Photo taken on Dec. 6, 2023, shows a Siamese fighting fish, commonly known as betta, at Ise Sea Paradise in Ise in Mie Prefecture. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

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


Japanese conductor Seiji Ozawa dies at 88

TOKYO - Seiji Ozawa, the iconic Japanese conductor known for his work with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and other world-famous ensembles, died Tuesday due to heart failure at his home in Tokyo, his management office said Friday. He was 88.

Ozawa suffered a series of health problems in recent years which forced him to cancel some of his concert and at music festival appearances.


Japan OKs new foreign trainee program to strengthen rights protection

TOKYO - The Japanese government on Friday approved a policy to replace its controversial trainee program for foreigners, featuring improved rights protection with increased flexibility for changing jobs and tougher oversight.

The approval at a ministerial meeting followed proposals by a government panel last year but also takes into account discussions in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party to restrict trainees from transferring jobs for a maximum of two years.


COVID patients again rising in Japan, experts warn of 10th wave

TOKYO - The average number of coronavirus patients among designated hospitals across Japan has been rising for 11 consecutive weeks, health ministry data showed Friday, with experts warning the country has entered its 10th COVID-19 wave.

The average among the roughly 5,000 medical institutions stood at 16.15 in the week through last Sunday, with the total number of patients they reported up 8 percent from the previous week to 79,605, the data showed.


ANA launches new medium-haul LCC AirJapan targeting Asian tourists

NARITA, Japan - ANA Holdings Inc. launched its third airline brand AirJapan on Friday, with the medium-haul low-cost carrier targeting the growing number of tourists to Japan from other Asian countries following the full removal of COVID-19 travel restrictions.

The parent of All Nippon Airways said AirJapan will operate six round-trip flights per week between Narita airport near Tokyo and Bangkok using Boeing 787-8 aircraft, with its first flight departing the airport Friday afternoon.


Japan's total debt swells to record 1,286.45 trillion yen in 2023

TOKYO - Japan's debt reached a record 1,286.45 trillion yen ($8.6 trillion) at the end of 2023, government data showed Friday, reflecting its heavy reliance on borrowing to meet spending needs to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and rising prices.

The debt, more than twice the size of the Japanese economy, increased 29.45 trillion yen from December 2022. The world's third-largest economy continues to face an urgent need to restore its fiscal health, the worst among developed countries.


IMF urges BOJ to wind down monetary easing, gradually raise rates

TOKYO - The International Monetary Fund on Friday urged the Bank of Japan to end its yield cap program and other unprecedented monetary easing steps while gradually raising interest rates as a result of the country's improving inflation outlook.

In normalizing monetary policy, the BOJ should take a "gradual and well-communicated" approach to anchor market expectations of the shift after a decade of powerful monetary easing that was designed to attain its goal of stable inflation at 2 percent, the IMF said.


Japan making "concrete" efforts toward summit with N. Korea: Kishida

TOKYO - Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Friday that Japan has been making "various, concrete" efforts to realize a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, as Tokyo is aiming to resolve the long-standing issue of Pyongyang's past abductions of Japanese nationals.

"I believe it is extremely important for me to take the initiative and build a relationship" with Kim, Kishida told a parliamentary session. "I have to refrain from going into details, but I am constantly working (on North Korea) through various channels."


Toyota to resume some domestic output for exports after data fraud

NAGOYA - Toyota Motor Corp. said Friday it will restart some domestic production at two group firms next week for exports, two weeks after output suspension in response to a data rigging scandal at an affiliated diesel engine supplier.

The two group companies -- Toyota Auto Body Co. and Gifu Auto Body Co. -- halted production at their four plants on Jan. 29 after they were unable to procure diesel engines from the affiliated engine supplier Toyota Industries Corp.

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