1) Lab experiments on a new strain of the H7N9 bird flu circulating in China suggest the virus can transmit easily among animals and can cause lethal disease, raising alarm that the virus has the potential to trigger a global human pandemic, researchers reported on Thursday.
2) Emperor Akihito is likely to abdicate at the end of March 2019 and Crown Prince Naruhito is expected to ascend the throne in April, the first abdication by a Japanese monarch in nearly two centuries, the Asahi newspaper reported on Friday.
3) Former employees of Kobe Steel Ltd have revealed how the firm systematically shipped products that did not meet specifications without notifying clients for years, with one saying memos had been passed down detailing how to carry out the deceptive practice.
The former employee, who worked at the steelmaker’s aluminum and copper division in the 1990s, told Kyodo News that the memos passed down in the division outlined how far products could deviate from agreed-upon specifications without causing noticeable issues.
4) A record number of minors were victimized in crimes such as child pornography and prostitution through social networking services in the first half of 2017, police data showed Thursday.
A total of 919 people under 18 fell victim in the January to June period, up 30 from a year earlier and the highest number since comparable data became available in 2008. Female high school and junior high school students accounted for nearly 80% of all victims, according to the National Police Agency.
5) As many as three million people in the United States carry a loaded handgun daily, while nine million do so at least once a month, according to a U.S. study Thursday.
Most of these gun-toting Americans are young men, live in the south and say personal protection is a top reason for walking around with a deadly weapon, said the report in the American Journal of Public Health.
6) Japan’s Nikkei share average rose for the 14th straight session on Friday to post its longest winning streak since January 1961, as a weaker yen helped stocks recoup earlier losses.
The Nikkei opened 0.3% lower but ended up 0.04%, or 9.12 points, at 21,457.64. That was enough to clinch its longest daily winning streak since 1961.
7) Japan’s September trade surplus expanded nearly 40% from a year earlier as exports of cars and chemical products surged on brisk demand from major trading partners, the government said Thursday.
The world’s third-largest economy logged a surplus of 670.2 billion yen, up 37.7% from a year earlier, according to data from the finance ministry.
8) Nissan said Thursday it was suspending all production destined for the local market, as Japan’s number-two automaker grapples with a mounting inspection scandal that has already seen it recall some 1.2 million vehicles.
The announcement comes weeks after the company admitted that staff without proper authorisation had conducted final inspections on some vehicles intended for the domestic market before they were shipped to dealers.
9) The Japanese government is arranging a meeting between Emperor Akihito and U.S. President Donald Trump when the U.S. leader visits Tokyo on Nov 5 to 7, a government source said Wednesday.
10) Prime Minister Shinzo Abe would have liked to see more robust wage growth and private consumption under his “Abenomics” policy mix, but he is still claiming credit for one thing: an improving job market.
Female labor participation has been markedly on the rise, with the jobless rate for women staying at a 24-year low.
Childcare support is still lacking despite the need to encourage more women, particularly those raising children, to join the workforce, which is expected to shrink further.
11) Young Japanese will back the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in a lower house vote on Sunday at a higher rate than their elders, survey data shows, apparently reflecting approval of low unemployment, not an ideological drift to the right.
Among voters aged 18 to 29, 41% intend to vote for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s LDP in proportional representation districts, according to a survey by the Asahi Shimbun daily published on Thursday.
12) Japanese mass media researchers and journalists have increased their efforts to identify fake information on the internet related to the upcoming House of Representatives election in a bid to stem the spread of fake news affecting voter behavior.
Fake news, typically social media stories containing incorrect information, has been a major issue in recent elections in Europe and the United States, including the U.S. presidential race last year, they said.
13) A typhoon is expected to lash Japan with heavy rains Sunday, potentially weighing on turnout as millions of voters head to the polls in the world’s third-biggest economy.
14) Four people who went missing on Tuesday on Mount Asahidake in Hokkaido, northern Japan, have been rescued by helicopter.
The 4 — a Japanese couple and 2 foreigners in their 20s — got lost while descending the peak.
The 2,291-meter Asahidake in the Taisetsu mountain range is the highest peak in Hokkaido.
15) A man snatched a pistol from a policeman and fired 2 shots in a shopping center on Friday in southwestern Japan.
The incident occurred in Onojo City, Fukuoka Prefecture.
A guard at the shopping center detained a man for suspected shoplifting. A police officer arrived at the shopping center’s office afterwards to take custody of the man.
But he scuffled with the officer, snatched his pistol and fired 2 shots before being subdued. Police say the bullets hit a cabinet in the office and nobody was injured.
16) An elderly driver has run over pedestrians in Tokyo’s busy district of Kichijoji, reportedly injuring 7 people.
The incident took place at a pedestrian crossing on Friday afternoon
17) Japan’s Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus has unveiled what it says is the world’s first mass-produced electric truck, as automakers around the world go all out to develop cars that run on battery power.
The vehicle can carry about 3 tons of cargo and travel about 100 kilometers on a single charge.
The truck, unveiled on Thursday, will be used by Japan’s largest convenience store chain, Seven-Eleven. The company plans to purchase 25 of them by next summer for use in the greater Tokyo area.
18) A major Japanese home builder says it hopes to operate solely on renewable energy by 2040. It plans to achieve the goal by purchasing solar power from the owners of houses it has built.
Sekisui House says that’s to advance the firm’s efforts to fight global warming.
In Japan, electricity from renewable energy sources is currently purchased by power companies at fixed prices.
But purchases of power from private houses by utilities will gradually come to an end from 2019. Sekisui House plans to start buying that electricity.
The plan follows a global shift to clean energy. IT giant Apple and auto firm BMW are among the companies that have committed themselves to the goal of operating solely on renewable energy.
19) China’s Gross Domestic Product grew 6.8 percent between July and September from the same period of last year. That is down 0.1 of a percentage point from the previous quarter.
20) The research team that developed the AlphaGo artificial intelligence says a new version became strong through playing games against itself and without learning moves from human players. AlphaGo has beaten the top human players of the game of Go.