Two Japanese monkeys are pictured, with one of them eating a "yuzu" citrus at a hot spring at Fukuoka City Zoological Garden in southwestern Japan on Dec. 22, 2022. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

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


Japan OKs record 114 tril. yen FY 2023 budget amid security concern

TOKYO - Japan approved a record draft budget of 114.38 trillion yen ($865 billion) for the next fiscal year Friday, with defense spending hitting a record high under Tokyo's latest plan to bolster defense capabilities and social security costs continuing to rise.

The general account fiscal 2023 budget topped 100 trillion yen for the fifth straight year. Despite an estimated record tax revenue of 69.4 trillion yen, it is still not enough to fund ballooning spending, prompting the government to turn to bond issuance.


Japan PM mulls replacing minister amid growing criticism

TOKYO - Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is considering replacing a minister by the beginning of the regular parliamentary session scheduled to start in late January, ruling party sources said Friday, in a move that could see the fourth Cabinet member give up their ministerial post in the span of a few months.

Facing a plunge in the approval ratings for his Cabinet, Kishida may be compelled to dismiss reconstruction minister Kenya Akiba, who has been embroiled in scandals, including one over political funds, the sources said.


Japan logs record 371 daily COVID deaths amid 8th wave

TOKYO - Japan on Friday logged 371 coronavirus-related deaths, marking the highest daily figure since the pandemic began as the country grapples with an eighth wave of infections.

The previous high was on Sept. 2 during the seventh wave, when the death toll was 347. The cumulative number of deaths due to COVID-19 since Jan. 1 is now more than 36,600, pushing the daily average this year to over 100 dead.


Quarter of trainees in Japan told to return home if pregnant: survey

TOKYO - Around a quarter of responding female foreign trainees in Japan said they were told to quit their job and return to their home country if they became pregnant, a survey by the Immigration Services Agency of Japan said Friday.

The questionnaire is the first such conducted by the government focused on inappropriate treatment regarding pregnancy and childbirths. It followed revelations that interns had been told by the organization responsible for their work placement that they should return home if pregnant, often leading to tragic cases.



North Korea fires at least 1 ballistic missile toward Sea of Japan

TOKYO - North Korea launched at least one ballistic missile toward the Sea of Japan, the Japanese government said Friday, becoming the latest incident in a flurry of weapons tests conducted by Pyongyang that has heightened regional tensions.

The missile was fired at around 4:31 p.m. and fell into waters outside Japan's exclusive economic zone, with no damage from the projectile or its debris to aircraft or vessels confirmed, according to the Defense Ministry.


Japan's defense budget hits record 6.8 tril. yen in policy shift

TOKYO - Japan approved Friday a record-high 6.8 trillion yen ($51 billion) draft defense budget for fiscal 2023 after pledging to acquire capabilities to strike other countries in a major policy shift under the country's war-renouncing Constitution.

The draft initial budget for the next fiscal year that starts in April, including outlays linked to hosting U.S. military bases, is up 26.3 percent from 5.4 trillion yen in the current fiscal year, rising for the 11th straight year.


North Korea sold weapons to Russia mercenary group for Ukraine war: U.S.

NEW YORK - North Korea sold weapons in November to a Russian mercenary group involved in the invasion of Ukraine, in direct violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions, the United States said Thursday.

Washington has confirmed North Korea delivered "infantry rockets and missiles" to Russia for use by the Wagner Group, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said in a statement.


Heavy snow across parts of Japan, western cities see record snowfall

TOKYO - Heavy snow covered many parts of Japan on Friday, with some western cities seeing record snowfall due to winter pressure patterns taking hold amid a weather agency warning of traffic disruptions, snowstorms and high waves.

The Japan Meteorological Agency said it expects the rough weather to continue through Sunday, mainly in northern Japan and along the Sea of Japan coast, while western Japan could see possible heavy snow as a cold air mass is expected to stay at least through Saturday.