The following is the latest list of selected news summaries by Kyodo News.


Japan's LDP on course to keep majority in lower house: poll

TOKYO - Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party is on course to retain its majority in the House of Representatives in the Oct. 31 general election, according to a Kyodo News survey conducted through Wednesday.

Such an outcome would likely see new Prime Minister Fumio Kishida claim a mandate to pursue his COVID-19 and economic policy, under which he has pledged to realize growth and redistribute wealth to the middle class.


Tokyo metro gov't to lift COVID restrictions on eateries Monday

TOKYO - The Tokyo metropolitan government will lift restrictions on restaurants and bars over the coronavirus pandemic from Monday as the capital has seen a steady decline in the number of infections, officials said Thursday.

Some 102,000 eateries certified as taking anti-virus measures have currently been asked to stop serving alcohol by 8 p.m. and to close by 9 p.m.


Shinsei Bank rejects SBI's tender offer, set for hostile takeover

TOKYO - Shinsei Bank on Thursday decided to reject a tender offer from major online financial group SBI Holdings Inc., setting the stage for a rare hostile takeover attempt in the Japanese financial industry.

Shinsei criticized SBI's plan to effectively control the management without acquiring a majority stake, warning that it would be "detrimental" to the remaining shareholders because their investments may be used for the benefit of SBI.


S. Korea launches first homegrown space rocket

SEOUL - South Korea launched its first domestically developed space rocket on Thursday, but President Moon Jae In said a dummy satellite separated from the rocket did not go into orbit as planned.

The 200-ton liquid fuel rocket Nuri lifted off from the Naro Space Center in Goheung, a county on the southern tip of the Korean Peninsula, at 5 p.m.


New Zealand, Britain strike free trade deal

SYDNEY - New Zealand and Britain have sealed a free trade deal that will reduce tariffs on a wide range of goods, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Thursday.

The agreement in principle was secured in a video call between Ardern and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson late Wednesday, following 16 months of negotiations.


Taiwan foreign minister to visit Slovakia, Czech Republic next week

TAIPEI - Taiwan's Foreign Minister Joseph Wu will visit Slovakia and the Czech Republic, which do not have official ties with the self-ruled island, next week, the Foreign Ministry said on Thursday, immediately drawing a backlash from the mainland government.

Wu will deliver a keynote speech at a conference organized by a think tank in the Slovakian capital Bratislava on Tuesday and then travel to the Czech capital Prague where he will visit its mayor, Zdenek Hrib, a strong supporter of Taiwan who scrapped his city's sister-city agreement with Beijing in October 2019 over Chinese pressure to recognize the "one China" policy.


U.S. envoy to Japan nominee vows to deepen ties amid China challenge

WASHINGTON - U.S. Ambassador to Japan nominee Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday vowed to enhance bilateral ties as China seeks to "conquer through division," while welcoming a potential increase in Japan's defense spending.

Calling the bilateral partnership the "cornerstone of peace and prosperity in a free and open Indo-Pacific," Emanuel, who served as a top aide to former President Barack Obama, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, "If confirmed, my top priority will be to deepen these ties."


Japan's ex-Justice Minister Kawai accepts jail term over vote buying

TOKYO - Former Japanese Justice Minister Katsuyuki Kawai on Thursday accepted a three-year prison term for buying votes for his wife in the 2019 upper house election, dropping his appeal in the high-profile case that has rocked the country's major ruling party.

Kawai, who held the ministerial post under then-Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, is the first former Japanese Cabinet member in over 10 years to have a prison term finalized.