final demand and is likely to cause domestic borrowing costs to rise as foreign investors seek higher yields elsewhere.” BNP said.

Pakistan calls on U.N. to ‘avert crisis’ over Indian raid

Pakistan’s United Nation’s envoy asked the president of the Security Council on Thursday to brief the body on the country’s escalating tension with India after Indian troops crossed into Pakistan-ruled Kashmir to kill suspected militants preparing to infiltrate India and carry out attacks on major cities. Pakistan’s UN Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi said: “Our call to the international community is to avert a crisis before there is one.” Pakistan said two of its soldiers had been killed.

W HAT NEXT? India and Pakistan have fought three wars since 1947, two over Kashmir. Tensions have risen after a New Delhi crackdown on protests sparked by the killing by India of an insurgent leader. “Pakistan is showing maximum restraint but there are limits to our restraint if India continues with provocations,” Lodhi said.

China probing North Korean bank branch suspected of ignoring U.N. sanctions

China is investigating executives of the Dandong branch of North Korea’s Kwangson Banking Corporation, along with mainland Chinese trade officials. The branch was to be closed down under UN sanctions but until recently had continued to operate at new offices. Beijing is also probing Liaoning Hongxiang Group, which the US accuses of supporting Pyongyang’s weapons programme.

W HAT NEXT? Kwangson’s Dandong branch was said to have operated in a building also occupied by Liaoning Hongxiang. The company is suspected of having shipped to North Korea materials which can have both civilian and nuclear-weapons development uses. Company chairwoman Ma Xiaohong was arrested last month.

Compiled by Benjamin O’Rourke