Top News

Japanese journalist detained in Myanmar freed

Japanese journalist detained in Myanmar freed

A Japanese freelance journalist detained by security forces in Myanmar in mid-April and accused of supporting protests against the military coup has been released and departed Yangon for Japan by plane Friday. Yuki Kitazumi, 45, was arrested in Yangon on April 18 and a military spokesman said Thursday night he had been moved from prison to a police facility. According to a state-run newspaper on Friday, Kitazumi had been indicted for supporting the anti-coup civil disobedience movement and riots, and for not complying with visa regulations. Yuki Kitazumi raises a three-finger salute, a symbol of Myanmar's anti-coup movement, in this undated photo. (From Yuki Kitazumi's Facebook page)(Kyodo) The Information Team of the State Administration Council, the military junta's top decision-making body, said the decision to release Kitazumi was made "in consideration of cordial relations between Myanmar and Japan up to now and in view of future bilateral relations, and upon the request of the Japanese government special envoy on Myanmar's national reconciliation," according to state-run TV on Thursday night. Before Kitazumi was freed, Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said Friday morning that the journalist will be released and return to Japan by the end of Friday at the earliest. "It was the result of efforts made by Ambassador Ichiro Maruyama and other people who tried to seek the early release (of the Japanese journalist) through various channels," Motegi said at the meeting of the House of Representatives' Foreign Affairs Committee. Kitazumi could have faced a jail term of up to three years if convicted under the penal code as amended after the Feb. 1 military coup. The journalist, who previously worked at the Tokyo-based Nikkei business daily, had covered anti-government protests and posted information deemed to be critical of the military on social media. Kitazumi had been detained previously while covering an anti-military protest on Feb. 26, but he was released later in the day. The military has stepped up its crackdown on the press, and according to the internet media "Reporting ASEAN," 80 journalists have been detained. Related coverage: Japanese journalist indicted in Myanmar on "fake news" charge Japan envoy speaks with journalist held in Myanmar Japan demands release of journalist held in Myanmar

FEATURE: Smash-hit "Attack on Titan" spoke to chaotic modern times

40 minutes ago | KYODO NEWS


Online petition author asks Tokyo governor to cancel Olympics

13 minutes ago | KYODO NEWS


Defense Ministry mulls potentially costly design for 2 new Aegis ships

May 13, 2021 | KYODO NEWS


American, Swiss climbers perish on Mt. Everest

May 13, 2021 | KYODO NEWS


Rugby: Japan to play Scotland in November Edinburgh test

May 13, 2021 | KYODO NEWS

Coronavirus

Japan unexpectedly set to expand areas under COVID-19 state of emergency

Japan unexpectedly set to expand areas under COVID-19 state of emergency

The Japanese government is set to declare a COVID-19 state of emergency in three more prefectures on Friday, a surprise move that comes as infections continue to surge ahead of this summer's Tokyo Olympics. Hokkaido, Okayama and Hiroshima will come under tougher restrictions from Sunday to May 31, said Yasutoshi Nishimura, the minister in charge of coronavirus response, in addition to six prefectures including Tokyo and Osaka. Yasutoshi Nishimura (C), minister in charge of the government's coronavirus response, speaks at a meeting of experts on May 14, 2021, in Tokyo. (Kyodo) Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is slated to make the decision official at a task force meeting in the evening before holding a press conference. The government had initially planned to place Okayama and Hiroshima under a quasi-emergency, already in effect in Hokkaido, but changed course at the urging of a panel of experts. Related coverage: Japan to impose tougher COVID-19 restrictions in 5 more prefectures "There were discussions on the need to thoroughly implement strong measures," Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato told a press conference. In prefectures placed under the state of emergency, restaurants are being told to refrain from serving alcohol and to close by 8 p.m. Department stores and other major commercial facilities are also being told to either temporarily shut or close early, and attendance at concerts and sports events has been capped at 5,000 or 50 percent of venue capacity. Coronavirus cases have been on the rise nationwide in recent weeks, with the daily number of new infections topping 6,000 for the third straight day on Thursday. The northern main island of Hokkaido saw a record 712 cases, while Hiroshima in western Japan reported 213 and neighboring Okayama had 171. People wearing masks walk in Okayama, western Japan, on May 14, 2021. (Kyodo)  "It will be difficult to improve the situation unless we take the strongest measures possible," said Satoshi Kamayachi, an executive board member at the Japan Medical Association who sits on the expert panel. Reports have surfaced of COVID-19 patients dying at home as hospitals struggle to free up beds as the spread of highly contagious variants of the virus and a sluggish vaccine rollout have exacerbated the situation. Japan has the worst vaccination rate among members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, having administered at least one shot to just 3 percent of its population of 126 million. People on the street reacted to the decision to expand the state of emergency with a mixture of resignation to living under tougher restrictions and anger at the government's lack of urgency as infections continued to surge through the Golden Week holidays. People wearing masks visit Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, western Japan, on May 14, 2021. (Kyodo) "They're always behind the curve," observed Shigeru Ogura, a 74-year-old retiree who was taking a walk near the Atomic Bomb Dome in Hiroshima. The government is also set to expand the quasi-emergency currently covering eight prefectures to three others -- Gunma, Ishikawa and Kumamoto -- from Sunday to June 13. Suga declared a state of emergency, the third since the start of the pandemic, in Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo from April 25 to May 11, later adding Aichi and Fukuoka from Wednesday and extending it to May 31. The quasi-emergency allows governors to single out municipalities with measures including telling restaurants to close early with a fine of up to 200,000 yen ($1,825) for noncompliance, while the state of emergency covers entire prefectures and carries a fine of up to 300,000 yen.

Coronavirus outbreak latest: May 14, 2021

2 hours ago | KYODO NEWS


Vaccinated people in U.S. no need to wear mask, physically distance

May 14, 2021 | KYODO NEWS


Governors refuse to allot hospital beds for COVID-infected Olympians

May 13, 2021 | KYODO NEWS


Japan to cut No. of visiting Tokyo Games officials to less than 90,000

May 14, 2021 | KYODO NEWS


42-year-old mayor in eastern Japan gets COVID shot ahead of elderly

May 13, 2021 | KYODO NEWS

Pick Up

Partners