The Baosteel Emotion, a Mitsui O.S.K. Lines iron ore carrier, which has been seized by the Shanghai Maritime Court (Provided by Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd.)
Shanghai court seizes Japanese ship over unpaid wartime compensation
BEIJING--A Japanese iron ore carrier has been seized by the Shanghai Maritime Court in a Chinese port after its owner failed to respond to a compensation order stemming from a 1930s wartime contractual dispute.
Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
Abe skips Yasukuni visit, makes symbolic offerings instead ahead of Obama visit
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe signaled that he is not visiting Yasukuni Shrine during its spring festival this week and instead offered a “masakaki” sacred tree branch, ahead of U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit, which starts on April 23.
An E-2C early warning aircraft, one of four restationed to the Air Self-Defense Force's Naha Air Base in Okinawa Prefecture, on April 20 (Shinobu Imano)
Airborne early warning unit set up at Okinawa base to bolster surveillance
NAHA--A new unit of early warning aircraft has been permanently assigned to an Air Self-Defense Force base here to bolster Japan's surveillance capabilities over its southwestern islands, including the disputed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.
The Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
Chinese admiral to snub Japan at regional meeting
SHANGHAI--The commander of the Chinese navy will refuse to meet Japanese military officials one-on-one at a regional naval symposium in China this week, a navy spokesman was quoted as saying on April 20, citing what he called hurtful actions by Japanese leaders.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Barack Obama meet on the sidelines of a Group of 20 summit in St. Petersburg on Sept. 5, 2013. (Pool)
Abe, Obama to discuss stronger alliance, China at talks in Tokyo
WASHINGTON--Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Barack Obama will reaffirm their commitment to a strengthened bilateral alliance when the two leaders meet in Tokyo next week.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, U.S. President Barack Obama and South Korean President Park Geun-hye before a trilateral summit meeting in The Hague on March 25 (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
DRIFTING ALLIANCE: Obama wants concession on TPP to offset Abe's Yasukuni visit
After the trilateral summit of Japan, the United States and South Korea at the U.S. ambassador’s residence in The Hague in March, President Barack Obama, who coordinated the meeting, asked Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to stay in the room for a private head-to-head.
Seen in this photo taken during the Group of Seven summit meeting in The Hague on March 24 is Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, third from right, who is seated next to German Chancellor Angela Merkel. To Merkel’s right is U.S. President Barack Obama. The Crimea crisis and its impact on the geopolitical situation in Asia were of primary concern during the meeting.  (Pool)
DRIFTING ALLIANCE: Crimea crisis shines spotlight on allies' concerns over U.S. protection
During the Group of Seven summit of leading industrial nations in The Hague on March 24, the Crimea situation was a top priority, but another topic of discussion also dominated the meeting--China.
A tram runs in Kochi carrying a message calling for the protection of Article 9 and Article 25 of the Constitution in April 2012. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
Peace advocates given cold shoulder ahead of Constitution Day
With the Abe administration poised to revise the interpretation of the pacifist Constitution to enable the nation to exercise the right to collective self-defense, some municipalities and private sector concerns have begun silencing critics of the effort ahead of Constitution Day on May 3.
Yasuhiro Okudaira, professor emeritus at the University of Tokyo, and other scholars of Save Constitutional Democracy Japan 2014, speak of a crisis facing democracy in Japan at a news conference on April 18 at the Diet members' office of the Lower House in Tokyo.  (Izumi Sakurai)
Scholars form ‘Save Constitutional Democracy’ to challenge Abe's 'omnipotence'
Concerned scholars have formed a group to protest the Abe government’s "aggressive campaign" to make it easier to amend the pacifist Constitution, vowing to "restore constitutional democracy in Japan."
Horses graze at a ranch on Yonagunijima island in Okinawa Prefecture in 2013. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
Japan to arm remote western island, risking more China tension
Japan is sending 100 soldiers and radar to its westernmost outpost, a tropical island off Taiwan, in a deployment that risks angering China with ties between Asia's biggest economies already hurt by a dispute over nearby islands they both claim.
Junichi Ihara, director-general of the Foreign Ministry's Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, is swarmed by reporters in Seoul on April 16 after his meeting with Lee Sang-deok, the director-general of the South Korean Foreign Ministry's Northeast Asian Affairs Bureau, to discuss the "comfort women" issue. (Akihiko Kaise)
'Comfort women' issue again open for discussion between Japan, South Korea
SEOUL--Japan and South Korea moved to ease the deep chill in their relations by holding talks here April 16 on the "comfort women" issue and agreeing to another meeting on the subject in Tokyo in May.
The North Korean national soccer team is greeted by supporters at Narita Airport in February 2005. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
N. Korean pingpong squad gets nod to compete in championships in Japan
Putting politics aside, the government will grant entry permits to members of the North Korean national table tennis team so it can compete in the 2014 World Team Table Tennis Championships.
Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida (The Asahi Shimbun)
Japan postpones foreign minister's trip to Russia
Japan has postponed a visit to Russia by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida that had been planned for later this month, the foreign ministry said on April 17, as bloodshed in an eastern city in Ukraine threatened to overshadow crisis talks in Geneva.
Tokyo Governor Yoichi Masuzoe and Chinese Ambassador Cheng Yonghua during their meeting in Tokyo on March 28 (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
Beijing invites Tokyo governor for first time in 18 years
With Japan’s capital now in a post-Shintaro Ishihara period, the city of Beijing for the first time in 18 years has invited Tokyo’s governor to visit the Chinese capital.
Former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, right, gives a speech to support Morihiro Hosokawa, another former prime minister, during campaigning Jan. 23 in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward for the Tokyo governor's election. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
Koizumi, Hosokawa team up again to start anti-nuclear body
Undeterred by a crushing election defeat, former Prime Ministers Junichiro Koizumi and Morihiro Hosokawa plan to set up an organization to abolish nuclear power and oppose Japan’s exports of nuclear technology.
Hu Deping, the son of the late Chinese leader Hu Yaobang, visits the prime minister’s office in Tokyo on April 8. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
Confidant of Xi met with Abe in Tokyo to smooth bilateral relations
BEIJING--A Chinese pro-Japan advocate with close ties to President Xi Jinping secretly met with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a weeklong visit to Japan earlier this month in an effort to mend bilateral ties, The Asahi Shimbun has learned.
Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd.'s nuclear fuel reprocessing plant in Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
U.S. alarmed about plutonium stockpile growing from Rokkasho plant
The U.S. government has expressed "grave concern" to Japanese officials over Tokyo’s spent nuclear fuel reprocessing program as it increases Japan's stockpile of plutonium and the risk of proliferation, according to a joint investigation by The Asahi Shimbun and the Center for Public Integrity, a U.S. nonprofit journalism organization.
Song Il Ho, second from right, North Korea's ambassador for talks on normalizing ties with Japan, during a meeting with Japanese representatives at the North Korean embassy in Beijing on March 30 (Koichiro Ishida)
Pyongyang poised to reopen abductions issue if Tokyo eases sanctions
North Korea agreed to reopen its investigation into the abductions of Japanese nationals if Japan relaxes some unilateral sanctions against Pyongyang, during the first formal negotiations held in more than a year in Beijing in late March, it was learned recently.
Ground Self-Defense Forces personnel were deployed in Samawah, Iraq, from 2003 to 2006 as part of Japan's humanitarian and reconstruction assistance. The dispatch caused a huge controversy because of the country's pacifist Constitution amid pressure on Japan to play a role commensurate with its international standing. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
Abe panel considers move that could pave way for SDF to use force abroad
A government panel is considering allowing the Self-Defense Forces to not only provide support to multinational forces anywhere in the world, but also to the use of force if need be during such missions.
Julie Bishop, Australia’s foreign minister, offers flowers to the cenotaph dedicated to victims of the atomic bombing on Hiroshima on April 12. Behind her are other foreign ministers attending a ministerial meeting of the Nonproliferation and Disarmament Initiative in Hiroshima’s Naka Ward. (Yoshihisa Aoyama)
Non-nuclear nations gather in Hiroshima to condemn nuclear weapons
HIROSHIMA--Foreign ministers of 12 non-nuclear powers issued a joint declaration here April 12 with a call for greater efforts to slash nuclear arsenals and visits by world leaders to Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

More AJW