Hideki Kuriyama (front), manager of Japan's national baseball team, arrives with his squad and acknowledges fans at Narita airport in Chiba Prefecture, near Tokyo, on March 23, 2023, after they won the World Baseball Classic in Miami, Florida. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

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


Chinese, Russian researchers barred from Japan space agency institute

TOKYO - A scientific institute belonging to Japan's space agency has barred Chinese and Russian researchers, among others, to protect sensitive technological information that could be used for military purposes, a source close to the matter said Friday.

The Institute of Space and Astronautical Science has set new standards for accepting foreign researchers and students that went into effect in September of last year, the source said. Its parent, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, declined to comment.


Figure skating: Kaori Sakamoto repeats as world champion

SAITAMA, Japan - Japan's Kaori Sakamoto went back-to-back as women's figure skating world champion Friday, finishing with the highest total after coming second to South Korea's Lee Hae In in the free skate.

Sakamoto earned 145.37 for her free skate after Lee, who was second in the short program, scored 147.32, but the Beijing Winter Olympic bronze medalist's total of 224.61 was good enough for a final victory margin of 3.67 at Saitama Super Arena near Tokyo. Belgium's Loena Hendrickx was third with 210.42.


Japan unveils guidelines on refugee status recognition for 1st time

TOKYO - Japan on Friday unveiled its guidelines on refugee recognition for the first time after growing calls at home and abroad for greater transparency and amid mounting criticism over its history of accepting far fewer refugees compared to Western countries.

Among the notable cases cited in the handbook for immigration officials is the possibility of granting refugee status if applicants are deemed at risk of persecution at home for identifying as a sexual minority.


Ex-PM Thaksin to return to Thailand post-election, face jail time

TOKYO - Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said Friday he is ready to return and serve his prison term in Thailand provided he is allowed to spend the remainder of his life with his family, regardless of the results of an upcoming general election.

Speaking in an interview with Kyodo News during a trip to Tokyo, Thaksin said he is biding his time before possibly going back this year, following years of living in self-exile abroad. He was ousted in a military coup in 2006 and left Thailand in 2008 to avoid facing time in prison.


Japan top court acquits Vietnam trainee of abandoning stillborn twins

TOKYO - Japan's top court on Friday acquitted a former Vietnamese trainee of abandoning her stillborn twins, overturning lower court rulings that sentenced her to a suspended prison term.

In the first finalized ruling concerning the abandonment of a stillborn child, four judges on the Supreme Court's Second Petty Bench unanimously ruled that the acts committed by Le Thi Thuy Linh, 24, did not amount to the crime of corpse abandonment.


Court rejects residents' call to halt western Japan nuclear reactor

HIROSHIMA - A Japanese high court on Friday rejected local residents' call to halt the operation of an idled nuclear reactor in western Japan, upholding a lower court decision.

The ruling by the Hiroshima High Court will allow the operator, Shikoku Electric Power Co., to continue utilizing the No. 3 reactor at the Ikata nuclear power plant in Ehime Prefecture, which has been suspended for a regular inspection through June 19.


Japan urges release of missing persons' names in event of disaster

TOKYO - The Japanese government on Friday urged municipal authorities to publicly disclose the names of people who are missing or whose status is unknown during a disaster without their families' consent to assist those carrying out rescue operations.

The decision to release names is currently left up to individual municipalities, and there have been cases where names have been publicly withheld out of privacy concerns.


North Korea says it tested new underwater nuclear attack drone

BEIJING - North Korea said Friday it tested earlier this week a new underwater nuclear attack drone it claims can generate radioactive tsunami to destroy enemy ships and ports, according to state-run media.

Pyongyang also said it test-fired Wednesday four cruise missiles of two different types, with leader Kim Jong Un, who guided the military activities, warning South Korea and the United States that they should stop "reckless" anti-North Korea war drills, the official Korean Central News Agency said.


Baseball: WBC-winning Samurai Japan members return to MLB clubs

TEMPE, Arizona - World Baseball Classic MVP Shohei Ohtani and other Samurai Japan major leaguers have returned to their respective spring training homes in Arizona and Florida a week before the opening of the season.

St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Lars Nootbaar, whose personality and gutsy play helped him establish a big Japanese fan base while representing his mother's native country, appeared in an exhibition game Thursday in Jupiter, Florida, going 0-for-1 with a walk against the New York Yankees.


Video: Baseball: Japan's WBC team returns home