Foreign travelers line up for passport control at Kansai International Airport. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
EDITORIAL: Policymakers should study surplus for hints to improve economy
Japan posted a current-account surplus of 16.6 trillion yen ($147.71 billion) in 2015. The surplus in the current account, the overall picture of a nation’s economic relationship with the rest of the world in terms of trade, investment and financial transfers, grew more than sixfold from the previous year to the level before the calamitous earthquake and tsunami that devastated wide areas in northeastern Japan in 2011.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe responds to reporters' questions after Japan announced new sanctions on North Korea on Feb. 10. (Shinichi Iizuka)
EDITORIAL: Sanctions against North Korea ineffectual without China on board
Responding to North Korea’s defiant act of launching a rocket on Feb. 7, countries concerned are working out new sanctions to punish the regime in Pyongyang.
An electric signboard in Tokyo’s Chuo Ward shows the benchmark 10-year Japanese government bond yield falling below zero at minus 0.005% on Feb. 9. (The Asahi Shimbun)
EDITORIAL: BOJ's negative interest rate policy positively ineffective
The benchmark 10-year Japanese government bond yield on Feb. 9 fell below zero percent on the market for the first time. Is this good news or bad? Many people probably don’t know, but they certainly must be feeling anxious.
An 8-year-old girl is rescued from a collapsed condominium on Feb. 8, 61 hours after an earthquake hit Tainan, southern Taiwan. (Tamiyuki Kihara)
EDITORIAL: Latest quake shows need for Japan to boost disaster response cooperation with Taiwan
The Chinese New Year is an important holiday for people in Taiwan, a time for families to be together.
An elevated railway for the Hokuriku Shinkansen has been constructed near Fukui Station in Fukui city. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
EDITORIAL: Extension of Hokuriku Shinkansen to Osaka requires intense scrutiny
A growing number of political and business leaders in the Kansai and Hokuriku regions are beginning to clamor for an early start of construction to link the Hokuriku Shinkansen to Osaka.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a Diet session on Feb. 5 (Shinichi Iizuka)
EDITORIAL: Abe’s perverse argument for rewriting Constitution
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been aggressively signaling his eagerness to rewrite the Constitution, which potentially includes the revision of its war-renouncing Article 9.
An organization session for the new U.N. nuclear disarmament working group in Geneva on Jan. 28 (The Asahi Shimbun)
EDITORIAL: Japan should lead U.N. talks to establish nuclear ban treaty
The Japanese government has decided to join a new working group on nuclear disarmament that the United Nations will set up later this month.
Microcephaly, a condition linked to the Zika virus, was confirmed in the unborn baby of this couple in Brazil. (The Asahi Shimbun)
EDITORIAL: To fight Zika virus, Japan should improve public health in developing countries
The World Health Organization has declared an international public health emergency over the spread of the Zika virus, which is transmitted mainly by mosquitoes.
Plaintiffs hold a news conference on Feb. 2 in Sendai after the Sendai High Court ruled in a case concerning the Self-Defense Forces’ information-gathering on protesters. (Yosuke Fukudome)
EDITORIAL: Civilian control needed to stop dodgy SDF monitoring of civilians
The Sendai High Court on Feb. 2 ordered the government to pay 100,000 yen ($830) in compensation to one of the plaintiffs in a case concerning the Self-Defense Forces’ monitoring of civil protests against the SDF dispatch to Iraq and other activities.
Leaders of Keidanren (Japan Business Federation) and Rengo (Japanese Trade Union Confederation) hold talks in the “shunto” spring labor offensive on Jan. 29. (The Asahi Shimbun)
EDITORIAL: Spring labor talks should bring better pay for non-regular workers
Wage negotiations in this year’s “shunto” spring labor offensive are now in full swing.
Protesters opposing the restart of nuclear reactors at the Sendai nuclear power plant rally in Satsuma-Sendai, Kagoshima Prefecture. (Jun Kaneko)
EDITORIAL: Scrapped emergency plan puts Kyushu Electric’s safety commitment in doubt
Kyushu Electric Power Co. and the Nuclear Regulation Authority are at odds over the utility’s decision to scrap its plan to build an emergency facility at its Sendai nuclear power plant in Kagoshima Prefecture.
Haruhiko Kuroda, governor of the Bank of Japan, at a news conference in Tokyo on Jan. 29 (Yasuhiro Sugimoto)
EDITORIAL: With the chips down, the BOJ tosses its policy dice again
The Bank of Japan for the first time has decided to introduce a “negative interest rate policy,” a radical approach to monetary expansion.
Economy minister Akira Amari announces his resignation at a news conference in Tokyo on Jan. 28. (The Asahi Shimbun)
EDITORIAL: Amari’s resignation should not end inquiry into scandal
Economy minister Akira Amari announced his resignation from his Cabinet post on Jan. 28 to take responsibility for a scandal over allegations he received cash from a construction company.
The No. 3, right, and the No. 4 reactors at the Takahama nuclear power plant in Takahama, Fukui Prefecture (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
EDITORIAL: Takahama reactor restart raises fresh nuclear safety concerns
The No. 3 reactor at Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Takahama nuclear power plant in Takahama, Fukui Prefecture, is set to restart on Jan. 29.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during the Lower House plenary session on Jan. 26 (The Asahi Shimbun)
EDITORIAL: Parties should focus on correcting social disparities, not election
How can we overcome social disparities that have become too commonplace today? This was one of the urgent questions posed to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in the Diet on Jan. 26, the first day of this year’s questioning session by lawmakers representing their parties.
Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga responds to reporters' questions in Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture, on Jan. 24 after the mayoral election results were announced. (Koichi Ueda)
EDITORIAL: Ginowan election result does not mean public supports Futenma move to Henoko
Voters in Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture, where the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma is located, have given a second term to Mayor Atsushi Sakima, who was backed by the Abe administration. In the Jan. 24 mayoral election in the city, the 51-year-old incumbent defeated Keiichiro Shimura, a 63-year-old former prefectural government employee backed by Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga.
Investigators examine boxes of food products at a warehouse of a food trader in Hashima, Gifu Prefecture, on Jan. 24. (The Asahi Shimbun)
EDITORIAL: Waste resale scandal puts safety of Japan’s food industry into question
Industrial food waste, which should have been properly disposed of, has been found to be circulating in the market disguised as food products.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivers his policy speech at the Lower House plenary session on Jan. 22. (Shinichi Iizuka)
EDITORIAL: 'Same pay for same work' a true challenge for Abe
While both the ruling and opposition camps were abuzz over a money scandal involving Akira Amari, the minister in charge of economic revitalization, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivered his policy speeches to both houses of the Diet on Jan. 22.
Akira Amari, the minister in charge of economic revitalization, during an Upper House Audit Committee session on Jan. 21 (The Asahi Shimbun)
EDITORIAL: Amari scandal an acid test for Abe administration's attitude
Akira Amari, the minister in charge of economic revitalization, has been hit by serious allegations that he received what may be a bribe from a construction company.
Foreign visitors at a tax-free counter in a Don Quijote store in Sapporo (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
EDITORIAL: Japan also on a learning curve with huge influx of overseas visitors
Foreign visitor arrivals in 2015 surged nearly 50 percent from the previous year to almost 20 million, the target set by the central government in 2020 when Tokyo will host the Summer Olympics and Paralympics. The more-than-expected rapid growth suggests that Japan will hit that goal well ahead of time.

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