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


Japan drops blanket halt of inbound flight bookings after criticism

TOKYO - The Japanese government on Thursday reversed its decision to completely halt bookings for inbound flights until the end of the year in the wake of criticism that the measure against the Omicron variant of the coronavirus goes too far.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida admitted the transport ministry's announcement the previous day had caused confusion, telling reporters he instructed officials to "adequately take into account" people's wishes to travel home.


Women's tennis ass'n suspends all tournaments in China over Peng Shuai case

TOKYO - The Women's Tennis Association said Wednesday it will suspend all tournaments in China, including Hong Kong, upping the ante in its row with Beijing over a sexual assault allegation made by Chinese tennis professional Peng Shuai against a former Chinese vice premier.

The move by the major tennis organization could deal a blow to the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, which the Communist-led Chinese government under President Xi Jinping has been keen to use as a way to enhance national prestige, foreign affairs experts said.


Figure skating: Grand Prix Final to be canceled over Omicron threat

TOKYO - The ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final will be canceled due to the emergence of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, the Japan Skating Federation announced Thursday, in a move that will likely have repercussions throughout the world of sports.

The Grand Prix Final, featuring the top-six points-earners in each discipline from six Grand Prix meets, is the sport's second-most prestigious annual event, behind only the world championships.


Ehime nuclear reactor in western Japan restarted after 2-yr halt

MATSUYAMA, Japan - Shikoku Electric Power Co. restarted a nuclear reactor in Ehime Prefecture, western Japan, on Thursday that had been offline since December 2019 due to regular checks and a subsequent court injunction.

The utility rebooted the No. 3 reactor at the Ikata nuclear power plant after the reversal in March of an injunction handed down by the Hiroshima High Court in January 2020 banning the reactor from operating over safety concerns.


U.S. to tighten COVID-19 testing rules for international travelers

WASHINGTON - The administration of President Joe Biden said Thursday it will strengthen coronavirus testing rules for those entering the United States amid concerns over the new Omicron variant, requiring international travelers to return a negative result within one day of their scheduled departure.

The new safety protocol, which will be put in place starting early next week, is part of a series of actions the administration has planned to allow the nation to navigate the ongoing pandemic without the need to shut down schools and businesses.


Japan envoy called to meeting in China over ex-PM Abe's Taiwan remarks

BEIJING - A senior Chinese diplomat called an emergency meeting with the Japanese ambassador to China to protest former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's comments on issues related to Taiwan, the government said Thursday.

Assistant Foreign Minister Hua Chunying met with Hideo Tarumi on Wednesday night, hours after Abe said at a virtual event that any emergency concerning the self-ruled island would be an emergency for Japan and for the Japan-U.S. security alliance.


Japan's biggest labor body calls for 4% pay hike in wage talks

TOKYO - Japan's biggest labor organization on Thursday decided to call for a 4 percent pay hike in annual wage negotiations early next year to help fairly redistribute wealth, a goal also sought by the country's prime minister.

Tepid wage growth has been partly blamed for weak domestic demand in Japan and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is calling for a pay hike of over 3 percent next year at companies seeing their earnings recover to pre-pandemic levels as he aims to deliver on his promise of achieving economic growth and wealth distribution.


Baseball: Ohtani's mentor Kuriyama named Japan manager

TOKYO - Former Nippon Ham Fighters skipper Hideki Kuriyama was appointed the new manager of Japan's national baseball team, Samurai Japan, NPB Enterprise Inc. announced Thursday.

Kuriyama won two Pacific League pennants and a Japan Series in his 10 years with the Fighters, where he oversaw Shohei Ohtani's professional development as both a batter and pitcher.