1) A stricken Iranian oil tanker has drifted into Japan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), a spokesman for Japan’s Coast Guard told Reuters on Friday, as strong winds pushed the burning ship away from the Chinese coast.
2) A newly appointed female judge on Japan’s Supreme Court has said she will use her maiden name when handing down rulings, a legal first in a country criticised for its attitudes to gender equality.
Married couples in Japan are required to have a common surname under a law that was upheld in 2015, sparking criticism from activists who complain it is sexist and outdated.
3) Thai police said they have arrested a 74-year-old fugitive Japanese gang member who was recognized when photos of his full-body tattoos were circulated online.
A police statement said Shigeharu Shirai was arrested Wednesday in a province north of Bangkok where he has been hiding for over 10 years to evade murder charges in Japan in connection with the death of a rival gang member.
4) Local authorities inKagawa Prefecture began culling about 92,000 chickens Thursday after the highly pathogenic H5 strain of avian influenza was detected.
The outbreak was confirmed at a poultry farm in the city of Sanuki as the chickens tested positive in genetic tests, making it the first bird flu case affecting livestock in Japan this season. The culling operation is to be completed within 24 hours.
5) Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko will not be attending sumo’s new year tournament as the ancient sport deals with a string of deep scandals, the palace told local media Thursday.
Imperial Household Agency Grand Steward Shinichiro Yamamoto said the Japan Sumo Association had cancelled a customary invitation, issued in October, for the couple to watch the tournament later this month, citing “recent situations”.
6) Japan’s foreign minister has urged Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi to ensure the safe and voluntary return of Rohingya Muslims who have fled violence in the country.
He said Japan will give 3 million dollars in emergency aid to Myanmar to help provide the refugees with daily commodities such as generators and water purifiers.
7) Fishermen are worried about extremely small catches of baby eels in Japan’s Shizuoka Prefecture. It is known as the birthplace of eel farming in the country.
Local officials say the catch in December totaled only 184 grams. That’s about 0.04 percent compared to the same month in 2016.
It is the third time since 1989 that less than one kilogram was registered for December in Shizuoka.
8) The US government has approved the sale of 4 new interceptor missiles to Japan, to counter the threat from North Korea.
US State Department officials said on Tuesday they had notified Congress of the decision. The US and Japan are jointly developing the SM-3 Block 2A missiles.
They are the successor to the SM-3 Block 1A missiles currently mounted on Japanese Self-Defense Force Aegis destroyers.
They are expected to have a much longer range and a wider capability to intercept.
9) The Court of Arbitration for Sport, or CAS, has said 42 Russian athletes have filed appeals against Olympic bans.
The International Olympic Committee disqualified the athletes following revelations of Russia’s systematic doping during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. They include bobsledder Aleksandr Zubkov, who won 2 gold medals. CAS announced on Tuesday that it has registered the appeals.
10) Sony has put its iconic pet robot dog “aibo” back on sale for the first time in 12 years.
Sony held an event at its headquarters in Tokyo on Thursday to mark the release of the updated version of the product. Five parties selected by lottery each received a new aibo.
The new version has a miniature camera and 20 sensors in its body. It walks around and wags its tail while detecting its surroundings.
The new model recognizes human faces. Its artificial intelligence analyzes images captured by its camera. Aibo shows different expressions and reactions depending on whom it faces.