News Column

Kyodo Top12 News (13:10)

July 16, 2014

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U.S. expands sanctions against Russia to core industries

WASHINGTON - The United States said Wednesday it has expanded its economic sanctions against Russia to an unprecedented extent since Moscow's annexation of Crimea, targeting companies in the core industries of banking and energy. U.S. President Barack Obama said Russia's efforts to ease tensions in the Ukrainian crisis have fallen short of expectations, demanding Moscow urge separatists to release their hostages and support a cease-fire. "We have to see concrete actions and not just words that Russia, in fact, is committed to trying to end this conflict along the Russia-Ukraine border," Obama said at the White House.

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Helicopter crashes in S. Korea, killing 5

SEOUL - A firefighting helicopter carrying five people crashed in the southwestern city of Gwangju on Thursday, killing all five onboard and injuring one person on the ground, according to a local fire station. The crash occurred at 10:53 a.m. near a residential area in Gwangsan County of the city. The injured person is a female high school student. YTN television network quoted a witness as saying the helicopter abruptly nosedived into an area near a bus station close to an apartment complex, causing a large explosion.

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2 Koreas kick off talks on N. Korea's participation in Asian Games

SEOUL - North and South Korean officials on Thursday began talks at the truce village of Panmunjeom on the North's plans to take part in the Asian Games set to be held in South Korea later this year. At the talks attended by sports officials from each side, the two sides are to discuss specifics related to the North's sending athletes and a cheering squad to the Asian Games scheduled for Sept. 19 to Oct. 4 in the western city of Incheon. "This working-level contact is aimed at discussing a range of issues on the (planned) participation by North Korea's athletes and cheering squad in the Incheon Asian Games," Kwon Kyung Sang, head of Seoul's three-member delegation to the talks, told reporters, according to Yonhap News Agency.

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Australian gov't repeals controversial carbon tax

SYDNEY - Australia's conservative coalition government on Thursday successfully repealed the country's controversial carbon tax, a measure passed two years earlier by the previous center-left Labor government to combat climate change. The Senate voted 39-32 in favor of repealing the tax following two weeks of negotiations by the government with independent lawmakers. The tax, which had been at the center of debate since its commencement on July 1, 2012, required polluters to initially pay A$23 per metric ton of carbon dioxide emissions. Prime Minister Tony Abbott's coalition pledged while in opposition to repeal the tax, claiming it was bad for business interests and increased household electricity bills.

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Nissan to introduce autonomous technology for highway driving by 2017

TOKYO - Nissan Motor Co. said Thursday it will introduce vehicles with autonomous technologies for driving on congested highways and parking by the end of 2016, as it aims to make more autonomous functions commercially available by 2020. "We are bringing to market a traffic-jam pilot, a technology enabling cars to drive autonomously and safely on congested highways. In the same time frame, we will make fully automated parking systems available across a wide range of vehicles," said Nissan Chief Executive Officer Carlos Ghosn. In a press conference at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan, Ghosn added that the move will be followed in 2018 by the introduction of multiple-lane controls, allowing cars to autonomously negotiate hazards and change lanes.

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Police to arrest system engineer involved in Benesse data leak Thurs.

TOKYO - Police will arrest Thursday a system engineer who has admitted to involvement in a massive customer data leak at Benesse Holdings Inc., investigative sources said. The temporary employee is suspected of downloading customer data in June from Benesse, Japan's largest provider of correspondence education for children, at a Tokyo office of Benesse affiliate Synform Co. and copying the data to storage media, the sources said. During questioning by the police, he has admitted to selling the information, which includes children's personal data, multiple times to a name-list trader for a total of several million yen, the sources said. The temporary worker, who was dispatched to Synform by another company providing database management services, is suspected of violating the unfair competition prevention law, which bans unauthorized use or disclosure of trade secrets.

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U.S. senators commend Abe's new collective self-defense decision

WASHINGTON - A bipartisan group of U.S. senators has commended Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for approving a new policy on the use of collective self-defense rights, according to a letter released Wednesday. In the letter to Abe dated Tuesday, four members of the Senate'sForeign Relations Committee including Chairman Robert Menendez commend Abe's efforts to "revitalize Japan's security, diplomacy and economy, specifically on the issue of collective self-defense." The letter, signed by two Democrats and two Republicans, including Ranking Member Bob Corker, said, "In the context of an increasingly complicated security environment in the Asia Pacific, the U.S.-Japan alliance has never been more important." "We believe that greater flexibly for Japan will have immense benefits for our alliance," the letter said.

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Japan nuclear plant clears safety hurdle toward restarting

TOKYO - A nuclear plant in southwestern Japan cleared an initial safety hurdle Wednesday in what is seen as a major step for it to become the first nuclear facility to restart under new safety standards introduced following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis. The Nuclear Regulation Authority's decision-making panel approved a draft report required to resume the operations of two reactors at Kyushu Electric Power Co.'sSendai plant in Kagoshima Prefecture. The 420-page report -- which concluded that the plant's proposed countermeasures against earthquakes, tsunami and other possible risks meet the standards that took effect in July last year -- will be finalized after a monthlong public consultation period through Aug. 15.

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U.S. economy continues to expand with strong auto, tourism business

WASHINGTON - The U.S. economy "continued to expand" in all 12 Federal Reserve districts from early June with strong automotive and tourism sales, the central bank said in a report released Wednesday. The pace of economic growth was "moderate" in five districts, such as New York and San Francisco, and "modest" in the other seven districts, according to the Beige Book report. The report, which gives Fed policymakers an input ahead of their meeting on July 29-30, said vehicle sales remained stronger than non-automotive retail sales and manufacturing activity expanded in all districts. Tourism activity expanded in all reporting districts with growth ranging from slight in Philadelphia to very strong in Boston, the report said.

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Japan, Britain to join forces to research missile technology

TOKYO - Japan and Britain plan to collaborate on researching technology for air-to-air missiles that could one day be loaded on the F-35 stealth fighter jets to be acquired and operated by Japan'sAir Self-Defense Force, Japanese government sources said Wednesday. The envisioned collaboration between the two countries will be signed off on by Cabinet ministers at a meeting of the National Security Council on Thursday, along with a proposal to export Japanese-made parts of a surface-to-air missile to a U.S. defense company, the sources said. If finalized at the meeting, they are likely to be the first NSC decisions on arms export policy since an embargo on the export of defense equipment and related technology was eased in April under the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

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Tokyo stocks rise, dollar slips to mid-101 yen

TOKYO - Tokyo stocks rose Thursday morning as buying was bolstered by overnight gains in major European and U.S. stock markets. The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average gained 30.05 points, or 0.20 percent, from Wednesday to 15,409.35. At 1 p.m. the Nikkei index was up 20.34 points, or 0.13 percent, at 15,399.64. The broader Topix index was up 2.67 points, or 0.21 percent, to 1,276.26. On the currency market, the U.S. dollar slipped to the mid-101 yen range. At 1 p.m., the dollar fetched 101.54-63 yen compared with 101.62-72 yen in New York late Wednesday afternoon. The euro was quoted at 137.36-40 yen against 137.50-60 yen in New York.

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Weather forecast for key cities in Japan

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



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Source: Japan Economic Newswire


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