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Kyodo news summary -3-

May 25, 2019

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M5.1 quake hits area near Tokyo, no tsunami warning issued

TOKYO - An earthquake with an estimated magnitude of 5.1 rattled parts of Chiba Prefecture near Tokyo on Saturday afternoon, but no tsunami warning was issued, the weather agency said.

The epicenter of the quake, which occurred around 3:20 p.m. at a depth of around 40 kilometers, was in the southern part of the prefecture, the agency said.

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Chinese ships sail near Senkaku Islands for 44th straight day

NAHA, Japan - Chinese Coast Guard ships sailed near Japan’s Senkaku Islands on Saturday for the 44th straight day, the Japan Coast Guard said.

It was the longest period for Chinese government ships to either intrude into the territorial waters around the uninhibited islands or travel in the so-called contiguous zone surrounding the Japanese waters, the coast guard said.

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Central Japan Railway’s test bullet train hits 360 kph

TOKYO - A prototype bullet train of Central Japan Railway Co. reached the highest speed ever for the model hitting 360 kilometers per hour, the operator said Saturday, hoping to promote it in overseas markets such as the United States and Taiwan.

It was the fastest speed for the N700S train scheduled to commence commercial service in July on the Tokaido Shinkansen Line linking Tokyo to Osaka, the company said.

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Japan city aiming to become esports mecca to attract young people

KANAZAWA, Japan - As one way to attract young people, a central Japan city facing the Sea of Japan is aiming to become a mecca for esports by attracting related businesses and helping youth to work in the industry.

Although Japan is home to famous game titles and a large gaming market, it lags behind South Korea, the United States and Europe in promoting esports, or competitive video gaming often held in large arenas in front of thousands of spectators.

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FEATURE: U.S. fast food chains embrace shift to alternative meat

NEW YORK - Burger King has become the latest fast food chain in the United States to add an alternative meat option to its menu, joining an industry-wide push to appeal to growing numbers of health -- and environment-conscious consumers.

In early April, 59 of the fast food giant’s restaurants in the St. Louis area started offering the Impossible Whopper, a vegetarian version of its signature burger priced about a dollar higher than the original. Following the successful test run, Burger King announced it would introduce the meatless option nationwide by the end of the year.

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Sumo association scrambles to beef up security for Trump visit

TOKYO - The Japan Sumo Association is scrambling to institute security measures, some of them unprecedented, ahead of U.S. President Donald Trump’s attendance Sunday at the tournament in Tokyo to present a newly created trophy to the winner.

In a very unusual step in the long history of sumo in its present form of professional bouts, the association will ask spectators coming to the last day of the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan to submit their personal information including name, address and phone number, according to the association.

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FOCUS: Sputtering economy creates uncertainty over Abe’s tax hike plan

TOKYO - Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has reaffirmed his plan to raise the consumption tax in October, but there is increasing speculation that he could be forced to postpone the hike to safeguard growth in the sputtering economy.

Abe told parliament Friday that he would raise the tax as scheduled “unless there is an event on a scale similar to the Lehman shock,” a reference to the 2008 global financial crisis.

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1 dead, 16 injured in vehicle pileup in western Japan

OTSU, Japan - A woman was killed and 16 other people injured Friday after a bus carrying Chinese tourists plowed into vehicles stuck in a traffic jam on an expressway in Shiga Prefecture, western Japan, local police said.

Keiko Nakamoto, 58, a passenger in a van carrying 12 people that was the first vehicle struck by the bus, was pronounced dead after she was taken to hospital. Her 7-year-old granddaughter Ayane Ozaki was in critical condition while two other girls in the van were seriously injured.

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Trump to start state visit to Japan for audience with new emperor

TOKYO - U.S. President Donald Trump is set to start a four-day state visit to Japan on Saturday, a historic event that will make him the first foreign leader to meet with new Emperor Naruhito.

Trump, flanked by first lady Melania, will have an audience Monday with the emperor and Empress Masako. Trump’s itinerary also includes a bilateral meeting, golf outing, visit to a grand sumo tournament and informal dinner with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, with whom he said he “gets along very well.”

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Bali volcano erupts, causes flight cancellations

JAKARTA - Some airlines have canceled their flights to and from the Indonesian resort island of Bali following a volcanic eruption late Friday, authorities said.

Mt. Agung erupted for four and a half minutes at 7:23 p.m., spewing hot stones and lava up to 3 kilometers along the volcano’s slopes in all directions, the Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation said.

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Several injured in Lyon explosion, package bomb suspected: report

PARIS - A package blast on a pedestrian street in the heart of the French city of Lyon wounded eight people Friday, France 24 reported.

President Emmanuel Macron called the blast an “attack” during a live Facebook interview, adding that no deaths had been reported “for the time being,” it said.

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Olympics: 2011 “Miracle Pine” on Tokyo 2020 torch itinerary

TOKYO - The route for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic torch relay, which aspires to pass cultural and world heritage sites as well as landmarks from recent natural disasters, was revealed to Kyodo News Friday.

Because the Tokyo Olympics are employing a theme of rebuilding and renewal in the aftermath of Japan’s recent natural disasters, various sites related to the March 11, 2011, northeastern Japan earthquake and tsunami such as Iwate Prefecture’s “Miracle Pine” monument will be included in the route.

==Kyodo

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