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Kyodo News Digest: Aug. 18, 2023

Wildfire wreckage in Lahaina, Hawaii, is pictured on Aug. 16, 2023. (Kyodo)

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


Biden trying to meet North Korean leader without preconditions: official

WASHINGTON – U.S. President Joe Biden is willing to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “without preconditions” to discuss the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, a senior White House official said Thursday.

“They have not responded positively to that offer, but it’s still on the table. We are willing to sit down and negotiate without preconditions,” White House national security spokesman John Kirby said in an interview with Kyodo News.


Japan researchers creating guidelines for animal-human transplants

TOKYO – A Japanese research team said Thursday it has begun drafting guidelines to facilitate the safe xenotransplantation of genetically modified animal organs to humans, as experiments involving pig-to-human transplants of kidneys and hearts gain traction abroad.

The team from the state-backed Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development aims to finalize the guidelines by fiscal 2025 in hopes the groundbreaking procedures could help address the global shortage of human organ donors.


Japan’s consumer prices rise 3.1% in July in blow to households

TOKYO – Japan’s core consumer prices in July rose 3.1 percent from a year earlier, well above the Bank of Japan’s 2 percent target, as food and service price hikes kept the overall inflationary trend intact, government data showed Friday.

The nationwide core consumer price index, excluding volatile fresh food items, rose for the 23rd straight month, amid emerging signs of entrenched inflation hurting consumer sentiment.


Embattled Evergrande files for bankruptcy in U.S. court

NEW YORK – Embattled property developer China Evergrande Group filed for bankruptcy in a New York court Thursday, highlighting the prolonged slump in the Chinese real estate market following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Evergrande sought Chapter 15 court protection of its assets in the United States under the bankruptcy procedures for non-U.S. companies to shield it from creditors.


Hacker group attacks Japan nuclear websites over Fukushima water plan

TOKYO – International hacker group Anonymous has launched cyberattacks against nuclear power-linked groups in Japan in protest at the planned release of treated radioactive water from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant into the sea, a Japanese IT security firm said.

Anonymous has been intensifying its cyber offensives since last month, shortly after the International Atomic Energy Agency said in its final report that the planned discharge would comply with global safety standards, NTT Security Japan said.


Some U.N. panel members urge resolution of N. Korea abduction issue

NEW YORK – A rare U.N. Security Council open briefing on human rights abuses in North Korea convened Thursday, with several participants calling for an early resolution of Pyongyang’s abduction of foreign nationals including those from Japan and South Korea.

Addressing the session, the United States, as rotating chair of the council this month, called North Korea “one of the most repressive and totalitarian” countries, accusing it of disregarding the well-being of its own people through intrusive surveillance and selective food distribution that “favors the military.”


Japan town OKs survey for interim spent nuclear fuel storage facility

YAMAGUCHI, Japan – A western Japan town on Friday gave the greenlight for a geological survey by two major utilities companies, in a step toward the building of an intermediate facility to temporarily keep spent nuclear fuel.

Chugoku Electric Power Co. proposed earlier this month to Kaminoseki in Yamaguchi Prefecture a plan to jointly construct the facility with Kansai Electric Power Co. It will be the second such storage facility in Japan, following one already built in Mutsu, Aomori Prefecture in northeastern Japan.


Leader in Maui relief efforts sees model in post-tsunami Japan

LAHAINA, Hawaii – A renowned surfer from Hawaii’s Maui Island who has been spearheading relief efforts after the deadliest U.S. wildfires in over a century devastated his community of Lahaina invoked Japan’s recovery from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in starting to envision a path forward.

“Today I understand what happened to Japan when that earthquake and tidal waves hit” and decimated Japanese towns, Archie Kalepa said in an interview with Kyodo News on Wednesday. The native Hawaiian has emerged as a local leader in efforts to provide necessities to those impacted by the fires that started on Aug. 8.


Video: Aftermath of Maui wildfires

Read More:Kyodo News Digest: Aug. 18, 2023