Monks and firefighters participate in a fire hose exercise during an annual drill at World Heritage-listed Horyuji Temple in the Nara Prefecture town of Ikaruga, western Japan, on Jan. 26, 2023. Jan. 26 was designated in 1955 as a day to raise awareness of protecting cultural assets from fire after one of the temple buildings burned down on Jan. 26, 1949. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

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


Skiers hit by avalanche, injured in central Japan's Nagano Pref.

NAGANO, Japan - An unknown number of skiers were injured after being caught in an avalanche Sunday afternoon on a mountain slope at a height of around 2,100 meters in central Japan's Nagano Prefecture, local police said.

According to police, 11 foreign nationals have descended from the mountain, of which nine made the journey on foot. The remaining two, including one who complained of shoulder pain, used a snowmobile.


78% urge election before tax hikes to cover Japan defense budget rise

TOKYO - Nearly 78 percent of respondents called for a general election if the government is to raise taxes to cover a substantial increase in Japan's defense spending, a Kyodo News poll showed Sunday.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has come under pressure, with 77.9 percent urging him to seek voter approval on the issue, as Tokyo is aiming to forge ahead with its biggest defense buildup program since World War II amid China's rise and North Korean threats. Meanwhile, 19.3 percent said they see no such need.


Philippines willing to deport alleged robbery ringleader to Japan

MANILA - The Philippines is willing to deport Yuki Watanabe, alias "Luffy," a suspected mastermind behind a string of robberies in Japan who is now in detention in the Southeast Asian country, once a local case against him is cleared, officials said.

A Philippine government source had earlier told Kyodo News that the local case against Watanabe complicated the possible handover. As Japan and the Philippines do not have an extradition treaty, that case must first be cleared before he can be deported.


China resumes visa issuance to Japanese citizens

BEIJING - China said Sunday it will resume issuing visas for Japanese citizens, a procedure it suspended in early January in protest of Japan's tightened COVID-19 measures for travelers from China.

The Chinese Embassy in Tokyo said it will resume the visa issuance effective the same day. Beijing has similarly halted issuing visas to South Korean citizens but yet to announce the restart of the procedure.


Ukraine steps up efforts to bar Russian athletes from Paris Olympics

GENEVA - Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Saturday intensified his efforts to prevent Russian athletes from participating in the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Zelenskyy said Ukraine has written to major international sports federations asking them to clarity their position on the International Olympic Committee's plans to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete at the Olympics "under strict conditions."


Skiing: Anri Kawamura earns 3rd straight moguls World Cup event win

VAL SAINT-COME, Canada - Japan's 18-year-old Anri Kawamura won her third straight freestyle skiing moguls World Cup event Saturday, securing her sixth career title.

Kawamura defeated Perrine Laffont of France in the women's final of the dual moguls, a discipline that will make its Olympic debut in 2026 in Milan and Cortina d'Ampezzo.


Tennis: Aoyama, Shibahara lose Australian Open women's doubles final

MELBOURNE - Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara lost the women's doubles final at the Australian Open on Sunday, falling short in their quest to become the first all-Japanese pair to win a Grand Slam.

Semifinalists last year, the 10th seeds were beaten 6-4, 6-3 by top seeds Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic, who won for the second straight year at Melbourne Park.


FOCUS: Toyota CEO taps younger successor amid paradigm shift in industry

TOKYO - Toyota Motor Corp.'s surprise announcement Thursday of a change in its top management came as CEO Akio Toyoda, the grandson of the founder, picked an executive more than 10 years younger than him as his successor at a time when the global auto industry faces a once-in-a-century paradigm shift driven by decarbonization and digitization.

The head of the auto group's Lexus brand operation Koji Sato, 53, will become CEO in April while 66-year-old Toyoda who has led the company since 2009 will become chairman, allowing him to devote more time to lobbying activities.


Video: Ice festival in Hokkaido