Japan's government ministries will make budget requests totalling a record 99.2 trillion yen ($1.02 trillion) for the fiscal year from next April, sources familiar with the figures told Reuters, adding to its already strained public finances.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is struggling to balance the need for economic stimulus and the need to rein in the country's public debt, which is double the size of its GDP - the heaviest such burden among the industrialised nations.
The budget requests, which must all be submitted by Friday, compare with 92.6 trillion yen earmarked for this fiscal year.
The Ministry of Finance in recent years has typically trimmed the requested total by several trillion yen when it prepares its draft budget in December.
The process is complicated this year, however, as no ceiling has been set for the budget draft due to a pending sales tax increase, while Abe's government faces pressure for more spending to stimulate the economy.
Officials at Japan's Meteorological Agency are warning that a snowstorm could be heading for the eastern coast of Hokkaido as a low pressure system developing off the coast lashes the region with powerful winds. (NHK)
The Aichi Prefectural Police said Friday that the 19-year-old Nagoya University student who has admitted killing a 77-year-old woman last month apparently used her cellphone to take pictures of the victim's corpse. (Japan Times)
Manga giant Katsuhiro Otomo won the Grand Prix Award at the prestigious Angouleme International Comics Festival on Jan. 29, marking the first time that a Japanese creator took the event's top honor. (Asahi)
Police in Saitama Prefecture said Thursday they have arrested 11 people who, as part of an organized scam group, call up individuals claiming that they had missed a payment for using a website that is actually free to use. (Japan Today)
A Nagoya University student who says she killed an elderly woman found dead in the 19-year-old's apartment has also admitted poisoning a former high school classmate, investigative sources said Thursday. (Japan Times)