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Kyodo News Digest: Aug. 12, 2023


People pray at 11:02 a.m. on Aug. 9, 2023, the exact time of the U.S. atomic bombing of Nagasaki in 1945, during a memorial mass at Urakami Cathedral in the southwestern Japan city. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

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


China’s imports of Russian nuclear materials hit record-high in 2022

BEIJING – The value of China’s imports of Russian nuclear materials for use at power plants hit a record $490 million in 2022, the highest figure since comparable customs data became available in 2015, with the need to fuel a new fast-breeder reactor in southeastern China possibly behind the increase.

The nuclear materials imported from Russia include uranium and plutonium. In the September-December period of 2022, Russia shipped 25 tons of nuclear fuel for the CFR-600 fast reactor, according to data from a British think tank and U.S. media reports.


Nearly 30% Japan prefectures saw crowds surpass pre-COVID levels

TOKYO – Nearly 30 percent of prefectures across Japan experienced crowds surpassing pre-coronavirus pandemic levels in the first half of this year, with local areas outpacing Tokyo, according to private sector data.

Based on an analysis of major train stations in each of Japan’s 47 prefectures, 13 locations, or 28 percent, recorded more people than during the same period in 2019. Conversely, 21 locations, or 45 percent, witnessed a decline in crowds, but this decrease was less than 10 percent.


Football: Japan exit Women’s World Cup with 2-1 last-8 loss to Sweden

AUCKLAND, New Zealand – Japan’s women’s football team exited the World Cup with a 2-1 loss to Sweden following a nail-biting finish to their quarterfinal Friday at Auckland’s Eden Park.

Sweden led 2-0 before substitute Honoka Hayashi breathed life back into Japan’s campaign in the 87th minute, with the 2011 champions pushing desperately for an equalizer during more than 10 minutes of stoppage time.


Special counsel appointed in investigation of Biden’s son Hunter

WASHINGTON – The ongoing criminal investigation of Hunter Biden, U.S. President Joe Biden’s only living son, will now be carried out by a special counsel with greater authority, Attorney General Merrick Garland said Friday, a move that could cast a shadow over the Democratic incumbent’s re-election bid.

The elevation in status of David Weiss, the U.S. attorney in Delaware who has led the probe, came after plea talks between the Justice Department and Hunter on tax and gun charges fell apart.


Dollar briefly hits 1.5-month high at 145 yen in New York

NEW YORK – The U.S. dollar briefly advanced to the 145-yen line in New York on Friday, a level unseen since late June, as a fresh rise in key U.S. long-term interest rates prompted dollar-buying and yen-selling.

After hitting 145.00 yen, the dollar was quoted at 144.90-145.00 yen at 5 p.m. Friday, compared with 144.72-82 yen a day earlier. The dollar traded at 143.80-81 yen late Thursday in Tokyo. Financial markets in Japan were closed Friday due to a holiday.


Death toll in Hawaii wildfire rises to 55, national disaster declared

HONOLULU – At least 55 have been killed in the wildfires that began earlier in the week on Hawaii’s Maui Island, local authorities said Thursday, with the historic town of Lahaina devastated and the full scale of the disaster still unclear amid power and communication outages.

U.S. President Joe Biden approved a national disaster declaration for Hawaii the same day, making federal funding available to affected residents.


U.S., Japan, Australia, India begin joint naval exercise in Sydney

SYDNEY – The naval forces of the United States, Japan, Australia and India began their Malabar joint defense exercise in Sydney on Friday, marking the first time Australia has hosted the war games amid China’s growing assertiveness in the region.

The four Indo-Pacific nations, part of a cooperation framework known as the Quad, will conduct joint training involving maritime and air defense drills through Aug. 21 in Sydney Harbor and off Australia’s east coast, with some 2,000 personnel taking part, including around 170 Japanese.


Japan sees heavy summer holiday traffic after COVID-19 downgrade

TOKYO – Travelers flooded airports and train stations in Tokyo and other cities in Japan on Friday to head to their hometowns in the first summer holiday season since the legal status of COVID-19 was downgraded to the same category as seasonal flu.

Travelers lined up for security checks at Haneda airport in Tokyo, but some were concerned about a powerful incoming typhoon that is expected to bring stormy weather from around Monday to the country’s eastern and western regions.


Video: Lanterns in the river ahead of 38th anniv. of JAL Flight 123 crash

Read More:Kyodo News Digest: Aug. 12, 2023