ECONOMIC Kyodo News Digest: Dec.5, 2023

Kyodo News Digest: Dec.5, 2023


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Chichibu Night Festival, featuring ornate floats, is held in Chichibu in Saitama Prefecture, eastern Japan, on Dec. 3, 2023. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

The following is the latest list of selected news summaries by Kyodo News.


Kishida again denies knowing of Unification Church members at meeting

TOKYO – Japanese Prime Minster Fumio Kishida reiterated Tuesday that he was not aware that senior members of the controversial Unification Church were present at a meeting he held four years ago, following the publication by a newspaper of photographs of the event.

The Asahi Shimbun reported earlier in the day, citing unnamed sources, that a former leader of the Unification Church’s U.S. branch was among those present at Kishida’s talks on Oct. 4, 2019, with Newt Gingrich, the ex-speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.


“Luffy” crime ring members served fresh warrants over 2022 robbery

TOKYO – Four senior members of a group suspected of organizing scams and burglaries in Japan from the Philippines were served fresh arrest warrants Tuesday for allegedly orchestrating a robbery that resulted in injuries in western Tokyo last year, police said.

The latest arrests, including of Kiyoto Imamura, 39, who the police suspect used the pseudonym “Luffy” when planning and coordinating the crime, mark the final charges from eight cases of burglary across the country subject to intensive police investigation since June.


Australia, France agree to reciprocal military base access

SYDNEY – Australia and France will increase defense cooperation by allowing their military personnel to access each other’s bases under a new roadmap for bilateral ties, the two nations have said, amid China’s growing influence in the Pacific region.

The roadmap, unveiled Monday, is expected to leverage existing legal frameworks, would give Australian soldiers greater access to France’s military bases in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, while the French side will also be allowed to use Australian facilities with more ease.


Searches continue for 2 crew after U.S. Osprey crashes off Japan

KAGOSHIMA, Japan – Searches continued Tuesday for two missing crew members after a U.S. military Osprey aircraft crashed off the coast of southwestern Japan last week.

With six already confirmed dead, Japan’s Self-Defense Forces combed the southern coastline of Yakushima Island in Kagoshima Prefecture for debris in poor visibility due to fog, following the discovery of five bodies and major wreckage the previous day.


FOCUS: Thai PM Srettha focuses on economic stimulus amid state debt concerns

BANGKOK – Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin has been focusing on stimulating Thailand’s sluggish economy since taking office on Sept. 5, after months of political deadlock that hindered the formation of a government following the May 14 general election.

While Tuesday marked the first three months of Srettha’s Pheu Thai Party government, he is facing headwinds in gaining support for controversial “digital wallet” handouts, amid concern over an increase in government debt.


Japan’s possibly oldest molds for bronze relics found at Saga ruins

SAGA, Japan – Relics including stone casting molds for bronze artifacts, potentially the oldest of their kind in Japan, have been discovered at an archaeological site in the western prefecture of Saga, the prefectural government said Monday.

One of the molds could date back to around 200 BC, according to the local government. The discoveries between September and October at the Yoshinogari ruins followed the finding in April of a stone coffin tomb believed to have belonged to a person of high status in an area of the site.


Nvidia to work with SoftBank, other Japan firms to push AI research

TOKYO – U.S. semiconductor giant Nvidia Corp. will join Japanese companies such as SoftBank Corp. in accelerating research into generative artificial intelligence, Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang said Monday after meeting with Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

Kishida asked the U.S. company to supply Japan with as many graphics processing units, or GPUs, as possible, Huang told reporters after their meeting at the premier’s office. Nvidia is one of the world’s biggest suppliers of GPUs, an integral component in developing generative AI.


Outgoing Japan envoy regrets not being able to rescue detained man

BEIJING – Outgoing Japanese Ambassador to China Hideo Tarumi expressed regret Monday for failing to help realize the release of a senior Astellas Pharma Inc. employee whom Beijing authorities have detained since March for alleged spying activities.

The envoy, who met with the detained Japanese national for the first time last week, said at a press conference that he did so just before finishing his three-year tenure to “offer a personal apology” and convey that Tokyo will keep working to realize his early release.

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