• Kyodo News

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Rakuten Inc. said Thursday its group January-June operating profit increased 20.6 percent from a year earlier to a record-high ¥28.25 billion, boosted by robust its Internet shopping mall business and travel agency operations.

Rakuten, which also operates financial services and a wide range of other businesses, reported a pretax profit of ¥27.54 billion in the first half of the business year, up 22.8 percent from the same period last year, on revenues of ¥164.11 billion, up 17.4 percent.

Consolidated net profit, however, fell 55 percent to ¥17.15 billion due to a special accounting factor, the firm said.

Personal consumption remains sluggish but sales in online shopping show no sign of deceleration, said Rakuten President Hiroshi Mikitani on Thursday at an all-English-language press conference, in line with the firm’s recent decision to adopt English as its official in-house language by 2012.

Rakuten attributed its overall rise in earnings to the success of a free shipping campaign in its online mall operations and to an increase in leisure travel and business trips, on the back of improved business performances at other companies.

For the full fiscal 2010 through March, Rakuten did not disclose forecasts for the next half, citing uncertainty in the online business environment and fluctuations in financial markets that influence its securities operation.

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