A woman protests against Russian missile attacks in Dnipro, on Jan. 17, 2023, three days after a deadly Russian missile strike on an apartment building in the eastern Ukraine city. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

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


Fatal 2019 Kyoto Animation arson trial may begin late this year

KYOTO - Prosecutors have told relatives of victims killed in the 2019 arson attack of Japanese anime studio Kyoto Animation Co. that they want the suspect's trial to begin between September and December, an investigative source said Thursday.

A specific date has not been set for the trial of Shinji Aoba, 44, who was indicted in December 2020 for murder and arson after setting fire to the studio's premises, leading to the deaths of 36 artists and others on July 18, 2019.


Japan posts record trade deficit of 19.97 tril. yen in 2022

TOKYO - Japan ran its biggest annual trade deficit of 19.97 trillion yen ($155.27 billion) in 2022, as higher energy and raw material prices along with the yen's precipitous fall boosted import costs, offsetting growth in exports as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic waned, government data showed Thursday.

The value of imports jumped 39.2 percent to a record 118.16 trillion yen, led by crude oil, coal and liquefied natural gas, while exports grew 18.2 percent to 98.19 trillion yen, also a record high, due to increased shipments of cars and steel, the Finance Ministry said in a preliminary report.


N.Z. PM Ardern says she will step down in Feb.

SYDNEY - New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Thursday she will not seek re-election to parliament at this year's general election and plans to step down as prime minister early next month.

The Labour Party leader said in a televised statement that she no longer has "enough in the tank" to perform her role to the fullest and will end her term as prime minister no later than Feb. 7.


Japan eyes leaders' visit to Hiroshima shrine during G-7 summit

TOKYO - Japan is planning a trip to an island known for its UNESCO World Heritage shrine for the Group of Seven leaders during their summit talks in May in Hiroshima, a source familiar with the matter said Thursday.

It is still undecided whether Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and his G-7 counterparts will simply have dinner on Miyajima Island, home to Itsukushima Shrine and its gigantic torii gate in the Seto Inland Sea, or hold one of the summit sessions there, the source said.


NTT East to trial edible cricket farming using AI, other tech

TOKYO - Japanese telecommunications giant Nippon Telegraph and Telephone East Corp. said Thursday it will trial the farming of edible crickets using artificial intelligence and other advanced technologies in collaboration with a firm that manufactures products containing the insects.

The trial, set to begin this month in cooperation with cricket product venture Gryllus Inc., will take place at an NTT East testing facility in western Tokyo to address global food shortages amid predictions by the United Nations that the human population will reach 9.7 billion in 2050.


North Korea touts 2022 economic achievement despite challenges

BEIJING - North Korea touted unspecified economic achievement in 2022 despite unprecedented challenges including the COVID-19 pandemic during a recent session of its top legislature, which leader Kim Jong Un did not attend, according to state-run media reports Thursday.

In a report to the two-day Supreme People's Assembly session through Wednesday, Premier Kim Tok Hun said North Korean people "achieved remarkable successes in the struggle for economic construction" by overcoming "all sorts of unprecedented challenges and threats," the official Korean Central News Agency said.


Dead whale in Osaka Bay sunk offshore

OSAKA - A sperm whale that died after being spotted struggling near the mouth of the Yodo River in Osaka last week was sent to the sea floor Thursday off the Kii Peninsula south of Osaka Bay, the city's ports bureau said.

The around 15-meter-long male whale referred to affectionately on social media as "Yodo-chan" was transported by ship after being attached to 30-ton concrete blocks to weigh it down once in the water.


Japan to allow unlicensed electric scooter riding from July

TOKYO - Japan's electric scooter users will no longer require a driver's license from July, though minors under 16 will be banned from riding them, the National Police Agency said Thursday.

The new rules apply to scooters with a maximum speed of 20 kilometers per hour, and riders must comply with the same traffic rules as bicycles, including not riding on sidewalks. Scooter riders are advised to wear helmets, although it is not compulsory.


Japanese weekly news magazine with 100-yr history to shut down+

TOKYO - Japanese weekly news magazine Shukan Asahi will print its final edition in May, its publisher said Thursday, with its over 100-year publication history coming to an end due to a shift in readership and advertising revenue to digital media.

Asahi Shimbun Publications Inc. said it will focus its resources on digital media content and book publishing. The publisher, a unit of national daily The Asahi Shimbun Co., said it sold 74,125 copies of the magazine in December.


Basketball: Wizards' Hachimura on trade block: report

NEW YORK - The Washington Wizards have made Japanese power forward Rui Hachimura available in trade discussions with multiple teams, the Athletic reported Wednesday.

The report said Hachimura, who becomes a restricted free agent in July, "has drawn interest from several Western Conference teams in need of scoring" ahead of the Feb. 9 trade deadline.