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


Japan's daily COVID cases top 50,000, new record for 5th straight day

TOKYO - Japan's confirmed daily coronavirus cases on Saturday topped 50,000, setting a new record for the fifth day in a row, as the highly transmissible Omicron variant continues to spread across Japan quickly.

Of the total, Tokyo confirmed 11,227 daily cases, surpassing its previous record high of 9,699 logged Friday, with Osaka Prefecture in western Japan also hitting a fresh high of 7,375 on Saturday.


FOCUS: 2 yrs pass since Wuhan lockdown ahead of virus-hit Beijing Olympics

BEIJING - Sunday marks two years since a drastic lockdown was imposed on Wuhan, the original epicenter of the novel coronavirus, with the Chinese government bolstering preventive measures ahead of the Feb. 4 start of the Beijing Winter Olympics.

Daily life has returned to almost normal and economic activities have resumed in the central Chinese city, known as a major business and transportation hub, while downtown areas have been teeming with people.


30 temporarily stranded on Osaka theme park roller coaster, none hurt

OSAKA - About 30 people were temporarily stranded on a roller coaster at Universal Studios Japan in Osaka on Saturday afternoon after the ride came to a sudden halt after sensors detected an abnormality, but none were injured, the park's operator said.

Everyone aboard the "Hollywood Dream -- The Ride: Backdrop" roller coaster was rescued by staff about an hour and a half after it stopped near the highest point on its tracks at around 1:10 p.m., the park said.


Over 10 injured as M6.6 quake hits southwestern, western Japan

FUKUOKA - An earthquake with a magnitude of 6.6 rattled southwestern and western Japan early Saturday, leaving more than 10 injured amid strong shaking but no tsunami waves were triggered, the weather agency and local authorities said.

The focus of the quake under the Pacific Ocean was within a zone off Japan's coast where it is predicted that a massive earthquake and ensuing tsunami could occur in the future. Saturday's quake had a magnitude lower than 6.8, the standard for the government to hold an extraordinary expert meeting to evaluate an earthquake.


10 countries to observe U.N. nuke ban treaty meeting in March

NEW YORK - At least ten countries have officially notified the United Nations that they will participate as observers at the first meeting of signatories to a treaty banning nuclear weapons slated for March in Vienna, sources familiar with the matter said Friday.

Japan, which relies on the U.S. nuclear umbrella for its security and is not one of the treaty's 86 signatory countries and regions, is facing growing calls to join the meeting as an observer as it is the only country to have experienced atomic bombings.


Japan's ASDF plane carrying water arrives in disaster-hit Tonga

TOKYO - A C-130 transport plane dispatched by Japan's Air Self-Defense Force carrying drinking water arrived in Tonga on Saturday after an undersea volcanic eruption and a tsunami hit the Pacific islands nation last weekend.

The plane left the Komaki air base in central Japan on Thursday with potable water prepared by the Japan International Cooperation Agency, a government-linked aid agency. It landed at an Australian air base on Friday before taking off for Tonga on Saturday morning.


Japan's COVID-19 foreign entry ban spurs global demonstrations

TOKYO - Demonstrations against Japan's tight border restrictions on nonresident foreigners implemented to prevent the spread of COVID-19 have been staged in several countries, with people urging the Japanese government to reconsider the measures they have dubbed as lacking a scientific basis.

Protests initiated by "Stop Japan's Ban," a group launched on Twitter, began Tuesday, as foreign exchange students and business people barred from entering the country gathered at various locations such as in front of Japanese embassies in a string of countries including Mongolia, Poland, India and Malaysia.


Japan, U.S. agree to launch economic dialogue, align on China, Russia

TOKYO/WASHINGTON - Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and U.S. President Joe Biden on Friday agreed to launch a high-level bilateral economic dialogue amid China's growing clout in the region, and to cooperate over security threats posed by North Korea as well as potential Russian invasion into Ukraine.

During their first formal summit meeting, held virtually, Biden signaled to Kishida his intention to travel to Japan in late spring when the Asian country plans to host a meeting of the leaders of the Quad, a U.S. official said, referring to the group of four Indo-Pacific democracies also involving Australia and India.