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


Japan to cut 14-day isolation for Omicron close contacts to 10 days

TOKYO - Japan will shorten to 10 days the current 14-day isolation period for close contacts of the Omicron COVID-19 variant among the general public, health minister Shigeyuki Goto said Friday.

The move, aimed at minimizing social disruption and preventing a strain on the medical system, comes as research suggests Omicron has a shorter incubation period than other coronavirus variants.


N. Korea fires 2 apparent short-range ballistic missiles: S. Korea

SEOUL - North Korea fired eastward on Friday two projectiles presumed to be short-range ballistic missiles, the South Korean military said, Pyongyang's third launch in 10 days.

North Korea had earlier criticized the United States for expanding sanctions on its nationals following the recent launches of what Pyongyang claimed were hypersonic missiles, threatening a "stronger and certain reaction."


Ex-Japan PM Kaifu, who dispatched SDF to Persian Gulf, dies at 91

TOKYO - Toshiki Kaifu, Japan's prime minister for about two years from 1989, died earlier this month, the government said Friday. He was 91.

Kaifu, best known for sending the Maritime Self-Defense Force to the Persian Gulf in 1991 in the SDF's first war-related overseas mission, died Sunday of natural causes, the House of Representatives said.


Australia revokes tennis star Djokovic's visa 2nd time

SYDNEY - Australia revoked the visa of tennis star Novak Djokovic on Friday for the second time, the latest development in controversy over the entry of the men's world No. 1, who has not been vaccinated for COVID-19.

Immigration Minister Alex Hawke said Djokovic's visa was rescinded "on health and good order grounds, on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so," pointing to Canberra's commitment to protecting Australia's borders during the coronavirus pandemic.


Tokyo's daily COVID cases top 4,000 for 1st time since late Aug.

TOKYO - Tokyo confirmed 4,051 daily coronavirus cases Friday, topping the 4,000 mark for the first time since Aug. 27, the metropolitan government said.

Japan has been facing a resurgence of the virus amid the spread of the highly transmissible Omicron variant.


Japan univ. uses iPS cells to treat spinal cord injury for 1st time

TOKYO - Keio University in Tokyo said Friday it has started the world's first clinical test using induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPS cells, to treat patients with spinal cord injuries.

In the study commenced in December, the university will eventually transplant cells derived from iPS cells to four patients who between two to four weeks earlier lost motor and sensory function after sustaining injuries when playing sport or in traffic accidents.


M6.6 quake hits Indonesia's Java Island, shakes Jakarta

JAKARTA - A magnitude 6.6 earthquake struck off the main island of Java in Indonesia on Friday afternoon, sending people in high-rise buildings in the capital Jakarta into panic.

The 4:05 p.m. quake occurred just off the western tip of the island at a depth of 37 kilometers, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.


Pfizer seeks approval for oral COVID-19 pill in Japan

TOKYO - Pfizer Japan Inc. said Friday it has applied to the Japanese health ministry for approval of its COVID-19 pill which, if granted, would make it the second oral drug for mild coronavirus cases available in the country.

The new drug application for Paxlovid, a combination of two antiviral drugs nirmatrelvir and ritonavir, comes at a time when Japan is battling its sixth surge of COVID-19 cases amid a spread of the Omicron variant, with Japan already agreeing to procure enough of the drug for 2 million people.