Whales have their teeth brushed at the Taiji Whale Museum in the western Japan town of Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture, on June 1, 2023, during the facility's annual event to raise awareness of dental health. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo


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


Japan's fertility rate drops for 7th straight year in 2022

TOKYO - The total fertility rate in Japan dropped for the seventh straight year in 2022, government data showed Friday, as the country continues to struggle with a rapidly declining birthrate.

The number of babies born in Japan last year also fell for the seventh consecutive year, dropping below 800,000 for the first time since records began in 1899 to 770,747, down 40,875 from the previous year, according to the data released by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.


Leaked private photo of Japan PM at residence fans security concerns

TOKYO - A private photo of Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, taken at his official residence, was leaked by a magazine on Friday, with critics arguing the action was inappropriate and generated security issues at what they consider a public facility.

The picture was taken at the residence during a family function at the end of last year. The facility serves as both the prime minister's personal dwelling and a public venue for hosting guests and conducting official duties.


Heavy rain pounds Japan, prompting evacuation alerts, flood warnings

TOKYO - Heavy rain pounded central and western Japan on Friday prompting evacuation orders and warnings of rivers bursting their banks, with the severe weather expected to continue into the weekend.

The rain also brought disruption to transportation services, including cancellations of shinkansen bullet train services and local lines. Among them, Central Japan Railway Co. suspended all bullet train services in both directions between Tokyo Station and Shin-Osaka Station in the country's west in the afternoon.


Japan enacts law to merge health insurance cards with "My Number" IDs

TOKYO - Japan's parliament enacted a law Friday to scrap health insurance cards and incorporate them into the "My Number" national identification cards, effectively making it mandatory for all residents to obtain the ID cards despite a series of cases involving the mishandling of personal data.

The government aims to execute the integration in the fall of next year despite growing concern about the security of personal data retained under the My Number system. There have been reports of thousands of cases in which health insurance data was erroneously registered and exposed.


Japanese chipmaker Kioxia, Western Digital in merger talks: sources

TOKYO - Japanese chipmaker Kioxia Holdings Corp. and its U.S. peer Western Digital Corp. are in detailed talks about merging their operations, people familiar with the matter said Friday.

The two companies are considering setting up a joint venture to produce and sell chips, and Kioxia may hold a larger stake in the new company, those people said.


U.S. Senate OKs debt ceiling bill, sends it to Biden for signature

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Senate approved a bipartisan bill to suspend the government's borrowing limit late Thursday, sending the legislation to President Joe Biden for his signature and averting an economically disastrous default.

The passage came a day after the House of Representatives, narrowly controlled by Republicans, voted 314-117 ahead of the so-called "X-date" on Monday, when the Treasury Department had said it would run out of money to pay all of its bills on time.


Construction begins for new Haneda airport train line

TOKYO - A ground-breaking ceremony was held on Friday in Tokyo to mark the start of construction for a new train line connecting Tokyo Station and the capital's Haneda airport that will begin service before March 2032.

The new airport line, to be operated by East Japan Railway Co., will allow passengers to travel the approximately 14-kilometer journey in 18 minutes without the need to switch trains, compared with about 30 minutes on existing lines, according to the company.


Shohei Ohtani fans get chance to see copy of Angels' samurai helmet in Tokyo

TOKYO - A pop-up store in Tokyo is offering visitors the chance to see a replica of the samurai warrior helmet worn by baseball star Shohei Ohtani and his Los Angeles Angels teammates after they hit a home run.

Samuraiya, located near the stylish Omotesando district, is exhibiting a "kabuto" made by Marutake Sangyo Co., that weighs about 2 kilograms and is the same model as the one used by the Angels since April.


Video: Whales get their teeth brushed in Wakayama