Japan pickle bug could prevent flu
Bacteria found in a traditional Japanese pickle could prevent flu, a study suggests.

Scientists investigated the immune-boosting powers of Lactobacillus bugs in Suguki, a pickled turnip popular in Japan.

"Our results show that when a particular strain of Lactobacillus brevis is eaten by mice, it has protective effects against influenza virus infection," said lead researcher Naoko Waki, from the Japanese food company Kagome.

The findings are published in the journal Letters in Applied Microbiology. Human trials using a probiotic drink containing the same KB290 strain of the bug are under way.

A protective layer of sugars called exopolysaccharides that protects the bacteria against acid stomach juices could lie behind its powers, the Japanese researchers believe.

May 27
U.S. President Barack Obama is set to visit Hiroshima on Friday, becoming the first American head of state to do so since the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city in August 1945. (Kyodo)
May 27
A 19-year-old woman this week became the youngest Japanese to scale the world's highest peak, a mountaineering official confirmed Thursday. (Japan Times)
May 27
The Japan Meteorological Agency has announced its three-month forecast from the month of June until August. This summer, while sweltering temperatures will be experienced nationwide, western Japan, in particular, will be hit by an intense heat wave, the agency said. (Japan Today)
May 26
Hanako, Japan's oldest elephant who made headlines for spending most of her life alone in a concrete enclosure, died at 69 in Tokyo on Tuesday, NHK (May 26) reported. (Tokyo Reporter)
May 26
A pair of melons produced in the Hokkaido city of Yubari on Thursday fetched a record ¥3 million ($27,240) in the first auction of the harvest season at a Sapporo wholesale market. (Japan Times)
May 27
Saitama Prefectural Police have arrested two organized crime members for operating a grow house for marijuana in Soka City, reports TV Asahi. (Tokyo Reporter)
May 26
A utility knife sitting on the floor near an intoxicated man's bag caused quite a stir in a Tokyo subway station, NHK reported on Thursday (May 26). (Tokyo Reporter)
May 26
A Japanese man was arrested Wednesday in Thailand on suspicion of raping and sexually harassing a number boys aged between 13 and 15 in the country's northern province of Chiang Mai, investigators said. (Japan Times)
May 26
The Yokohama District Court on Wednesday handed an American male an 18-month prison sentence in the death of a woman in Miura City last July, reports NHK. (Tokyo Reporter)
May 25
A panel of Tokyo's Metropolitan Police Department came up with a report on Wednesday calling for legal regulations on the so-called JK business, in which high school girls offer such services as massage and dating. (Jiji Press)
May 25
A 46-year-old man was arrested Wednesday after taking a woman hostage and barricading an apartment in the western Japan prefecture of Ehime for over 16 hours, police said. (Japan Today)
May 25
A 1-year-old boy fell to his death from the 6th floor of his family apartment in Kyoto's Tsurumai city in an apparent accident, police said Tuesday. (Japan Today)
May 25
You know something has become a cultural phenomenon when it gets its own slang! (rocketnews24.com)
May 25
Osaka Prefectural Police have accused a chain of members-only restaurants of illegally serving the innards of a poisonous blowfish to customers, reports NHK. (Tokyo Reporter)
May 25
Nine Ground Self-Defense Force members shot as many as 79 live rounds at one another by mistake in an exercise in Hokkaido on Monday, the GSDF said Tuesday. (Japan Today)