Japan to be absent from fleet review in S. Korea over flag issue
Jiji -- Oct 06
Japan will not send any Maritime Self-Defense Force vessels to an international fleet review to be held in South Korea on Thursday, due to a South Korean request not to display the MSDF's rising sun flag during the event, Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya said Friday.

The South Korean request reflects antipathy among the country's public toward the flag, which features a rising sun with sun rays, the same design as that for the now-defunct Imperial Japanese military's flag.

As the Korean Peninsula was under Japan's colonial rule in 1910-1945, the flag is regarded as a symbol of its past militarism by South Koreans. In South Korea, a law revision to ban the use of the flag in the country was submitted to its parliament on Tuesday.

The flag row is hitting the Japan-South Korea relationship as the two countries mark the 20th anniversary this month of the 1998 joint declaration on their 21st-century partnership being adopted by then Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi and then South Korean President Kim Dae-jung.

According to Defense Ministry officials, Japan received South Korea's invitation to the fleet review in October last year, and the MSDF had been considering sending a destroyer to the event.

News source: Jiji
Dec 17
More than 40 people were injured on Sunday when an explosion caused a fire at a commercial building housing a pub in Sapporo City on Japan's northern main island of Hokkaido. Police suspect a gas leak may be the cause. (NHK)
Dec 17
Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga has revealed that the government plans to open about 100 support centers for foreign workers across Japan. (NHK)
Dec 15
Japan's central government is pushing ahead with a controversial plan to relocate an American military base within the southern prefecture of Okinawa. They've started full-scale land reclamation work despite strong local opposition. (NHK)
Dec 15
A court on Friday sentenced a 26-year-old man to 18 years in prison for a highway road rage incident last year in which a couple died and their two teenage daughters were injured. (Japan Times)
Dec 15
The government will temporarily suspend an extra medical fee that pregnant women were required to pay out of pocket to see doctors, health minister Takumi Nemoto said Friday. (Japan Times)
Dec 15
Japanese education companies are expanding their language offerings overseas, seeing business opportunities in meeting growing demand for Japanese-speaking foreign manpower as the nation opens its doors to workers from overseas. (Nikkei)
Dec 14
A Japanese government panel says a run of growth that began in December 2012 has now become the second-longest period of expansion in the post-war era. But that verdict comes as Japan struggles with sluggish wage growth and a chronic labor shortage. (NHK)
Dec 14
Traditional female entertainers in Kyoto have started offering early New Year greetings. (NHK)
Dec 14
The Japanese government plans to take measures to make regional labor markets accessible to foreign blue-collar workers to avoid them concentrating in large cities such as Tokyo when the country starts accepting them under the new visa system next year, the government's top spokesman said Thursday. (Japan Today)
Dec 14
Sixteen-year-old shogi prodigy Sota Fujii has reached his 100th victory in official matches of the Japanese board game, becoming the youngest professional player to reach the milestone at the fastest pace in history. (Japan Today)