Your Saturday Asia Briefing: What's Bigger Than Big in Japan – Financial Post

Something for the weekend.
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(Bloomberg) — This weekend is all about Japan. G-7 and other world leaders are meeting there this weekend, of course, but there’s more to it as we peer into the nation’s stock market, Netflix addiction, aging infrastructure and growing military ambitions. Long sidelined by the China growth story, the land of the rising sun may be facing a new dawn.
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With the US teetering on the brink of default and China’s recovery fizzling like a dud firework, the likes of JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley and veteran investor Warren Buffett are looking to the world’s third-biggest economy to take up the slack, driving a $518 billion rally.
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While the stock market is shining, the yen is having a tougher time, partly thanks to the Japanese love of Netflix and other overseas-based streaming and shopping services, according to Barclays Plc. Read about the “digital deficit.”

G-7 leaders are meeting in Hiroshima to grapple with the growing power of China as well as problem such as how to stop the world from heating up, blowing up, or being taken over by robots. The city of peace — site of the first nuclear strike — is a fitting backdrop. Yet as Yoshiaki Nohara reports, it’s also a center of Japan’s own growing military resurgence. Listen to the story here.

How Japan Is Reckoning With Its Increasingly Tense Neighborhood: Stephanomics

Also in Japan, a Pokemon Go-like game rewards users for collecting information that helps cities maintain aging sewers and power lines. Now the idea is spreading, with teams of telegraph-pole hunters fanning out in the Philippines, exchanging photos of failing infrastructure for cryptocurrency. 

At least one Chinese company isn’t worried at all about US-China tensions. Japanese-inspired budget perfume-to-plushie purveyor Miniso opened a new flagship store in Times Square as part of a global drive for overseas sales. Will founder Ye Guofu achieve his ambition to build a “global super brand” where so many compatriots have failed? 

Elsewhere in the region, Asia is flying high. Well, at least its big airlines appear to be. Cathay Pacific customers in the US and Canada just snapped up 4,445 free tickets to Hong Kong in a matter of minutes, (wait till you see how much it’ll cost to bring your partner), while Singapore Airlines made so much money in the first quarter that it had to pay staff bonuses worth up to eight months of wages. 

Back at ground level, the hot weather continues to drive citizens from Hong Kong to Singapore into air-conditioned relief. With an El Nino looming, concern is growing of a return to the suffocating haze that spread across parts of Southeast Asia as rainforests burned in the extended dry season. Palm oil growers and governments say they have clamped down on illegal burning. But should they fail, here’s a cautionary tale of what the results are for those forced to breathe the smoke from wildfires.

Speaking of cautionary tales, Singapore’s once-vaunted restaurant scene is under threat, a stark example of the long-lasting destructive power of inflation on an economy.

Fresh from his party’s defeat in the state election in Karnataka, India’s Narendra Modi traveled to Japan to attend the G-7 summit and then meet fellow members of the Quad, before heading to Australia and then home again in time to inaugurate a new parliament building in New Delhi. All of which will likely be eclipsed by the most important question in the country right now: who will reach the playoffs of the IPL? The world’s foremost short-format cricket contest reaches a crescendo in the group stage this weekend.

Have a nail-biting weekend.

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