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All the latest news on Japan

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    Traditional female entertainers in Kyoto have started offering early New Year greetings. (NHK)

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    An officer who was on duty when a 30-year-old suspect escaped from a police station in Tondabayashi City earlier this year was watching an adult video (AV) clip, it was learned on Thursday, reports Nikkan Sports (Dec. 13). (tokyoreporter.com)

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    A Japanese government panel says a run of growth that began in December 2012 has now become the second-longest period of expansion in the post-war era. But that verdict comes as Japan struggles with sluggish wage growth and a chronic labor shortage. (NHK)

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    Japan Post Holdings Co. plans to acquire a 7 to 8 percent stake in U.S. insurer Aflac Inc. for about ¥300 billion as part of its strategy to expand operations overseas, sources familiar with the matter said Thursday. (Japan Times)

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    Japanese education companies are expanding their language offerings overseas, seeing business opportunities in meeting growing demand for Japanese-speaking foreign manpower as the nation opens its doors to workers from overseas. (Nikkei)

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    The government will temporarily suspend an extra medical fee that pregnant women were required to pay out of pocket to see doctors, health minister Takumi Nemoto said Friday. (Japan Times)

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    A court on Friday sentenced a 26-year-old man to 18 years in prison for a highway road rage incident last year in which a couple died and their two teenage daughters were injured. (Japan Times)

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    Japan's central government is pushing ahead with a controversial plan to relocate an American military base within the southern prefecture of Okinawa. They've started full-scale land reclamation work despite strong local opposition. (NHK)

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    The education ministry plans to include ¥1.52 trillion in its budget for fiscal 2019 to cover personnel costs for teachers at public elementary and junior high schools, it has been learned. (Japan Times)

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    Rino Sashihara, a leading Japanese idol singer, will leave the all-girl musical group HKT48, an affiliate of the country's entertainment giant AKB48, next year, she said Saturday. (Kyodo)

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    Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga has revealed that the government plans to open about 100 support centers for foreign workers across Japan. (NHK)

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    A famous hot spa resort is offering an online map showing "onsen" spots available for tattooed tourists traveling to the region for next year's Rugby World Cup in Japan. (Kyodo)

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    More than 40 people were injured on Sunday when an explosion caused a fire at a commercial building housing a pub in Sapporo City on Japan's northern main island of Hokkaido. Police suspect a gas leak may be the cause. (NHK)

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    Toyama Prefectural Police are investigating what is believed to have been a hit-and-run incident after the corpse of a man was found inside a smashed display window at a store in Toyama City, reports Sankei Sports (Dec. 15). (tokyoreporter.com)

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    PayPay, a mobile payments company backed by SoftBank Group Corp., Yahoo Japan Corp. and India’s largest digital-payments company Paytm, said it’s updating its app to strengthen security after multiple complaints from users of wrongful charges. (Bloomberg)

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    Japanese water is clean and readily available, as evidenced by drinkable tap water and a nearly 100 percent penetration rate. (Japan Times)

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    Police believe an explosion at a Sapporo building that left 42 people injured on Sunday was caused by gas leaking from more than 100 deodorizer spray cans, intended for disposal, at a real estate agency. (Japan Times)

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    Japan has approved new defense guidelines, including a plan to upgrade an existing destroyer into a de-facto aircraft carrier. (NHK)

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    A month since his arrest in Japan, former Nissan Motor Chairman Carlos Ghosn continues to deny allegations of understating his compensation as prosecutors grill him on evidence they say shows his pay was set and thus legally required to disclose. (Nikkei)

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    An explosion in Sapporo that injured 42 people over the weekend occurred after two employees of a real estate office located at the site emptied about 100 deodorizer spray cans at once, sources close to the matter said Tuesday. (Japan Times)

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