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Kyodo news summary -5-

February 18, 2014

TOKYO, Feb. 19 -- (Kyodo) _ ---------- Tokyo stocks pull back after hitting 2-week high previous day

TOKYO - The Nikkei stock index fell Wednesday, retreating from a two-week high hit the previous day, as a pause in the yen's depreciation prompted investors to lock in recent gains.

The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average ended down 76.71 points, or 0.52 percent, from Tuesday at 14,766.53. The broader Topix index of all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange finished 5.48 points, or 0.45 percent, lower at 1,218.52.

---------- 2 Koreas prepare to hold family reunions Thurs.

SEOUL - North and South Korea are making final arrangements to hold reunions Thursday of families separated since the 1950-1953 Korean War, with South Korean participants preparing to cross the border to the North's Mt. Kumgang resort, according to South Korea'sUnification Ministry.

The ministry said 83 elderly South Koreans, accompanied by 59 family members, are due to arrive later Wednesday in Sokcho, a city located on South Korea's east coast near the border with the North, in preparation for crossing it Thursday.

---------- Renesas to solicit early retirement

TOKYO - Struggling chipmaker Renesas Electronics Corp. said Wednesday it will solicit applicants for early retirement between Feb. 28 and March 7 as part of its restructuring efforts to slash some 5,400 domestic jobs, around 20 percent of its workforce, by March 2016.

The early retirement program to take effect on March 31 targets all workers in production-related sections.

---------- Abe aide hits back at U.S. over criticism of Yasukuni visit

TOKYO - An aide to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has expressed disappointment at U.S. criticism of Abe's visit in December to the war-linked Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, but the top government spokesman on Wednesday hurriedly denied that the aide was expressing the government's view.

Referring to the U.S. expression of dismay at Abe's visit to the Shinto shrine that has also annoyed Japan's neighbors in Asia, Seiichi Eto, a House of Councillors member of Abe's Liberal Democratic Party, said in a message recently posted on the YouTube video-sharing website, "It's us who are disappointed."

---------- Japanese scuba diver rescued off Bali says she survived on coconuts

DENPASAR, Indonesia - One of the Japanese women rescued after disappearing while scuba diving off the Indonesian island of Bali recounted on Tuesday her harrowing ordeal of being swallowed up by strong currents and surviving on coconuts.

Saori Furukawa, one of the two locally based Japanese diving instructors who were leading five others on a diving expedition, said in e-mail responses to the media that the currents at the time were "like the water streams in a washing machine."

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Source: Japan Economic Newswire

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