1) Officials at Japan’s Meteorological Agency say a strong cold air mass flowing into Japan will continue to bring snowstorms to the north of the country.
Weather officials say strong winds are blowing mainly in the north and that snow is falling heavily along the Sea of Japan coast and in mountainous areas.
In the town of Happocho, Akita Prefecture, maximum wind gusts at one point reached more than 106 kilometers per hour.
Snow has accumulated to 30 to 60 centimeters during the past 24 hours in some parts of the Sea of Japan coast and mountainous areas in the Hokuriku region.
2) The Japanese government says it will promote efforts to develop and deepen economic ties with the United States, whoever is president.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga spoke to reporters on Thursday, after the news conference by US President-elect Donald Trump.
3) Japanese cafes, restaurants and similar businesses are protesting a move to ban indoor smoking.
They say they’ll petition ruling parties to reconsider the plan.
Health ministry officials want to apply the ban to all indoor public spaces. They say it will reduce the risk of passive smoking.
But they’re prepared to allow designated smoking rooms that are sealed off by four walls.
Officials are considering penalties for managers and smokers who violate the rule.
4) Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has announced a trillion-yen aid package for the Philippines, spread over 5 years, to help with the country’s infrastructure projects.
Abe announced the package, worth about 8.7 billion dollars, at a meeting with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in the country’s capital Manila on Thursday.
The money comprises official development assistance and private-sector investments. The 2 countries are to set up a joint committee to ensure that it is spent efficiently.
5) Eight baby giant pandas in China’s southwestern province of Sichuan have joined celebrations for the New Year.
27 giant pandas were born last year at a breeding base in Chengdu in the province. Giant pandas are feared to be on the verge of extinction.
On Wednesday, 8 of them were taken in the arms of keepers to an area decorated for the New Year. The cubs played with stuffed toy birds symbolizing the Year of the Rooster in the Oriental zodiac, and climbed trees.
6) One of the more optimistic goals of Tokyo Gov Yuriko Koike is “manin densha zero”—to eliminate crowding on the trains. In November, Nikkei Business (Dec 12) assigned three reporters to board rush-hour commuter trains and present their views on the sources of the problem.
The three were in agreement that it is indeed no exaggeration to describe the morning ordeal undergone by commuters by transposing the word “tsukin” (commuting to work) to another “tsukin,” with characters meaning “painful diligence.”
7) China’s massive export engine sputtered for the second year in a row in 2016, with shipments falling in the face of persistently weak global demand and officials voicing fears of a trade war with the United States that is clouding the outlook for 2017.
China’s exports fell 7.7% in 2016 from a year earlier, while imports slid 5.5%, leaving the country with a trade surplus of $509.96 billion, official data showed on Friday.
The world’s largest trading nation could be heavily exposed to U.S. protectionist measures if President-elect Donald Trump follows through on campaign pledges to label it a currency manipulator on his first day in office and impose heavy tariffs on imports of Chinese goods.
8) “He was constantly after me on Facebook – ‘Can we have dinner? Can we get together?’ I said, ‘Please, don’t send me any more messages!’ – but that only made him angry. He started writing about me on (gossip site) 2-Channel, using my real name and occupation.”
A toughening of anti-stalking laws in December is a welcome if belated sign that the government is starting to take the issue seriously. The definition of stalking was broadened to include online harassment.