1) The ruling Liberal Democratic Party on Thursday decided to pursue a constitutional amendment plan proposed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to recognize Japan’s defense forces in the war-renouncing Article 9, despite objections from some of its lawmakers.
2) President Donald Trump spelled out in new detail several steps he favors to fight a U.S. epidemic of opioid abuse, including the execution of drug dealers, a proposal that has gained little support from drug abuse and judicial experts.
3) The government spent about 90 percent of its “secret funds” under a category that requires no receipts and lets the chief Cabinet secretary decide where the money goes, a civic group said March 20.
The government’s so-called secret funds may have been used to buy souvenirs, gauge public opinion ahead of elections and even further enrich royal family members overseas, according to people once in charge of the money.
4) A key figure in the Moritomo land sale scandal that is rocking Japan’s Diet has reportedly confirmed that he kept the prime minister’s wife informed about the deal.
5) Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will have lunch with former US President Barack Obama in Tokyo on Sunday.
Obama is due to arrive on Saturday for a 2-day visit to attend an international conference in Tokyo sponsored by a private organization. This will be his first visit to Japan since he left office in January of last year.
6) Thirteen men and women, who were unable to leave a mountain trail in western Tokyo due to heavy snow, have been found after an overnight search.
All 13 are said to be conscious, but one person was seriously injured in a fall. Authorities say 6 of the climbers were able to walk by themselves. They were taken to a hospital. Police say the remaining 7 were rescued by helicopter and then taken to a hospital.
7) North Korea’s state media says momentum toward change is emerging in the country’s relations with the United States.
The Korean Central News Agency on Tuesday carried a commentary on the North’s prospective talks with the US and South Korea.
It says measures led by North Korea have created an atmosphere of reconciliation between the 2 Koreas, as well as a momentum toward change in North Korea-US relations.
8) Rising Japanese tennis star, Naomi Osaka, has defeated 23-time Grand Slam champion, Serena Williams, in the first round of the Miami Open.
Osaka is coming off her first career title at Indian Wells on Sunday. Williams returned to the court earlier this month after maternity leave.
9) Thousands of rebels have reportedly pulled out of Syria’s Eastern Ghouta, which is under siege by troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.
Government troops began bombarding the area, near the capital Damascus, last month. It has been a stronghold of 3 rebel groups.
10) One of Japan’s biggest solar power plants has gone into operation near Tokyo. What makes it different is that it is on the reservoir of a dam.
More than 50,000 solar panels cover about 18 hectares of a lake behind a dam in Chiba Prefecture.
The operator claims it’s the biggest solar power plant on water in Japan.
Annual output is projected at more than 16 million kilowatt hours. That’s equivalent to the power consumed by about 5,000 households in one year.
11) Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has admitted that “mistakes” were made in the company’s handling of user data. He pledged to step up measures to protect personal information.
Verified Facebook pages of Elon Musk’s rocket company SpaceX and electric carmaker Tesla Inc disappeared on Friday,
12) China’s commerce ministry says it’s preparing to take countermeasures to the US tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.
It will target 128 US products including dry fruit, wine and stainless-steel pipes. Those imports were worth about 3 billion dollars last year.
13) The European Union is proposing to tax IT giants based on their revenues instead of their profits.
The European Commission unveiled its proposals on Wednesday, seeking fair solutions to the digital activity tax.
Under the plan, EU member countries will be able to tax companies that do business within the bloc, even if they are not physically present there.
14) Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has declared a ruling on a white-hot issue, announcing that hot dogs are indeed sandwiches.
The octogenarian made her decision on the “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” on March 21.
15) The Communist Party of China announced this week a consolidation of state-run media, part of a broader push by President Xi Jinping to tighten supervision over broad swaths of Chinese public life, or what he calls “unity in thought” among officials and citizens.
Movies, television, books and radio programs will now be under the direct control of the Communist Party. The announcement comes weeks after China voted to end a two-term limit on the presidency.