1) A top IOC official renewed his demand Thursday that Japanese organizers further reduce their $18 billion budget ceiling for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, saying the figure could scare off cities considering bids for future games.
2) An elementary school pupil who evacuated from Fukushima in the wake of the 2011 nuclear disaster has skipped school for more than a week since a male teacher added “germ” to his name when addressing him in late November, a local education board in Niigata Prefecture said Friday.
3) A 68-year-old Japanese man suspected of having been abducted by North Korea in 1985 was found alive in Japan in late November, police said Thursday.
Police officials denied the possibility that Masanori Katsuki, who went missing in Tokyo in February 1985, was abducted by North Korea, saying he was not involved in an accident or criminal incident.
Katsuki went missing after temporarily returning from the United States, where he had worked as a sushi chef. At the time, he was preparing to leave for the United States, the officials said.
4) A Lower House committee has approved a bill to legalize casino gambling in Japan. Proponents tout the economic benefits of casinos, while opponents say they may fuel gambling addiction.
Friday’s vote came 2 days after the committee began deliberations on the bill, which was sponsored by a cross-party group of lawmakers.
The legislation won majority support from members of the main governing Liberal Democratic Party and the opposition Nippon Ishin Japan Innovation Party.
5) Japan’s government estimates the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant will end up costing its operator more than 170 billion dollars. The figure includes the costs of decommissioning the facility, as well as compensation and decontamination work.
Tokyo Electric Power Company has said it will secure about 17 billion dollars to decommission the plant’s reactors.
However, government officials now say the total cost will be more than 4 times higher. They estimate about 70 billion dollars will be required for the work, which includes removing melted nuclear fuel and dealing with radioactive wastewater.
6) U.S. President-elect Donald Trump on Thursday warned American firms wanting to relocate abroad that they will face punishment, as he announced a deal with air conditioning manufacturer Carrier to keep jobs in the country.
“Companies are not going to leave the United States anymore without consequences. Not going to happen,” Trump told workers at the Carrier plant in Indianapolis in his first major public remarks since winning the White House.
7) Thirty-three traditional festivals from across Japan were added to UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list on Wednesday, the international body said.
The festivals, most of which date back to the Edo period (1603-1868), are held in 18 prefectures across Japan and feature parades involving floats made with traditional woodwork and metalwork techniques, and decorated with lacquered products and dyed fabrics.