Photo taken Jan. 24, 2023, shows the venue of the Harbin ice and snow sculpture festival in the northeastern Chinese province of Heilongjiang. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

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


Japan to uphold apology if S. Korea settles wartime labor issue

TOKYO - Japan plans to make clear it will maintain an apology to its neighbors over past aggressions, as part of efforts to improve its ties with South Korea, if Seoul finalizes a solution to a wartime labor issue, a government source said Saturday.

Tokyo is considering showing its remorse based on past statements, such as by then Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama in 1995, as the two countries apparently enter the final stage of talks on the issue following a recent proposal by South Korea.


Man in Japan also employed "Luffy" username to organize robberies

YAMAGUCHI, Japan - Police suspect that a man in Japan also employed the "Luffy" online username to organize a string of robberies in the country, in addition to the alleged ringleader who is currently detained in the Philippines, sources close to the matter said Saturday.

The possibility surfaced after a man who has been charged over an attempted robbery in Yamaguchi Prefecture, western Japan, last November said he had met an individual employing the "Luffy" username in Tokyo and received instructions regarding how to commit the crime, the sources said.


Sumo: Record-setting champion Hakuho emotional in retirement ceremony

TOKYO - Record 45-time Grand Sumo Tournament winner Hakuho had his retirement ceremony Saturday when his topknot was cut, one strand at a time, by some 280 acquaintances including former wrestlers and prominent figures in Japan.

Mongolian-born Hakuho retired in September 2021 and fellow former yokozuna Kisenosato, former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori and Toyota Motor Corp. President Akio Toyoda were among the participants at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan.


Japan to join U.S. efforts to curb high-end chip exports to China

WASHINGTON - Japan and the Netherlands agreed Friday to join the United States in limiting exports of high-end semiconductor technology to China, U.S. and Dutch media reported.

The deal was struck after the United States in October unveiled sweeping export controls on certain advanced chips that could be used by China to train artificial intelligence systems and power advanced military and surveillance applications.


Dentsu officials admit to Tokyo Olympic test event bid rigging

TOKYO - Several officials of Japanese ad giant Dentsu Inc. have admitted to collusion over bid rigging for contracts related to test events for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, a source familiar with the matter said Friday.

The officials admitted to the wrongdoing during voluntary questioning with prosecutors, while maintaining they were not aware of any illegality at first when the bid rigging took place, according to the source.


North Korea slams U.S. plan to send battle tanks to Ukraine

BEIJING - North Korea criticized the United States on Friday for deciding to send Abrams battle tanks to Ukraine, saying the plan has only escalated the situation surrounding the war in Ukraine.

Washington is "further crossing the red line" and revealing its confrontational stance against Russia with the move, Kim Yo Jong, the younger sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and a senior official of the country's ruling party, said in a statement.


Japanese insurance company encourages staff to work elsewhere

TOKYO - Major Japanese insurance company Sompo Holdings Inc. is attempting to change its traditional working culture by encouraging some employees to work for almost a year at start-ups and nonprofit organizations unrelated to their usual line of work.

The company hopes that their employees' diverse experiences will enhance its competitiveness in the insurance market as it ventures into new domains such as nursing care and digital realm that require a more varied skill set.


Pet dog, cat involvement suspected in 2 fires in Japan in 2022

NAGOYA - Japanese fire authorities and a major gas appliances manufacturer suspect two fires that occurred in the country in 2022 were started by pet dogs and cats accidentally lighting gas stoves in the kitchen.

According to gas appliances company Paloma Co., headquartered in Nagoya, the fires both involved push-button stoves, which unlike those with rotary switches can be turned on if pets lean on them.


Tennis: Japan's Oda, Kamiji lose Australian Open wheelchair finals

MELBOURNE - Japan's 16-year-old Tokito Oda came up short in his bid for a maiden Grand Slam crown Saturday, succumbing to British top seed Alfie Hewett 6-3, 6-1 in the Australian Open men's wheelchair singles final.

Japanese Paralympian Yui Kamiji also finished second-best in the women's wheelchair singles, losing to Dutch world No. 1 Diede De Groot 0-6, 6-2, 6-2.


Video: Demo of drone equipped with marine camera for fishery