Shoppers wearing masks for protection against the coronavirus gather for a New Year sale at the Nihombashi Takashimaya department store in Tokyo on Jan. 2, 2022. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

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


Japan PM won't go to U.S., Australia before mid-Jan., to focus on COVID

TOKYO - Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Tuesday he has given up on visiting the United States and Australia for in-person summit talks before the start of a regular parliamentary session in mid-January and will focus on the COVID-19 response at home instead.

Kishida said he had been seeking to meet U.S. President Joe Biden and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison as he aims to step up summit diplomacy this year.


Dollar hits 5-yr high at start of 2022 as Tokyo stocks surge

TOKYO - The U.S. dollar briefly hit a five-year high in the upper 115 yen range on Tuesday, while Tokyo stocks surged to bring the Nikkei index to its highest level since late November on the first trading day of 2022.

At 3 p.m., the dollar fetched 115.73-77 yen compared with 115.28-38 yen in New York at 5 p.m. Monday. Japanese financial markets were closed Friday and Monday due to the year-end and New Year holidays.


5 nations including U.S., Russia, China vow to prevent nuclear war

WASHINGTON - The United States, Russia, China and two other countries with nuclear weapons on Monday issued a joint statement affirming that nuclear war must be avoided and that the role of such armaments should be limited to defensive purposes and to deter aggression.

China hailed the statement, which also vows to continue to seek diplomatic approaches to avoid military confrontations and prevent an arms race, as the first of its kind released by the leaders of the five so-called nuclear-weapon states.


Tokyo's daily coronavirus cases top 100 for 2nd day in row

TOKYO - Tokyo confirmed 151 daily coronavirus cases Tuesday, marking the second consecutive day the count has hit triple digits, as an uptrend continues amid the spread of the Omicron variant in the country.

New cases in the Japanese capital had been below 100 after 135 cases were confirmed on Oct. 8, but the latest daily figure reported by the Tokyo metropolitan government was up from the daily tally Monday of 103.


Japan starts year's 1st day of work amid Omicron fears

TOKYO - Japan's central and local governments as well as many companies started the year's first day of work Tuesday amid growing fear over the Omicron variant of coronavirus.

The highly transmissible Omicron strain continued to spread in Japan during the year-end and New Year holidays, with 782 new COVID-19 cases reported nationwide on Monday. Tokyo saw its daily count surpass 100 for the first time in about three months the same day.


M6.1 quake hits south of Tokyo, no reports of injuries

TOKYO - A strong earthquake with a magnitude of 6.1 struck near the Ogasawara Islands in the Pacific Ocean, south of Tokyo, on Tuesday morning but there were no reports of injuries or serious damage to infrastructure, authorities said.

The quake occurred at 6:08 a.m., registering upper 5 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale of 7 on Hahajima Island, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency. The agency said there was no threat of a tsunami.


Sumo: Former ozeki Takayasu, Tagonoura stable to miss New Year tourney

TOKYO - Former ozeki Takayasu will miss the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament starting Sunday after four people at his Tagonoura stable have tested positive for the coronavirus, the Japan Sumo Association announced Tuesday.

The four infected included the stablemaster, sumo elder Tagonoura and two low-ranked wrestlers.


N. Korea defector likely crossed border back to North: S. Korea

SEOUL - A man who was spotted crossing the border into North Korea on New Year's Day is highly likely to have been a North Korean man who defected to the South through the same area in November 2020, according to a South Korean Defense Ministry official.

After the defection, the man was working as a janitor and complained of life in South Korea due to economic difficulties, according to local media reports. Repeated border breaches have led to criticism of the military for its failure to prevent them.