Here is a selection of Kyodo News photos taken this week in Japan and beyond.

Dec. 16

The icebreaker Shirase, Japan's Antarctic observation ship carrying the country's 65th expedition team to the South Pole, plows through settled ice in the Antarctic. The ship is expected to anchor at the closest point to Japan's Showa base in the Antarctic later in the month. (Kyodo)

Families of hostages held by Hamas, along with some released hostages, rally in Tel Aviv, Israel, urging the government to prioritize securing the release of the hostages over military combat in Gaza. (Kyodo)

Dec. 17

Yuto Horigome performs his tricks in the men's final en route to winning bronze at the street skateboarding world championships at Tokyo's Ariake Coliseum. Underscoring its status as the sport's emerging powerhouse, Japan accounted for five of the six medalists and nine of the 16 qualifiers for the men's and women's finals. (Kyodo)
North Korea marks the 12th anniversary of the death of the nation's second leader Kim Jong Il. Citizens gathered at Mansu Hill in Pyongyang to offer flowers in front of a statue of Kim Jong Il and his father Kim Il Sung, the country's founder. (Kyodo)
Tokyo Tower is lit up to commemorate the 50th anniversary of friendship and cooperation between Japan and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. (Kyodo)

Dec. 18

Japanese Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako attend a gathering with leader of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and their spouses at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. (Kyodo)
Leaders from Australia, Japan and nine states from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations except Myanmar gather in Tokyo for the first-ever summit of the Asia Zero Emission Community, or AZEC, during which they agreed to pursue decarbonization through "diverse" and "practical" pathways. (Kyodo)

Dec. 19

An earthquake with a magnitude of 6.2 that struck northwestern China leaves over 130 people dead in Gansu and neighboring Qinghai provinces. Many houses have collapsed and infrastructure have been damaged, with some people taking shelter outdoors in makeshift tents and many lining up for meals offered by volunteers. (Kyodo)
The Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office's special investigation squad searches the offices of two major factions of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party over a political fundraising scandal, in a further blow to Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's administration. (Kyodo)
Divers clean a water tank at the Taiji Whale Museum in Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture, as part of its year-end cleaning activities. (Kyodo)

Dec. 20

Protesters rally in Nago, Okinawa Prefecture, with signs against the planned relocation of a key U.S. base to the southern Japan island prefecture's Henoko coastal area from another part of Okinawa. (Kyodo)

Liverpool's Wataru Endo (R) controls the ball in the first half of a League Cup quarterfinal against West Ham in Liverpool, England. (Kyodo)

Photo shows a house destroyed in a Hamas attack in Be'eri, southern Israel, during a cross-border incursion by the Palestinian militant group. (Kyodo)

Dec. 21

Officials from the Japanese transport ministry arrive to search Daihatsu Motor Co.'s headquarters in Ikeda in Osaka Prefecture, after revelations that most of its car models were affected by improper vehicle safety tests. (Kyodo)

Families of deceased plaintiffs in lawsuits over wartime forced labor during Japan's colonial rule hold up a banner outside South Korea's Supreme Court in Seoul. (Kyodo)

A tree-lined street in Tokyo's Shibuya area is illuminated with about 770,000 blue LED lights. (Kyodo)

Dec. 22

Pupils play catch using baseball gloves donated by Shohei Ohtani to his alma mater Anetai Elementary School in Oshu in the northeastern Japan prefecture of Iwate. The two-way baseball star is donating three gloves to each of Japan's 20,000 elementary schools and deliveries are expected to be completed by March. (Kyodo)

Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party, headed by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, replaces two of its executives following a political fundraising scandal involving the party's largest faction. One of them is party policy chief Koichi Hagiuda. (Kyodo)

Back number:

Japan and beyond: Week in Photos - Dec. 9~15

Japan and beyond: Week in Photos - Dec. 2~8

Japan and beyond: Week in Photos - Nov. 25 - Dec. 1

Japan and beyond: Week in Photos - Nov. 18~24