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Kyodo news summary -5-

TOKYO, March 16 Kyodo

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Scandal-hit school operator says he received donation from PM Abe

OSAKA - The head of a school operator mired in controversy over
its cut-price purchase of a plot of state-owned land in western Japan
said Thursday he received a personal donation from Prime Minister
Shinzo Abe for the elementary school that was to open on the site.
Abe denied the allegation, and the ruling and opposition camps
decided to summon Yasunori Kagoike, the head of Moritomo Gakuen, to
testify under oath in front of parliament next week, so that the
legislature can look into the scandal.
----------
Taiwan defense review points to proactive strategy to deter China

TAIPEI - Taiwan released a quadrennial defense review report on
Thursday, which points to a more proactive military strategy toward
China.
QDR 2017 is a comprehensive review of Taiwan's long-range
thinking and planning in preparing to counter the military might
projected in 2025 of the People's Liberation Army, China's military.
----------
Japan, U.S. call N. Korea's nuclear, missile programs "unacceptable"

TOKYO - Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and U.S.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson agreed Thursday to strongly urge
North Korea to abandon its missile and nuclear development programs,
calling its provocations "totally unacceptable."
Kishida and Tillerson shared the view that the role of China, a
key economic and diplomatic benefactor of North Korea, is important
to ensure U.N.-authorized sanctions on Pyongyang are strictly
implemented to curb its aggressive programs, they said at a joint
press conference following their talks in Tokyo.
----------
N. Korea suggests Chinese proposal over nuclear issue meaningless

BEIJING - A North Korean diplomat suggested Thursday that a
recent proposal by China aimed at reducing tensions around the Korean
Peninsula is meaningless, considering it has already been rejected by
the United States.
In a rare press conference organized by the North Korean Embassy
in Beijing, the diplomat defended the country's nuclear development
program and criticized the United States for raising tensions by
conducting massive military exercises again this year with South
Korea.
----------
Japanese school suspected of forcing Indonesian students into work

MIYAZAKI, Japan - Labor authorities referred to prosecutors on
Thursday the operator of a Japanese language school in southwestern
Japan, suspecting it forced its Indonesian students into work at care
facilities owned by the same corporation.
Additionally, documents related to Yutaka Shimizu, 70, the head
of the group that runs Houei International Japanese Language Academy,
and four others were sent to prosecutors for their roles in allegedly
forcing six Indonesians into effectively unpaid work between December
2015 and June 2016.
----------
Empress suffering from shingles after trip to Vietnam, Thailand

TOKYO - Empress Michiko has been diagnosed as suffering from
herpes zoster, or shingles, apparently due to fatigue after she and
Emperor Akihito made a weeklong trip to Vietnam and Thailand that
ended last week, the Imperial Household Agency said Thursday.
The 82-year-old empress has suffered from a bout of herpes
zoster on the upper part of her belly since Tuesday and has been
taking medicine, the agency said, adding she does not have a fever.
----------
H.K. court convicts 3 of rioting when street hawkers shut down

HONG KONG - A Hong Kong court on Thursday convicted three people
of rioting, the first such convictions in connection with a 10-hour
brawl with police during New Year festivities last year.
Hundreds of protesters faced off with riot police late at night
on Lunar New Year's day, Feb. 8, 2016, in the populous Mongkok area
after authorities ordered the removal of street hawkers normally
allowed to make some extra money during the festive holidays.
----------
BOJ sticks to strong monetary easing despite U.S. rate hike

TOKYO - Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda on Thursday
expressed eagerness to continue "strong monetary easing" measures to
attain its 2 percent inflation goal, even though the U.S. central
bank announced overnight its second rate hike since December.
Earlier in the day, the BOJ decided by a 7-2 majority vote to
keep intact its 10-year Japanese government debt yield target at
around zero percent, as well as its negative interest rate of minus
0.1 percent for some reserve funds held by commercial banks.
----------
Malaysia entrusted with handling of Kim Jong Nam body by kin: police

KUALA LUMPUR - Family members of Kim Jong Nam, North Korean
leader Kim Jong Un's half-brother who was murdered last month in
Kuala Lumpur, have allowed Malaysia to decide on the fate of the
body, Malaysia's deputy police chief said Thursday.
"They have given the consent" to let the government decide how
to deal with the body, Noor Rashid Ibrahim said at a press
conference, indicating that the family members have no intention to
claim it.
----------
Dollar hits 2-week low versus yen on U.S rate hike projections

TOKYO - The U.S. dollar briefly dropped to a two-week low in the
upper 112 yen level on Thursday in Tokyo after the U.S. Federal
Reserve indicated it would raise interest rates only moderately later
this year.
At 5 p.m., the dollar fetched 113.22-24 yen compared with
113.34-44 yen in New York and 114.69-70 yen in Tokyo at 5 p.m.
Wednesday. It moved between 112.91 yen, the lowest since March 1, and
113.55 yen during the day, changing hands most frequently at 113.40
yen.
----------
Japan's key bond yield falls on lower U.S. Treasury yields

TOKYO - The yield on the bellwether 10-year Japanese government
bond ended lower Thursday, tracking an overnight fall in U.S.
Treasury yields after the Federal Reserve signaled a gradual pace of
interest rate increases for the rest of the year.
The yield on the No. 346, 0.1 percent issue, the main yardstick
of long-term interest rates, ended interdealer trading at 0.070
percent, down 0.020 percentage point from Wednesday's close.
----------
Opposition urges minister to quit over peacekeeper logs

TOKYO - Opposition parties on Thursday stepped up pressure on
Defense Minister Tomomi Inada to resign over her ministry's alleged
concealment of records that might shed light on conditions faced by
Japanese peacekeepers in South Sudan.
A source close to the matter said the peacekeepers' daily
activity logs, which the defense ministry said had been destroyed,
were kept by the Ground Self-Defense Force for a period of time.

Kyodo news summary -4-

TOKYO, March 16 Kyodo

----------
H.K. court convicts 3 of rioting when street hawkers shut down

HONG KONG - A Hong Kong court on Thursday convicted three people
of rioting, the first such convictions in connection with a 10-hour
brawl with police during New Year festivities last year.
Hundreds of protesters faced off with riot police late at night
on Lunar New Year's day, Feb. 8, 2016, in the populous Mongkok area
after authorities ordered the removal of street hawkers normally
allowed to make some extra money during the festive holidays.
----------
BOJ sticks to strong monetary easing despite U.S. rate hike

TOKYO - Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda on Thursday
expressed eagerness to continue "strong monetary easing" measures to
attain its 2 percent inflation goal, even though the U.S. central
bank announced overnight its second rate hike since December.
Earlier in the day, the BOJ decided by a 7-2 majority vote to
keep intact its 10-year Japanese government debt yield target at
around zero percent, as well as its negative interest rate of minus
0.1 percent for some reserve funds held by commercial banks.
----------
N. Korea suggests Chinese proposal over nuclear issue meaningless

BEIJING - A North Korean diplomat suggested Thursday that a
recent proposal by China in an attempt to alleviate tensions around
the Korean Peninsula is meaningless, considering that it was already
rejected by the United States.
In a rare press conference organized by the North Korean Embassy
in Beijing, the diplomat defended the country's nuclear development
program and criticized the United States for conducting massive
military exercises again this year with South Korea.
----------
Japan, U.S. call N. Korea's nuclear, missile programs "unacceptable"

TOKYO - Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and U.S.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson agreed Thursday to strongly urge
North Korea to abandon its missile and nuclear development programs,
calling its provocations "totally unacceptable."
Kishida and Tillerson also shared the view that the role of
China, a key economic and diplomatic benefactor of North Korea, is
important to ensure U.N.-authorized sanctions on Pyongyang are
strictly implemented to curb its aggressive programs, they said at a
joint press conference following their talks in Tokyo.
----------
Malaysia entrusted with handling of Kim Jong Nam body by kin: police

KUALA LUMPUR - Family members of Kim Jong Nam, North Korean
leader Kim Jong Un's half-brother who was murdered last month in
Kuala Lumpur, have allowed Malaysia to decide on the fate of the
body, Malaysia's deputy police chief said Thursday.
"They have given the consent" to let the government decide how
to deal with the body, Noor Rashid Ibrahim said at a press
conference, indicating that the family members have no intention to
claim it.
----------
Dollar hits 2-week low versus yen on U.S rate hike projections

TOKYO - The U.S. dollar briefly dropped to a two-week low in the
upper 112 yen level on Thursday in Tokyo after the U.S. Federal
Reserve indicated it would raise interest rates only moderately later
this year.
At 5 p.m., the dollar fetched 113.22-24 yen compared with
113.34-44 yen in New York and 114.69-70 yen in Tokyo at 5 p.m.
Wednesday. It moved between 112.91 yen, the lowest since March 1, and
113.55 yen during the day, changing hands most frequently at 113.40
yen.
----------
Japan's key bond yield falls on lower U.S. Treasury yields

TOKYO - The yield on the bellwether 10-year Japanese government
bond ended lower Thursday, tracking an overnight fall in U.S.
Treasury yields after the Federal Reserve signaled a gradual pace of
interest rate increases for the rest of the year.
The yield on the No. 346, 0.1 percent issue, the main yardstick
of long-term interest rates, ended interdealer trading at 0.070
percent, down 0.020 percentage point from Wednesday's close.
----------
Scandal-hit school operator says he received donation from PM Abe

OSAKA - The head of a school operator mired in controversy over
its cut-price purchase of a plot of state-owned land in western Japan
said Thursday he received a donation from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
for the elementary school that was to open on the site.
Speaking to ruling and opposition lawmakers visiting the site,
Yasunori Kagoike, the head of operator Moritomo Gakuen, said, "Money
donated by Abe was included in" the funds for the school.
----------
Opposition urges minister to quit over peacekeeper logs

TOKYO - Opposition parties on Thursday stepped up pressure on
Defense Minister Tomomi Inada to resign over her ministry's alleged
concealment of records that might shed light on conditions faced by
Japanese peacekeepers in South Sudan.
A source close to the matter said the peacekeepers' daily
activity logs, which the defense ministry said had been destroyed,
were kept by the Ground Self-Defense Force for a period of time.
----------
Impeachment complaint filed against Philippine President Duterte

MANILA - An impeachment complaint was filed Thursday in the
Philippine Congress against President Rodrigo Duterte, citing alleged
involvement in extrajudicial killings in the government's drug war,
graft and corruption as grounds for removing him from office.
Representative Gary Alejano of the opposition Magdalo Party-List
lodged the complaint against Duterte in the House of Representatives,
a day after it went on a three-week break.
----------
Japanese school suspected of forcing labor on Indonesian students

MIYAZAKI, Japan - Labor authorities plan to refer to prosecutors
the operator of a Japanese language school in southwestern Japan,
suspecting it forced its Indonesian students to work at care
facilities under its group corporation, sources close to the matter
said Thursday.
Papers on the head of the operator in Miyakonojo, Miyazaki
Prefecture, and other officials will similarly be sent to prosecutors
for the alleged forced labor of multiple students between 2015 and
2016, after the authorities deemed the school's program and labor
were inseparable, they said.
----------
National University of Singapore tops Times' Asia rankings

LONDON - The National University of Singapore has retained its
crown in this year's Asia university rankings released Wednesday by
the Times Higher Education, after replacing the University of Tokyo
in 2016.
The NUS was ranked in 24th place in the British journal's global
university listings last year.

Kyodo news summary -3-

TOKYO, March 16 Kyodo

----------
Tsunehiko Watase, yakuza movie star known for role in "Oshin," dies

TOKYO - Yakuza movie star Tsunehiko Watase, who is also known
for playing a key role in the legendary TV drama "Oshin," died at a
hospital in Tokyo recently, his office said Thursday. He was 72.
Watase had been undergoing treatment after a tumor was found in
his gall bladder in 2015. He died Tuesday of multiple organ failure,
according to his office. Watase is the younger brother of Tetsuya
Watari, also an actor.
----------
Tokyo stocks end flat after falling on strong yen, BOJ speculation

TOKYO - Tokyo stocks ended almost flat Thursday, erasing early
losses stemming from a strong yen amid speculation that the Bank of
Japan will purchase exchange-traded funds.
The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average ended up 12.76 points, or
0.07 percent, from Wednesday at 19,590.14. The broader Topix index of
all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange finished 1.38
points, or 0.09 percent, higher at 1,572.69.
----------
Scandal-hit school operator says he received donation from PM Abe

OSAKA - The head of a school operator mired in controversy over
its cut-price purchase of a plot of state-owned land in western Japan
said Thursday he received donations from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
for the elementary school being built on the site.
Speaking to lawmakers visiting the site, Yasunori Kagoike, the
head of the troubled operator Moritomo Gakuen, said, "Money donated
by Abe was included in" the funds for the school.
----------
Okinawa gov't threatens injunction over U.S. base relocation

NAHA, Japan - The Okinawa government said Thursday it will
consider filing an injunction if the state government continues
construction work to relocate a U.S. military base within the
prefecture without seeking local permission.
Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga also threatened to file a criminal
complaint in the latest wrangling between the central and local
governments over the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station
Futenma in Ginowan to Henoko area in Nago.
----------
Nepal's Madhesi parties pull out of ruling coalition, vow disobedience

KATHMANDU - An alliance of Madhesi parties disgruntled with
Nepal's Constitution adopted in 2015 withdrew support for Prime
Minister Prachanda's coalition late Wednesday and vowed disobedience
and non-cooperation with all activities related to the local
elections scheduled for May 14.
"We have decided to withdraw support for the government from
Thursday. The same day, we will launch a disobedience and
non-cooperation movement against the government," the United
Democratic Madhesi Front, a group of seven Madhesi parties, said in a
statement.
----------
GSDF held on to "destroyed" S. Sudan peacekeeping logs: source

TOKYO - Records that might throw light on conditions faced by
Japanese peacekeepers in South Sudan were kept by the Ground
Self-Defense Force, a source close to the matter said Thursday,
contradicting a claim by the defense ministry that they had been
destroyed.
The revelation comes amid claims by opposition parties that the
ministry has been hiding the logs to try to conceal the deterioration
of conditions in the capital Juba so as to allow the troops to
continue their mission.
----------
Kishida, Tillerson meet, eye stepping up pressure on N. Korea

TOKYO - Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and U.S.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson commenced talks Thursday to discuss
measures to step up pressure on North Korea in a bid to curb the
reclusive state's growing nuclear missile threat.
Tillerson is in Tokyo on his first Asian tour to Japan, South
Korea and China since taking office on Feb. 1. His visit comes after
North Korea alarmed the regional powers by launching four ballistic
missiles toward Japan last week.
----------
Panasonic cashing in on demand for security cameras in Thailand

BANGKOK - Japan's Panasonic Corp. expects its security camera
sales in Thailand to grow 12 percent and its market share to rise
from the current 10 percent to 12 percent this year by capitalizing
on growing demand in the Southeast Asian country.
Panasonic Siew Sales (Thailand) Co. predicts that Thailand's 3.5
billion baht ($99 million) surveillance camera market will reach
almost 4 billion baht this year, as many Thais are more concerned
about their safety, according to Ranee Sitthikaew, group manager of
security solutions at the distribution arm of the giant Japanese
electronics maker.
----------
Seoul court orders Japanese firm to compensate WWII forced laborer

SEOUL - A Seoul court on Thursday ordered a Japanese machinery
maker to compensate a South Korean woman who was forced to work at
the company during World War II, in the latest of a series of similar
rulings in favor of plaintiffs seeking redress from Japan for wartime
forced labor.
The Seoul Central District Court ruled that Nachi-Fujikoshi
Corp. must pay 100 million won (approximately $88,300) to Lee Chun
Myon, 85, for the hardships she suffered when forced to work under
harsh conditions at the firm's munitions factory in Japan.
----------
BOJ stands pat to gauge impact of U.S. rate hike on markets

TOKYO - The Bank of Japan decided Thursday to maintain its
current aggressive monetary easing measures while gauging the impact
of a U.S. rate hike overnight on global financial markets,
reiterating its pledge to achieve a 2 percent inflation goal.
The central bank decided by a 7-2 majority vote to keep intact
its 10-year Japanese government debt yield target at around zero
percent, as well as its negative interest rate of minus 0.1 percent
for some reserve funds held by commercial banks at the BOJ.
----------
Crime syndicate members fall below 20,000 for 1st time in 2016

TOKYO - The number of crime syndicate members in Japan fell
below the 20,000 threshold for the first time in 2016, as gang groups
are struggling to secure financing on the back of stronger police
crackdowns and a growing civil movement to eliminate them, a national
police report showed Thursday.
The figure dropped about 2,000 from a year earlier to around
18,100, the lowest since comparable data became available in 1958,
the National Police Agency said.
----------
Malaysia entrusted with handling of Kim Jong Nam body by kin: police

KUALA LUMPUR - Family members of Kim Jong Nam, North Korean
leader Kim Jong Un's half-brother who was murdered last month in
Kuala Lumpur, have entrusted Malaysia with deciding on how to handle
his body, Malaysia's deputy police chief said Thursday.
"They have given consent to let the government decide how to
deal with the body," Noor Rashid Ibrahim said. The move could allow
Malaysia to consider agreeing to a request to hand the body over to
North Korea. It had initially hoped the body would be claimed by
Kim's kin.

Kyodo news summary -2-

TOKYO, March 16 Kyodo

----------
Dollar stuck in lower 113 yen range in Tokyo on Fed rate hike pace

TOKYO - The U.S. dollar moved narrowly in the lower 113 yen zone
Thursday morning in Tokyo, staying under pressure as the U.S. Federal
Reserve said it expects future rate hikes to occur at a moderate pace.
At noon, the dollar fetched 113.34-35 yen compared with
113.34-44 yen in New York and 114.69-70 yen in Tokyo at 5 p.m.
Wednesday.
----------
FEATURE: 3-time Paralympian Barrow wouldn't change his life for
anything

TOKYO - Three-time Paralympian Andy Barrow would be horrified if
people still had the same general view of the disabled as prevailed
in William Shakespeare's time, when they were often regarded and
portrayed as being evil.
But the Bard's words from Henry VI, Part III, are very much
something the 37-year-old understands and embraces as students at the
British School Tokyo recently discovered when the school hosted the
former British wheelchair rugby captain.
----------
Tokyo stocks inch down in morning on strong yen after Fed meeting

TOKYO - Tokyo stocks edged down Thursday morning as
export-linked issues were dented by the yen's advance against the
U.S. dollar after the Federal Reserve signaled it will not speed up
the pace of rate hikes this year.
The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average shed 25.80 points, or 0.13
percent, from Wednesday to 19,551.58. The broader Topix index of all
First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange was down 2.10
points, or 0.13 percent, to 1,569.21.
----------
Japan's key bond yield falls on U.S. Treasury yields drop

TOKYO - The yield on the benchmark 10-year Japanese government
bond fell Thursday morning, tracking an overnight drop in U.S.
Treasury yields after the Federal Reserve signaled it will not speed
up the pace of rate hikes this year.
The yield on the No. 346, 0.1 percent issue, the main yardstick
of long-term interest rates, ended morning interdealer trading at
0.080 percent, down 0.010 percentage point from Wednesday's close.
----------
Bank of Japan keeps monetary policy unchanged

TOKYO - The Bank of Japan decided Thursday to maintain its
current aggressive monetary easing measures, reiterating its pledge
to achieve a 2 percent inflation goal.
The central bank's decision came after the U.S. Federal Reserve
on Wednesday raised its policy rate for the first time since
December, putting upward pressure on long-term interest rates in the
United States and Japan.
----------
Hawaii judge halts Trump's revised travel ban

WASHINGTON - A federal judge in Hawaii halted President Donald
Trump's revised travel ban on Wednesday just hours before it was set
to take effect early on Thursday.
U.S. District Court Judge Derrick Watson said the state of
Hawaii has shown a strong likelihood of succeeding in its claim that
Trump's new executive order targeting people from six Muslim-majority
nations violates the Constitution's ban on religious discrimination.
----------
Diet panel resumes Constitution debate, eyeing 1st-ever amendment

TOKYO - A House of Representatives panel on constitutional
reform resumed deliberation on Thursday for the first time since
November last year.
Deliberation on the Constitution in both houses of parliament is
an essential step in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's plan to get the
post-World War II supreme law amended for the first time.
----------
Personnel shortage delays CV-22 Osprey deployment to Yokota base

WASHINGTON - A shortage of skilled operations and maintenance
personnel has caused a delay in the deployment of U.S. Air Force
CV-22 Osprey aircraft to Tokyo's Yokota Air Base, the Defense
Department said Wednesday.
Pentagon spokesman Gary Ross said training experienced personnel
for running the CV-22 enterprise has been progressing "at a slower
pace than planned."
----------
N. Korea's coal exports reach 35% of annual cap in 1st 2 months: U.N.

NEW YORK - North Korea's coal exports in February came to 1.23
million tons, with the figure in combination with January's total
already accounting for more than 35 percent of the annual cap,
according to data from the U.N. Security Council committee overseeing
sanctions on the country.
It shipped 1.44 million tons in January, accounting for 19
percent of its cap.
----------
11 partners affirm TPP's significance

VINA DEL MAR, Chile - Ministers from Japan and 10 other
Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement members on Wednesday
confirmed the significance of the deal, while expressing concern
about rising protectionism around the world.
It was the first ministerial meeting among TPP members since
U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the TPP
in late January.
----------
Japan-EU motion to seek action on N. Korea rights abuses

GENEVA - Japan and the European Union are poised to call for
concrete measures to hold those responsible for human rights abuses
in North Korea accountable, a draft of their resolution to be
submitted to a U.N. human rights panel showed Wednesday.
The two parties plan to jointly submit the resolution, the 10th
of its kind, on Thursday with the aim of winning approval from the
U.N. Human Rights Council next week. China and Russia have signaled
their opposition, saying they cannot support any attempt to address
rights issues for political purposes.
----------
U.S. lifts interest rates for 1st time in 3 months

WASHINGTON - The Federal Reserve raised interest rates Wednesday
for the first time in three months amid a pickup in the U.S. economy,
inflation and the labor market.
The central bank decided to increase its target range for the
benchmark rate by 0.25 percentage point to 0.75 to 1 percent, it said
in a statement issued after a two-day meeting of the policy-setting
Federal Open Market Committee.

Kyodo news summary -1-

TOKYO, March 16 Kyodo

----------
Tokyo stocks open lower as yen strengthens after Fed's meeting

TOKYO - Tokyo stocks opened lower Thursday as export-linked
issues were hit by the yen's advance against the U.S. dollar after
the meeting of the Federal Reserve.
In the first 15 minutes of trading, the 225-issue Nikkei Stock
Average fell 72.06 points, or 0.37 percent, from Wednesday to
19,505.32. The broader Topix index of all First Section issues on the
Tokyo Stock Exchange was down 5.49 points, or 0.35 percent, to
1,565.82.
----------
Dollar trades in lower 113 yen in early Tokyo after Fed's rate action

TOKYO - The U.S. dollar traded in the lower 113 yen range early
Thursday morning in Tokyo, little changed from its overnight levels
in New York where the U.S. currency hit a two-week low against the
yen.
At 9 a.m., the dollar fetched 113.40-42 yen compared with
113.34-44 yen in New York and 114.69-70 yen in Tokyo at 5 p.m.
Wednesday.
----------
Personnel shortage delays CV-22 Osprey deployment to Yokota base

WASHINGTON - A shortage of skilled operations and maintenance
personnel has caused a delay in the deployment of U.S. Air Force
CV-22 Osprey aircraft to Tokyo's Yokota Air Base, the Defense
Department said Wednesday.
Pentagon spokesman Gary Ross said training experienced personnel
for running the CV-22 enterprise has been progressing "at a slower
pace than planned."
----------
N. Korea's coal exports reach 35% of annual cap in 1st 2 months: U.N.

NEW YORK - North Korea's coal exports in February came to 1.23
million tons, with the figure in combination with January's total
already accounting for more than 35 percent of the annual cap,
according to data from the U.N. Security Council committee overseeing
sanctions on the country.
It shipped 1.44 million tons in January, accounting for 19
percent of its cap.
----------
11 partners affirm TPP's significance

VINA DEL MAR, Chile - Ministers from Japan and 10 other
Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement members on Wednesday
confirmed the significance of the deal, while expressing concern
about rising protectionism around the world.
It was the first ministerial meeting among TPP members since
U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the TPP
in late January.
----------
Japan-EU motion to seek action on N. Korea rights abuses

GENEVA - Japan and the European Union are poised to call for
concrete measures to hold those responsible for human rights abuses
in North Korea accountable, a draft of their resolution to be
submitted to a U.N. human rights panel showed Wednesday.
The two parties plan to jointly submit the resolution, the 10th
of its kind, on Thursday with the aim of winning approval from the
U.N. Human Rights Council next week. China and Russia have signaled
their opposition, saying they cannot support any attempt to address
rights issues for political purposes.
----------
U.S. lifts interest rates for 1st time in 3 months

WASHINGTON - The Federal Reserve raised interest rates Wednesday
for the first time in three months amid a pickup in the U.S. economy,
inflation and the labor market.
The central bank decided to increase its target range for the
benchmark rate by 0.25 percentage point to 0.75 to 1 percent, it said
in a statement issued after a two-day meeting of the policy-setting
Federal Open Market Committee.
----------
Olympics: IOC expected to OK Fukushima stadium for 2020

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea - The 2020 Tokyo Olympics organizing
committee will push to the International Olympic Committee a
renovated Azuma Stadium in Fukushima Prefecture for use as a venue
for the baseball-softball competition, informed sources said
Wednesday.
The ballpark lies in an area hard hit by the March 2011
earthquake and tsunami. Because the IOC has indicated an
understanding of the desire of 2020 organizers to assist in
rebuilding disaster areas, the proposal will likely be accepted.
----------
Panasonic referred to prosecutors over illegal overtime work

TOYAMA, Japan - Panasonic Corp. and two of its officials were
referred to prosecutors on Wednesday over the more than 100 hours of
overtime work a month at a factory in Toyama Prefecture that led to
the suicide of one worker, labor inspection officials said.
Panasonic and the two officials, who are in charge of ensuring
safe working conditions, are alleged to have three workers at the
device-manufacturing plant in Tonami, Toyama, work for up to 138
hours a month in overtime between December 2015 and last June in
violation of a labor-management agreement.
----------
Cambodian deputy prime minister Sok An dies of illness

PHNOM PENH - Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, a close
aide to Prime Minister Hun Sen for more than two decades, died of
illness Wednesday, the government announced. He was 66.
Sok An, who served deputy prime minister since 2004, died at
6:32 p.m. in a Beijing hospital, where he had received medical
treatment over the past few days.
----------
Osaka had most suspected child abuse cases in Japan for 3 yrs in row

OSAKA - The number of children who were referred to juvenile
counseling centers in Osaka last year for alleged abuse against them
rose 33.7 percent from the previous year to 8,536, keeping Osaka
ahead of 46 other prefectures in the country for three straight years
in terms of such numbers.
According to the juvenile affairs division of Osaka police,
about 70 percent of those under 18 years of age, or 6,010 children,
had suffered psychological abuse, including shock from seeing acts of
domestic violence within their families.
----------
Cathay Pacific posts first annual loss since 2008

HONG KONG - Cathay Pacific Group, the parent of Hong Kong's
flagship air carrier, on Wednesday reported a loss of HK$575 million
($74 million) for 2016, its first loss since 2008.
Its three airlines -- Cathay Pacific, Cathay Dragon and freight
carrier Air Hong Kong, which operate 202 aircraft and fly to over 240
destinations worldwide -- posted a HK$6 billion profit the previous
year.