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TMCNet:  Kyodo Top12 News (22:15)

[August 23, 2014]

Kyodo Top12 News (22:15)

(Japan Economic Newswire Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) ---------- Death toll from mudslides in Hiroshima rises to 46 HIROSHIMA - The death toll from the deadly landslides in the city of Hiroshima rose to 46 on Saturday, with 41 still missing, as rescuers continued to remove mud and pick through rubble and debris in search of any survivors three days after torrential rain triggered the mountainside disaster. Volunteers from other parts of the country joined the rescue efforts undertaken by police officers, firefighters and Self-Defense Forces personnel, trying to remove mud and debris hampering the operations in the northern part of the city. The Hiroshima police said the bodies of three missing people have been found, while a man who had been in critical condition died. With one of the missing people confirmed safe, the number of those missing was reduced to 41 from 43. Police say more people could be unaccounted for, buried by mudslides and not yet reported missing.


---------- Gov't eyes developing early warning system against sudden downpours TOKYO - The government plans to work with universities and other institutions to develop an early warning system for sudden rainstorms and mudslides, as such occurrences seem to be intensifying, officials said Saturday. Funding for the project will be included in a budget request for the new fiscal year starting in April, with plans to start predicting sudden rainstorms by 2020 and mudslides by around 2030, according to the government officials. Severe weather has wreaked havoc in parts of Japan with increasing frequency, with the nation currently gripped by the horrific scenes of deadly mudslides caused by torrential rain in Hiroshima earlier this week. The National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Prevention will take the lead in the envisioned project.

---------- Ebola death toll rises to 1,427, up 77 in 2 days GENEVA - The death toll from the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa stood at 1,427 as of Wednesday, up 77 in two days, the World Health Organization said Friday, reiterating that the magnitude of infection has been underestimated. The deaths were among 2,615 cases covering confirmed, probable and suspected infections, with the total up 142. The death toll breaks down to 624 in Liberia, 406 in Guinea, 392 in Sierra Leone, and five in Nigeria. Liberia marked a sharp increase of 66. WHO said the scale of the outbreak has been underestimated especially in Liberia and Sierra Leone. It cited many families hiding infected kin, among other factors.

---------- Philippines to withdraw hundreds of peacekeepers from Liberia, Syria MANILA - The Philippines will pull out more than 400 Filipino peacekeepers from Liberia and Syria, a defense spokesman said Saturday, citing the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa and the volatile security environment in the Middle East. "In light of the rising health risk posed by the outbreak of Ebola virus in Africa, the Filipino troops deployed to the U.N. Mission in Liberia will be repatriated as soon as possible," National Defense Department spokesman Peter Paul Galvez said. He noted that the Manila has been sending peacekeepers to Liberia since 2003 and there are currently around 115 of them there.

---------- Defense Ministry eyes record-high budget request of over 5 tril. yen TOKYO - The Defense Ministry plans to request a record-high 5.05 trillion yen budget for fiscal 2015 from next April which focuses on measures to bolster their defense of remote islands, government officials said Saturday. The budget request to be announced next Friday, including U.S. military realignment costs, marks an increase of 3.5 percent from the budget earmarked for the current fiscal year and comes at a time when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is eyeing a security policy overhaul. While a senior ministry official attributed the increase mainly to the purchase of two new government planes for use by the prime minister and imperial family members, a prioritized allocation is made to remote island defense.

---------- Abe's possible rival to turn down Cabinet post: LDP official TOKYO - The No. 2 in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and possible rival of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in the party leadership race next year has expressed his readiness to turn down Abe's offer to serve in his Cabinet, a senior LDP official close to the lawmaker said Saturday. At a meeting with LDP Secretary General Shigeru Ishiba likely to be held early next week, Abe is expected to tell him of his plan to relieve him of his party post and ask him instead to become state minister in charge of security-related legislation in a Cabinet reshuffle next month. But Ishiba has told those around him it would be difficult to serve as state minister unless Abe accepts his own strongly held beliefs about national security policy, the official said.

---------- Ex-PM Kan urges Australia to stop exporting uranium SYDNEY - Former Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan has urged Australia to help wean the world off uranium instead of trying to increase its already considerable exports of the radioactive element, local media reported Saturday, amid a weeklong visit here by the avowed opponent of nuclear energy. "I hope that Australia can be exporting not uranium...but electricity created through renewable sources," Kan, who was Japan's prime minister during the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011, was quoted as saying by the Australia Broadcasting Corp. He lamented that by exporting uranium, Australia, which does not have any nuclear plants itself, has been making it more possible for more countries to rely on nuclear power to meet their energy needs.

---------- Cram school operator Yoyogi Seminar to shut majority of schools TOKYO - Yoyogi Seminar, one of the country's largest cram school operators, plans to close the majority of its schools for children preparing for university entrance examinations, possibly next spring, a school official said Saturday. In a move apparently reflecting the shrinking pool of children in the country as society rapidly ages, the cram school operator plans to close around 20 schools, about 70 percent of the total, including those in Yokohama, Kyoto, Kobe and Sendai in Miyagi Prefecture. No students will be sought for such schools from next spring, the official said, adding that the plan was conveyed to teachers on Wednesday.

---------- Murata Manufacturing to buy U.S. electronic parts maker Peregrine TOKYO - Murata Manufacturing Co. said Saturday it will buy a U.S. maker of wireless device parts, Peregrine Semiconductor Corp., to strengthen its production of smartphone parts. The Kyoto-based company, known for condensers and other parts for wireless communication devices, will buy all the shares it does not already own in the San Diego-based firm for $465 million (48.0 billion yen) by the end of this year. Its offer, to be put to Peregrine's shareholders' meeting, values the U.S. company at $471 million. Peregrine has been supplying parts to Murata including so-called radio frequency switches, which convert radio waves to digital signals, "a key strategic area for the mobile industry," Murata said in a statement.

---------- Olympics: JOC official sorry for trouble caused by sexual harassment allegations TOKYO - Upper house member and Japanese Olympic Committee official Seiko Hashimoto on Saturday apologized for trouble caused by a report which claimed she sexually harassed Vancouver Olympic figure skating bronze medalist Daisuke Takahashi. "I am deeply sorry for the concern and the trouble I caused everyone from the report about my behavior," Hashimoto, who has already denied the allegations, said in a statement. An article in the weekly Shukan Bunshun magazine that went on sale Wednesday, said the 49-year-old Hashimoto -- who is also president of the Japan Skating Federation and a bronze medalist herself in speed skating at the 1992 Winter Games -- forced Takahashi into letting her repeatedly kiss him during a party after the Sochi Olympics in February.

---------- Rugby: NTT Comms down Sanix for Penney's 1st win TOKYO - NTT Communications Shining Arcs made sure it was a winning start in the Top League for ex-Munster coach Rob Penney on Saturday when they beat Munakata Sanix Blues 25-11. Tries by Hayato Nishibashi, Ryo Tsuruda and Amanaki Lelei Mafi and two penalties and two conversions from former Springbok Elton Jantjies saw the Shining Arcs get past the newly promoted Blues in a scrappy game at the Prince Chichibu Memorial Rugby Ground that saw both sides commit far too many handling errors. Ironically, it was a catch by referee Garratt Williamson that proved to be the catalyst for the game coming alive, the New Zealand official producing the snatch of the day as he got in the way of a pass by NTT scrumhalf Nishibashi. "It was brilliant," said Penney. "He showed us how to do it." ---------- Weather for key cities in Japan TOKYO - Forecast for Sunday: Tokyo=cloudy, sometimes fair; Osaka=cloudy, sometimes fair; Nagoya=cloudy, sometimes rain; Sapporo=cloudy, sometimes rain; Sendai=cloudy, sometimes fair; Niigata=cloudy; Hiroshima=fair, then cloudy; Takamatsu=cloudy; Fukuoka=cloudy, then rain; Naha=fair.

(c) 2014 Kyodo News

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