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Asian elephant baby makes public debut at Tokyo zoo

Asian elephant baby makes public debut at Tokyo zoo

An Asian elephant calf excited visitors at a Tokyo zoo on Tuesday as he made his public debut as the first elephant born at the zoo since its opening in 1882. The baby elephant, whose parents were sent from Thailand as a gift to Japan, was born on Oct. 31 at the Ueno Zoological Gardens, measuring about 100 centimeters tall and weighing about 120 kilograms. Supplied photo taken Nov. 23, 2020, shows a baby Asian elephant at Ueno Zoological Gardens in Tokyo. (Photo courtesy of Tokyo Zoological Park Society)(Kyodo) Thailand sent Authi, 22, and a male elephant, Artid, as a present in celebration of the birth of Princess Aiko, the only child of Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako. On the first day of his public viewing, the young animal looked relaxed as he walked around with his mother Authi and was seen feeding from her. Akemi Kawasaki, a 57-year-old housewife from Fujisawa, Kanagawa Prefecture, near Tokyo, said she "couldn't wait to see" the baby animal. "I am happy as if my relative had a baby," said Kawasaki, who had watched Authi through her pregnancy. The zoo is limiting public viewing hours of the young elephant to about two hours a day from 9:30 a.m. for about a week. Taking pictures is not allowed to avoid overstimulating the animal. The zoo is asking for public help in naming the baby elephant by voting for one of the three candidate Thai names -- Tawan (sun), Arun (dawn) and Atsadong (sunset) -- through noon on Dec. 13. Voting is accepted via online or at the zoo in Taito Ward, and his name is scheduled to be announced on Dec. 15. A total of four elephants, one male and three females, are currently kept at the zoo after Artid, the father of the baby, died due to tuberculosis in August, according to the zoo. Related coverage: Tokyo to extend lease on giant panda Xiang Xiang's parents Taiwan offers Japan endangered rhino to help save species World's oldest naturally-bred panda marks 28th birthday in Japan

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Coronavirus

 Tokyo to ask older people not to use travel campaign amid virus spike

Tokyo to ask older people not to use travel campaign amid virus spike

Tokyo will ask people aged 65 and older and those with underlying health conditions to refrain from making trips to or from the capital using the government's domestic travel subsidy campaign, amid a recent resurgence of coronavirus cases, Gov. Yuriko Koike said Tuesday. Following talks with the governor, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga also said they agreed on the need for such a request and to "closely cooperate to prevent the spread of infections at all costs." As Tokyo and many other parts of Japan have seen a spike in the number of infections since November, Koike said those people will be asked to refrain from traveling until Dec. 17. She asked for their understanding as the new measure can contribute to reducing the number of people with severe symptoms of the COVID-19 respiratory illness. Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike (C) arrives at the prime minister's office in Tokyo on Dec. 1, 2020, for a meeting with Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo Suga and Koike had been at odds over who would take the initiative in pulling Tokyo out of the subsidy program, which the cities of Osaka and Sapporo were excluded from last week. Since taking office in mid-September, Suga has sought to strike a balance between preventing the spread of the virus and revitalizing the battered economy. He has been seen as being reluctant to exclude Tokyo from the campaign because it may deal a large blow on the economy. Koike revealed that her proposals to Suga had actually excluded such people from the "Go To Travel" program, rather than "requesting" them not to use it. The government has decided to allow their travel reservations to be cancelled with no fee and will announce the specifics of the request possibly Wednesday. However, some medical experts said the request is not enough to prevent the spread of the virus, because older people and those with pre-existing conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease, are usually the ones who are extra cautious. The travel campaign, which was launched in July, effectively shoulders about half of domestic travel expenses to help the tourism industry weather the impact of the pandemic. The agreement between Suga and Koike came as Japan's cumulative total of confirmed novel coronavirus cases topped 150,000. The death toll now stands at about 2,200. On Tuesday, the number of new infections rose by 2,029 across the country, bringing the nationwide tally to around 151,639. A record 41 deaths have been reported. Tokyo, the hardest-hit area among Japan's 47 prefectures, confirmed 372 new cases of the virus, up from 311 on Monday. It reported 9,857 infections in November, surpassing the previous monthly record set in August by around 1,700 cases. On Nov. 19, the Tokyo metropolitan government raised its virus alert to the highest of four levels. The Tokyo government on Saturday also started requesting that restaurants and other establishments serving alcohol shorten their business hours by closing at 10 p.m. The number of people with serious symptoms of the virus in Japan hit a record 493 on Tuesday, logging a record figure for the ninth straight day, amid mounting fears over the strain on medical systems. Health minister Norihisa Tamura called for local authorities to help strengthen regional medical systems by taking into consideration the "worst-case scenario." Tamura said the central and local governments must draw up a plan to prevent the collapse of the medical system, expressing a "strong sense of urgency." Speaking at a press conference, he said the central government has been calling for municipalities to secure hospital beds for COVID-19 patients, and is also working on a plan to send medical workers to regions that are struggling due to shortages of staff. Yasutoshi Nishimura, the minister in charge of Japan's virus response, urged companies to promote teleworking to curb the spread of the virus, saying "now is the time to limit contact between people." In a remote meeting with officials of the country's business bodies, Nishimura said companies should especially ask young employees to take preventive measures for the virus, since they may spread it without noticing.    

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