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Kyodo news summary -5-
[January 24, 2014]

Kyodo news summary -5-

(Japan Economic Newswire Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) TOKYO, Jan. 24 -- (Kyodo) _ ---------- Energy plan change eyed to avoid "misunderstandings" on nuclear issue TOKYO - The government will consider revising a draft energy policy so that it will not stir "misunderstandings" that Japan will seek to rely heavily on nuclear power in the medium to long term, industry minister Toshimitsu Motegi said Friday.

The draft said nuclear power is an "important base-load power source," but Motegi said "base-load power" refers to an electric source that is used continuously regardless of the amount of power it supplies.

---------- Japan to join int'l child custody treaty on April 1 TOKYO - Japan is expected to join an international treaty for settling cross-border child disputes on April 1, government officials said Friday.

The Cabinet earlier in the day endorsed the decision to sign the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

---------- Washington seeking Abe's assurance not to repeat Yasukuni visit WASHINGTON - The U.S. government is seeking assurances from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe not to repeat his controversial visit to Yasukuni Shrine to avoid enraging China and South Korea again, a U.S. newspaper reported Thursday.

The report in the online edition of The Wall Street Journal comes as Tokyo and Washington are stepping up efforts to facilitate a smooth visit to Tokyo by President Barack Obama in April.

---------- Japanese golfer dies after being hit by falling branch in Hawaii LOS ANGELES - A Japanese man died Wednesday after being hit on the head by a large tree branch at a golf course in Wahiawa on Hawaii's Oahu Island, the local medical examiner's office said Thursday.

The office identified the man as Shigeru Iwamoto, 55, from Otsu, capital of Shiga Prefecture near Kyoto, who was hit by the branch while playing on the links.

---------- Abe eyes collective self-defense, China as Diet convenes TOKYO - Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Friday that Japan will review its self-imposed ban on the right of collective self-defense to seek greater security roles abroad, and defied an assertive China in his policy speech on the first day of a 150-day regular Diet session.

With early passage of state budget bills related to the sales tax hike in April and the 2020 Summer Olympics first on the agenda, Abe put the economy ahead of the more controversial reworking of Japan's security policy in his overall picture.

---------- Japan vows to take lead in ensuring freedom of flight above open seas TOKYO - Japan on Friday vowed to take the lead in ensuring freedom of flight above the open seas, in an apparent criticism of China's unilateral declaration in November of an air defense identification zone in the East China Sea.

"Our country will play a leading role in developing an 'open and stable sea' and ensuring the freedom of overflight of the high seas," Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said in an address on the first day of an ordinary Diet session.

---------- PCs at gov't, firms at risk of infection from media-player sofatware TOKYO - Personal computers at government agencies and companies are at risk of infection with a virus that allows hackers remote access when a South Korean firm's media-player application is updated.

At risk are users of GOM Player, produced by Seoul-based Internet company Gretech Corp., according to Tokyo-based information security firm LAC Co.

---------- Cabinet OKs action plan to promote economic growth strategy TOKYO - The Cabinet on Friday approved an action plan to push ahead with Japan's economic growth strategy, casting the next three years as an intensive implementation period.

The government also specified in the action plan that it has appointed ministers in charge of promoting specific growth strategy fields.

---------- Chinese scholar based in Japan released by Chinese authorities TOKYO/SHANGHAI - A Chinese scholar based in Japan who went missing last July while in Shanghai was released from custody by Chinese authorities earlier this month, his university said Friday.

A professor of Chinese politics and diplomacy at Toyo Gakuen University in Tokyo and a well-known commentator on Sino-Japanese relations, Zhu Jianrong had been under investigation apparently on suspicion of espionage.

---------- Aso vows to restore "strong economy" to boost government revenues TOKYO - Finance Minister Taro Aso pledged Friday to restore a "strong economy" through the creation of a "virtuous economic cycle," emphasizing it would help boost government revenues and put Japan's debt-ridden fiscal house back in order.

Aso also promised in a speech to parliament to work to "build a sustainable social security system" by raising the sales tax rate and take necessary steps to prevent the tax hike from hurting the economy that is on the verge of beating nearly two decades of deflation.

---------- Japan eyes normalizing SDF operations in S. Sudan after cease-fire TOKYO - Japan will consider fully resuming the Self-Defense Forces' participation in a U.N. peacekeeping mission in South Sudan as the African country has achieved a cease-fire deal with rebels, Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said Friday.

"If the situation stabilizes, we want to fully focus on our original mission of building infrastructure," Onodera told a press conference.

---------- Japan to clarify Abe's remarks on WWI parallels in Davos TOKYO - The Japanese government said Friday it will clarify to other countries the controversial remarks by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe earlier this week that compared the rocky relations between Japan and China to those of Britain and Germany before World War I.

Media have reported both at home and abroad about the remarks made Wednesday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, while referring to Abe's right-leaning image, which has increasingly agitated Japan's neighbors in Asia with experience of the country's wartime aggression.

---------- Nikkei slumps to 1-month low on lasting impact of poor China data TOKYO - Japan's Nikkei index continued to fall Friday, finishing at its lowest level in about a month, as investors grew risk-averse on lasting effects of disappointing Chinese manufacturing data.

The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average ended down 304.33 points, or 1.94 percent, from Thursday at 15,391.56. The broader Topix index of all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange finished 22.92 points, or 1.78 percent, lower at 1,264.60.

---------- Gov't approves Japan Post's new education insurance TOKYO - The government gave Japan Post Insurance Co. on Friday approval to launch a new savings-oriented education insurance product, the Financial Services Agency and Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications said.

The insurance company said it will launch the new educational endowment insurance in April, when the new school year begins.

---------- Ex-manager of S. Korean football team plans futsal stadium in North SEOUL - The former manager of South Korea's national football team is planning a trip to North Korea to help build a futsal stadium there, South Korea's Unification Ministry spokesman said Friday.

Kim Eui Do told a press briefing that Guus Hiddink, who led South Korea to the 2002 World Cup semifinals, proposed the idea to the South Korean government in late 2013.

---------- Japan's U.N. envoy hits back at Chinese criticism of Abe shrine visit NEW YORK - Japan's top envoy to the United Nations on Thursday challenged his Chinese counterpart's critical comments on Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's recent visit to a war-linked shrine, calling them "crude" and "using language that isn't quite diplomatic." "It's unusual to refer to the prime minister of a country without an honorific title," Ambassador Motohide Yoshikawa said at a press conference after the Chinese ambassador referred to the Japanese leader as simply "Abe" in comments denouncing his Dec. 26 visit to Yasukuni Shrine.

(c) 2014 Kyodo News International, Inc.

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