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TMCNet:  Kyodo Top12 News (13:10)

[August 13, 2014]

Kyodo Top12 News (13:10)

(Japan Economic Newswire Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) ---------- U.S. sends some 130 more military personnel to Iraq WASHINGTON - The U.S. military has sent some 130 more personnel to Iraq to expand humanitarian aid to Kurds who are affected by Islamist militants' offensives, a U.S. official said Tuesday, while denying the forces will engage in combat. President Barack Obama has authorized the temporary dispatch of the personnel, a Defense Department official said. The forces, including Marines, will "develop additional humanitarian assistance options beyond the current airdrop efforts" to help displaced Iraqis who have been trapped by the militants in northern Iraq, the official said. "These forces will not be engaged in a combat role," the official added. The Associated Press said the military personnel arrived in Iraq on Tuesday, a conflict-torn country where the United States already has some 250 military advisers to help the Iraqi military and 450 security forces.


---------- Clinical trials for Ebola vaccines could start by end of September GENEVA - A World Health Organization official said Tuesday there are two "potential vaccines" for the Ebola virus that is spreading in West Africa and their clinical trials could start in the coming weeks. At a press conference, WHO Assistant Director General Marie-Paule Kieny cited the vaccines as one of the three types of experimental products that they are looking at in addressing the outbreak of the deadly disease. "We understand that for both vaccines...clinical trials could start end of September," she said. "So we could have enough information, very preliminary but maybe enough information on their safety in humans by the end of the year." ---------- U.S. co-author of retracted stem cell papers to leave hospital post WASHINGTON - A U.S. researcher who co-authored controversial papers on stem cell development will quit his post at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston on Sept. 1, the institution said Tuesday, without mentioning the reasons. Charles Vacanti, chairman of the hospital's Department of Anesthesiology, Preoperative and Pain Medicine, was involved in the publication by a Japanese institution of two theses on so-called STAP cells whose credibility came into question earlier this year. Vacanti, known as a mentor of Haruko Obokata at the Japanese government-affiliate Riken who is a key author of the papers, will remain on faculty, the Boston hospital said.

---------- Hong Kong blocks boat carrying isle sovereignty advocates HONG KONG - Hong Kong maritime authorities on Tuesday blocked the navigation of a fishing boat carrying a dozen people including Hong Kong-based activists asserting Chinese sovereignty over the Japan-administered Senkaku Islands after it left a local port, an official said. According to the authorities, the fishing boat was authorized to fish in waters around Hong Kong, and an order to stop navigation was issued jointly with police. The ship subsequently returned to the port. The Hong Kong authorities' action may have been taken out of concern for an adverse impact of a demonstration by those activists around the islands, known as Diaoyu in China.

---------- Pakistan sets up panel to investigate election rigging charges ISLAMABAD - Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced Wednesday the establishment of a commission of Supreme Court justices to look into the allegations of rigging the 2013 general elections raised by sports hero Imran Khan and his political party. The announcement was made in a televised address to the nation as Khan and clergy man Tahirul Qadri were planning a "million people march" and sit-in in Islamabad on Thursday to protest the alleged ballot irregularities in the elections that brought Sharif to power. The prime minister also promised to amend the Constitution to undertake electoral reforms to be proposed by parliament, aimed at making next general elections free and fair.

---------- Japan's GDP shrinks annual 6.8% in April-June due to tax hike TOKYO - The Japanese economy shrank an annualized real 6.8 percent in the April to June quarter, falling at its fastest pace since the March 2011 disaster, apparently due to the consumption tax hike on April 1, the government said Wednesday. The growth in the April-June inflation-adjusted gross domestic product corresponds to a 1.7 percent contraction from the previous quarter. GDP is the total value of goods and services produced domestically. Consumption, the biggest component accounting for around 60 percent of Japan's GDP, dropped a real 5.0 percent on quarter after the 3-percentage-point consumption tax hike to 8 percent, following a 2.0 percent rise in the January-March period.

---------- Japan may allow India to produce parts for amphibious aircraft TOKYO - Japan may agree to allow India to manufacture parts for US-2 amphibian aircraft to conclude a sales deal with New Delhi, a Japanese government source said Tuesday. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe may convey Tokyo's intention to approve production of some parts for the aircraft when he meets with India's newly elected Prime Minister Narendra Modi, possibly on Sept. 1, during his visit to Japan, the source said. In April, Tokyo eased its rules on the sale of defense equipment and transfer of defense technology in the first major overhaul of a decades-long arms embargo. Produced by ShinMaywa Industries Ltd. and sold for around 12 billion yen per aircraft, the US-2 can take off and land in a short distance, even on rough seas, and engage in search and rescue operations. Currently, Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force has five US-2s in service.

---------- Some BOJ policymakers voice concern over production shift overseas TOKYO - A few Bank of Japan policymakers pointed out that structural factors such as Japanese firms shifting production abroad could continue to cap exports, according to the minutes of the central bank's July 14-15 policy meeting released Wednesday. At the July meeting, the BOJ maintained its assessment that "exports have recently leveled off more or less," but downgraded the view in the following meeting in August saying, "Exports have shown some weakness." However, the policymakers agreed that Japan's exports are likely to increase moderately down the road, supported by a recovery in overseas economies. Regarding global financial markets, some members said that geopolitical risks, particularly those associated with the situation in Iraq, "continued to warrant attention as they could significantly impact the global economy, mainly through fluctuations in crude oil prices." ---------- Vacation exodus during "Bon" holidays peaks with traffic jams TOKYO - The annual rush of travelers during the country's mid-August "Bon" holidays peaked Wednesday, with roads, train stations and airports congested as people headed for their hometowns and other destinations. Bumper-to-bumper traffic stretching 47 kilometers was observed on a section of the Kan-etsu expressway in Saitama Prefecture at 9 a.m., while vehicles were backed up for 42 km on the Tohoku expressway in Tochigi Prefecture. Domestic flights from Tokyo's Haneda airport were nearly fully booked for All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines in the morning, with 41,000 people and 15,000 people expected to leave Narita airport near Tokyo and Haneda, respectively, for overseas destinations on Wednesday alone.

---------- Global sales of PlayStation 4 top 10 mil. units TOKYO - Global cumulative sales of the PlayStation 4 home gaming console topped 10 million units as of Sunday, Sony Corp.'s gaming unit said Wednesday. Sony, which has been struggling to rebuild its electronics business, is positioning the gaming sector as a pillar for improving its performance. Since its initial launch in November last year, the PS4 gaming system, which features enhanced connectivity with social networks and mobile phones, has become available in 100 countries and regions worldwide including North America, Europe and Asia. "I am absolutely delighted that PS4 was able to reach this commemorative milestone in less than nine months," Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. President Andrew House said in a statement, adding, "We look forward to bringing even more exciting content and services in the months ahead." ---------- Tokyo stocks end morning tad higher, dollar stays at lower 102 yen TOKYO - Tokyo stocks ended Wednesday morning slightly higher in thin trading during the summer holiday season, with investors reacting calmly to data showing the Japanese economy's largest contraction since the March 2011 earthquake-tsunami disaster. The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average rose 24.79 points, or 0.16 percent, from Tuesday to 15,186.10. At 1 p.m., the Nikkei index was up 56.88 points, or 0.38 percent, at 15,218.19. The broader Topix index was up 5.42 points, or 0.43 percent, at 1,263.11. On the currency market, the U.S. dollar stayed in the lower 102 yen zone. At 1 p.m., the dollar fetched 102.27-32 yen compared with 102.21-31 yen in New York late Tuesday afternoon. The euro was quoted at 136.73-74 yen against 136.65-75 yen in New York.

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

(c) 2014 Kyodo News

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