SEOUL - In a newspaper interview published in South Korea on Wednesday, Japan's Foreign Minister Taro Kono indicated Tokyo's preference to continue a bilateral accord on sharing military intelligence with Seoul that is set to be renewed next month. Kono's written interview, which was published by the South Korean daily JoongAng Ilbo, comes amid mounting concern over the potential impact of worsening South Korea-Japan ties on the security cooperation accord between the two countries. "The ties between the two countries are in a very difficult condition, but Japan will continue to cooperate with South Korea on the agenda on which it should cooperate, including the North Korea issue," Kono was quoted as saying. South Korea and Japan signed the General Security of Military Information Agreement, a military intelligence-sharing pact often shortened as GSOMIA, in November 2016. The accord, which went into effect immediately, has since been renewed every year.
WAKAYAMA – Police finished questioning a 23-year-old Wakayama man who was deported from Turkey for allegedly attempting to join the Islamic State extremist group, judging he was not suspected of any crime, according to investigation sources on Friday. According to police, who had been questioning him on a voluntary basis about why he was in southern Turkey and where he was headed, the man has said, "I've got fed up with living in Japan. I thought going abroad would lead to a change." "I've never imagined that my trip would cause this much trouble," he also said. Police said his belongings including his mobile telephone did not prove he had any connecition with Islamic State.
YOKOHAMA – A 14-year-old in Osaka Prefecture has become the first person in Japan arrested for allegedly creating ransomware, police said. The third-year junior high school student is suspected of combining free encryption programs to create the malware, which makes computer files inaccessible unless a ransom is paid, the sources said. "The male student apparently learned how to create it on his own," a source said. The student, who lives in Takatsuki, admitted to creating the program on Jan. 6 and uploading it to an overseas website where he lured people into downloading it via social media, the sources said. No financial losses from the malware have been reported yet, the sources said.
OSAKA – Over a half dozen local governments have officially expressed concern with the way Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government has handled revelations that the Finance Ministry deleted information on official documents related to the Moritomo Gakuen scandal, with the ruling party chapters worried about a voter backlash in next year's nationwide prefectural, municipal, and town assembly elections. As of Monday, seven prefectural and municipal assemblies had passed nonbinding statements of opinion regarding the document-tampering scandal, which involves the heavily discounted sale of state land to the Osaka-based school chain, which had named first lady Akie Abe as honorary principal of a new school it planned to build. Last week, the Niigata and Tottori prefectural assemblies called investigations into the matter insufficient thus far. They warned that representative democracy was imperiled by the Finance Ministry's decision to delete information in the official documents, including a reference to Akie Abe in which she was quoted by Moritomo chief Yasunori Kagoike as being supportive of the land deal. She has denied any involvement.
HIROSHIMA – Using virtual reality technology, high school students in Hiroshima Prefecture are working to breathe life into an Imperial Japanese Navy battleship that was dispatched to a watery grave by U.S. forces during World War II. The VR tour of the Yamato, one of the largest battleships ever built, will be completed around this summer and enter use at the Yamato Museum in Kure, Hiroshima Prefecture, where the vessel was built. By using VR technology, which employs images, sounds and vibrations, visitors will be able to hear the booming of the ship's cannons while standing on the digitally re-created deck of the Yamato. After the smoke clears, the main battery of the 263-meter battleship will emerge before their eyes. The project was undertaken by students at Fukuyama Technical High School last November as part of efforts to reproduce the legacies of the war.