Hisako Fukushima with peeled pawpaws in Maniwa, Okayama Prefecture, in October 2014 (Mamie Kawai)
Mysterious 'pawpaw' fruit in high demand across Japan
MANIWA, Okayama Prefecture--Hisako Fukushima was lying in a hospital bed 49 years ago when her mother-in-law brought her a strange-looking fruit picked from a tree in Maniwa. They looked like “akebia” fruit, were full of seeds like a loquat and tasted like bananas.
Haruna Yukawa in Syria in spring 2014 (Provided by acquaintance)
UPDATE: Families, colleagues shocked by new video of Japanese hostages
Families and colleagues of the two Japanese held hostage by the Islamic State were shaken by a video claiming that one of the captives had been slain.
Former death-row inmate Iwao Hakamada talks in a symposium on the death penalty, which was held in Matsue, Shimane Prefecture, on Nov. 29, 2014. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
Slight drop seen for first time in Japanese who support capital punishment
In a sign of wavering support for capital punishment, the first decline in the percentage of Japanese who support the death penalty has been noted, although the support rate remains about 80 percent, according to a Cabinet Office survey released Jan. 24.
The transit entrance at Narita International Airport teems with foreign travelers in December. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
Narita sightseeing tours to give travelers a taste of Japan between flights
Two mini-tours for travelers in transit at Narita International Airport are set to launch as early as next month, with destinations including a notable shrine, as well sake tasting and shopping sites.
The distribution center managed by an affiliate of Amazon Japan KK in Ichikawa, Chiba Prefecture (Tomohide Yamada)
Police search Amazon over online sale of child porn
Police seized computers and other material at Amazon Japan KK's head office in Tokyo and an affiliated distribution center in Chiba Prefecture, in connection with suspected sales on child pornography on the company's website.
Children play in a facility in Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture, on Dec. 10, 2014. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
Obesity a growing problem among children in Fukushima
Fears that playing outdoors will risk radiation exposure, and other lifestyle changes brought on by the 2011 nuclear crisis, are being blamed for a rise in obesity among youngsters in Fukushima Prefecture.
Joudi Youssef embraces his son Biar and daughter Narin at the Narita Airport in Chiba Prefecture on Jan. 23. (Shingo Kuzutani)
Syrian beats the odds and is reunited with his family in Japan
NARITA, Chiba Prefecture--A Syrian man who is seeking refugee status in Japan after fleeing his war-torn homeland in 2012 was finally reunited with his family here on Jan. 23.
The new website of the Tokyo metropolitan government (Provided by the Tokyo metropolitan government)
Tokyo introduces new easy-to-navigate, foreigner-friendly website
A Tokyo metropolitan government website that aims to assist the huge influx of foreign visitors for the 2020 Summer Olympics is now up and running.
Apple Inc.'s iPhone 6, left, and iPhone 6 Plus (Provided by Apple Inc.)
Japan Post urges insurance for Apple devices sent to China after string of thefts
Japan Post Co. is calling on customers to insure China-bound airmail and other packages containing Apple Inc.'s ubiquitous iPhones or iPads, in response to a spate of thefts.
A test run of the “Sairinka” light show is held Jan. 23 at Tokachigaoka Park in Otofuke, Hokkaido. (Kenichiro Shimada)
PHOTO: Hokkaido resort unveils colorful wintry light show
OTOFUKE, Hokkaido--The snow-covered grounds of the Tokachigawa Onsen were bathed in lights from hundreds of illuminated cones ahead of an annual midwinter display that gets under way Jan. 24.
Subjected to a strong tremor, pillars on the first floor of a structure were bent and the structure is near collapse in an experiment conducted at E-Defense of the National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Prevention in Miki, Hyogo Prefecture. (Takehito Sato)
Test shows apartment building 'collapses' after major tremors on 4th try
MIKI, Hyogo Prefecture--In a new test of the earthquake resistance of condominium buildings, a six-story reinforced concrete structure withstood the force of a maximum seismic intensity of 7 on three tries, then "collapsed" the fourth time.
Hisako Yamada, director of “Bokyo no Kane--Manmokaitakudan no Rakujitsu” (Kazuo Yamamoto)
Japanese children left in China after war inspire film about peace
Hisako Yamada was so shocked by the plight of Japanese children left behind in Manchuria in the aftermath of World War II that she produced a film to convey a message of peace.
Junko Ishido speaks at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan in Tokyo on Jan. 23. (Shigetaka Kodama)
Mother of Japanese hostage: 'Kenji is not an enemy of the Islamic State'
The mother of Kenji Goto, one of two Japanese held hostage by the Islamic State, made an emotional plea for his release on Jan. 23, hours before the extremist group’s deadline for a ransom payment.
Muslims pray for the release of two Japanese hostages at one of Japan's largest mosques, Tokyo Camii, on Jan. 23.  (Satoru Sekiguchi)
Islamic followers in Tokyo pray for safe release of 2 Japanese hostages
Hundreds of Muslims gathered at one of the largest mosques in Japan on Jan. 23 to pray for the safety of two Japanese held captive by the extremist Islamic State group, with the deadline for a ransom payment fast approaching.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga meets reporters on Jan. 23. (The Asahi Shimbun)
Islamic State deadline on Japanese captives passes with no word on their fate
The Japanese government said on Jan. 23 it was still trying to secure the release of two Japanese hostages held by Islamic State militants after a deadline to pay ransom for their release passed.
Train services resume June 1 between Tatsuta and Hirono stations on the JR Joban Line. Temporary storage sites for contaminated soil and other waste are seen along the tracks. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
JR East to run bus service through Fukushima no-entry zone
East Japan Railway Co. (JR East) will start a bus service on Jan. 31 that runs through an area with high radiation levels near the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, officials said Jan. 22.
Members of a group seeking indictments against former TEPCO executives over the Fukushima nuclear disaster criticize the decision by Tokyo prosecutors on Jan. 22. (Akifumi Nagahashi)
Once again, no indictments against former TEPCO execs over Fukushima disaster
Prosecutors again decided not to indict three former executives of Tokyo Electric Power Co. over the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, essentially saying that the disaster was unpreventable.
Tokyo publisher to reprint controversial Charlie Hebdo cartoons in book
A publisher in Tokyo will release a book featuring cartoons issued in the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, which was the target of a terrorist attack earlier this month that left 12 people dead.
An artist’s rendition of the ancient Adocus sengokuensis turtle (Provided by the Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum, (c) Mami Osatomi)
Fossil find turns out to be new member of world's oldest soft-shell turtle family
KATSUYAMA, Fukui Prefecture--Seven fossilized shell fragments unearthed in Fukuoka Prefecture more than 20 years ago belong to the world's oldest genus of soft-shell turtle, officials at the Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum said Jan. 22.
A scene from the second movement of Osamu Tezuka's "The Legend of the Forest," which was newly created by his son Makoto Tezuka ((c)Tezuka Productions)
Tezuka museum to screen new chapter of manga giant's 'The Legend of the Forest'
TAKARAZUKA, Hyogo Prefecture--Fans of manga great Osamu Tezuka can see the new chapter of his unfinished anime epic when it is screened for the first time in his hometown here in February at a museum named in his honor.

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