Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak shake hands before the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in September 2012 in Vladivostok, Russia. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
Japan, S. Korea nearly settled 'comfort women' issue, according to ex-president's memoirs
SEOUL--Tokyo and Seoul were on the verge of settling the wartime “comfort women” issue, but all progress was erased with Japan’s 2012 Lower House election, according to former South Korean President Lee Myung-bak’s memoirs.
A video posted on Jan. 27 shows a man believed to be Islamic State hostage Kenji Goto holding a photo apparently of a Jordanian military pilot also taken captive. (Taken from the Internet)
Goto's wife urges Jordan, Japan to work for his relief
The wife of a Japanese journalist thought to be held by Islamic State insurgents in Syria urged the Japanese and Jordanian governments to work for his release shortly before a deadline set by his captors expired.
Jordan's government spokesman Mohammad al-Momani during a news conference in Amman on Jan. 29 (Junki Watanabe/ The Asahi Shimbun)
Jordan still holding Iraqi prisoner, demands proof its pilot is alive
AMMAN--Jordan said on Jan. 29 it was still holding an Iraqi prisoner whose release has purportedly been demanded by Islamic State, and will only consider releasing her once it has proof that a Jordanian pilot held by the insurgents is still alive.
Vehicles leave the Japanese Embassy in Amman, Jordan, early on Jan. 29 following release of a new video message. (Takashi Watanabe)
New Islamic State message sets sunset deadline for prisoner exchange
A new message purportedly delivered by Islamic State hostage Kenji Goto threatens the execution of a Jordanian pilot if a prisoner swap involving Goto is not carried out by sunset on Jan. 29 in Mosul, Iraq.
A video posted on Jan. 27 shows a man believed to be Islamic State hostage Kenji Goto holding a photo apparently of a Jordanian military pilot also taken captive. (Taken from the Internet)
Abe infuriated after 24-hour deadline set for hostage Goto
Describing the Islamic State’s actions as “extremely despicable,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Jan. 28 ordered his administration to continue trying to save hostage Kenji Goto after the extremist group set a new deadline.
Self-Defense Forces personnel escort ordinary citizens during a drill held in Aichi Prefecture in 2011. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
Legislation mulled to allow SDF to rescue Japanese hostages abroad
The Abe administration is considering legislation that could allow Japanese troops to come to the rescue of Japanese nationals in future hostage situations overseas.
Crane barges and other vessels off the Henoko district of Nago, Okinawa Prefecture, are seen on Jan. 27. (Koichi Ueda)
Central government pushes ahead with base transfer work despite popular will
NAGO, Okinawa Prefecture--Crane barges and other vessels appeared off the Henoko district here on Jan. 27, signaling the restart of the planned relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma from Ginowan, despite recent moves by the Okinawan government to halt the preparation work.
Justice Minister Yoko Kamikawa speaks at a news conference. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
Japan to maintain capital punishment in line with public support for the policy
Citing overwhelming public support for capital punishment, Justice Minister Yoko Kamikawa pledged Jan. 27 to continue to authorize executions by hanging.
Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga announces the formation of an independent panel to re-examine his predecessor's approval of a new base in Nago during a news conference on Jan. 26. (Kazuo Yamagishi)
Tokyo turns blind eye to Okinawan request to stop reclamation work
NAHA--The governor of Okinawa Prefecture called for a halt to relocation work for a key U.S. air base, but the government in Tokyo is taking no notice.
Ground Self-Defense Force members carry mortar shells from a transport helicopter during a Japan-U.S. joint drill in Yamato, Kumamoto Prefecture, on Dec. 7. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
Abe to resume debate on expanding national security laws mindful of hostages
With the Japanese hostages being held by the Islamic State in mind, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will be seeking to bolster the capabilities of the Self-Defense Forces to come to the aid of Japanese overseas and in support of multinational forces.
Protesters in front of the National Diet Building in Tokyo on Jan. 25 oppose the government's plan to relocate the U.S. Futenma air station within Okinawa Prefecture. (Satoru Sekiguchi)
Protesters circle Diet building to oppose Futenma base relocation
Thousands of people, including lawmakers, formed a human chain around the National Diet Building in Tokyo on Jan. 25 to protest the central government’s planned relocation of a U.S. air base in Okinawa Prefecture.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga during a news conference on Jan. 26 (The Asahi Shimbun)
Japan seeks Jordan's help on gaining hostage's release
Japan sought help from Jordan and other countries on Jan. 26 in its race to save a hostage held by the extremist Islamic State group, with no signs of progress on securing his release.
A still video posted on the Internet late on Jan. 24 is purported to show hostage Kenji Goto.
New video purports slaying of hostage Yukawa; hostage Goto pleads for life in prisoner swap
A video of freelance journalist Kenji Goto, who was taken hostage by the extremist Islamic State group, was posted on the Internet late on Jan. 24, in which the audio portion and photos claim that another Japanese hostage, Haruna Yukawa, had been executed.
A man believed to be Kenji Goto in a video posted on the Internet
UPDATE: Abe says Japan is still working to free 2 hostages, calls unverified video 'unforgiveable'
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Jan. 25 that Japan was still working to free two hostages held by the extremist Islamic State group while calling a new online video about their fate "outrageous and unforgiveable."
U.S. President Barack Obama (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
Obama condemns murder of Japanese man by Islamic State militants
RAMSTEIN, Germany--U.S. President Barack Obama strongly condemned on Jan. 24 the killing of Japanese citizen Haruna Yukawa by Islamic State militants, the White House said in a statement.
A Filipino care worker attends to an elderly woman at a nursing home in Hikone, Shiga Prefecture, on Jan. 8. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
Nursing to be added to foreign trainee program, but Japanese skills required
Nursing care will be included in Japan's foreign trainee system starting later this fiscal year, marking the first time the program has been applied to the service sector.
A Maritime Self-Defense Force P-1 patrol aircraft at Atsugi air base in Kanagawa Prefecture in March 2013 (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
Japan, Britain expand defense ties with joint missile technology research
LONDON--Japan and Britain agreed to jointly research new air-to-air missile technology as part of increased cooperation on defense-related security issues.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrives at his office in Tokyo on Jan. 22. (The Asahi Shimbun)
Japan looking at all possible ways to secure release of hostages
The Japanese government said Jan. 22 it was considering any and all possible ways to seek the release of two hostages held by the Islamic State group.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledges $200 million in aid to Iraq, Syria and other countries where people fleeing from the Islamic State are taking shelter during an address delivered in Cairo on Jan. 17. (AP Photo)
COMMENTARY: Islamic State seeks to portray Japan as a 'foe'
One of the objectives of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria is to implement Islamic law, or Shariah, as practiced in the days of the prophet Mohammed.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe meets reporters at the prime minister's office in Tokyo on Jan. 21. (Shogo Koshida/ The Asahi Shimbun)
Abe ‘fighting against time’ to seek release of hostages
Japan is doing all it can to free two hostages the Islamic State group is threatening to kill within 72 hours, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Jan. 21, vowing never to give in to terrorism.

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