1) Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Friday the government is considering designating May 1 next year, when Crown Prince Naruhito will ascend the throne, as a one-off holiday, in a move that would create a 10-day Golden Week holiday period.
2) U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday criticized Japan, China and other countries for dumping into oceans a massive amount of garbage that has drifted ashore on the U.S. West Coast.
Trump said a “vast,” “tremendous” and “unthinkable” amount of garbage is floating to the West Coast, causing a “very unfair situation” as the United States is charged with cleaning it up.
Trump cited a trilateral trade deal revised recently with Mexico and Canada as the first U.S. trade agreement ever to include commitments by the parties to cooperate in addressing land- and sea-based pollution and improve waste management.
3) A man died after he fell, seriously injuring himself, while picking mushrooms in Shiojiri, Nagano Prefecture, on Wednesday afternoon, police said. The man suffered head injuries and was taken to hospital by helicopter where he died about five hours later.
Since August, 11 people have died and six others have been injured while picking mushrooms on mountain slopes in Nagano Prefecture, Fuji TV reported.
In the latest case, Shigeya Komatsu, 62, a local farmer, fell about 100 meters down a mountain forest slope. According to the police, he had gone mushroom picking with a male relative, and lost his footing.
4) Japan plans to expand the scope of foreign nationals who can stay permanently, the government said Friday, as the aging nation seeks to loosen its traditionally strict immigration rules to cope with acute labor shortages.
Under a scheme slated for launch in April, foreign nationals who have Japanese-language proficiency will be given a new resident status to work in sectors deemed short of labor, such as nursing, construction and farming. Depending on their skills and experience, their stays can be extended repeatedly with no preset limits.
Japan, known for its cautious stance on immigration, has mainly accepted highly skilled professionals in such fields as medicine, law, education and research to date.
5) The possibility of esports joining the Olympics program has gained traction in recent years but not everybody involved in the sport favors it.
Rahul Sood, the CEO of esports betting company Unikrn, believes the benefits for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) far outweigh those for stakeholders already invested in electronic sports gaming.
Last November, the IOC recognized esports as a sporting activity and it is set to be a full medal event at the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou.
6) Auctioneers take part in a wasabi auction at the greengrocery area on the opening day of the new Toyosu market, which has been relocated from Tsukiji market, in Tokyo, on Thursday.
7) The US government has announced restrictions on exports of civil nuclear technology to China to prevent its diversion for military or other unauthorized uses.
The Department of Energy issued a statement on the new policy on nuclear technology controls on Thursday.
The policy will in principle ban exports of US civil nuclear technology to China’s state-owned companies.
8) Hurricane Michael left 6 people dead and many buildings destroyed by strong wind in its path across Florida and other southern US states.
Michael made landfall in Florida on Wednesday.
9) A US Congressional panel has asked the International Olympic Committee to change the venue of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, citing human rights abuses by the Chinese government.
The bipartisan panel released a letter addressed to IOC President Thomas Bach. The same panel issued an annual report on China, accusing the country of detaining more than one million Uighur Muslims.
10) The new governor of Okinawa in southern Japan has asked the prime minister to launch new talks on a plan to relocate a US military base in the prefecture.
Denny Tamaki met Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga in Tokyo on Friday. The meeting was their first since Tamaki was elected last month.
11) Former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has expressed a negative view on a move to revise the Constitution next year. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is aiming to submit amendment proposals at the Diet this fall.
Later, Koizumi told reporters that it is impossible to revise the Constitution next year.
He said approval from more than 2 thirds of the Diet is needed to initiate constitutional amendments.
11) Australians are up in arms over the use of the iconic Sydney Opera House for advertising.
The New South Wales government decided to allow a horse racing ad to be displayed on the World Heritage building.
Upset citizens gathered in front of the building on Tuesday to protest the move, using flashlights to disrupt the projected ad.