Lifestyle/Entertainment Editor, Asia, Tokyo
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Nov 19, 2014

Olympics-IOC suggests more venues outside Tokyo for 2020 Games

TOKYO, Nov 19 (Reuters) – International Olympic Committee (IOC) Vice President John Coates has urged Tokyo to consider moving more events to venues outside the capital, including one hundreds of kilometres away, in a bid to rein in spending for the 2020 Summer Games.

Rising labour and construction costs have forced Tokyo to rethink its plans for 10 venues it intended to build for the Games, contravening its promise that virtually all events would take place within 8 km (5 miles) of the Olympic village – one of the key points in its successful hosting bid.

Nov 16, 2014

Japan ruling party candidate loses Okinawa poll, setback for U.S. base move

TOKYO (Reuters) – A candidate backed by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s party was soundly defeated in a key local election on Sunday, Kyodo news agency reported, in a blow to plans to relocate a controversial U.S. air base on Okinawa island, home to the bulk of U.S. military forces in Japan.

Delays in relocating the U.S. Marines’ Futenma air base in Okinawa have long been an irritant in U.S.-Japan relations. Abe is keen to make progress on the project as he seeks tighter ties with Washington in the face of an assertive China.

Oct 22, 2014

Japan team heading to North Korea to pressure it on abductees, PM says

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan is sending officials to reclusive North Korea to keep up pressure for an investigation into the fate of its citizens kidnapped decades ago to train spies, the prime minister said on Wednesday.

Japan eased some sanctions on North Korea in July in return for the North reopening its probe into the status of the abduction victims and had expected an initial report by now.

Oct 17, 2014

Japan’s volcanoes made more jittery by 2011 quake, expert says

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s massive 2011 earthquake may trigger more, and larger, volcanic eruptions over the next few decades, perhaps even that of Mount Fuji – but predicting them remains close to impossible, a volcano expert said on Friday.

The nation last month suffered its worst volcanic disaster in nearly 90 years when Mount Ontake, its second tallest active volcano at 3,067 meters (10,062 feet), suddenly erupted, raining down ash and stone on hikers crowding the summit.

Oct 15, 2014

U.S. encouraged by progress with Japan on Pacific trade pact, but ‘tough’ issues remain

TOKYO (Reuters) – Progress in U.S. talks with Japan towards a Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact is encouraging, but difficult issues remain, the acting deputy U.S. trade representative said on Wednesday.

Hopes of sealing the deal this year took a blow last month, when talks between the two nations seen as key to concluding the ambitious 12-nation trade pact hit a snag, with each side blaming the other for a stalemate over farm exports.

Oct 14, 2014

Japan’s Takahashi announces retirement

TOKYO (Reuters) – Daisuke Takahashi, the first Japanese man to win an Olympic figure skating medal, said on Tuesday he is retiring from the sport after 20 years on the ice.

The 28-year-old helped popularise the sport at home and made Japanese skating history by claiming a bronze medal at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. He also became the first Japanese man to win a gold medal at the Grand Prix final for 2012-2013.

Oct 14, 2014

Figure skating-Japan’s Takahashi announces retirement

TOKYO, Oct 14 (Reuters) – Daisuke Takahashi, the first Japanese man to win an Olympic figure skating medal, said on Tuesday he is retiring from the sport after 20 years on the ice.

The 28-year-old helped popularise the sport at home and made Japanese skating history by claiming a bronze medal at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. He also became the first Japanese man to win a gold medal at the Grand Prix final for 2012-2013.

Oct 10, 2014

Japan braces as super typhoon Vongfong powers north

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan was bracing on Friday for its strongest storm this year, a super typhoon powering north toward the Okinawa island chain that threatens to rake a wide swathe of the nation with strong winds and torrential rain.

Vongfong, which at one point rivaled last year’s devastating typhoon Haiyan in strength, was weakening slightly as it moved north across the open ocean, but still carried winds gusting as high as 259 kph (160 mph).

Oct 6, 2014

Typhoon kills at least one as it lashes Japan

TOKYO (Reuters) – A typhoon lashed Japan on Monday with torrential rain after killing at least one person, forcing the cancellation of flights and prompting warnings to more than 200,000 people to evacuate their homes.

Three U.S. servicemen were swept away by high waves lashing the southwestern island of Okinawa on Sunday as Typhoon Phanfone hit. One was found dead and two were missing. A surfer was swept out to sea.

Sep 30, 2014

Recovery of Japan volcano victims suspended amid signs of rising activity

TOKYO (Reuters) – Search and recovery efforts for at least two dozen victims of Japan’s worst volcanic eruption in decades were called off on Tuesday due to worries about rising volcanic activity, including the chance of another steam explosion.

Hundreds of military searchers had been preparing to enter Mount Ontake by foot and helicopter to resume recovery of at least 24 people caught in a deadly rain of ash and stone after the peak erupted without warning on Saturday when it was crowded with hikers, including children.