Still recovering, Japan marks 10 years since tsunami hit
Japan on Thursday marked the 10th anniversary of the massive earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster that struck Japan's northeastern coast. Emperor Naruhito and Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga were among those observing a moment of silence at a memorial in Tokyo. More than 18,000 people died, mostly in the tsunami, and nearly half a million people were displaced. The government recognizes another 3,700 — mostly from Fukushima prefecture — who died of causes linked to the disaster, such as stress. Thursday's ceremony comes just two weeks before the Olympic torch relay begins from Fukushima for the delayed Tokyo Summer Games in July.
Asia Today: Bangkok shuts schools, entertainment venues
BEIJING – Thailand's capital is shutting down venues including schools and entertainment areas as coronavirus cases continue to spread. Seven provinces including Bangkok have been designated red zones where places including entertainment venues, boxing rings, gyms and flea markets are ordered closed. Bangkok reported 180 cases in the last 24 hours. The requirements by the Shenyang and Dalian airports come amid a small but persistent growth in cases in the two cities located in Liaoning province just north of the capital Beijing. China on Friday reported a total of 19 new virus cases, including 10 that were brought from outside the country.
New Year's revelries muted by virus as curtain draws on 2020
Fireworks and drones illuminate the night sky over London as they form a light display as London's normal New Year's Eve fireworks display was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic Thursday Dec. 31, 2020. As midnight rolled from Asia to the Middle East, Europe, Africa and the Americas, the New Year’s experience mirrored national responses to the virus itself. Some countries and cities canceled or scaled back their festivities, while others without active outbreaks carried on like any other year. In Chinese societies, the virus ensured more muted celebrations of the solar New Year, which is less widely observed than the Lunar New Year that in 2021 will fall in February. Initial reports about a mystery respiratory illness sickening people in the Chinese city of Wuhan emerged exactly a year ago.
The Latest: Illinois surpasses 12,000 deaths from COVID-19
(AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Illinois has risen above 12,000 deaths from COVID-19, while also surpassing the 700,000 mark for confirmed coronavirus infections. The Health Department said the situation constituted an “alert,” and said that nationwide, infections had risen by over 8% last week. Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech have asked the FDA to allow emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate. The state health department reported 5,704 new cases on Friday, putting the state at 3,476 deaths and 295,001 cases since March. ___TORONTO — Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he expects more than half of Canadians to receive a COVID-19 vaccine by next September.
Asia Today: South Korea cases stay above 500 for 2nd day
South Korea on Thursday registered 583 new cases, the first time its daily tally had exceeded 500 since March. But they say South Korea is expected to report 400-600 new cases every day until early December before the distancing restrictions could show effects. He says the number of virus cases in South Korea has increased after weekends over the past two weeks. Experts have urged the government to reduce social and business activity before the holiday season because of a rise in serious coronavirus cases. Friday’s infections were the highest daily number of cases reported since Aug. 6.
The Latest: Emperor's New Year greeting cancelled in Japan
Experts have urged the government to reduce social and business activity before the holiday season because of a rise in serious coronavirus cases. The 583 new cases reported Thursday was the first time that South Korea’s daily tally had exceeded 500 since March. KCCI reports that the Iowa Department of Public Health reported 3,331 new positive COVID-19 cases as of 10 a.m. to bring the total to 222,278. The 14-day cumulative number of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 of population, a recognized measure of the pandemic’s spread, also fell Thursday, to 325. The Reno-Sparks area has recorded 59 COVID-19 deaths the last 30 days — half of those this past week.
Japan emperor's brother proclaimed 1st in line to throne
Japanese Crown Prince Fumihito, better known as Prince Akishino, leaves the Imperial Palace after being formally declared first in line to succeed the Chrysanthemum Throne during a ceremony Sunday, Nov. 8, 2020 in Tokyo, Japan. “I hereby declare in and outside of the country that prince Fumihito is now the crown prince,” said Naruhito, in his reddish brown robe and a headdress. Sunday's proclamation for the crown prince paves the way for the government to start discussing what to do with the dire shortage of heirs. Naruhito's succession left only two younger men in line for the throne — Fumihito and his 14-year-old son, Hisahito. Suga recently said his government will begin studying ways to secure a stable imperial succession after the crown prince's proclamation.
Japan's new PM Yoshihide Suga, self-made and strong-willed
Former Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga walks at the prime minister's office after a cabinet meeting Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020, in Tokyo. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Cabinet resigned, clearing the way for his successor Suga to take over after parliamentary confirmation later in the day. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)TOKYO – Before he got Japan's top government job officially, Yoshihide Suga was known as a “shadow" prime minister and the right-hand man for his long-serving predecessor. The self-made politician was elected by Parliament on Wednesday as Japan's new prime minister, two days after he succeeded Abe as leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. Suga was a loyal supporter of Abe since Abe's first stint as prime minister from 2006 to 2007, and he helped Abe return to power in 2012 and become Japan's longest-serving prime minister.
Who's next? Abe's party maneuvers to pick Japan's next PM
Executives of Abes ruling Liberal Democratic Party met Tuesday and decided that the Sept. 14 vote for party leader and with it almost assuredly prime minister will be limited to lawmakers and not broader members of the party. ___FUMIO KISHIDA: Abe's foreign minister from 2012-2017, the 63-year-old Kishida had once been considered the party's preferred choice to become the next prime minister. ___SHIGERU ISHIBA: A former defense minister seen as Abes archrival within the party, the 63-year-old Ishiba is the publics favorite for the next prime minister in media surveys. Ishiba's vocal criticism of Abe, however, has hurt his popularity among ruling party lawmakers. In addition to defense minister, Ishiba has also held top ministry posts in agriculture and local revitalization.
Japan marks 75th anniversary of war end with no Abe apology
Worshippers queue to pay respects to the war dead at Yasukuni Shrine Saturday, Aug. 15, 2020, in Tokyo. Japan marked the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II. There was no word of apology from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who gave thanks for the sacrifices of the Japanese war dead but had nothing to say about the suffering of Japans neighbors. He pledged that Japan will reflect on lessons from history and will not repeat the war devastation. Abe stayed away from a Tokyo shrine that honors convicted war criminals among the war dead.
Japan's Emperor has a $248 million dinner date with a sun goddess
TOKYO - Japan's new Emperor Naruhito will take part in a ritual feast with a sun goddess on Thursday night as part of a centuries-old ceremony to celebrate his ascension to the throne. The ceremony will see Naruhito offering the newly-harvested rice to the sun goddess in two purpose-built wooden halls within the Imperial Palace grounds. The halls -- which cost millions of dollars to construct -- will be burned down after the ceremony, Breen said. Because it involves the Emperor with the sun goddess in the most intimate fashion, it transforms him." There are different theories about what happens during the ceremony, which is only attended by the Emperor, two "maidens," and the sun goddess, Breen said.
Japan's imperial couple greeted by thousands during Tokyo parade
Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako wave from their car during the imperial parade for enthronement of Emperor Naruhito on Nov. 10 in Tokyo, Japan. Japan's Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako paraded in a convertible sedan along a(CNN) - Japan's newly crowned emperor and empress were cheered by tens of thousands of spectators during an imperial parade through the heart of Tokyo Sunday. Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako waved to the crowds from the back of their open-top Toyota Century limousine during the 30-minute parade. Emperor Naruhito wore a tailcoat during the parade, while Empress Masako donned a white dress and tiara, which glistened in the sunlight. Emperor Naruhito's official enthronement ceremony took place in October, in a centuries-old ceremony at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo.
Japan to pardon 550,000 criminals to mark new emperor's enthronement
TOKYO - More than half a million petty criminals will be pardoned in Japan next week to mark the enthronement of Emperor Naruhito, the government announced Friday. About 550,000 people will be given amnesties for their crimes to encourage criminals to "reform and rehabilitate," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said. Naruhito ascended to the Chrysanthemum Throne in May, becoming the 126th Emperor of Japan and ushering in the new Reiwa era. Naruhito will celebrate his enthronement on Tuesday in a ceremony at the Imperial Palace attended by dignitaries from 174 countries and international organizations, followed by a series of banquets. But the public parade -- the 4.6-kilometer (2.9-mile) route from the Imperial Palace to Akasaka Palace -- will instead proceed on November 10 as the nation reels in the aftermath of Hagibis.