1) The total number of suicides in Japan in 2017 was 21,140, a decrease for the 8th consecutive year, according to a preliminary report issued by the National Police Agency (NPA) on Friday.
The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said the government aims to reduce the number of suicides further by addressing such issues as excessive working hours, postpartum depression and websites for people with suicidal thoughts, Kyodo reported.
2) Families of Japanese individuals suspected to have been abducted by North Korea will urge the International Criminal Court next week to prosecute the country’s leader Kim Jong Un, saying his refusal to provide information on their whereabouts constitutes continued human rights abuses against them.
3) The rival Koreas agreed Wednesday to form their first unified Olympic team and have their athletes parade together for the first time in 11 years during the opening ceremony of next month’s Winter Olympics in South Korea, officials said.
4) Tetsuya Komuro, one of Japan’s most famous music producers and songwriters, announced his retirement from show business at a press conference on Friday afternoon, just days after a tabloid magazine broke the news of his extramarital affair.
Komuro, 59, is married to Keiko, 45, the former lead vocalist of the pop group Globe, which he formed and produced in 1995.
5) Apple Inc will open a new campus as part of a five-year, $30 billion U.S. investment plan and will make about $38 billion in one-time tax payments on its overseas cash, one of the largest corporate spending plans announced since the passage of a tax cut signed by U.S. President Donald Trump.
The company has been under increasing pressure to make U.S. investments since the 2016 presidential campaign, when Trump targeted the iPhone maker for making products in Asian factories.
6) All court action for former members of the Aum Shinrikyo cult is to end, after the Supreme Court rejected an appeal by a man who took part in the 1995 deadly nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway system.
Now that all the court action is finished, attention is focused on when the death penalty will be carried out on 13 Aum members.
7) The number of criminal offenses in Japan has dropped to a record low last year, based on data available since 1946. The National Police agency attributes the decline in criminal offenses and the improved clear up rate to the spread of security cameras and more crime prevention volunteers. They say they will make more effort to crack down on rampant money transfer frauds.
8) An event to mark the 40th anniversary of the debut of the iconic arcade game Space Invaders is attracting large crowds in Tokyo.
Space Invaders first hit game arcades in 1978 and became a phenomenal hit. Players are supposed to shoot and destroy invading enemies as they descend, while warding off their attacks.
9) An exhibition in Tokyo is putting the spotlight on cutting-edge wearable devices, including shirts with sensors that might help prevent heatstroke.
A textile maker is displaying shirts with sensors to gauge the wearer’s heart-rate and other biometrics. The data can be sent to smartphones or tablets.
The company says the devices are being tested out on construction workers to see if the technology can prevent heatstroke in the summer.
10) British Prime Minister Theresa May has appointed a minister for loneliness to deal with issues related to the emotion felt by elderly and other people.
May said in a statement that loneliness is the sad reality of modern life and called on everyone for help in addressing the loneliness endured by the elderly, by carers, and by those who have lost loved ones.
Government data show that more than 9 million people say they are always or often lonely. They also show about 200,000 older people have not had any conversation with a friend or relative in more than a month. Experts say loneliness poses a health risk.