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


U.S.-led democracy summit set to start amid China's rise

WASHINGTON - U.S. President Joe Biden is set to kick off Thursday a two-day virtual "Summit for Democracy," inviting more than 100 world leaders to galvanize international action to strengthen democracy in the face of challenges posed by countries deemed authoritarian such as China.

The U.S. government has emphasized the summit is not intended to be divisive or adversarial. But tensions between the United States and China have already heightened before the event, as Taiwan, a self-ruled democratic island which Beijing claims as its own territory, was among invitees while China was not.


Japan PM Kishida backs Taiwan's WHO attendance

TOKYO - Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Thursday threw his support behind Taiwan's attendance at the annual meeting of the World Health Organization's decision-making body as an observer, a move China has opposed.

Taiwan is excluded from most international organizations due to opposition from China, which regards the democratically governed island as one of its provinces and not a country.


Canada joins diplomatic boycott of Beijing Olympics

NEW YORK - The Canadian government said Wednesday it will not send government officials to next year's Beijing Olympics, joining the United States and others in a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Games over China's human rights record.

The announcement came after Australia and Britain said earlier in the day that they too will engage in a diplomatic boycott, following the U.S. lead. President Joe Biden made his country's move official on Monday, citing alleged human rights abuses in China's far-western Xinjiang region.


Kishida says no plans to review Japan's "comfort women" apology

TOKYO - Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Thursday he has no plans to review a 1993 statement that admitted the Imperial Japanese military's role in coercing "comfort women" to work in wartime brothels.

The statement that Kishida referred to in parliament was issued by then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono. It also offered an apology to the women, many of whom were from the Korean Peninsula.


Strong quake jolts Kagoshima Pref. island chain in southwest Japan

TOKYO - A strong quake jolted an island chain in Kagoshima Prefecture, southwestern Japan, on Thursday but no tsunami warning was issued and there have been no reports of injuries or serious damage.

The magnitude-6.1 quake, which hit at around 11:05 a.m., measured upper 5 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale of 7 on Akuseki Island, the Japan Meteorological Agency said. The focus was at a depth of 14 kilometers, with the epicenter in waters near the Tokara island chain.


Death toll from volcano eruption in Indonesia rises to 43

JAKARTA - The death toll from Saturday's eruption of a volcano on the main island of Java rose to 43 on Thursday amid ongoing rescue operations, while 13 people remain missing, Indonesia's disaster agency said.

The National Disaster Mitigation Agency said around 6,500 people have been displaced and some 3,000 houses damaged by the eruption of Mt. Semeru in East Java Province.


New Zealand plans lifetime ban on cigarettes for young generations

SYDNEY - The New Zealand government announced Thursday plans to introduce a lifetime ban on the sale of cigarettes to young generations, as part of the country's goal to be "smokefree" by 2025.

Under the plan, people aged 14 and below when the law comes into effect will never be able to purchase tobacco legally.


3 Hong Kong activists including Jimmy Lai convicted over June 4 vigil

HONG KONG - Jimmy Lai, the founder of Hong Kong's now-defunct Apple Daily newspaper, was among three democracy campaigners convicted on Thursday over their roles in a banned vigil commemorating the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests last year.

Also convicted were Gwyneth Ho, a former Stand News reporter, and Chow Hang-tung, the former vice chairwoman of the now-disbanded Hong Kong Alliance known for organizing the yearly candlelight vigils in Victoria Park.