May 20th, 2017


1)   The cabinet on Friday approved a bill to allow Emperor Akihito to hand over the Chrysanthemum throne to Crown Prince Naruhito in what would be Japan’s first abdication in roughly 200 years.

2)   Toxic benzene at up to 100 times the government safety limit was detected again in groundwater samples collected in April at the planned relocation site for Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish market, the Tokyo metropolitan government said Thursday.

3)   The ruling coalition has won crucial approval for a controversial bill that would criminalize the act of plotting terrorist attacks or other serious crimes. A majority of members on a Lower House committee have given their backing to the legislation.

The vote was a scene of chaos as opposition lawmakers shouted out in protest.
They’ve called the deliberations insufficient, and said the bill doesn’t have the public’s support.
But members of the ruling coalition voted in favor

4)   A hospital in Japan has started a clinical study to find out whether laughter can have therapeutic effects on cancer patients by boosting their immune systems with help from professional entertainers.

The Osaka International Cancer Institute and 3 entertainment companies will conduct the experiment. Professional comic storytellers, known in Japan as “rakugo-ka,” and pairs of stand-up comedians called “manzai-shi,” will participate in the research.

5)   A global treaty designed to restrict the manufacture and trade of products that contain harmful levels of mercury will take effect in August.

As of Friday, 51 signatories, including Japan, the United States and the Netherlands, had ratified the Minamata Convention. It was adopted at a UN conference in Kumamoto Prefecture, southwestern Japan, in 2013.

The convention was named after a city in the prefecture where people suffered health problems caused by industrial mercury poisoning.

6)   US information security firm is looking into the possibility that North Korean hackers were involved in last week’s massive global cyberattacks.

The US government says at least 300,000 computers in 150 countries were affected.

In each case, ransomware encrypted the computers’ data and locked users out of their systems.

7)   One day before the first anniversary of her inauguration, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen urged China to try to improve cross-strait relations without sticking to the “One China” principle.

Tsai made a speech before an overseas group on Friday. She admitted that she has achieved little to revitalize the economy and narrow the wealth gap among Taiwanese people.

On relations with China, she said old problems should be left in the past, adding that leaders face a new task of keeping peace and prosperity on both sides of the strait.

8)   New university graduates in Japan are enjoying the best job market on record.

The labor and education ministries say 97.6 percent of graduates had landed jobs by April 1st. The ministries jointly polled 4,770 students who left university in March.

The employment rate is up 0.3 percentage points from last year, the highest since the survey began in 1997.

9)   4 carmakers have agreed to pay 553 million dollars to settle a class action suit in the United States over a massive recall of Takata airbags.

Toyota, Subaru, Mazda and BMW say they reached a settlement with car owners who said they incurred economic losses because of the recall.