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Kyodo news summary -5-

TOKYO, April 17 Kyodo

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Taiwan police quiz man suspected of beheading Japanese engineer statue

TAIPEI - Taiwanese police said Monday they are questioning a man
who suggested on social media that he decapitated a statue of a
Japanese civil engineer at a park in southern Taiwan just weeks
before an annual commemoration.
They said the suspect, identified as former Taipei City
councilor Lee Cheng-lung, was questioned by members of a special task
force of the Tainan City Police Department, who traveled to the
capital from the southern city where the vandalism took place on
Sunday.
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Japan, S. Korea fishermen to urge own gov'ts to curb illegal fishing

TOKYO - Japan and South Korean squid-fishing groups plan to work
together to urge their governments to take further steps to counter
illegal fishing, which Chinese and North Korean ships are believed
doing in the Sea of Japan, the Japanese group said Monday.
According to the Japan Squid Fisheries Association, 200 to 300
unidentified vessels repeatedly operated illegally in a shallow area
known as a good fishing spot for Japanese flying squid from late
September to the end of October, interfering with Japanese and South
Korean vessels allowed to fish there.
----------
Tokyo area new condo supply drops 4.4% in FY 2016 to 24-yr low

TOKYO - The number of new condominiums listed for sale in the
Tokyo region in fiscal 2016 dropped 4.4 percent to the lowest level
in 24 years, due to sluggish demand amid rising prices, a consulting
firm said Monday.
In Tokyo and neighboring Chiba, Kanagawa and Saitama
prefectures, 36,450 new condos were put on sale in the year ended in
March, the lowest since fiscal 1992 when 28,460 units were offered
after the burst of Japan's asset-inflated bubble economy, the Real
Estate Economic Institute said.
----------
Pence warns U.S. patience with N. Korea over, punitive measures eyed

SEOUL - U.S. Vice President Mike Pence warned Monday that the
"era of strategic patience is over" with North Korea, agreeing in
talks with the acting South Korean leader to take punitive measures
against the North if it continues its provocative actions.
Pence made the remarks following his talks with South Korea's
acting President Hwang Kyo Ahn in Seoul, after Pyongyang defied
repeated international warnings and unsuccessfully launched on
ballistic missile Sunday morning from near the port city of Sinpo.
----------
S. Korea's ousted president Park indicted over corruption scandal

SEOUL - South Korean prosecutors on Monday indicted jailed
former President Park Geun Hye over a corruption and abuse-of-power
scandal that led to her fall from power.
In a statement, prosecutors said Park is suspected of having
received a total of 59.2 billion won (about $52.4 million) in bribe
money, according to Yonhap News Agency.
----------
Efforts to support foreigners in disasters under way by local gov'ts

FUKUOKA - Efforts are under way by local governments across
Japan to support foreigners in times of natural disasters given the
increasing number of foreign residents, a survey by Kyodo News showed.
Local authorities are preparing emergency manuals and guidelines
for foreigners which stipulate specific steps, as such preparation is
important in disaster-prone Japan.
----------
Japan's key bond yield drops to 0% for 1st time in 5 months

TOKYO - The yield on the benchmark 10-year Japanese government
bond dropped Monday to 0.000 percent for the first time in five
months, as investors fled to the safe-haven debt amid rising tensions
on the Korean Peninsula.
The yield on the No. 346, 0.1 percent issue, the main barometer
of long-term interest rates, ended interdealer trading at 0.000
percent, down 0.010 percentage point from Friday's close.
----------
Dollar falls to lower 108 yen range on weak data, N. Korea tensions

TOKYO - The U.S. dollar hit a fresh five-month low in the lower
108 yen zone on Monday in Tokyo, weighed down by sluggish U.S.
economic data and increasing tensions over the Korean Peninsula.
At 5 p.m., the dollar fetched 108.32-33 yen compared with
108.54-64 yen in New York and 108.92-94 yen in Tokyo at 5 p.m.
Friday. It moved between 108.13 yen, the lowest since Nov. 15, and
108.81 yen during the day, changing hands most frequently at 108.30
yen.
----------
Abe urges sticking to diplomatic action on N. Korea

TOKYO - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stressed Monday the
importance of responding to North Korea's overtures of military power
with diplomatic efforts, apparently cautioning against the use of
force.
Abe made the remarks in a parliamentary committee amid
heightened tensions over Pyongyang's nuclear program, with the United
States having deployed an aircraft carrier and accompanying ships to
waters near the Korean Peninsula amid signs another nuclear test is
imminent.
----------
Gov't plans to submit emperor abdication bill to Diet on May 19

TOKYO - The government is preparing to submit a special bill to
the Diet as early as May 19 to enable Emperor Akihito to abdicate,
aiming to have it passed by the end of the current parliamentary
session through June 18, sources close to the matter said Monday.
The bill is expected to call for one-off legislation applying
only to the present emperor, reflecting an agreement reached last
month by Diet members and the final proposals a government advisory
panel is scheduled to compile on Friday.
----------
Chiba Univ. medical student sentenced to 3 years for gang rape

CHIBA, Japan - A Chiba University medical student was sentenced
to three years on Monday for gang raping a woman with his classmates.
The Chiba District Court imposed the sentence on Kensuke Yamada,
23, a fifth-year student at Chiba University's school of medicine,
for gang raping an inebriated woman at a restaurant last September.
----------
U.S. "100%" behind S. Korea security amid N. Korea tensions: Pence
SEOUL - U.S. Vice President Mike Pence on Monday vowed his
country's all-out support to defend South Korea amid heightened
tensions on the Korean Peninsula following a failed missile test by
North Korea the previous day.
"We are with you 100 percent," Pence said in a joint press
conference with South Korea's acting President Hwang Kyo Ahn after
their talks in Seoul.

Kyodo news summary -4-

TOKYO, April 17 Kyodo

----------
Efforts to support foreigners in disasters under way by local gov'ts

FUKUOKA - Efforts are under way by local governments across
Japan to support foreigners in times of natural disasters given the
increasing number of foreign residents, a survey by Kyodo News showed.
Local authorities are preparing emergency manuals and guidelines
for foreigners which stipulate specific steps, as such preparation is
important in disaster-prone Japan.
----------
Japan's key bond yield drops to 0% for 1st time in 5 months

TOKYO - The yield on the benchmark 10-year Japanese government
bond dropped Monday to 0.000 percent for the first time in five
months, as investors fled to the safe-haven debt amid rising tensions
on the Korean Peninsula.
The yield on the No. 346, 0.1 percent issue, the main barometer
of long-term interest rates, ended interdealer trading at 0.000
percent, down 0.010 percentage point from Friday's close.
----------
Dollar falls to lower 108 yen range on weak data, N. Korea tensions

TOKYO - The U.S. dollar hit a fresh five-month low in the lower
108 yen zone on Monday in Tokyo, weighed down by sluggish U.S.
economic data and increasing tensions over the Korean Peninsula.
At 5 p.m., the dollar fetched 108.32-33 yen compared with
108.54-64 yen in New York and 108.92-94 yen in Tokyo at 5 p.m.
Friday. It moved between 108.13 yen, the lowest since Nov. 15, and
108.81 yen during the day, changing hands most frequently at 108.30
yen.
----------
Abe urges sticking to diplomatic action on N. Korea

TOKYO - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stressed Monday the
importance of responding to North Korea's overtures of military power
with diplomatic efforts, apparently cautioning against the use of
force.
Abe made the remarks in a parliamentary committee amid
heightened tensions over Pyongyang's nuclear program, with the United
States having deployed an aircraft carrier and accompanying ships to
waters near the Korean Peninsula amid signs another nuclear test is
imminent.
----------
Gov't plans to submit emperor abdication bill to Diet on May 19

TOKYO - The government is preparing to submit a special bill to
the Diet as early as May 19 to enable Emperor Akihito to abdicate,
aiming to have it passed by the end of the current parliamentary
session through June 18, sources close to the matter said Monday.
The bill is expected to call for one-off legislation applying
only to the present emperor, reflecting an agreement reached last
month by Diet members and the final proposals a government advisory
panel is scheduled to compile on Friday.
----------
S. Korea's ousted president Park indicted over corruption scandal

SEOUL - South Korean prosecutors indicted on Monday ousted
President Park Geun Hye over the corruption and abuse-of-power
scandal that ended her presidency.
Park is the first ex-president to be arrested and indicted since
former leaders Chun Doo Hwan and Roh Tae Woo, who were jailed on
corruption and mutiny charges in the mid-1990s.
----------
Chiba Univ. medical student sentenced to 3 years for gang rape

CHIBA, Japan - A Chiba University medical student was sentenced
to three years on Monday for gang raping a woman with his classmates.
The Chiba District Court imposed the sentence on Kensuke Yamada,
23, a fifth-year student at Chiba University's school of medicine,
for gang raping an inebriated woman at a restaurant last September.
----------
U.S. "100%" behind S. Korea security amid N. Korea tensions: Pence

SEOUL - U.S. Vice President Mike Pence on Monday vowed his
country's all-out support to defend South Korea amid heightened
tensions on the Korean Peninsula following a failed missile test by
North Korea the previous day.
"We are with you 100 percent," Pence said in a joint press
conference with South Korea's acting President Hwang Kyo Ahn after
their talks in Seoul.
----------
Tokyo stocks end higher on favorable China GDP data

TOKYO - Tokyo stocks erased earlier losses to finish slightly
higher Monday, lifted by favorable Chinese economic growth data for
the first quarter, though caution about North Korea kept the market
top-heavy throughout the day.
The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average ended up 19.63 points, or
0.11 percent, from Friday at 18,355.26. The broader Topix index of
all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange finished 6.62
points, or 0.45 percent, higher at 1,465.69.
----------
Dentsu, branch offices to be referred to prosecutors over extra work

TOKYO - The labor ministry is making arrangements to refer
advertising agency Dentsu Inc. and officials of its branch offices to
prosecutors for allegedly making employees work illegally long hours,
sources close to the matter said Monday.
The ministry's Tokyo Labor Bureau has already sent documents on
Dentsu's violation of the Labor Standards Law over the
overwork-related suicide of a 24-year-old employee. It is also
investigating whether other employees were made to work illegal
amounts of overtime.
----------
FOCUS: Japan finding it no easy job to play bigger role in U.N.
mission

TOKYO - Prime Minister Shinzo Abe may be finding it not so easy
to live up to his pledge to make Japan a "proactive contributor to
peace," as the country ends its troops' participation in a U.N.
peacekeeping operation in South Sudan and looks for other missions to
join.
The U.N. mission in South Sudan was the first test case for the
Self-Defense Forces to play a bigger role in international
peace-building efforts based on Japan's controversial security
legislation, which loosened the constraints of the post-World War II
pacifist Constitution.
----------
China's 1st qtr GDP growth at 6.9%, fastest pace in more than year

BEIJING - China's economy grew at its fastest pace in more than
a year in the first three months of 2017, up 6.9 percent from a year
earlier, official data showed Monday, adding signs to a recent pickup
in the world's second-largest economy.
"As positive changes kept emerging and major indicators
performed better than expected, the national economy maintained the
momentum of steady and sound development," said the National Bureau
of Statistics, which released the data.

Kyodo news summary -3-

TOKYO, April 17 Kyodo

----------
Dentsu, branch offices to be referred to prosecutors over extra work

TOKYO - The labor ministry is making arrangements to refer
advertising agency Dentsu Inc. and officials of its branch offices to
prosecutors for allegedly making employees work illegally long hours,
sources close to the matter said Monday.
The ministry's Tokyo Labor Bureau has already sent documents on
Dentsu's violation of the Labor Standards Law over the
overwork-related suicide of a 24-year-old employee. It is also
investigating whether other employees were made to work illegal
amounts of overtime.
----------
Tokyo stocks end higher on favorable China GDP data

TOKYO - Tokyo stocks erased earlier losses to finish slightly
higher Monday, lifted by favorable Chinese economic growth data for
the first quarter, though caution about North Korea kept the market
top-heavy throughout the day.
The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average ended up 19.63 points, or
0.11 percent, from Friday at 18,355.26. The broader Topix index of
all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange finished 6.62
points, or 0.45 percent, higher at 1,465.69.
----------
FOCUS: Japan finding it no easy job to play bigger role in U.N.
mission

TOKYO - Prime Minister Shinzo Abe may be finding it not so easy
to live up to his pledge to make Japan a "proactive contributor to
peace," as the country ends its troops' participation in a U.N.
peacekeeping operation in South Sudan and looks for other missions to
join.
The U.N. mission in South Sudan was the first test case for the
Self-Defense Forces to play a bigger role in international
peace-building efforts based on Japan's controversial security
legislation, which loosened the constraints of the post-World War II
pacifist Constitution.
----------
China's 1st qtr GDP growth at 6.9%, fastest pace in more than year

BEIJING - China's economy grew at its fastest pace in more than
a year in the first three months of 2017, up 6.9 percent from a year
earlier, official data showed Monday, adding signs to a recent pickup
in the world's second-largest economy.
"As positive changes kept emerging and major indicators
performed better than expected, the national economy maintained the
momentum of steady and sound development," said the National Bureau
of Statistics, which released the data.
----------
FEATURE: Astronaut keeps his cool as he awaits 1st flight to space

TOKYO - Life may offer an unexpected surprise after an epic
letdown, but in the case of first-time space voyager Norishige Kanai,
it was an out-of-this-world opportunity.
As Japan's youngest astronaut, Kanai, 40, is set to undertake a
long-duration mission to the International Space Station when he
takes off aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft this fall, following his
initial heartbreak and nine years of extensive training.
----------
U.S. Vice President Pence visits DMZ amid N. Korea tensions

SEOUL - U.S. Vice President Mike Pence visited the Demilitarized
Zone separating the two Koreas on Monday, following a failed missile
test by North Korea a day earlier, warning that "all options are on
the table" in dealing with Pyongyang's nuclear and missile issues.
Pence's symbolic move to visit the DMZ while in South Korea on
the first leg of his 10-day trip to the Asia-Pacific region comes at
a time when North Korea has been ratcheting up tensions with a series
of ballistic missile launches and fears it could conduct its sixth
nuclear test.
----------
Aso to meet U.S. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin, other finance chiefs

TOKYO - Finance Minister Taro Aso will hold talks this week with
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in Washington as he plans to
attend a meeting of Group of 20 finance chiefs, the Finance Ministry
said Monday.
Aso and Mnuchin, sitting down for talks Thursday for the first
time since March, are expected to discuss currency and macroeconomic
policies. Aso is also scheduled to meet with his French counterpart
Michel Sapin and the finance ministers of Indonesia and Mexico during
his stay in the U.S. capital.
----------
Abe urges sticking to diplomatic action on N. Korea

TOKYO - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stressed Monday the
importance of responding to North Korea's overtures of military power
with diplomatic efforts, apparently cautioning against the use of
force.
Abe made the remarks in a parliamentary committee amid
heightened tensions over Pyongyang's nuclear program, with the United
States having deployed an aircraft carrier and accompanying ships to
waters near the Korean Peninsula amid signs another nuclear test is
imminent.
----------
Gov't to take emperor abdication bill to Diet on May 19

TOKYO - The government is preparing to submit a special bill to
the Diet as early as May 19 to allow the emperor to step down, aiming
to enact it by the end of the current parliamentary session through
June 18, sources close to the matter said Monday.
The bill is expected to call for one-off legislation covering
only Emperor Akihito, reflecting the agreement by Diet members and
the final proposals the government is scheduled to receive on Friday
from an advisory panel.
----------
Japan troops to start leaving S. Sudan to end U.N. peacekeeping

JUBA - Japan's Ground Self-Defense Force troops will start
leaving South Sudan on Monday as part of the process to end their
five-year participation in the ongoing U.N. peacekeeping mission
there.
The first group of troops to head home consists of about 70
personnel of the 350-member GSDF unit that has stayed in South Sudan
from around December last year. All members of the unit are expected
to return by the end of May.
----------
Japan's key bond yield flat in morning

TOKYO - The yield on the benchmark 10-year Japanese government
bond was flat Monday morning as buying of the safe-haven debt amid
concerns about North Korea was offset by selling to lock in gains.
The yield on the No. 346, 0.1 percent issue, the main yardstick
of long-term interest rates, ended morning interdealer trading at
0.010 percent, unchanged from Friday's close.
----------
Japan's crown prince wraps up 1st visit to Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR - Japanese Crown Prince Naruhito completed all
scheduled events Sunday during his first visit to Malaysia, attending
a Japanese-language speech contest among Malaysian high school
students.
"I am pleased to meet with people who are willing to serve as a
bridge for exchanges between Japan and Malaysia," he told reporters
as he reflected on his visit. "While we face a great deal of
difficulties in international affairs, I felt that Malaysia's
tolerance (as a multiethnic country) can serve as a reference," he
added, without offering specifics.

Kyodo news summary -2-

TOKYO, April 17 Kyodo

----------
China's 1st qtr GDP growth at 6.9%, fastest rise in more than year

BEIJING - China's economy grew at its fastest pace in more than
a year in the first three months of 2017, up 6.9 percent from a year
before, official data showed Monday, adding signs to a recent pickup
in the world's second-largest economy.
"As positive changes kept emerging and major indicators
performed better than expected, the national economy maintained the
momentum of steady and sound development," said the National Bureau
of Statistics, which released the data.
----------
23 taken to hospital, one seriously hurt in bus accident in Fukuoka

FUKUOKA - Twenty-three people were taken to hospital, one of
them with serious injuries, after a chartered bus carrying 54
firefighters collided with a car in Fukuoka Prefecture on Monday
morning, rescuers said.
A man in his 20s who was driving the passenger car suffered a
broken pelvis, but others involved in the accident appeared to have
sustained mostly minor injuries, they said.
----------
Dollar slips to 5-month low at lower 108 yen on N. Korea concerns

TOKYO - The U.S. dollar slipped to its lowest level in about 5
months in the lower 108 yen range Monday morning in Tokyo as the
safe-haven yen drew buying amid mounting tensions over North Korea.
At noon, the dollar fetched 108.23-27 yen compared with
108.54-64 yen in New York and 108.92-94 yen in Tokyo at 5 p.m. Friday.
----------
Tokyo stocks fall in morning amid caution after N. Korea missile

TOKYO - Tokyo stocks fell Monday morning, as exporters were hit
by the yen's advance against the U.S. dollar amid a cautious mood
after North Korea attempted to launch a ballistic missile.
The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average shed 57.45 points, or 0.31
percent, from Friday to 18,278.18. The broader Topix index of all
First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange was down 0.14
points, or 0.01 percent, to 1,458.93.
----------
India's auto industry concerned over tough emission standards

NEW DELHI - India's automotive industry is in a fix as it is
likely to be hit hard by a court-appointed environment panel's
proposal to allow only vehicles meeting a stricter emission standard
to be sold in the country from April 1, 2020.
The industry says the move, if approved, will not only force
automakers to move up the manufacturing of "Bharat Stage
VI"-compliant vehicles to meet the deadline but also require them to
clear the inventory of less strict BS IV-compliant models they are
currently producing as there will be a complete ban on BS IV autos
beyond the given timeline.
----------
U.S. Vice President Pence visits DMZ separating North, South Korea

SEOUL - U.S. Vice President Mike Pence visited on Monday the
demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, following a failed
missile test by North Korea the previous day, the U.S. military said.
The DMZ visit by Pence, in South Korea on the first leg of his
10-day trip to the Asia-Pacific region, came at a time when North
Korea has been ratcheting up tensions with a series of ballistic
missile launches and fears Pyongyang could conduct its sixth nuclear
test.
----------
Turkey votes to grant new powers to president

ANKARA - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared victory
in a referendum on Sunday that will greatly increase powers for his
office in a major overhaul of the country's politics.
The country's central election committee said "yes" votes for
the constitutional reform won, setting the leader, known for his
Islamic values and often criticized as authoritarian, on course to
continue ruling the nation with a stronger grip for years to come.
----------
Japan's key bond yield flat in morning

TOKYO - The yield on the benchmark 10-year Japanese government
bond was flat Monday morning as buying of the safe-haven debt amid
concerns about North Korea was offset by selling to lock in gains.
The yield on the No. 346, 0.1 percent issue, the main yardstick
of long-term interest rates, ended morning interdealer trading at
0.010 percent, unchanged from Friday's close.
----------
Official campaign starts for S. Korea's presidential election

SEOUL - Official campaigning began Monday for next month's South
Korean presidential election to choose a successor to deposed
President Park Geun Hye, with the election heavily tilted toward
candidates from liberal parties following a corruption and cronyism
scandal linked to Park.
A total of 15 candidates, a record number, are running for the
presidency in the May 9 election after Park was arrested on March 31
after being ousted from office earlier that month. She still had one
year of her five-year term left.
----------
Japan's crown prince wraps up 1st visit to Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR - Japanese Crown Prince Naruhito completed all
scheduled events Sunday during his first visit to Malaysia, attending
a Japanese-language speech contest among Malaysian high school
students.
"I am pleased to meet with people who are willing to serve as a
bridge for exchanges between Japan and Malaysia," he told reporters
as he reflected on his visit. "While we face a great deal of
difficulties in international affairs, I felt that Malaysia's
tolerance (as a multiethnic country) can serve as a reference," he
added, without offering specifics.
----------
Man killed trying to rescue another on train tracks was bank employee

YOKOHAMA - The man hit and killed Saturday by an oncoming train
while attempting to rescue an elderly man trapped at a level crossing
in Kawasaki just outside of Tokyo was a 52-year-old employee of the
Bank of Yokohama, a police official and his employer said Sunday.
Masashi Kodama's family released a statement through the bank
the same day, saying, "We are upset at this point. We implore you to
kindly let us be, taking into consideration the situation we are in."
----------
Kumamoto marks 1-year anniversary of M7.3 quake

KUMAMOTO, Japan - Memorial services were held Sunday in the
southwestern Japan prefecture of Kumamoto for the victims of a
magnitude-7.3 earthquake a year ago that followed another powerful
jolt around 28 hours before, with the infrastructure minister
pledging to restore key routes.
The direct death toll from the quakes totaled 50, while 170
people have died in Kumamoto and neighboring Oita Prefecture due to
causes indirectly linked to the disaster.

Kyodo news summary -1-

TOKYO, April 17 Kyodo

----------
Tokyo stocks open lower as N. Korea's missile launch hurts sentiment

TOKYO - Tokyo stocks opened lower Monday, with sentiment dented
by continued geopolitical risks after North Korea test-fired a
ballistic missile the previous day, while exporters were hit by the
yen's advance against the U.S. dollar.
In the first 15 minutes of trading, the 225-issue Nikkei Stock
Average fell 67.76 points, or 0.37 percent, from Friday to 18,267.87.
The broader Topix index of all First Section issues on the Tokyo
Stock Exchange was down 2.66 points, or 0.18 percent, to 1,456.41.
----------
Dollar trades in lower 108 yen range in early Tokyo deals

TOKYO - The U.S. dollar traded in the lower 108 yen level early
Monday in Tokyo, down from its levels in New York on Friday where it
plunged to a nearly five-month low on weak U.S. economic data.
At 9 a.m., the dollar fetched 108.34-35 yen compared with
108.54-64 yen in New York and 108.92-94 yen in Tokyo at 5 p.m. Friday.
----------
Japan's crown prince wraps up 1st visit to Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR - Japanese Crown Prince Naruhito completed all
scheduled events Sunday during his first visit to Malaysia, attending
a Japanese-language speech contest among Malaysian high school
students.
"I am pleased to meet with people who are willing to serve as a
bridge for exchanges between Japan and Malaysia," he told reporters
as he reflected on his visit. "While we face a great deal of
difficulties in international affairs, I felt that Malaysia's
tolerance (as a multiethnic country) can serve as a reference," he
added, without offering specifics.
----------
Man killed trying to rescue another on train tracks was bank employee

YOKOHAMA - The man hit and killed Saturday by an oncoming train
while attempting to rescue an elderly man trapped at a level crossing
in Kawasaki just outside of Tokyo was a 52-year-old employee of the
Bank of Yokohama, a police official and his employer said Sunday.
Masashi Kodama's family released a statement through the bank
the same day, saying, "We are upset at this point. We implore you to
kindly let us be, taking into consideration the situation we are in."
----------
Kumamoto marks 1-year anniversary of M7.3 quake

KUMAMOTO, Japan - Memorial services were held Sunday in the
southwestern Japan prefecture of Kumamoto for the victims of a
magnitude-7.3 earthquake a year ago that followed another powerful
jolt around 28 hours before, with the infrastructure minister
pledging to restore key routes.
The direct death toll from the quakes totaled 50, while 170
people have died in Kumamoto and neighboring Oita Prefecture due to
causes indirectly linked to the disaster.
----------
Pence arrives in S. Korea, reaffirms U.S. commitment to ally

SEOUL - U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said on Sunday, hours
after a failed missile test by North Korea, that Washington's resolve
to stand by its ally South Korea "has never been stronger."
Pence, who arrived in Seoul earlier in the day, made the remark
at a fellowship meal following an Easter Service with U.S. soldiers
based in South Korea. The South hosts 28,000 U.S. troops as the two
Koreas technically remain at war.
----------
Tillerson, Yang discuss Korean Peninsula after North's missile test

BEIJING - Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi, China's top
diplomat, and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson exchanged views
on the situation on the Korean Peninsula via telephone on Sunday,
according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
Although the specifics of their conversation were not released,
the state-run Xinhua News Agency said it came after North Korea's
unsuccessful test launch of a missile in the morning.
----------
Death toll rises to 112 in Syrian bus convoy bombing

CAIRO - The death toll has climbed to 112 in a car bomb attack
outside Syria's war-torn Aleppo on a convoy of buses carrying
evacuees from towns besieged by antigovernment forces, the
British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Sunday.
So far there has been no claim of responsibility for the attack
Saturday in the Rashidin area on Aleppo's outskirts.
----------
Statue of Japanese engineer in southern Taiwan beheaded

TAIPEI - A statute commemorating a late Japanese civil engineer
in southern Taiwan who contributed to Taiwan's development was found
decapitated on Sunday, local media reported.
Central News Agency and other outlets said an investigation is
underway to uncover the motive behind the vandalism and that Tainan
Mayor William Lai has instructed local police to form a special task
force to look into the case.
----------
Japan lodges protest with N. Korea over ballistic missile launch

TOKYO - The Japanese government lodged a protest with North
Korea on Sunday over the test-firing of a ballistic missile by the
country earlier in the day, saying it was in clear violation of U.N.
Security Council resolutions.
As Tokyo communicated its protest to Pyongyang through a
diplomatic channel in Beijing, a Japanese government source said
North Korea's "repeated provocative moves are unacceptable."
----------
N. Korea attempts and fails missile launch amid tensions

SEOUL - North Korea on Sunday unsuccessfully test-launched a
ballistic missile that the South Korean and U.S. militaries said
appeared not to have intercontinental capability.
The attempted launch of the unidentified missile took place at
around 6:20 a.m. at a land-based launch facility near the port city
of Sinpo, South Hamgyong Province, according to South Korea's Joint
Chiefs of Staff.
----------
Parents of slain Vietnamese girl back in Japan after suspect's arrest

CHIBA, Japan - The parents of a Vietnamese girl killed after
disappearing on the way to school in Chiba Prefecture last month
arrived in Japan Sunday following the arrest of a suspect for
allegedly abandoning her body.
Le Anh Hao, father of the victim Le Thi Nhat Linh, and other
family members are due to be briefed about the investigation by
police.