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TMCNet:  Kyodo Top12 News (19:20)

[July 12, 2014]

Kyodo Top12 News (19:20)

(Japan Economic Newswire Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) ---------- M6.8 quake causes small tsunami on Japan's northeastern shores TOKYO - A strong quake struck off the Pacific coast of Japan's northeast early Saturday morning, sending small tsunami shoreward in the region that was devastated by huge tsunami after a massive quake in March 2011. Three people were injured in Fukushima Prefecture, while a total of about 26,000 people in Pacific coastal areas of Iwate and Miyagi prefectures were advised to evacuate following tsunami warnings. Electric power companies and local officials said there were no reports of any new problems at nuclear power plants in the region including the Fukushima Daiichi plant crippled by the disaster three years ago. The quake, with a preliminary magnitude of 6.8, occurred at 4:22 a.m. around 140 kilometers east of the coast of Fukushima Prefecture and roughly 10 km underground, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.


---------- Japan, U.S. agree to reflect Tokyo's security shift in new guidelines WASHINGTON - Japan and the United States agreed Friday that Tokyo's recent reinterpretation of the Constitution to expand the role of its armed forces should be reflected in new bilateral defense cooperation guidelines due out by the end of the year. After talks with Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Washington "strongly supports" what he described as a "historic" decision made by the Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to lift a long-held ban on collective self-defense. "This bold, historic, landmark decision will enable Japan to significantly increase its contribution to regional and global security and expand its role on the world stage," Hagel told a joint press conference.

---------- Chief negotiators of Pacific free trade struggle for deals OTTAWA - Chief negotiators from 12 Pacific Rim countries continued Friday with their discussions on a free trade initiative, struggling to reach deals on contentious issues such as market access and international dispute settlement. On the penultimate day of the eight-day round in Ottawa, the chief negotiators of the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership deal sorted out matters to be referred to ministerial-level officials at a future meeting, a Japanese official said. The 12 countries have yet to strike a deal in any sectors, but made some progress in intellectual property rights, market access and settlement of international disputes, Kazuhisa Shibuya, a spokesman of the government headquarters on the TPP, told reporters.

---------- Canada trade minister negative on signing TPP without Japan OTTAWA - The Canadian trade minister struck a negative note Friday about the possibility of excluding Japan from negotiations of a Pacific free trade initiative. "We have 12 partners at the table. All of them are valuable partners," Edward Fast, international trade minister of Canada, told a conference call with reporters, referring to ongoing negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership pact. Fast made the remark after asked to comment on a recent proposal by New Zealand Prime Minister John Key to possibly signing a TPP without Japan if Tokyo sticks to exceptional tariffs on agricultural produce. The Canadian minister declined to directly comment on Key's remark.

---------- Abe returns home after visiting New Zealand, Australia, Papua New Guinea TOKYO - Prime Minister Shinzo Abe returned to Japan on Saturday from a weeklong three-nation trip to New Zealand, Australia and Papua New Guinea. During the trip, Abe held summit talks with the prime ministers of each country -- New Zealand's John Key, Australia's Tony Abbott and Papua New Guinea's Peter O'Neill -- over such topics as trade and security.

---------- Benesse customer info taken using contractor ID TOKYO - Customer information apparently stolen from a group company of Benesse Holdings Inc., Japan's biggest provider of correspondence education for children, was taken using the ID of a contractor, company sources said Saturday. Records showed the customer information had been downloaded from databases by a systems engineer working as a temporary employee at a company contracted by the Benesse affiliate to manage the data, the sources said. The data were copied several times, likely to a computer loaned out from Benesse, from the affiliate's office in Tama, Tokyo, late last year and are thought to have passed to at least one company that deals in name lists around January. The case came to light after data that software developer Justsystems Corp. obtained from a name-list trader and used to send out direct marketing mail in May were found to contain Benesse customer information.

---------- Omron used JR passenger image data for purposes other than intended OSAKA - Precision equipment maker Omron Corp. has used images of railway passengers, taken at stations under contract with East Japan Railway Co., in a research project involving another client without JR East's consent, the companies admitted Saturday. The issue raises further questions about Japanese companies' handling of personal information after a recent revelation of massive client data being apparently stolen from a group company of correspondence education provider Benesse Holdings Inc. Kyoto-based Omron installed about 10 cameras each at four stations -- Atami, Sakuragicho, Itabashi and Kokubunji -- to examine the flow of passengers at the request of JR East. The contract required Omron to dispose of the data, apparently taken for about a year from 2008, after usage. The data were also not to be used for other purposes.

---------- Sharp eyes buying from Apple production facility for iPhone LCDs OSAKA - Struggling electronics maker Sharp Corp. is in talks to buy from Apple Inc. of the United Sates the equipment to produce liquid crystal displays for iPhones at a Sharp plant in Kameyama, Mie Prefecture, industry source said Saturday. Through the purchase, possibly for 30 billion to 40 billion yen, Sharp envisions using its Kameyama Plant No. 1 not only to supply Apple but also Chinese and other communication device makers, they said. Sharp, however, still plans to maintain the flexibility to produce LCDs upon request from Apple, they said. The Japanese firm is apparently worried that the factory operating rate will fall below the profitability line of 90 percent if Apple products become less popular, they said.

---------- Rise in people being taken to hospital after using "loophole drugs" TOKYO - The number of people being transported to hospital by ambulance after taking quasi-legal "loophole drugs" with stimulant effects has risen sharply in recent years, a health ministry survey showed Friday. In the survey covering 60 medical institutions including emergency centers, the number of such individuals surged to 469 in 2012 from 48 the previous year. Some of the individuals suffered severe symptoms such as liver damage. The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said it will cooperate with police to tighten control over such loophole drugs, known as "dappo" in Japanese, which are legally unrestricted despite having similar effects to cannabis and stimulants.

---------- Soccer: Italy's Rizzoli to ref World Cup final RIO DE JANEIRO - Nicola Rizzoli of Italy will referee Sunday's World Cup final between Germany and Argentina, FIFA announced Friday. Rizzoli has already refereed three matches at this tournament. He was in charge of the group-stage games between Spain and Netherlands, Nigeria and Argentina and the quarterfinal between Argentina and Belgium. The 42-year-old architect from Bologna, who started his international career in 2007, has refereed a final in each of the two main European club competitions. He worked the 2010 Europa League final between Atletico Madrid and Fulham and the all-German decider between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund in the 2013 Champions League.

---------- Baseball: Hoshino does about-face, won't manage All-Star games TOKYO - Rakuten Eagles manager Senichi Hoshino, who initially withdrew his name to skipper the Pacific League for this month's All-Star series due to an ailing back before deciding he would instead take the reins for the two games, has pulled out once again, Eagles team president Yozo Tachibana said Saturday. Tachibana said Hoshino, 67, will not recover in time for the games being played at Seibu Dome and Koshien Stadium on July 18 and 19. A substitute to lead the PL team has not been mentioned. Hoshino underwent surgery to repair a herniated disc and correct a condition that affects his thoracic vertebrae. Hoshino, who led the Eagles to their first Japan Series championship last season, has been on a leave of absence from the team since May 26.

---------- Weather for key cities in Japan TOKYO - Forecast for Sunday: Tokyo=cloudy, sometimes fair; Osaka=cloudy, then rain; Nagoya=cloudy, then rain; Sapporo=cloudy; Sendai=cloudy, sometimes fair; Niigata=cloudy, sometimes rain; Hiroshima=rain; Takamatsu=cloudy, sometimes rain; Fukuoka=rain; Naha=fair.

(c) 2014 Kyodo News

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