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


Japan to expand COVID quasi-emergency to over 30 of 47 prefs.

TOKYO - Japan will likely expand a quasi-state of emergency to over 30 of the country's 47 prefectures to curb the rapid spread of coronavirus infections after 18 prefectures asked to be included under the measure, senior government officials said Monday.

The government will formalize the decision on Tuesday after consulting with an advisory panel of experts over its plan to adopt restrictions on restaurants and bars in more areas, in addition to Tokyo and 15 prefectures which already have been put under the restrictions.


Japan eyes evacuating nationals in Ukraine amid military tensions

TOKYO - Japan is considering evacuating its nationals in Ukraine amid fears of an imminent Russian invasion, Japanese government sources said Monday, following such an order by the United States to family members of its embassy staff.

About 250 Japanese citizens including family of embassy staff live in Ukraine, according to the Foreign Ministry.


JR East mulls providing wearable cameras to station staff

TOKYO - East Japan Railway Co. is considering providing wearable cameras from April to its station staff working at night to better protect them from becoming involved in trouble with passengers, sources familiar with the matter said Monday.

By providing such cameras, the company wants to reduce the risk of its workers becoming victims of violence or a crime, the sources said. It would be the first railway operator to use such cameras for security purposes, according to the transportation ministry.


1st COVID-19 case detected among Beijing Olympics participants

BEIJING - The first positive case of COVID-19 has been detected in a Beijing Winter Olympics team member, the organizing committee said Monday, 11 days before the opening of the games.

The organizing committee did not identify the team member or their nationality but said the infection was confirmed with a PCR test conducted Sunday at a Beijing airport.


Japan MSDF vessel departs carrying aid to disaster-stricken Tonga

HIROSHIMA - A transport vessel of Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force departed Monday for Tonga as part of the country's continuing relief efforts to the Pacific islands nation, which was hit by an undersea volcanic eruption and a tsunami earlier in the month.

The Osumi departed from the Kure base in western Japan with 60,000 liters of drinking water prepared by the Japan International Cooperation Agency, a government-linked aid agency, as well as 60 high pressure washers to remove volcanic ash, according to the Defense Ministry.


Record 300 day-care centers in Japan shut due to pandemic

TOKYO - A record 327 daycare centers have been temporarily shut down in Japan as the coronavirus resurgence grips the country, the health ministry said Monday.

The number of such facilities suspending services as of last Thursday, excluding privately operated or locally licensed ones, increased fourfold in a week along with the spike in COVID-19 cases and well exceeded the previous high of 185 in September, according to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.


China to phase out COVID-19 lockdown in Xian

BEIJING - Chinese authorities have decided to phase out a one-month COVID-19 pandemic lockdown in the central city of Xian from Monday, pointing to the improved situation, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported, ahead of next week's opening of the Beijing Winter Olympics.

More than 2,000 people have been infected with the novel coronavirus in Xian since early December, forcing municipal authorities to lock down the city of 13 million since the middle of the month.


Japan won't consider S. Korean opposition in Sado heritage push

TOKYO - Japan will not consider South Korean opposition in deciding whether to push ahead with a plan to nominate a gold and silver mine site on Sado Island in Niigata Prefecture for the 2023 UNESCO World Heritage list, Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said Monday.

Hayashi made the remarks at a House of Representatives session after South Korea said it was deplorable that a Japanese state cultural body had recommended that Tokyo seek listing of the mine, where Koreans were subject to forced labor during Japan's 1910-1945 colonization of the Korean Peninsula, and called for immediate retraction of the plan.