March 18th, 2017


1)   A court in Japan has found the central government and Tokyo Electric Power Company liable for failing to prevent the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident.

In a ruling on Friday, the Maebashi District Court in Gunma Prefecture ordered the government and TEPCO to pay more than 38 million yen, or about 335,000 dollars, in damages to a group of 137 evacuees.

2)   Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says neither he nor his wife made a donation to build a school for an organization embroiled in a controversy over a state-owned land deal.

Abe was answering a question in a Lower House committee on Friday. One day earlier, Moritomo Gakuen President Yasunori Kagoike suggested that Abe had donated one million yen, or about 8,850 dollars, to build an elementary school.

3)    An upgrade being rolled out this summer to Mastercard’s mobile payments service will let people open, manage and close their tabs at participating bars and taverns completely through their phones, without having to hand over a credit card.

4)   Japan is laying the groundwork for a free education program for some households that will cover a student’s costs from preschool to college to ensure the country maintains a highly-skilled workforce.

The program, still in its early stages, is expected to feature in the government’s economic strategy due sometime around June.

5)   The number of crime syndicate members in Japan fell below the 20,000 threshold for the first time in 2016, as gang groups are struggling to secure financing on the back of stronger police crackdowns and a growing civil movement to eliminate them, a national police report showed Thursday.

6)   The Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games on Friday confirmed that the International Olympic Committee Executive Board has approved the Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium in Fukushima Prefecture as an additional venue for Baseball and Softball events at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

7)   Managers at Japan’s major companies are putting their offers on the table in response to workers’ demands for higher wages.

The outcome so far of annual labor negotiations indicates workers will probably take home higher pay, but their raises will be less than agreed upon last year.