Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has declared a third state of emergency for Tokyo and three other urban prefectures in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19 ahead of the already-delayed Summer Olympics. During a national address Friday night, Suga announced that a state of emergency for Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo prefectures will begin Sunday and last through May 11.
Japan will release more than one million tonnes of radioactive water from the destroyed Fukushima nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean. The decision, long-speculated but delayed for years due to safety concerns and protests, came at a meeting of Cabinet ministers who endorsed the ocean release as the best option. The move is being fiercely opposed by Japan’s neighbors – with China’s foreign ministry calling the plan “extremely irresponsible”.
A Japanese court ruled on Wednesday that not allowing same-sex couples to get married is “unconstitutional,” setting a precedent in the only G7 nation not to fully recognize same-sex partnership. The ruling by a district court, the first in Japan on the legality of same-sex marriages, is a major symbolic victory in a country where the constitution still defines marriage as being based on “the mutual consent of both sexes”.
With a moment of silence, prayers and anti-nuclear protests, Japan on Thursday mourned about 20,000 victims of the massive earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan 10 years ago, destroying towns and triggering nuclear meltdowns in Fukushima. The world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl and the tremor have left survivors struggling to overcome the grief of losing families and towns to the waves in a few frightening hours on the afternoon of March 11, 2011.
Tokyo has requested Beijing to stop taking anal swab tests for COVID-19 on Japanese citizens as the procedure causes psychological pain, a government spokesman said on Monday. China’s foreign ministry denied last month that U.S. diplomats in the country had been required to take anal swab tests for COVID-19, following media reports that some had complained about the procedure.
A huge snowstorm has struck a highway in north Japan, causing a 130-car pile-up, killing one person and injuring 10. The storm blanketed a stretch of the Tohoku Expressway in Miyagi prefecture at around noon (03:00 GMT) on Tuesday. Japan has been hit by severe snow storms in recent weeks with some parts of the country seeing double the average expected snowfall.
Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday apologized for denying allegations that his office may have possibly violated Japan’s strict political funding laws and admitted he was unaware what his office had done. Abe said he will correct his false statements in parliament on Friday, marking a stunning reversal of fortunes for Japan’s longest-serving premier and one of its political bluebloods.
Hundreds of cars and trucks were trapped on highways on Friday after heavy snowfall brought chaos to northwest Japan. More than 2,000 vehicles were stuck at the peak of the snowfall on Thursday, according to Nexco East, the company that manages the area’s highways. By 3 p.m. (1 a.m. ET) Friday, that number had fallen to at least 670. Some 700 rescuers may take until Saturday morning to free them all.
A Japanese court on Tuesday sentenced a man to death for killing and dismembering nine people, most of whom had posted suicidal thoughts on social media, in a case that shocked the country. The Tachikawa branch of the Tokyo District Court found Takahiro Shiraishi, known as the “Twitter killer,” guilty of killing, dismembering and storing the bodies of the victims in his apartment in Zama, near Tokyo.
Japan’s government has reportedly decided to release more than 1m tonnes of contaminated water from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the sea, setting it on a collision course with local fishermen who say the move will destroy their industry. Media reports said work to release the water, which is being stored in more than 1,000 tanks, would begin in 2022 at the earliest and would take decades to complete.