1) Nine people are dead and more than 1,000 others were injured in the earthquake that struck Kumamoto Prefecture in southwestern Japan on Thursday.
The magnitude 6.5 earthquake registered the highest level of intensity on the Japanese seismic scale.
Many buildings have been destroyed or damaged by the jolt and the numerous aftershocks that followed.
2) A wild deer wandered into a residential district in central Japan, causing a chase for the animal.
Police in Shizuoka City received a report that the deer had been seen near a highway on Wednesday morning.
Police and others attempted to throw a net over the animal after it ran into a parking lot beside the road.
The animal was eventually caught in a forest next to a park when members of a local hunting group shot it with a tranquilizer gun.
The chase lasted more than 4 hours.
3) Japan and Russia have agreed to hold talks between high-ranking officials on signing a peace treaty at the earliest timing possible, after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s summit with President Vladimir Putin next month.
Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov met in Tokyo on Friday.
The peace treaty talks are aimed at finding a mutually acceptable solution for the issue of the Northern Territories. Russia controls the 4 islands. Japan claims them.
4) Japanese police have issued a crackdown on a new criminal gang that has split from the country’s largest yakuza mob.
The National Police Agency told officers across Japan to get tougher with Funashii Yamaguchi-gumi members. The group last year split from the Yamaguchi-gumi.
The move follows Friday’s news that public safety officials in Hyogo Prefecture, where the new group is based, had designated it an organized crime syndicate.
5) Struggling electronics maker Sharp will start selling a robot smartphone next month.
The product, RoBoHoN, is a smartphone in the form of a biped robot, about 20 centimeters tall and 400 grams in weight. It can walk and talk. It can be operated with a touch screen located on its back as well as by voice commands. A newly developed built-in laser projector can also project pictures and videos.
The smartphone will be priced at 198,000 yen, or about 1,800 dollars. Users have to pay monthly communication charges. Sharp plans to sell 5,000 robotic smartphones every month.
6) Finance ministers and central bank governors from the Group of 20 economies are soon to begin 2 days of talks in Washington on Thursday. Their agenda is expected to include shoring up the global economy and preventing tax avoidance.
7) A New York Times editorial has encouraged President Barack Obama to put Hiroshima on his itinerary when he visits Japan next month.