1) The Bank of Japan has decided to extend zero-interest-rate loans to financial institutions in quake-hit Kumamoto Prefecture.
The decision was made at the central bank’s policy meeting on Thursday.
The BOJ plans to set up a mechanism to supply 300 billion yen, or about 2.77 billion dollars, to local lenders in the southwestern prefecture.
2) Japan’s ski competition governing body has suspended the membership of 2 teenage snowboarders for their use of marijuana. They used the banned drugs on their tours of the United States in December.
The Ski Association of Japan announced the boys’ punishment on Wednesday after deciding it at an emergency board meeting earlier in the day.
They are suspended indefinitely both as association members and contestants. Their status as athletes designated for training support has also been cancelled
3) Japan has lodged a protest with Taiwan over a statement made by its president challenging Tokyo’s claim to waters in the Pacific. Ma Ying-jeou described Japan’s southernmost island as a rock around which it cannot claim an exclusive economic zone.
The Japan Coast Guard on Monday seized a Taiwanese fishing boat for illegally operating in exclusive economic waters off Okinotorishima island.
The ship’s captain was released after promising to pay a bond.
On Wednesday, fishermen and lawmakers protested outside the building in Taipei that houses the Interchange Association, Japan’s liaison office in Taiwan. Some threw eggs at the building.
4) Dignitaries and celebrities joined Japan’s Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko for the annual spring party at the Akasaka Imperial Gardens in Tokyo on Wednesday.
The imperial couple hosts the garden party every spring and autumn.
Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako, Prince and Princess Akishino and other imperial family members also greeted guests as they toured the garden.
Among the visitors was astronaut Kimiya Yui, who spent nearly 5 months aboard the International Space Station last year.
5) Officials of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency suspect that wrong data and errors in programming may be to blame for the failure of its astronomy satellite, Hitomi.
The officials say Hitomi apparently recognized it was rotating at around 4 AM on March 26th. They say this was not the case, but that the satellite likely applied force to stop the perceived rotation. They suspect the action caused the satellite to spin.
6) The European Union plans to propose a study of the global eel trade at an international conservation conference in South Africa later this year. The survey will include Japan, the world’s largest consumer of eel.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature, or IUCN, placed Japanese eel on its list of endangered species in 2014, following a 30-year drop in catch.
Conservation of dwindling eel resources will be one of the topics at the conference of the parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, or CITES, to open in Johannesburg in September.
7) Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda has said the bank’s monetary easing measures coupled with
the negative interest rate are already having an impact.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday, BOJ Governor Kuroda said: “I will examine risks to economic activity and prices, and if I think it’s necessary for achieving the inflation target, then I won’t hesitate to take additional easing measures in terms of three dimensions — quantity, quality and interest rate.”