A bell tower at Zenko-ji temple in Nagano, central Japan, is lit up in the yellow and blue colors of the Ukrainian national flag on Feb. 9, 2023. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

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


Ex-Bank of Japan policymaker Ueda eyed as next governor: source

TOKYO - Prime Minister Fumio Kishida plans to tap former Bank of Japan Policy Board member Kazuo Ueda as the central bank's next governor to succeed incumbent Haruhiko Kuroda, a source familiar with the matter said Friday.

Former Financial Services Agency chief Ryozo Himino and BOJ Executive Director Shinichi Uchida are being eyed as new deputy governors, according to the source.


Japan to ease COVID-19 guidelines for mask-wearing on March 13

TOKYO - The Japanese government decided Friday to drastically ease COVID-19 guidelines on mask-wearing on March 13, including those for public transportation and schools, as Prime Minister Fumio Kishida seeks to relax public health measures for economic and social activities.

Under the new guidelines, passengers will only be recommended to wear face masks on trains and buses during rush hour or other occasions when public transport is especially congested, while students will not be requested to use them during school activities.


China opposes U.S. resolution condemning use of suspected spy balloon

BEIJING - China expressed Friday its firm opposition to a U.S. House of Representatives resolution condemning Beijing's use of a suspected spy balloon over the United States, reiterating its claim that the airship was used for civilian purposes.

The resolution unanimously adopted Thursday called the balloon's entry into U.S. airspace a "brazen violation" of its sovereignty. At a press conference in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said the move by Congress was "a purely political manipulation and hype."

Philippine-returned suspect also allegedly had scam base in Thailand

TOKYO - A man suspected to be behind a string of robberies across Japan that were coordinated from the Philippines also allegedly committed fraud remotely from Thailand, investigative sources said Friday.

Police sent Yuki Watanabe, 38, and another apparent senior member of the group, Tomonobu Kojima, 45, to prosecutors Friday after they were deported to Japan from the Philippines this week. Among the robberies being investigated is one that resulted in the murder of a 90-year-old woman in Tokyo in January.


Japan, S. Korea foreign ministers eye talks in Germany next week

TOKYO - The Japanese and South Korean foreign ministers are considering holding talks in Germany next week, a government source said Friday, with their meeting likely to focus on the long-standing issue of wartime labor that has strained bilateral relations.

Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and his South Korean counterpart Park Jin are expected to meet on Feb. 18 on the fringes of the Munich Security Conference, a three-day multinational forum set to start the previous day, according to the Japanese source.


Turkey, Syria quake death toll tops 21,000 as rescue efforts continue

GAZIANTEP, Turkey - The death toll from a powerful earthquake that devastated southern Turkey and neighboring Syria surpassed 21,000 on Thursday, according to figures from the two countries.

Conditions are becoming increasingly difficult for rescuers, who are racing against time and searching in the bitter cold for survivors trapped under rubble after Monday's temblor.


Japan wholesale prices up 9.5% in Jan. as firms pass on costs

TOKYO - Japan's wholesale prices rose 9.5 percent in January from a year earlier as companies continued to pass on higher energy and raw material costs while the pace of gain in import prices caused by a weakening yen moderated, Bank of Japan data showed Friday.

The prices of goods traded between companies climbed for the 23rd straight month, in evidence of persisting inflationary pressure that has been squeezing corporate profits. Corporate goods prices affect consumer prices with a delay, boosting the likelihood that the recent bout of inflation will continue.


Japan formally adopts policy of using nuclear reactors beyond 60 yrs

TOKYO - Japan's Cabinet formally adopted a policy on Friday that will allow for the operation of nuclear reactors beyond their current 60-year limit alongside the building of new units to replace aging ones as part of efforts to cut carbon emissions while ensuring adequate national energy supply.

The government's "green transformation" policy features extensive use of nuclear power along with renewable energy and marks a major policy shift for the country, which suffered a devastating nuclear disaster in 2011. The Cabinet decision follows a meeting in late December where the policy was agreed upon.


1st direct flight between Japan and Israel to begin in March

CHIBA, Japan - Direct flights between Narita airport near Tokyo and Tel Aviv in Israel will begin operations from March 2, the first time non-stop flights will be available between the two countries, the Japanese airport operator said Friday.

The flights, operated by El Al Israel Airlines Ltd., will be available twice a week, Narita International Airport Corp. based in Chiba Prefecture said in a press release.


Video: Zenko-ji temple bell tower lit up in Ukrainian colors