Piles of flowers left in honor of people killed in a tour boat accident off Hokkaido's Shiretoko Peninsula are seen at a flower stand in the town of Shari, northern Japan, on May 10, 2022. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

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


Japan gov't says masks not needed outdoors if distancing maintained

TOKYO - Wearing masks outdoors to protect against the coronavirus is not necessary providing social distancing is practiced, Japan's top government spokesman said Wednesday, with the approach of summer increasing the risk of heatstroke.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said the government will continue to review anti-virus measures while monitoring the country's coronavirus situation and consulting with medical experts.


Japanese, S. Korean lawmakers vow to turn bilateral ties positive

SEOUL - Lawmakers from Japan and South Korea pledged Wednesday to turn the two nation's frayed ties positive, after South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol took office.

At a meeting held in Seoul, members of a cross-party group of Japanese lawmakers dedicated to promoting exchanges between the two neighbors, and their South Korean counterparts shared their hopes that the launch of the new administration will be "a starting point" toward a better bilateral relationship.


Toyota's FY 2021 operating profit soars 36% to record 3 tril. yen

TOKYO - Toyota Motor Corp. said Wednesday its operating profit rose 36.3 percent to 3 trillion yen ($23 billion) in the last fiscal year, the highest on record for a Japanese company, boosted by a sales recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and the weakening yen against the U.S. dollar.

The world's biggest automaker by volume posted a record net profit of 2.85 trillion yen in the year ended March 31, up 26.9 percent from the previous year, as the positive factors offset the impact of production disruptions caused by a global chip crunch and supply chain constraints.


Japan Diet passes economic security bill amid Russia, China worries

TOKYO - Japan's House of Councillors on Wednesday enacted into law a bill for enhancing the country's economic security amid increasing geopolitical risks associated with Russia and China.

The four pillars of the new law include strengthening supply chains to stably procure semiconductors and other vital products as well as facilitating the development of artificial intelligence and other cutting-edge technologies through public-private cooperation.


Japan, Finland condemn Russian invasion of Ukraine

TOKYO - Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and his Finnish counterpart Sanna Marin on Wednesday strongly condemned Russia's aggression in Ukraine and agreed that they will take resolute and unified action over the unfolding crisis.

Kishida said in a post-meeting joint press appearance with Marin that they affirmed any unilateral attempt to change the status quo should never be tolerated anywhere in the world, and that the security of Europe and the Indo-Pacific region is "inseparable."


China's top universities to nix rankings by overseas magazines

BEIJING - Some Chinese top universities, including Renmin University of China set up by the Communist Party, have decided to refrain from cooperating with the international rankings published by overseas magazines, local media reported Wednesday.

The decision not to provide the information required by the magazines is to safeguard China's education and cultural independence, the media said, indicating that the leadership of President Xi Jinping might have been frustrated by such rankings based on standards and values of the United States and European countries.


Japan's key economic index rises for 2nd straight month in March

TOKYO - A key index reflecting the current state of the Japanese economy rose in March for the second consecutive month, as retail businesses have shown some recovery with all anti-coronavirus curbs lifted in the reporting month, according to government data released Wednesday.

The Cabinet Office kept the assessment that the economy is "improving," the most optimistic expression, as the coincident index of business conditions rose 0.2 point from the previous month to 97.0 against the 2015 base of 100.


Malaysia raises key interest rate for 1st time in over 4 years

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia's central bank unexpectedly raised its key interest rate Wednesday for the first time in more than four years in an attempt to tame inflation.

The overnight policy rate was raised by 0.25 percentage point to 2 percent from a historic low of 1.75 percent that had been maintained since July 2020.