News Column

Kyodo Top12 News (13:30)

July 25, 2014


Narita Express trains begin runs to foot of Mt. Fuji

CHIBA, Japan - The Narita Express started direct runs Saturday from Narita International Airport to stations close to Mt. Fuji, linking Tokyo's gateway with the World Heritage site in roughly three and a half hours. The daily roundtrip service, which will be run on weekends and holidays on a seasonal basis, allows tourists from overseas to reach Mt. Fuji, added to UNESCO's World Heritage list in June last year, without having to change trains in Tokyo until Sept. 28. Jointly run by East Japan Railway Co. and Fuji Kyuko Co. with fares set at 7,040 yen for one way in August and 6,840 yen in September, the first train left Narita at 9:15 a.m., filled with travelers wheeling suitcases.


Japan to post intelligence officer at SDF antipiracy base in Djibouti

NAIROBI - The Japanese government plans to station an intelligence officer at the Self-Defense Forces base for antipiracy operations in the East African country of Djibouti to gather information on terrorist activities and other security matters, a Japan-U.S. relations source said Saturday. Arrangements are under way for the officer to work in coordination with U.S. military intelligence, the source said. The move is intended for Japan to secure the Djibouti base on a long-term basis by setting up a role other than antipiracy and lead to a greater presence in U.N. peacekeeping operations in the Middle East and African region, the source added.


Abe to replace over half of ministers in 1st week of Sept.

TOKYO - Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has decided to replace more than half of his 18 ministers in the first week of September in the first Cabinet reshuffle since he took office in December 2012, senior government officials said Friday. The focus will be on who assumes two new state minister posts Abe plans to create, one for boosting regional economies and the other for legal reforms related to security following the Cabinet's decision to reinterpret the pacifist Constitution to let Japan exercise the right to collective self-defense. Attention will also be focused on Liberal Democratic Party Secretary General Shigeru Ishiba, the No. 2 man in Abe's ruling party. Ishiba's supporters are divided, with some saying he should remain in the post and others saying he should refrain from taking any ministerial or major party post to prepare for the LDP presidential election next year.


Indonesia's Prabowo takes presidential election result to court

JAKARTA - Represented by his legal team, former army general Prabowo Subianto, who lost the July 9 presidential election to President-elect Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, filed a judicial review Friday challenging the election result over alleged electoral fraud. Friday was the last day for Prabowo to file his case with the Constitutional Court. The General Election Commission declared Jokowi the victor on Tuesday. Earlier, Prabowo's younger brother Hasjim Djojohadikusumo claimed there were about 21 million disputed votes in Central and East Java. Due to the Eid al-Fitr Islamic holiday, the court will only begin examining disputes related to the presidential election on Aug. 6. It is not clear when Prabowo's case will be heard.


Japan, Mexico to cooperate in concluding Pacific trade talks early

MEXICO CITY - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto confirmed their cooperation Friday in seeking the early conclusion of ongoing free-trade negotiations involving the two countries and 10 other Pacific-rim nations. At a joint press conference after their talks in Mexico City, Abe said they also reaffirmed their commitment to bilateral cooperation and promotion of investment in the areas of oil, shale gas, infrastructure-building and medical insurance. On the first leg of his five-nation tour of Latin America to promote infrastructure exports and strengthen ties in the fields of resources and energy development, Abe secured cooperation for a stable supply of resources from a country rich in oil and shale gas.


Debt-laden Kansai airport operator unveils management rights sale plan

OSAKA - The operator of the two principal airports serving the greater Osaka region has announced a plan to sell the management rights to the transport hubs, including the heavily indebted Kansai International. New Kansai International Airport Co. President Keiichi Ando said at a press conference in Tokyo on Friday that debt repayment and safety will take precedence in selecting the concession holder, envisaged as a consortium of companies. "There will be no restrictions on foreign-owned entities" in the bid process, he added, with the company seeking a minimum bid of 2.2 trillion yen ($21.61 billion) on a 45-year lease. The government-owned company runs Kansai International Airport, which operates both domestic and international flights from an island in Izumisano, Osaka Prefecture, and Osaka International Airport, also known as Itami airport, in Toyonaka, Osaka Prefecture, which serves domestic routes from a site closer to downtown Osaka.


Suu Kyi voices confidence in taking power in 2015

NAYPYITAW - Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi said Friday she firmly believes her party will win the general election scheduled to be held next year. Asked about her party's prospects during an exclusive meeting with Kyodo News at her parliamentary office in the administrative capital Naypyitaw, Suu Kyi said, "To put it very simply, if the elections are free and fair, we will win, and the government is very aware of that." Myanmar is scheduled to hold the election in late 2015, when the current five-year term of the government and the parliament expires. Suu Kyi, however, voiced concern over possible election "manipulations" based on the fact that the chairman of the election commission is appointed by President Thein Sein, who himself is a member of the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party.


Tsunami-hit Iwate beach reopens after 3 years of cleanup

MORIOKA, Japan - A beach devastated by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster in Iwate Prefecture, northeastern Japan, reopened Saturday after three years of work to remove debris from sand and water to ensure safety. Only one-third, or a roughly 130-meter section, of Kirikiri beach in the town of Otsuchi is open to swimming through Aug. 10 due to ongoing works to rebuild a breakwater, which may further restrict access from next year, local officials said. Seven beaches opened in the prefecture this summer, including Kirikiri and two others that reopened for the first time since the March 11, 2011 disaster, compared with about 20 beaches in the summer of 2010.


China voices concern over Japan on 120th anniv. of outbreak of war

BEIJING - Chinese media on Friday provided various commentaries on Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government, many critical of its security policies, on the occasion of the 120th anniversary of the outbreak of the first Sino-Japanese War. In its editorial, the China Daily said Japan is "strikingly similar" to what it was 120 years ago, pointing out that the country, as it was in 1894, is "aspiring for 'greatness' through expanding its overseas military presence. And its foremost target is, again, China." "The Japanese prime minister's rhetoric about peace may be engaging. But never forget Japan's extreme duality. Its wars of aggression have always been launched in the mode of surprise attacks while waving the banner of peace," said the official newspaper published in English.


S. Korea's Park urges Tokyo governor to work for "stable relationship"

SEOUL - South Korean President Park Geun Hye urged Tokyo Gov. Yoichi Masuzoe on Friday to work for a stable relationship between South Korea and Japan, the presidential press office said. Speaking at the outset of her meeting with Masuzoe at the presidential office, Park said, "Japanese politicians' improper words and behavior have caused various difficulties in bilateral relations." "I would like to ask you to work so that the two countries can share a correct recognition of past history and develop a stable relationship," Park said in a statement released by her press office. Park said she hopes for a settlement "by sincere efforts" of the issue of Japan's wartime sexual slavery, adding it is "not only a matter between the two countries, but also a matter concerning universal women's rights."


Japan to extend $5.5 million in emergency aid to Gaza

TOKYO - Japan will extend $5.5 million, or about 560 million yen, in emergency humanitarian assistance for displaced people in the Gaza Strip, the government said Friday. The aid, to be channeled through two international organizations, will be used mainly to provide food and medical products to displaced people in the conflict-hit area. Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida called for a cease-fire between Israel and the Islamic fundamentalist group Hamas, saying it is vital for Israelis and Palestinians to "sever the vicious circle of violence."


Weather forecast for key cities in Japan

TOKYO - Weather forecast for Sunday: Tokyo=fair, then rain; Osaka=cloudy, occasionally rain; Nagoya=cloudy, occasionally rain; Sapporo=rain; Sendai=cloudy, occasionally fair; Niigata=rain; Hiroshima=cloudy, occasionally rain; Takamatsu=fair, then cloudy; Fukuoka=cloudy, occasionally rain; Naha=fair, occasionally cloudy.

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Source: Japan Economic Newswire

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