April 8th, 2017


1)   Swedish media report that a truck drove into a crowd on a shopping street and crashed into a department store in central Stockholm on Friday. The media report at least two people died and several others were injured. They report that police are investigating the incident as a possible terror attack.

2)   US President Donald Trump has ordered a missile strike on a Syrian airbase in response to a suspected chemical attack on rebel-held territory. It’s the first US attack on Syrian government forces since the civil war started in 2011. The Pentagon says 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles were launched from the destroyers USS Porter and USS Ross in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea.

3)   Chinese President Xi Jinping has arrived in the United States for his first summit with US President Donald Trump. Xi and his wife flew to Florida on Thursday. He was greeted by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who visited China last month. Trump and his wife also arrived there by Air Force One. The leaders are scheduled to have a dinner together at Trump’s retreat with their wives.

4)   Germany’s cabinet on Wednesday approved a bill that punishes social networking sites if they fail to promptly remove illegal content such as hate speech or defamatory fake news. The cabinet agreed on rules that will impose fines up to 50 million euros, or more than 53 million dollars, on the social media platforms. The bill says social networks need to ensure that obviously criminal content, as defined by German law, will be deleted within 24 hours.

5)   Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Friday that Japan “supports the resolve” of the United States not to allow the proliferation or use of chemical weapons, following a U.S. missile strike on a Syrian air base from which a deadly poison attack was allegedly launched earlier this week.

6)   Japan is struggling to improve English proficiency in public high schools, an education ministry survey showed Wednesday, with students’ performance well behind targets set by the government.

As of December, 36.4% of third-year senior high school students scored “Grade Pre-2” or higher in the Eiken Test in Practical English Proficiency. That was up 2.1 percentage points from the previous year but a long way off the 50% target set by the government for third-year students to achieve by their graduation in March next year.

7)   Japan’s disaster reconstruction minister said Tuesday displaced people yet to return to areas of Fukushima Prefecture deemed safe to live in are “responsible for themselves,” before snapping at the reporter whose question prompted the remark.

Masahiro Imamura made the comment at a press conference explaining the government’s efforts for the reconstruction of areas hit by the March 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster.

8)   Japanese retail chain operator Seven & i Holdings will acquire convenience stores from a US company.

It says the 3.3-billion-dollar deal will boost its presence in the country.

Seven & i will buy about 1,100 stores in Texas and other states from gas station and convenience store operator Sonoco in August.
9)   In Japan, the number of stalking cases where police identified suspects hit a record high in 2016.

The National Police Agency says there were more than 2,600 cases last year. It also issued warnings in more than 3,500 cases.

Police received over 22,700 inquiries and reports about stalking. That’s the second highest since record-keeping began in 2000.

10)   The city of Osaka has certified a gay couple as foster parents in an apparent first in Japan.

City officials say the men — one in his 30s and the other in his 40s — were approved in December after being vetted by an expert panel. They were also scrutinized by a child consultation center and given an orientation on the foster parent program.

The pair now has a child.