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Kyodo News Digest: Aug. 16, 2023

Dancers holding colorful umbrellas with bells attached perform during the Shan-Shan festival in Tottori, western Japan, on Aug. 14, 2023. The annual summer festival was held on a public road for the first time in four years as COVID-related restrictions were fully lifted earlier in the year. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

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


U.S. says summit with Japan, S. Korea to mark “new era” of 3-way ties

WASHINGTON – The United States believes a summit to be held this week with Japan and South Korea will mark a “new era” of their trilateral cooperation, with the leaders set to agree on ways to “further institutionalize” the framework seen as vital for peace and stability beyond Asia, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Tuesday.

Following an online meeting with Japanese and South Korean foreign ministers to prepare for the summit on Friday, Blinken said at a press conference that the steps will include regularizing various high-level meetings. He called Japan and South Korea “core allies” of the United States, not just in the Indo-Pacific region “but around the world.”


Microsoft Japan to launch siloed ChatGPT to handle classified info

TOKYO – Microsoft Corp.’s Japan unit is launching a more secure version of the artificial intelligence chatbot ChatGPT that can handle classified information of government ministries and agencies as well as corporate entities.

Unlike the current ChatGPT, the new version of the generative artificial intelligence service will be considered suitable for the Japanese government to use as all information will be processed in data centers in Japan. Banks and other companies that handle sensitive data are also expected to benefit.


Over 7,200 Japan firms employing foreign trainees broke law

TOKYO – Illegal practices were uncovered at 7,247 workplaces in Japan that employed foreign trainees last year, the government said recently, apparently substantiating criticism of companies participating in the controversial, decades-old program for their alleged human rights infringements.

The most common violations involved breaches of safety rules, with the second most common being unpaid wages, according to data based on the labor ministry’s on-site inspections at 9,829 companies alleged to have engaged in misconduct.


Typhoon Lan moves north over Sea of Japan, leaves 49 injured in wake

TOKYO – Typhoon Lan traveled northward over the Sea of Japan on Wednesday after bringing torrential rains to Japan’s main island, mostly impacting western parts of the country, and leaving 49 injured, the government said.

The weather agency warned of torrential rains with thunder in eastern Japan facing the Pacific on Wednesday and of the typhoon’s potential impact on eastern to northern Japan along the Sea of Japan coast through Thursday


North Korea says U.S. soldier who crossed border is seeking refuge

BEIJING – Pyongyang said Wednesday a U.S. soldier who crossed the heavily fortified border into North Korea last month is seeking refuge in the country or elsewhere, as state media referred to him for the first time.

The soldier, Travis King, a private second class in the U.S. Army, has admitted to illegally entering North Korea, saying he “harbored ill feeling against inhuman maltreatment and racial discrimination” in the army, the official Korean Central News Agency said.


Woman, parents sent to prosecutors for murder of man in Sapporo hotel

SAPPORO – A woman and her parents were sent to prosecutors Wednesday over the alleged murder of a man who was found decapitated in a hotel in Sapporo, northern Japan, last month.

Runa Tamura, 29, is suspected of stabbing the man several times in the neck in the hotel room sometime between July 1 and 2, causing him to suffer hemorrhagic shock. Her 59-year-old psychiatrist father Osamu and 60-year-old mother Hiroko are believed to have conspired with their daughter to commit the crime.


Police arrest 2 Japanese fraud suspects deported from Cambodia

SAGA, Japan – Police arrested two Japanese men Wednesday over their alleged involvement in a Cambodia-based fraud ring, following their deportation from the Southeast Asian country.

The suspects, 55-year-old Shigeru Sato and Hiroki Ito, 48, were arrested on fraud allegations while aboard a flight headed for Tokyo’s Haneda airport, which landed at around 6 a.m.


News photo exhibition revisits 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake

TOKYO – A news photo exhibition on the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923 will open in Tokyo on Friday to remind Japanese people of the devastation it caused and the constant need for preparations for future natural disasters in the quake-prone country.

The exhibition at Shiodome Sio-site underground walkway will display nearly 100 photos, many of them showing the horrors of the quake, which caused unprecedented damage to Tokyo, Yokohama and surrounding regions and left about 105,000 people dead or missing.


Video: Summer festival in Tottori

Read More:Kyodo News Digest: Aug. 16, 2023