Oct 7th, 2017


1)   Japanese Transport Minister Keiichi Ishii said on Friday that unauthorised technicians had been found certifying vehicles at five Nissan Motor Co plants that the ministry has been inspecting.

2)   A gunman perched high on the 32nd floor of a Las Vegas Strip casino unleashed a shower of bullets down on an outdoor country music festival below, killing at least 50 people and wounding more than 200 as tens of thousands of frantic concert-goers screamed and ran for their lives, officials said Monday.

3)   Japan accepted just three refugees in the first half of 2017 despite receiving a record 8,561 fresh asylum applications, the government said on Tuesday, highlighting the nation’s reluctance to accept foreigners.

4)   The Japanese nuclear watchdog’s decision on Wednesday to allow two reactors run by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc (TEPCO) to pass its safety review has drawn fierce criticism from citizens who remain evacuated from their home over six years after the nuclear crisis at the utility’s Fukushima complex.

5)   Tokyo Gov Yuriko Koike’s new party unveiled on Friday what it calls “Yurinomics” – policies to revitalise Japan’s economy while cutting reliance on the aggressive spending and monetary easing that are central to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s strategy.

It has made populist calls to freeze a scheduled sales tax hike in 2019 and phase out nuclear power, as part of a effort to set itself apart from the government on key issues.

6)   The infotainment technology that automakers are cramming into the dashboard of new vehicles is making drivers take their eyes off the road and hands off the wheel for dangerously long periods of time, an AAA study says.

Cars used to have a few buttons and knobs. Some vehicles now have as many as 50 buttons on the steering wheel and dashboard that are multi-functional. There are touch screens, voice commands, writing pads, heads-up displays on windshields and mirrors and 3-D computer-generated images.


In one of the most bizarre British political speeches in a generation, May’s address on Wednesday to her annual conference was ruined by a comedian handing her a fake employment termination letter, repeated coughing fits and even by letters falling off the slogans on the set behind her.

May’s authority was already diminished by her botched bet on a June snap election that lost her party its majority in parliament just days before the opening of formal Brexit talks with the European Union.

8)   A magnitude 5-point-9 earthquake has struck northeastern Japan.

The quake was focused off the coast of Fukushima Prefecture at a depth of 50 kilometers.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority says there are no reports of abnormalities at 2 nuclear plants in Fukushima, including the crippled Daiichi plant.

9)   About 500 people enjoyed the first outdoor ski run of the season in Japan at a resort at the base of Mt. Fuji. The slope in Susono City in Shizuoka Prefecture opened on Friday.

The resort is the first to open for outdoor runs in Japan for the 19th straight year. This year’s opening comes 2 weeks earlier than last year.

10)   The Japan Table Tennis Association is trying to confirm whether China’s Super League has decided not to accept foreign players for its 2017 season, which usually starts in October.

Association officials say World Championship bronze medalist Miu Hirano applied to join a Super League team to improve her skills, but was rejected in late September due to financial reasons.

The team also said the league decided not to accept foreign players this season.

11)   A Chinese billionaire living in the United States has stepped up criticism of China’s Communist Party ahead of the party’s National Congress later this month.

Guo said there is no rule of law in China. He claimed that the family of Wang Qishan, a Politburo member who has led the party’s anti-corruption campaign, secretly possesses massive assets in the US and elsewhere.

Guo warned that the Chinese government has dispatched 27 agents to the United States this year on espionage missions. He showed a picture of what he said was a secret Chinese government document.
12)   Spain’s Constitutional Court has ordered the suspension of a Catalan parliamentary session next week.

The region’s legislature is expected to declare unilateral independence from Spain on Monday.

The suspension order on Thursday follows an appeal from Catalan lawmakers opposing independence.

13)   Japan’s leading advertising agency Dentsu has been fined for excessively overworking its employees.

A summary court in Tokyo ordered the firm on Friday to pay a fine of 500,000 yen, or over 4,400 dollars.

Dentsu was indicted on suspicion of violating the labor standards law. The company forced 4 employees to work illegally long hours.

14)   US Vice President Mike Pence says the United States will return its astronauts to the moon and build a base there to send them to Mars and beyond.

Pence delivered a keynote speech as the chair of the inaugural meeting of the National Space Council near Washington on Thursday.

The administration of President Donald Trump set up the Council to promote manned space exploration.

15)  Retailer Takashimaya has opened a specialty section in one of its Tokyo department stores that sells only robots. Most of them cost between 900 and 2,700 dollars.

One small robot uses artificial intelligence to help people learn English. It uses the program to respond at the learner’s level.

Another AI-equipped robot helps with the laundry. It folds clean clothes and sorts them according to whom they belong to.

16)    US Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has expressed an interest in negotiating a bilateral free trade agreement with Japan.

Perdue affirmed his eagerness to boost farm exports to Japan in a speech in Washington on Wednesday. The secretary said he wants Japan to lower what he called high tariffs on American farm products, such as beef, pork, and dairy products, as well as fruits and vegetables.

Perdue stressed that he wants the 2 nations to enter into negotiations to remove trade barriers.

17)   Saudi Arabia said last month that it’s lifting its ban on female drivers next year. With that in mind, many women are heading to a major motor show in the country, looking forward to getting behind the wheel.

18)   Sony is planning to roll out smart speakers controlled by Japanese language commands in December.

They say Sony’s product will feature high quality sound for playing music, as well as allowing users to give commands either with voice or hand movements.

AI speakers are already popular in the United States, but not in the Japanese market.