Apprentice geisha scatter beans during an event commemorating the turn from winter to spring at Yasaka Shrine in Kyoto, western Japan, on Feb. 2, 2023. (Kyodo)

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


Japan logs record 1.4 tril. yen in farm, fishery exports in 2022

TOKYO - Japan's agricultural, fishery and forestry product exports rose 14.3 percent in 2022 from a year earlier to a record 1.4 trillion yen ($10.9 billion), government data showed Friday, due to the yen's weakness and overseas dining industries' recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

It marked a 10th consecutive record-breaking year, the farm ministry said. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's government aims to increase agricultural and fishery exports to 2 trillion yen by 2025 and 5 trillion yen by 2030.


Record 94% of Japanese "do not feel friendly" toward Russia: survey

TOKYO - The percentage of Japanese who "do not feel friendly" toward Russia reached a record 94.7 percent, a Japanese government survey showed Friday, as Tokyo-Moscow ties have been frozen due to Russia's war in Ukraine.

The figure was up from 86.4 percent in the previous survey a year earlier, and the highest since the question was added in 1978, according to the Cabinet Office, which conducted the annual diplomatic affairs survey from Oct. 6 to Nov. 13 in 2022.


Japan gov't considering mask-free school graduation ceremonies

TOKYO - The Japanese government is considering dropping its recommendation that people wear face masks at school graduation and entrance ceremonies this spring after assessing the risk of infection with COVID-19 at such events to be low, a person familiar with the matter said Friday.

A decision will likely be made early this month based on an assessment by experts, the person said, as Japan seeks to normalize its public health measures toward pre-pandemic levels after fighting the virus for over three years.


Japan mulls People's Honor Award for wheelchair tennis player Kunieda

TOKYO - The Japanese government is considering giving the People's Honor Award to Shingo Kunieda, one of the greatest wheelchair tennis players of all time, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said Friday.

In January, Kunieda, a winner of 28 Grand Slam titles and three Paralympic gold medals in the men's singles, retired while at the top of the world rankings.


Sushi chain limits conveyor belt use to orders after licking scandal

OSAKA - The operator of the major sushi restaurant chain Sushiro said Friday it will temporarily limit the use of conveyor belts to specifically ordered food after a customer was found to have misused and licked unused cups and sushi.

Akindo Sushiro Co. said in a press release that customers will be asked to order food on a touch screen panel instead of taking ready-made food served on plates that travel on conveyor belts past numerous diners.


Micronesia president says "transparency" eased Fukushima water concerns

TOKYO - Micronesian President David Panuelo said Friday that Japan's "transparency" over its intention to release treated water from the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant into the ocean has helped ease the Pacific island nation's concerns over the plans.

Panuelo's remarks stood in contrast to those he gave the U.N. General Assembly in September of his "gravest concern" regarding Tokyo's plans to dump the water containing low-level concentrations of tritium into the Pacific Ocean from the spring or summer of 2023.


Philippines may send 2 robbery suspects to Japan early next week

MANILA - The Philippines may repatriate two of the four suspects in a string of robberies across Japan as early as next week, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said Friday.

The Justice Department announced the two men have been cleared of local charges and are now ready to be deported. Remulla identified one of the two as Toshiya Fujita.


Young people hit more by Japan inflation, "excess" savings no savior: gov't

TOKYO - Rising prices are hurting Japanese consumers, especially young people, and around 64 trillion yen ($498 billion) in excess savings accumulated over the COVID-19 pandemic years have done little to support consumption, the Cabinet Office said Friday.

The recent bout of inflation, accelerating twice as fast as the Bank of Japan's 2 percent target, is largely due to higher costs, the office said in its annual economic report, adding that the time is not ripe to change accommodative monetary policy as support from robust wage growth is still lacking.


Video: Apprentice geisha scatter beans in Setsubun event at Kyoto shrine