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.
Japanese Communist Party Chairman Kazuo Shii, right, and Tadayoshi Ichida, deputy chairman, shake hands after the party increased its number of seats in the Dec. 14 Lower House election at the party’s headquarters in Tokyo. (Naoko Kawamura)
Communist Party scrambling to hire aides after surprise gains in Lower House poll
The Japanese Communist Party is on a hiring blitz for 50 secretaries for newly elected candidates following its unexpectedly strong showing in the Dec. 14 Lower House election.
Former South Korean Prime Minister Lee Hong-koo (OP Shashin Tsushinsha)
South Koreans start movement to nominate Article 9 for Nobel Peace Prize
SEOUL--In a bid to counter Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for constitutional revisions, a group of South Korean intellectuals started a campaign to nominate war-renouncing Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution for the Nobel Peace Prize.
The Asahi Shimbun
University of Tokyo lab to treat brain tumors using engineered virus
Clinical trials will start for a genetically modified virus that can destroy cancerous cells in one of the most difficult types of tumors to treat, the University of Tokyo’s Institute of Medical Science said.
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.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
China lodges protest after Obama approves Taiwan frigate sale
BEIJING--China said on Dec. 19 it had lodged a protest with the United States after President Barack Obama signed into law legislation authorizing the sale of up to four Perry-class guided missile frigates to Taiwan.
Pu Zhiqiang (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
Detained China rights lawyer facing ‘inhuman torment,’ wife says
BEIJING--A prominent Chinese human rights lawyer arrested this year has had to endure hours of interrogation and his health has suffered, his wife wrote in a letter released on Dec. 19, calling for his immediate release.
Arata Hirakawa checks repairs to historical documents at Tohoku University in Sendai. (Satoshi Kimura)
POINT OF VIEW/ Arata Hirakawa: Saving historical documents helps communities get over 3/11 disaster
SENDAI--The tsunami generated by the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011, swept away manuscripts and paintings that served as testaments to the histories of regional communities.
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.
(Illustration by Mitsuaki Kojima)
ASAHI HAIKUIST NETWORK/ David McMurray
Moonlight follows the road to the end
People opposing the planned restart of Takahama nuclear power plant demonstrate on Dec. 17 in front of the building that houses the Nuclear Regulation Authority office in Tokyo's Minato Ward. (The Asahi Shimbun)
EDITORIAL: Risks posed by nuclear reactor clusters left unaddressed
Simultaneous accidents at multiple nuclear reactors could jeopardize the survival of the nation.
Cuban baseball player Yulieski Gourriel holds his national flag during a news conference to announce his contract with a Japanese professional club, DeNA Baystars, in June. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
VOX POPULI: Restoring U.S.-Cuba relations good for both nations--and for baseball
“Buena Vista Social Club” is a critically acclaimed 1999 documentary by Wim Wenders about elderly Cuban musicians performing Cuba’s traditional music. I saw it when it was released in Japan that same year. I remember being pleasantly surprised that there were still such cool, old men in the world.
Lee Jung-hee, center, a head of the Unified Progressive Party, and supporters shout slogans against constitutional court's verdict near the constitutional court in Seoul on Dec. 19. (AP Photo)
S. Korea's constitutional court orders dissolution of leftist party
SEOUL--South Korea's constitutional court on Dec. 19 ordered the dissolution of a small leftist political party hounded by claims of pro-North Korea views, a move critics say exposes limits of freedom of expression in a country once ruled by military dictators.
Japan's Ground Self-Defense Force members and U.S. marines participate in a joint drill in Yamato, Kumamoto Prefecture, on Dec. 7. (Satoru Semba)
Japan, U.S. delay update to mutual defense guidelines
Japan and the United States formally postponed Dec. 19 an update to their defense cooperation guidelines.
Kyoto Sumiyama Asakura Mokko woodworking studio's Cosmo Coasters are beverage coasters made of surplus maple, black walnut and other woods. (Nanako Ito)
KYOTO GOES KAWAII: Made-to-order wood furniture by Kyoto Sumiyama Asakura Mokko
Editor’s note: This series showcases what we are calling “kawaii” (cute) items made locally in the iconic Japanese city.
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.

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