News Column

Kyodo Top12 News (23:00)

May 24, 2014


Japan launches land observation satellite

TANEGASHIMA, Japan - A Japanese-made H-2A rocket carrying an all-weather land observation satellite blasted off from Tanegashima Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture shortly after noon on Saturday, and successfully placed the satellite in a stable orbit, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said. Using radar, the new Daichi-2 satellite will be able to provide more accurate land surface information both day and night and regardless of weather. The 4.5-meter high, 2-ton satellite is capably of identifying a 3-meter object on the Earth's surface, compared with 10 meters for the first Daichi satellite. The enhanced resolution is expected to help in dealing with disasters. The first Daichi satellite helped observe damage caused by the powerful earthquake and tsunami that devastated northeastern Japan in March 2011. JAXA President Naoki Okumura told a press conference following the launch, "I expect the satellite to contribute to guarding the security of people in Japan and to rapidly comprehending environmental changes on Earth."


Vietnam preparing to bring dispute with China to int'l judicial body

HANOI - Vietnam is preparing to bring its maritime dispute with China in the South China Sea to an international judicial institution, it was learned Saturday from sources in the country's ruling Communist Party. Vietnam, for the time being, will focus on seeking a diplomatic resolution and pursuing support from other countries over the territorial feud, which recently intensified to a series of ship-to-ship collisions near the Paracel Islands. The maritime clashes erupted earlier this month when China stationed an oil rig in the area that Vietnam considers part of its 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone. But one of the sources warned that if such diplomatic efforts fail, Vietnam will proceed with an international arbitration claim against China over its growing assertiveness in the South China Sea.


Pakistan's prime minister to attend Indian inauguration

ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has accepted an invitation to attend the inauguration of India's Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi next week, an adviser to Sharif told Kyodo News on Saturday. It will be the first time for a Pakistani head of government to attend the oath-taking ceremony of an Indian prime minister. The heads of governments of members of the South Asian Cooperation for Regional Development have all been invited to attend the ceremony in New Delhi on Monday. Sharif was the last of the SAARC leaders to accept the invitation, apparently due to concerns over Modi's response as chief minister of Gujarat to Hindu-Muslim riots there in 2002.


Thai military summons activists, some politicians still detained

BANGKOK - The Thai military on Saturday summoned political activists and academics to report to an army camp in Bangkok, while some politicians, including deposed Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, were still under detention following this week's coup. The newly established National Peace and Order Maintaining Council led by army chief Gen. Prayut Chan-Ocha issued an order to summon 35 activists involved with political activities to report to the camp by 4 p.m. or face arrest. The latest list includes activists who frequently expressed opinions that likely violated article 112 of the Constitution, which relates to the monarchy.


U.S. drone arrives at Misawa base for 1st deployment in Japan

AOMORI, Japan - A U.S. Global Hawk surveillance drone arrived Saturday morning at the Misawa Air Base in northeastern Japan in the first deployment of such an aircraft in the country. It is one of a pair of Guam-based Global Hawks to be deployed at Misawa from May to October. The other is expected to arrive at the base on Wednesday. The U.S. military cited difficulties in operating the unmanned aircraft out of Guam during summer due to typhoons that frequently hit the U.S. territory in the Pacific. Their deployment is also believed to be aimed at monitoring North Korea and China at a time when Pyongyang's nuclear and missile development programs as well as Beijing's maritime assertiveness have raised security concerns in Japan.


U.S. defense chief to visit Singapore for Asia security forum

WASHINGTON - U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will visit Singapore to attend a three-day international conference on Asia security from May 30, a Defense Department spokesman said Friday. Hagel will deliver a speech on President Barack Obama's focus on the Asia-Pacific region at the event widely called Shangri-La Dialogue, Adm. John Kirby, Pentagon press secretary, told reporters. "It is an important opportunity to build on the momentum we've achieved in strengthening our engagement and our alliances and partnerships in the Pacific region," Kirby said. Hagel will also take part in a trilateral meeting with Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera and South Korean National Defense Minister Kim Kwan Jin on the sidelines of the conference.


DBJ to reduce lending rates to firms contributing to local economies

TOKYO - The Development Bank of Japan will lower interest rates on loans to companies that create jobs and hire women and the elderly, in order to spur economic growth in struggling regions, sources close to the matter said Saturday. The move is aimed at boosting local economies where business activity is falling due to dwindling and aging populations. The state-run lender will decide the preferential lending rates on a case-by-case basis by evaluating each company, according to the sources. Under a program launched in 2010 to stimulate regional economies, the DBJ lent a total of 23.7 billion yen in 63 cases during the past year to March. It plans to double the number of loans to 120 and the total amount lent to 50 million yen this financial year.


Japan Finance Ministry official to be World Bank vice president

WASHINGTON - The World Bank said Friday it has appointed a senior official of the Japanese Finance Ministry as vice president effective in July. Hiroshi Naka, 53, deputy director general of the ministry's International Bureau, will double as the World Bank's auditor general handling risk management and governance processes, it said. "Hiroshi's expertise will greatly benefit the World Bank Group," World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said. Naka played a key role in successfully holding the 2012 Annual Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank Group in Tokyo.


Chinese woman climbs Mt. Everest in season marred by abandonments

KATHMANDU - A Chinese woman reached the summit of Mt. Everest on Friday, becoming the only person to scale the world's highest peak from the southeast ridge route in Nepal this season, officials said Saturday. Wang Jing, who has written a book about her experiences as a mountaineer, climbed the mountain with five Sherpa guides, the Tourism Ministry said. The ministry said there are no more climbers attempting the 8,848-meter peak this season, which ends next week. Jing's climb has, however, drawn controversy because she took a helicopter from Base Camp to Camp II, avoiding the Khumbu Icefall which is the trickiest part of the path to the top. Nepal's mountaineering regulations prohibit the use of helicopters above Base Camp for reasons other than rescue. But the government downplayed the issue. "We are inquiring about this. But the special circumstances of this season have to be considered," a government official said.


Restored Japanese-style building opens to public in Taiwan

TAIPEI - A 97-year-old Japanese-style building in Taipei was opened to the public on Saturday following an 18-month restoration and 10-year hiatus. Liou Wei-gong, head of Taipei City's Department of Cultural Affairs, told a press conference that talks about restoring Kishu An, a refined riverside restaurant during the Japanese colonial era, began some 10 years ago. The Hiramatsu family built the Kishu An in 1917 and ran it as a restaurant along the Hsin-tien River. The complex consisted of a three-story main building, a secondary building reserved for dignitaries, and a third building where balls and banquets were held. The complex was later turned into dormitories and abandoned after the main building and secondary building were destroyed in two separate fires in the 1990s. Thanks to the efforts of academics and conservationists, the third building was preserved and designated a historic site in 2004.


Sumo: Hakuho moves 1 win from 29th title+

TOKYO - Hakuho is one away from capturing his 29th career title after beating the yokozuna Kakuryu on Saturday to improve to 13-1 with one day remaining of the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament. But Kisenosato (12-2) also remained in the running for his first career title and possibly a third shot at yokozuna, when he beat Harumafuji after the latter was disqualified for pulling his opponent's topknot despite pushing the ozeki off the dohyo surface. Hakuho, who is seeking his first yusho championship in two meets, will face Harumafuji (11-3) in the finale and can claim the Emperor's Cup with a victory. Kisenosato must beat Kakuryu and have Hakuho lose to force a playoff. Ikioi fell out of contention after being defeated on Saturday by the sekiwake Goeido.


Weather for key cities in Japan

TOKYO - Forecast for Sunday: Tokyo=fair, then cloudy; Osaka=cloudy, sometimes fair; Nagoya=fair, sometimes cloudy; Sapporo=fair, sometimes cloudy; Sendai=fair, then cloudy; Niigata=cloudy, sometimes fair; Hiroshima=cloudy, sometimes fair; Takamatsu=cloudy, sometimes fair; Fukuoka=fair, sometimes cloudy; Naha=fair, then cloudy.

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Source: Japan Economic Newswire

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