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.
The assembly of Tokyo's Shibuya Ward is expected to pass an ordinance next week acknowledging same-sex partnerships as equivalent to marriage, after a bill for the ordinance was approved at a committee meeting Thursday. (Jiji Press)
Lee Dong Cheol, 61, and an employee of his trading firm were arrested by the Kyoto, Kanagawa, Shimane and Yamaguchi prefectural police departments on Thursday for allegedly importing North Korean matsutake mushrooms under the pretense that they were Chinese ones. (The Japan News)
An expert panel of the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) has concluded again that a fracture zone running just below the No. 2 reactor of the Tsuruga nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture is an active fault. (The Japan News)
The two names of what appears to be Japanese are on the boarding list of a Germanwings airplane that crashed in southeastern France Tuesday, according to the Japanese consulate general in Barcelona. (Jiji Press)
Police reported a record-high 28,923 minors aged below 18 to child welfare authorities as suspected victims of child abuse in 2014, up 33.9 percent from a year earlier, the National Police Agency said Thursday. (Kyodo)
Police on Wednesday arrested a 42-year-old man in connection with the deaths of his parents, who were found fatally stabbed the day before in a factory the family ran in Takarazuka, Hyogo Prefecture. (Japan Times)
The depths of the ocean are very mysterious, what with all the weird fish and sea creatures, shipwrecks and maybe even sunken treasure down there. It's no wonder scuba diving is such a popular activity, since you never know just what you'll come across. (rocketnews24.com)