1) Japanese schoolchildren will help determine the mascot for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Organizers of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics on Wednesday unveiled three sets of designs for the Games’ mascots. The schoolchildren will review the shortlisted designs with their classes casting a single vote in favor of one of the three sets.
2) Bank of Japan board member Takako Masai on Wednesday advocated sticking with ultra-easy monetary policy due to uncertainty over how fast inflation will rise, while warning that the central bank should remain on guard against the possible side-effects.
Despite a strengthening economy, Masai conceded that it was taking longer than expected to eradicate Japan’s sticky deflationary mindset, or public perceptions that prices won’t rise ahead.
3) Japan is considering having 10 consecutive days off from April 27 to May 6 in 2019 to coincide with Crown Prince Naruhito’s succession to the throne on May 1, government sources said Wednesday.
April 29 and May 3-6 are already assigned as national holidays in 2019, following the weekend of April 27 and 28. If May 1 is designated as a national holiday, April 30 and May 2 would become public holidays. Japanese holiday law stipulates that a weekday sandwiched by national holidays automatically becomes a public holiday.
4) Bitcoin hit a fresh record of $14,000 Thursday as investors piled in, triggering a warning the cryptocurrency was “like a charging train with no brakes” which would inevitably slip back.
It touched a new a high of $14,400 in Asian trade before slipping back to $13,900, according to Bloomberg News.
5) Big companies are stepping up their plans in case Britain crashes out of the European Union without a deal as Prime Minister Theresa May struggles to get talks back on track after a major setback.
Britain is aiming to agree with the EU on Dec. 14 to move the Brexit talks on to the second phase. This would focus on trade and a two-year transition deal to smooth the departure after March 2019. But the timetable has been thrown into doubt after discussions broke down in Brussels on Monday.
6) Arabs and Muslims across the Middle East on Wednesday condemned the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital as an incendiary move in a volatile region and Palestinians said Washington was ditching its leading role as a peace mediator.
The European Union and United Nations also voiced alarm at U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and its repercussions for any chances of reviving Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking.
7) The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that owners of televisions in Japan are legally required to sign up with public broadcaster NHK and pay a subscription fee, dismissing a claim that the fee collection system violates the freedom of contract guaranteed by the Constitution.
The ruling that the fee collection is constitutional was handed down in a lawsuit filed by the broadcaster against a Tokyo man who persistently failed to respond to NHK’s requests from September 2011 for a contract. He owned a TV from March 2006.
8) A lone monkey apparently traveling north has appeared in central Tokyo, roving through an area with high-rise apartment buildings.
The monkey was spotted in a residential area in Minato Ward on Thursday.
Police received a number of reports from residents that they saw a monkey. No wild monkeys are known to live in the area.
9) An association of major social networking service providers in Japan has urged member firms to ban messages soliciting suicide on their sites.
The move follows serial murders near Tokyo, in which a suspect is believed to have lured his victims with suicidal posts on Twitter.
The association comprising 17 firms, including Twitter and LINE, made the appeal on Wednesday. It was originally established to prevent children from becoming victims of social media.
10) Police in Tottori Prefecture will file papers with prosecutors next week on the alleged assault by former sumo grand champion Harumafuji.
They say they are recommending that the wrestler be indicted.
They say Harumafuji admitted to striking fellow wrestler Takanoiwa with his hand and a karaoke remote control device in October.
11) Japan’s Defense Ministry is set to request funds in the next fiscal year to study a plan to equip fighter aircraft with long-range cruise missiles.
The ministry is looking into the Norwegian-made Joint Strike Missile, which has a range of more than 300 kilometers, and the US-made JASSM-ER, with a range of over 900 kilometers.
12) The Japan Atomic Energy Agency has presented a detailed plan for decommissioning its prototype fast-breeder nuclear reactor over 30 years.
The government decided last year to scrap the Monju reactor in Fukui Prefecture, central Japan, after a series of accidents and other safety problems.