Top performers from the Takarazuka Revue Company's different troupes share the stage at the Takarazuka Grand Theater on Dec. 20. (Provided by the Takarazuka Revue Company)
Takarazuka Revue looks back on 100-year history with 100 hit songs
TAKARAZUKA, Hyogo Prefecture--Star performers of the all-female Takarazuka Revue belted out 100 signature numbers to wrap up the theater company's centennial celebrations.
The Asahi Shimbun
Megaquake risk higher for areas along Japan's Pacific coast
The likelihood of a catastrophic quake striking within 30 years was higher in areas along the Pacific coast, including densely populated parts of the Kanto region, according to a national earthquake research body.
Toshio Sano, right, head of the Permanent Delegation of Japan to the Conference on Disarmament, is surrounded by reporters on Dec. 8 in Vienna after he made controversial comments regarding nuclear weapons. (Shohei Okada)
Nagasaki mayor, anti-nuke groups protest envoy's remark about nuclear arms
NAGASAKI--A Japanese diplomat who called for a "positive" perspective on dealing with a nuclear catastrophe continues to face a barrage of criticism.
Thousands of railway enthusiasts wait to buy IC cards commemorating the 100th anniversary of the opening of what is now JR Tokyo Station in front of the facility's Marunouchi building in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward on Dec. 20. (Kengo Hiyoshi)
Tokyo Station marks centennial with thousands buying special IC cards
A huge crowd of people gathered outside JR Tokyo Station early Dec. 20 in the hope of purchasing special passes commemorating the 100th year since the iconic gateway opened.
The lab Haruko Obokata used to try to verify the existence of STAP cells (Provided by Riken)
Scientists question need for Obokata’s verification tests
Embattled scientist Haruko Obokata's failed attempt to replicate supposedly ground-breaking STAP cell research has been called into question by the scientific community, which called the exercise pointless.
A Hokuriku Shinkansen bullet train at Kanazawa Station (Hideki Inoue)
New Shinkansen service between Kanazawa, Tokyo to offer more leeway
A new Shinkansen line linking Kanazawa and Tokyo will enable day-trippers to spend 90 minutes longer in the capital than current services allow, East Japan Railway Co. (JR East) said Dec. 19.
Visitors watch king penguins parade at Asahiyama Zoo in Asahikawa, Hokkaido, on Dec. 20. (Hiroyuki Yamamoto)
PHOTO: Penguins steal the show at Hokkaido zoo
ASAHIKAWA, Hokkaido--A troop of waddling penguins, an annual winter attraction at Asahiyama Zoo here, is pulling in the crowds.
A train operated by the Taiwan Railways Administration, left, and one operated by Sanyo Electric Railway Co. (Provided by the Taiwan Railways Administration and Sanyo Electric Railway Co.)
Lost cellphone provides connection for Japanese, Taiwanese railways
OSAKA--What started as a Taiwanese tourist losing a cellphone has led to Sanyo Electric Railway Co. and state-run Taiwan Railways Administration inking a sister-city agreement on Dec. 22, the Japanese company announced on Dec. 18.
Shinichi Aizawa, center, a special adviser in charge of Riken's verification testing, speaks during a news conference in Tokyo on Dec. 19. At right is Hitoshi Niwa, a senior researcher at Riken. (Jun Ueda)
Obokata resigns as Riken reports her failure to re-create STAP cells
Embattled researcher Haruko Obokata and a separate team of independent researchers failed to replicate the creation of stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency (STAP) cells, the government-affiliated Riken research institute announced on Dec. 19.
A family moved to the countryside of Kami, Kochi Prefecture, to raise a child. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
Government sets goals for fertility rate, draws a blank on measures
The government came up with targets for the fertility rate but failed to present any specific step to end the population decrease that could “endanger the sustainability” of Japan.
Tourists stroll through the historic district of Takayama, Gifu Prefecture, in November. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
Record 15 million foreign visitors predicted for Japan in 2015
A record 15 million foreigners will visit Japan in 2015 on the back of a weaker yen, eased visa requirements and improved access to popular destinations, according to estimates by travel agency JTB Corp.
An artist’s rendition of the Venus climate orbiter Akatsuki (Provided by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency)
Venus probe discovers solar winds speed up after leaving sun
Solar winds suddenly speed up when they reach a certain distance from the sun, according to Japanese researchers, who announced the discovery Dec. 18.
A Japanese space development team’s moon surface probe maneuvers through Hamamatsu’s Nakatajima sand dunes during a field experiment on Dec. 18. (Tomohiro Yamamoto)
Japan XPRIZE hopefuls take lunar rover on 'moon run' in Hamamatsu dunes
HAMAMATSU, Shizuoka Prefecture--A team of entrepreneurs and engineers held a trial run here on Dec. 18 of an experimental rover it developed for a high-profile Google Inc. contest to create a moon probe.
A color photograph of the Earth taken by the Himawari-8 geostationary satellite on Dec. 18 (Provided by the Japan Meteorological Agency)
PHOTO: Himawari-8 satellite snaps photo of Earth in living color
The first color photograph of Earth taken by a geostationary meteorological satellite in orbit was released by the Japan Meteorological Agency on Dec. 18.
Seiji Tarao holds “A Guide to the Mysteries of the Kojiki” in Yonago, Tottori Prefecture. (Tadashi Sugiyama)
English guidebook features Sanin sites in Japanese mythology
YONAGO, Tottori Prefecture--After years of editing, a travel guidebook is available in English describing sites in the Sanin region that were portrayed in Japan’s oldest history book.
Riken researcher Haruko Obokata speaks at a news conference in April in Osaka. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
Obokata fails to create STAP cells; Riken ends all verification tests
Disgraced stem cell scientist Haruko Obokata has failed to produce so-called STAP cells, strengthening suspicions that she fabricated her findings that were once lauded as a breakthrough in regenerative medicine, sources said.
The grounds of the planned Toyosu market in Tokyo's Koto Ward, where Tsukiji market will be relocated in 2016, on Dec. 17. (Tatsuya Shimada)
Tsukiji fish market to get new home in late 2016 as Olympics beckon
The long-anticipated relocation of Tokyo's Tsukiji market is being fast-forwarded to November 2016 in preparation for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics.
Yao Lijin, third from left, receives the Ambassador of Japan Prize at the 10th Japanese Essay Contest at the Embassy of Japan in Beijing on Dec. 12. To her left is Japan's ambassador to China Masato Kitera. (Nozomu Hayashi)
Amid strained ties, record number of Chinese students compete in Japanese essay contest
BEIJING--A record number of Chinese students participated in an annual Japanese essay contest, showing that ongoing strains between the two countries are no obstacle to cultural exchange.
The Nagano Snow Resort Pass is available at  hotels and tourism facilities in northern Nagano Prefecture from Dec. 20. (Kiyoshi Takagi)
Bargain 'snow pass' enables foreign skiers easy access to Nagano resorts
NAGANO--Foreign visitors to snow country in northern Nagano Prefecture will be offered a discount pass that allows them to travel freely to various attractions in the area.
Geisha and their apprentice “maiko” learn how to defend themselves from an attack in a class given by police officers at the Yasaka Kurabu theater in Kyoto’s Higashiyama Ward on Dec. 17. (Yuki Kubota)
Kyoto’s geisha, maiko learn how to ward off attackers
KYOTO--Dozens of geisha and their apprentice “maiko” took a class in the art of self-defense for protection against unwelcome attention while walking alone on dark, deserted streets at night.

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