Voting begins in Japan's upper house election

TOKYO, July 21 (Xinhua) -- Voters across Japan began casting their ballots on Sunday in the upper house election, which is expected to be a barometer of public opinion on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's six and a half years in power.

In most parts of the country, polling stations will close at 8:00 p.m. local time and vote counting will start as soon as the voting ends.

Members of the upper house serve six-year terms, with about half the seats up for grabs every three years.

In Sunday's election, 124 seats are up for grabs, including three that are newly added.

Japan vows action if S. Korea hurts companies in trade row

TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s foreign minister said Tokyo will take “necessary measures” against South Korea if interests of Japanese companies are harmed in an escalating dispute over World War II forced labor.

The neighboring countries and U.S. allies are quarreling over South Korean court decisions ordering Japanese companies to compensate victims of forced labor during Japan’s 1910-1945 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.

Suspect in Japan anime studio arson reportedly had grudge

TOKYO (AP) — The man suspected of setting ablaze a beloved Japanese animation studio, killing 34 people, was raging about theft and witnesses and media reported he had a grudge against the company, as questions arose why such mass killings keep happening in the country.

Police only have said the suspect Shinji Aoba, 41, who is hospitalized with severe burns and unable to talk, is from near Tokyo and did not work for the studio, Kyoto Animation.

Japan summons SKorean envoy to protest wartime labor dispute

TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s foreign minister on Friday summoned South Korea’s ambassador and accused Seoul of violating international law by refusing to join in an arbitration panel to settle a dispute over World War II forced labor.

South Korea had until midnight Thursday to respond to Japan’s request for a three-nation panel. The neighboring countries are quarreling over South Korean court decisions ordering Japanese companies to compensate victims of forced labor during Japan’s 1910-1945 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.

Man shouting ‘You die!’ kills 33 in Japan anime studio fire

TOKYO (AP) — A man screaming “You die!” burst into an animation studio in Kyoto, doused it with a flammable liquid and set it on fire Thursday, killing 33 people in an attack that shocked the country and brought an outpouring of grief from anime fans.

Thirty-six others were injured, some of them critically, in a blaze that sent people scrambling up the stairs toward the roof in a desperate — and futile — attempt to escape what proved to be Japan’s deadliest fire in nearly two decades. Others emerged bleeding, blackened and barefoot.

Multiple deaths confirmed in possible arson attack at animation studio in Japan

TOKYO, July 18 (Xinhua) -- A fire at an animation studio in the city of Kyoto, western Japan, left multiple people dead and more than 30 others injured, some of them seriously, local media quoted investigators as saying Thursday.

According to local reports, 10 people who were found lying unconscious inside the three-storey studio of Kyoto Animation Co. were believed to have died in the blaze, police at the scene said.

The fire started at around 10:30 a.m. local time on Thursday morning at the studio known for producing popular TV animation series and artifacts.

Japan exports dip as China-US trade war takes toll

TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s exports declined in June as shipments of goods were hit by trade disputes between China and the U.S., the Finance Ministry reported Thursday.

The data released by the Finance Ministry on Thursday show exports fell 6.8% in June from a year earlier, the seventh straight month of decline, while imports fell 5.2%.

The trade surplus for the month dropped 20% to 589.5 billion yen ($5.5 billion), the ministry said.

Japan says space probe landed on asteroid to get soil sample

TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s space agency said data transmitted from the Hayabusa2 spacecraft indicated it successfully landed on a distant asteroid Thursday and completed its historic mission of collecting underground samples that scientists hope will provide clues to the origin of the solar system.

Hayabusa2 had created itself a landing crater in April by dropping a copper impactor. Thursday’s mission was to land inside that crater and collect underground samples that scientists believe contain more valuable data.

Australian freed in N. Korea keeps mum about detention

TOKYO (AP) — An Australian student on Friday thanked Swedish and his country’s diplomats for securing his release in North Korea but kept mum about what led to his weeklong detention.

“I intend now to return to normal life but wanted to first publicly thank everyone who worked to ensure I was safe and well,” Alek Sigley said in a statement released by his family’s spokeswoman in Australia, a day after he was flew from Pyongyang to Beijing and then Tokyo to be reunited with his Japanese wife.

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