Howl's Castle in Valley of Witches, a brand new attraction in the anime-inspired Ghibli Park in Nagakute, Aichi Prefecture, central Japan, is shown to the media on Feb. 28, 2024, ahead of its opening to the general public on March 16. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

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


Kishida apologizes for funds scandal as 1st PM at Diet ethics panel

TOKYO - Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida apologized Thursday for "inviting suspicion and mistrust" in politics among the public due to a political funds scandal rattling his Liberal Democratic Party as the first incumbent premier to attend a parliamentary ethics panel.

During a televised session of the House of Representatives political ethics committee, Kishida also promised to promote reforms to safeguard compliance in ruling party governance, saying, "I will continue taking a leading role."


Baseball superstar Shohei Ohtani reveals marriage to unnamed Japanese woman

TOKYO - Having made one headline after another with his baseball exploits, Los Angeles Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani sprang big off-field news Thursday by announcing his marriage to a woman from Japan.

The two-time unanimous American League MVP, who signed a record-breaking contract with the Dodgers in the offseason, revealed his marriage to the unnamed woman via an Instagram post.


New visa rules to allow more foreign students to find jobs in Japan

TOKYO - The government on Thursday eased visa regulations to expand the scope of foreign students allowed to stay on and find jobs in Japan, in response to calls from business and academic circles.

The Immigration Services Agency of Japan said the government will allow students who have completed studies at state-designated technical schools to work in fields that are not necessarily closely related to the areas they majored in.


Death toll in Gaza tops 30,000 as Israel-Hamas war continues

NEW YORK/JERUSALEM - The death toll from the war between Israel and the Hamas militant group in the Gaza Strip has topped 30,000, Palestinian authorities said Thursday, amid few signs that the two sides will be able to agree to a ceasefire soon.

U.S. President Joe Biden expressed hope earlier this week for a ceasefire deal to be reached by next Monday, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Hamas officials reportedly discounted the possibility.


Russian military revival could "test" NATO: Estonia minister

TALLINN - Russia could restore its military capabilities in the coming years in a "test" for NATO's collective defense, Estonia's Foreign Minister Margus Tsahkna has said.

A former defense minister, Tsahkna said that between 2015 and 2017, Estonia saw the massing of nearly 120,000 Russian troops close to its border, capable of launching an attack within 48 hours.


Japan firms Kao, Earth tie up to sell mosquito spray in Thailand

TOKYO - Japanese cosmetic firm Kao Corp. and pharmaceutical maker Earth Corp. said Thursday they will jointly sell mosquito eradication sprays in Thailand in July to help the fight against insect-borne infectious diseases in Southeast Asia.

The new product "Ars Mos Shooter" contains a substance developed by Kao that makes mosquitoes unable to fly by saturating their wings and bodies, while Earth has been active in Thailand for about 40 years with a high market share in insect control.


New Zealand repeals world 1st anti-smoking ban

SYDNEY - New Zealand repealed landmark tobacco legislation Wednesday night that would have made it illegal for people born after Jan. 1, 2009, to buy cigarettes.

The move, initiated by the center-right government of Prime Minister Christopher Luxon, also means there will be no cut in the nicotine content of cigarettes or reduction in the number of outlets able to sell tobacco.


Leap year glitch disrupts driver license issuance by Japan police

NIIGATA, Japan - Police departments in some Japanese prefectures were unable to issue driver's licenses Thursday, apparently due to a system glitch linked to the leap year.

The extra day at the end of February appears to have triggered a system error related to time and date functions.

Video: Ghibli Park's Valley of Witches area opens to media