Japan on Friday moved to increase controls on the export of a broad assortment of products to South Korea, dramatically raising the stakes in a political standoff that has plunged relations between the countries to their lowest point in decades and that has caused worries in Washington. Japanese officials said they would remove South Korea from a “white list” of countries that receive preferential treatment on requirements for the import of sensitive Japanese-made goods.
Japan’s top government spokesman said on Wednesday the country’s relationship with South Korea was in a “very severe” state and that Tokyo would continue to urge Seoul to take appropriate action over a string of issues that have frayed bilateral ties. Japan and South Korea are at loggerheads over export curbs that Japan has placed on certain high-tech materials bound for South Korea.
Japanese police have named the man suspected of carrying out a deadly arson attack on an animation studio. The fire swept through Kyoto Animation (KyoAni) on Thursday, claiming at least 33 lives and injuring many in one of Japan’s worst mass killings in years. Shinji Aoba is in police custody in hospital and is being treated for burns before he can be questioned.
A Japanese spacecraft landed on a distant asteroid on Thursday and collected underground samples that scientists hope will provide clues to the origin of the solar system billions of years ago, Japan’s space agency said. The Hayabusa2 spacecraft had created a landing crater on the rocky asteroid in April by dropping a copper impactor. A similar mission is planned by the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration on another asteroid, Bennu.
Japanese fishermen have set sail to hunt whales commercially for the first time in more than three decades, following Tokyo’s controversial decision to withdraw from the International Whaling Commission. Five vessels, their harpoons concealed beneath tarpaulin, left Kushiro in northern Japan on Monday morning. Together they will kill 227 whales through to late December, according to the fisheries agency, which had delayed announcing the quota until the conclusion of the G20 summit in Osaka on Saturday.
At least two victims are dead, including an 11-year-old girl, and about 17 others were injured in a mass stabbing attack near Tokyo, Tuesday morning. Japanese broadcaster NHK quoted officials who said a knife-wielding man attacked a group of elementary school children as they were boarding a school bus at about 7:45 a.m. local time in the city of Kawasaki. The suspect reportedly stabbed himself in the neck before he was detained. He has since died from his injuries, according to the broadcaster. The motive for the attack is unknown.
Japanese Emperor Naruhito formally took up his post on Wednesday a day after the abdication of his father, saying he felt a “sense of solemnity” but pledging to work as a symbol of the nation and the unity of its people. Naruhito, the first emperor born after World War Two and the first to be raised solely by his parents, expressed gratitude for their work and said he felt solemn at the thought of the burden he is taking on.
Japanese Emperor Akihito, in his final remarks as his three-decade reign drew to a close on Tuesday, thanked the people for their support and expressed hope for a peaceful future. Akihito, 85, the first monarch to abdicate in two centuries, had sought to ease the painful memories of World War Two and bring the monarchy closer to the people, including those marginalized in society. The popular Akihito was the first monarch to take the Chrysanthemum Throne under a post-war constitution that defines the emperor as a symbol of the people without political power.
Japan has apologized to tens of thousands of victims of the country’s forced sterilization legislation. An estimated 25,000 people were sterilized without their consent under the 1948 Eugenics Protection Law, which was in place until 1996. It allowed doctors to sterilize those with disabilities and was designed to “prevent the birth of poor-quality descendants”. Japan’s government had until recently maintained the sterilizations were legal at the time. But it is now promising one-off compensation worth 3.2m yen for each victim.
A Japanese military fighter jet that disappeared during a flight exercise has crashed and the pilot remains missing, the nation’s Defence Minister has confirmed. Defence Minister Takeshi Iwaya said the cause of the plane’s disappearance was not immediately known, and 12 other F-35s at the Misawa base would be grounded. The crash is only the second time an F-35 has gone down since the plane began flying almost two decades ago. Japan has just started deploying the expensive US-made F-35s since last year as part of its plan to counter potential threats from North Korea and China.