More than 1,500 "hina" traditional Japanese dolls are displayed on a huge 31-step pyramid stand on Feb. 26, 2024, at a shopping mall in Konosu in Saitama Prefecture near Tokyo. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

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

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Japan births at record low, population down by largest margin in 2023

TOKYO - The number of babies born in Japan in 2023 fell to a record low from a year earlier as the country's population shrank by its largest ever margin, government data showed Tuesday, highlighting its ongoing struggle with a rapidly graying society.

The figure for babies was down by 5.1 percent to 758,631, according to preliminary data released by the health ministry. The figure has remained below the 800,000 mark since 2022.

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Japan OKs bill to make crucial economic security info classified

TOKYO - Japan's Cabinet on Tuesday approved a bill to establish a "security clearance" system that marks important government information related to economic matters as classified to prevent critical data from being leaked to overseas entities.

Under the envisaged legislation, the government of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida would be able to designate data deemed crucial as confidential, based on its judgment that the potential leakage of such information could undermine Japan's national and economic security.

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Japan theater firm Takarazuka admits harassment of deceased actress

TOKYO - Japan's all-female musical theater company Takarazuka Revue Co. admitted to some claims of harassment against a deceased actress, reversing its earlier denial, a lawyer representing her family said Tuesday.

The bereaved family believes there were 15 incidents of harassment by senior actresses and theater officials before her death, with the theater company admitting to approximately half of them while denying the rest, either partially or entirely, Hiroshi Kawahito, the family's lawyer, said at a press conference.

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Sumo: Tamagaki to cover for penalized Hakuho at stable

OSAKA - Sumo elder Tamagaki will take over the running of the Miyagino stable after incumbent and former yokozuna Hakuho was penalized for repeated acts of violence by his protege, the Japan Sumo Association said Tuesday.

The 59-year-old Tamagaki, who fought under the name Tomonohana and reached the rank of komusubi, will run the stable during the March 10-24 Spring Grand Sumo Tournament following repeated acts of violence to younger wrestlers by Hokuseiho and a lack of supervision by Miyagino.

 

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Japan's consumer inflation slows to 2.0% in January

TOKYO - Japan's core inflation declined to 2.0 percent in January, the slowest pace of increase in nearly two years, government data showed Tuesday, despite growing confidence among policymakers about sustainable price increases supported by wage growth.

The easing of inflation, as measured by the nationwide core consumer price index that excludes volatile fresh food, came as the effects of higher import costs partly due to a weak yen continued to dissipate. But it beat market expectations that it would slip below the Bank of Japan's 2 percent target for the first time since March 2022.

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Japan Diet puts off holding panel on political funds scandal

TOKYO - Japan's ruling and opposition camps have decided to put off holding a parliamentary hearing on a political funds scandal, supposed to begin Wednesday, as they remain at odds over whether the meetings should be open to the media.

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party and the opposition bloc have agreed to hold the House of Representatives political ethics committee meeting, but they are still divided over whether its sessions should be disclosed.

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Rapidus, U.S. start-up Tenstorrent to jointly produce AI chips

TOKYO - State-backed Japanese chip venture Rapidus Corp. and U.S. start-up Tenstorrent Holdings Inc. said Tuesday they will jointly produce next-generation artificial intelligence chips.

The two companies will work on chips for powering AI in a variety of products from robots to automobiles, with Rapidus taking on the task of producing central processing units and accelerator chips that can increase computing performance and significantly curb electricity consumption compared to currently available chips, they said.

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Hungary approval clears way for Sweden to join NATO as 32nd member

VIENNA - Hungary's parliament on Monday approved Sweden's bid to join NATO, removing the final hurdle for the Scandinavian country to become the trans-Atlantic military alliance's 32nd member.

Sweden's accession means the North Atlantic Treaty Organization members will enclose nearly all of the strategically important Baltic Sea, which borders Russia and is expected to enhance the alliance's deterrence against Moscow, military experts say.

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IAEA chief to inspect wrecked Fukushima plant in mid-March

TOKYO - Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa said Tuesday that the chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency will visit Japan in mid-March to inspect the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, more than six months after the discharge of treated radioactive water began.

During his visit, scheduled from March 12 to 14, Director General Rafael Grossi also plans to discuss the water release with Japanese government officials and exchange opinions with local leaders, she said.

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N. Korean spy satellite apparently not working: S. Korea

SEOUL - North Korea's spy satellite appears not to be operational despite successfully entering orbit last November, South Korea's defense minister said Monday.

"(The satellite) is neither reconnoitering nor communicating with the ground, but just orbiting without activity," Defense Minister Shin Won Sik told reporters.


Video: Giant Japanese "hina" doll pyramid