Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy took a 500 kph ride on a maglev train at the Yamanashi Maglev Test Center of Central Japan Railway Co. (JR Tokai).
Abe invited Kennedy as U.S. President Barack Obama plans to introduce a high-speed railway network in the United States. Abe hopes Japan will be the nation offering the maglev technology that helps create that network.
Abe is also offering the same technology to other nations.
Self-Defense Forces troops were mobilized Monday to help fight an outbreak of avian influenza at a poultry farm in Kumamoto Prefecture, southwestern Japan.
Some 200 personnel from the Ground SDF’s eighth division based in the city of Kumamoto helped cull chickens and bury them underground at the request of the prefectural government.
The move came after the H5 subtype virus was detected Sunday in broilers that died at the farm in the town of Taragi, the first outbreak of highly pathogenic bird flu in the country in three years.
A total of about 112,000 chickens are slated to be culled at the farm as well as another farm in the Kumamoto prefecture village of Sagara run by the same farmer.
The prefectural government on Sunday conducted an investigation into approximately 230 poultry farms in the prefecture breeding more than 100 chickens in total. As a result, no problem was found at them except for the one in question, officials said Monday.
Japan announced Tuesday a set of measures to punish Russia for intervening in Ukraine over the independence of its Crimea region, including suspension of talks for easing visa issuance conditions.
Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said in a statement the sanctions also include freezing the planned launch of talks for an investment accord as well as for bilateral agreements on ensuring peaceful use of space and preventing dangerous military activities, without elaborating.
Japan has urged Russia not to annex Crimea and to protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, saying the region’s weekend referendum was illegal despite an overwhelming majority voting in favor of joining Russia.
A cargo ship sank after colliding with another in areas just outside Tokyo Bay early Tuesday, leaving a crew member on the ill-fated ship dead and eight others missing.
The sunken freighter, the 12,630-ton Panamanian-registered Beagle III, hit the 7,406-ton South Korean-registered Pegasus Prime at a point some 6 kilometers off the cape of Tsurugizaki in the city of Miura, Kanagawa Prefecture, south of Tokyo, around 3:10 a.m. (6:10 p.m. Monday GMT).
Of the Beagle III’s 20 crew members, all of whom are Chinese, 12 were rescued by a passenger vessel sailing nearby and a Japan Coast Guard patrol ship, but one of them, a male member, was confirmed dead later, according to the coast guard’s third regional headquarters in the Kanagawa capital of Yokohama.
The remaining eight are missing, and the coast guard is continuing to search for them.
The Beagle III was on its way to Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture, western Japan, after departing from Yokohama, while the Pegasus Prime was headed for Tokyo from South Korea’s Gunsan.
Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso on Friday expressed eagerness to hold discussions with other ministers and government agencies about what is behind the recent trouble in the “bitcoin” virtual currency market.
“We do not clearly know what bitcoins are, so we have to start studying it,” Aso said at a press conference, referring to the sudden shutdown earlier this week of all transactions on Mt. Gox, a major bitcoin exchange based in Tokyo.
Aso added there is a group in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party that is studying the bitcoin market.
The chief executive of troubled bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox has denied speculation that he fled Japan in the wake of its sudden operational shutdown and said work is under way to solve various issues.
“As there is a lot of speculation regarding Mt. Gox and its future, I would like to use this opportunity to reassure everyone that I am still in Japan and working very hard with the support of different parties to find a solution to our recent issues,” Mark Karpeles said in a statement posted online and dated Wednesday.
His statement came after the market for the virtual currency released a brief statement that it will “close all transactions for the time being in order to protect the site and our customers.”
A giant squid has been captured alive by a fisherman in western Japan.
Tetsuo Okamoto was harvesting turban shells at a depth of 8 meters when he saw the squid moving overhead about 300 meters off Shin-onsen Town in Hyogo Prefecture.
Okamoto tied it to his boat and took it to a port.
The mollusk is 4.13 meters long and estimated to weigh 200 kilograms. It had lost both of its longest tentacles.
The 19-year-old Japanese star Yuzuru Hanyu has become the youngest skater for 66 years to take gold in the men’s figure skating, despite falling twice in his final performance.
After becoming the first skater to surpass the 100-point mark in the short programme on Thursday, Hanyu went into the free skate on Friday in the top spot.
Hanyu made the rotation for the quad in the opening seconds, but slipped on the landing and lost his footing badly. After another fall on a triple flip, Hanyu finished crouched on the ice, his head bowed, certain he had lost the gold.
The judges awarded him 178.64 points – a good score, but one that left him vulnerable to three-time world champion Patrick Chan of Canada. But Chan, up next, fared worse, and made three errors. Hanyu’s combined score of 280.09 was enough give him the gold.
World silver medalist Denis Ten of Kazakhstan took the bronze. Hanyu is the Asian to take Olympic gold in the men’s figure staking.