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Marubeni to put Daiei restructuring drive on fast track

JIJI

Marubeni Corp. will accelerate reforms at struggling supermarket chain Daiei Inc., said Teruo Asada, president of the Japanese trading house.

“It is not easy to revitalize (Daiei) without taking drastic steps, including store shutdowns,” Asada said in an interview. Marubeni is the top shareholder of Daiei.

The supermarket industry is in a severe environment, so price cuts and cost reductions will not be enough, he said.

Marubeni will accelerate Daiei’s reforms in cooperation with the second-biggest Daiei shareholder, retail giant Aeon Co., he said.

Fiscal 2013 will be an important year for Daiei, he added.

Asada said Japan should make up its mind to participate in the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade negotiations as soon as possible so it can help set the rules and other details of the pact.

Japan needs to take advantage of expanding demand in other Asian economies as the nation is struggling to establish a clear path of growth on its own, he said.

Japan’s participation in the TPP would make it easier for the nation to realize imports of liquefied natural gas from the United States and facilitate parts procurements by Japanese firms for their overseas power plant businesses, he added.

In Myanmar, Marubeni wants to spearhead a project to upgrade a 600-km-long railway between Yangon and Mandalay by introducing high-speed trains, Asada said, noting that such a change would more than halve the travel time between the two cities to less than eight hours.