International News

Court says ban on same-sex marriage constitutional

TOKYO — A Japanese court ruled June 20 that the country’s ban on same-sex marriage does not violate the constitution, and rejected demands for compensation by three couples who said their right to free union and equality has been violated. The Osaka District Court ruling is the second decision on the issue, and disagrees with […]

Horie, 83, ready for more after crossing Pacific solo

TOKYO — Japanese adventurer Kenichi Horie at 83 just became the oldest person in the world to complete a solo, nonstop voyage across the Pacific Ocean — and he says he is still “in the middle of my youth” and not done yet. Horie returned home as he crossed the Kii Strait off Japan’s western […]

U.S. naval officer in Japan faces prison over deadly crash

WASHINGTON — For Ridge Alkonis, a U.S. Navy lieutenant living in Japan, a springtime trip with his wife and three children to Mount Fuji was intended as fun and leisurely family time before an expected deployment. What happened next, and why, is a matter of dispute. But it gave rise to a three-year prison sentence. […]

Peace march held in Okinawa ahead of 50th anniv. of return to Japan

NAHA, Japan — A peace march calling for the burden on Okinawa from hosting U.S. forces to be reduced was held May 14 in the southern island prefecture, a day before the 50th anniversary of its reversion to Japan. For the first time since taking office in October last year, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida visited […]

Tokyo same-sex partnership plans highlight road ahead for LGBTQ rights

TOKYO — Many welcomed Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike’s recent announcement that a same-sex partnership system would be introduced for all of Tokyo in fiscal 2022. But some LGBTQ activists have pointed out that much more work needs to be done to reach true equality in Japan. Currently, 12 of the 62 municipalities in Tokyo have […]

Suspect in Osaka clinic fire may have copied animation studio arson

OSAKA  — The suspect in a fatal fire at a mental health clinic in Osaka last week might have intended to copy a deadly 2019 arson at an animation studio in Kyoto, which also involved a purchase of gasoline before the incident, investigative sources said Dec. 21. Morio Tanimoto had left in his presumed living […]

Princess Mako marries commoner, loses royal status

TOKYO — Japanese Princess Mako quietly married a commoner without traditional wedding celebrations Oct. 26 and said their marriage — delayed three years and called unfit by some — “was a necessary choice to live while cherishing our hearts.” The marriage to Kei Komuro cost Mako her royal status and she has taken her husband’s […]

Vaccines, masks? Japan puzzling over sudden virus success

TOKYO — Almost overnight, Japan has become a stunning, and somewhat mysterious, coronavirus success story. Daily new COVID-19 cases have plummeted from a mid-August peak of nearly 6,000 in Tokyo, with caseloads in the densely populated capital now routinely below 100, an 11-month low. The bars are packed, the trains are crowded, and the mood […]

Olympics carry a question: What does it mean to be Japanese?

TOKYO — Two multiracial athletes, two high-profile roles: Rising NBA star Rui Hachimura carried the Japanese flag at the Olympics’ opening ceremony. Tennis superstar Naomi Osaka lit the Olympic cauldron. For Japan, it was a remarkable showcase of racial diversity — but one that also highlighted how much remains missing in a nation that values […]

Tokyo COVID infections at six-month high two days before start of Olympics

TOKYO — Tokyo’s coronavirus infections have surged to a six-month high with the Olympic host city logging 1,832 new cases just two days before the Games open. Tokyo is currently under its fourth state of emergency, which will last until Aug. 22, covering the entire duration of the Olympics that start July 23 and end […]

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