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TMCNet:  Kyodo Top12 News (10:45)

[August 14, 2014]

Kyodo Top12 News (10:45)

(Japan Economic Newswire Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) ---------- 2 Japanese ministers visit war-linked Yasukuni Shrine TOKYO - Two Japanese Cabinet ministers visited the war-linked Yasukuni Shrine on Friday, the 69th anniversary of Japan's surrender in World War II, in a move likely to draw a rebuke from Asian neighbors that suffered from Japan's war time aggression. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe himself is expected to refrain from visiting the shrine that honors convicted Class-A war criminals along with war dead, after his contentious visit last December, the first in seven years by a sitting Japanese leader, angered China and South Korea and drew criticism in the United States, Tokyo's key ally. The two Cabinet ministers who paid homage are Keiji Furuya, state minister in charge of North Korea's abductions of Japanese nationals, and Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Yoshitaka Shindo.


---------- Iraqi Christian delegation presses U.N. to help persecuted minority NEW YORK - A delegation of Iraqi Christians has come to the United Nations to press the international community to take action to help scores of the minority population who they say increasingly face peril from persecution by Islamic extremists. "Right now this is a full blown genocide in motion and people are being massacred and ethnic cleansing has occurred," Mark Arabo, the spokesman for the group, told Kyodo News during the delegation's three-day visit that ends Friday. He cited reports of massacres, rapes and targeted killings that were being meted out as people were driven from their villages and homes. They have taken refuge in schools, parks, cultural centers and even on the streets where food, security and health concerns are on the rise, he said.

---------- U.S. urges China to ensure freedom for human rights lawyer Gao WASHINGTON - The U.S. State Department urged China on Thursday to ensure freedom for prominent human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng, who was released from prison earlier this month. "We urge Chinese authorities not to impose any restrictions on his movement so he can be able to travel freely and be reunited with his family," Marie Harf, a spokeswoman of the department, told reporters. The U.S. government had asked China to release Gao, who was detained in 2011 after he looked into corruption allegations involving Chinese bureaucrats, and called for the rule of law. Sources with knowledge of the matter said members of China's state security apparatus appeared to be following Gao even after he left a prison in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

---------- Iraq's al-Maliki steps down, backs new prime minister CAIRO - Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Thursday he is giving up his post and endorses Haider al-Abadi who has been appointed for the position, reports from Iraq said. Al-Maliki, who claimed al-Abadi's appointment as unconstitutional, has been losing support at home and abroad. Al-Maliki's resignation is likely to help the establishment of a national unity government by al-Abadi.

---------- U.S. welcomes start of work for Okinawa Marine base relocation WASHINGTON - A U.S. government spokeswoman said Thursday that Washington welcomes the start of preparatory work in Japan's Okinawa Prefecture toward the construction of a coastal facility that will accommodate a U.S. Marine Corps base from a densely populated area in the prefecture. "It's a critical step toward realizing our shared vision for the realignment of U.S. forces in Okinawa," Marie Harf, a State Department spokeswoman, told reporters. The Japanese government installed buoys to cordon off a stretch of shoreline of the Henoko district in Nago, Okinawa Prefecture amid demonstrations by protestors. Waters off Henoko will be the site of a replacement facility for the Futenma base.

---------- Imran Khan, Qadri begin protest march in Islamabad ISLAMABAD - Tens of thousands of protestors, including hundreds of vehicles, are edging through Lahore several hours after they began a nearly 300 kilometer protest procession toward a sit-in in Islamabad. The protestors are supporters of sports hero Imran Khan of Pakistan Tehreeke Insaf and clergyman Tahurul Qadri, recently returned from Canada, who have vowed to continue a sit-in until the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif steps down. Khan and Qadri started almost simultaneously from their residences in Zaman Park and in Model Town in Lahore after an agreement was brokered with the administration by Muttehida Qadumi Movement.

---------- World-renowned ballet dancer Guillem to retire at end of 2015 TOKYO - World-renowned ballet dancer Sylvie Guillem said Thursday she will retire at the end of 2015 in a statement announced via an arts foundation organizing her performance in Japan later this month. "I will stop dancing in the end of 2015," the 49-year-old French dancer said in the statement released through the Japan Performing Arts Foundation, noting her farewell performance is also scheduled in Japan. "This is all I can tell you now," she said. According to the foundation, shows planned in December 2015 in Tokyo and elsewhere are likely to be Guillem's last performances. Guillem joined the Paris Opera Ballet in 1981 and gained the top-rank title of etoile faster than anyone previously. She has performed internationally after leaving the ballet troupe, while pursuing her own style incorporating elements of contemporary dance.

---------- Gov't to provide financial aid to promote Japanese books abroad TOKYO - The Japanese government will provide financial aid to promote translation of Japanese books about Japan's culture, history and advanced technology into English to bolster understanding toward the country abroad, government officials said. Such initiatives have been launched amid increasing published claims worldwide by China and South Korea about history and other issues with Japan. The Cabinet Office put 80 million yen in the budget for the current fiscal year ending next March for assisting translation of Japanese books, which is typically difficult to do for a private company as a business to make profits.

---------- Semiconductor firms forgo summer break amid smartphone-driven demand TOKYO - While much of Japan relaxes during the Bon summer holiday period, the country's major semiconductor makers are keeping their factories running in the face of fierce demand from China for the technology at the core of popular smartphones. Demand is expected to heat up even more with the launch of Apple Inc.'s next-generation iPhone, anticipated next month. Toshiba Corp., which makes NAND flash memory semiconductors used for smartphone data storage, is continuing operations at its main factory in Yokkaichi in central Japan's Mie Prefecture over the holiday period from Wednesday through Sunday. Toshiba Representative Executive Officer Keizo Maeda said the company expects "demand to rise and sales to pick up from now on." ---------- Skymark Airlines to cut routes, raise fares, pull out of Narita TOKYO - Struggling Skymark Airlines Inc. said Thursday it is pulling out of Narita International Airport as well as terminating some domestic routes and raising most fares -- some up to nearly 70 percent -- in the winter timetable from Oct. 26. Exposed to a huge cancellation penalty on its Airbus A380 jet deal, the nation's third-largest domestic carrier is redirecting its resources instead to key routes from Tokyo's Haneda, the most lucrative and busiest airport in Japan. Its routes linking Narita and the three cities of Sapporo (New Chitose), Yonago and Naha will be shut down. These services, totaling six round trips per day, suffer dismal seat occupancy and profitability in the face of competition from budget airlines that use Narita as their Tokyo gateway.

---------- Nikkei trades slightly lower, dollar trades at mid-102 yen range TOKYO - The Nikkei stock index traded slightly lower early Friday morning as investors cashed in following four straight days of gains on the index through the previous day. In the first 15 minutes of trading, the 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average fell 19.53 points, or 0.13 percent, from Thursday to 15,295.04. At 10:30 a.m., the Nikkei index was down 20.57 points, or 0.13 percent, at 15,294.00. The broader Topix index was down 1.59 points, or 0.13 percent, at 1,268.91. On the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded in the mid-102 yen range. At 10:30 a.m., the dollar fetched 102.49-53 yen compared with 102.40-50 yen in New York late Thursday afternoon. The euro was quoted at 136.94-95 yen against 136.89-99 yen in New York.

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

(c) 2014 Kyodo News

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