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.

Mar 04
U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama will visit Japan for three days from March 18, as part of her campaign to promote education for women and volunteer activities in developing countries, the White House announced Tuesday. (Jiji Press)
Mar 04
Microsoft Corp. cofounder Paul Allen said on Twitter Tuesday the Imperial Japanese Navy's World War II battleship Musashi has been found at the bottom of the Sibuyan Sea off the central Philippines. (Jiji Press)
Mar 04
The Cabinet on Tuesday signed off on a bill that would revise the adult entertainment business law to enable discos and nightclubs that offer dancing to operate past midnight as long as they meet interior lighting criteria. (Japan Times)
Mar 03
Japan Airlines flew a plane serviced entirely by women to mark the country's girls' day festival on Tuesday. (NHK)
Mar 03
In the latest allegations of questionable political donations now aimed at top party leaders, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the main opposition party president are linked to contributions from companies after ministries awarded them subsidies, it was learned March 3. (Asahi)
Mar 03
Kiss, the veteran U.S. rock band famed for its makeup, elaborate costumes and wild stage performances, has adopted a new look to help revitalize a traditional Japanese art industry. (Asahi)
Mar 03
Osaka Prefectural Police on Friday announced the arrest of a late-shift taxi driver from Joto Ward for allegedly raping a number of intoxicated female passengers, reports the Asahi Shimbun. (Tokyo Reporter)
Mar 03
A resident in the high-rise Tokyo condo where a fire broke out on Monday has admitted starting the fire, police said Tuesday. (Japan Today)
Mar 03
Police in Thailand on Monday announced the arrest of a Japanese organized crime member who had been wanted in a fraud ring, reports Jiji Press. (Tokyo Reporter)
Mar 03
Five Japanese men have became sick after eating poisonous puffer fish, an official says, the latest victims of a delicacy seen as sophisticated by fans and crazy by others. (sbs.com.au)
Mar 03
While police in Tokyo continue cracking down on illicit businesses employing underage school girls, a different situation is unfolding in Osaka. (Tokyo Reporter)
Mar 03
A 65-year-old man who was arrested and jailed for causing trouble at a gasoline station in Mitaka, Tokyo, was rearrested after he returned to the same gas station upon his release and threatened the owner, police said Monday. (Japan Today)
Mar 02
An estimated 380,000 homes in Nagano Prefecture lost power early Monday, Chubu Electric Power Co. said. (Japan Times)
Mar 02
Police say the leader of a group of youths has admitted to fatally stabbing a 13-year-old boy in an alleged gang killing in Kawasaki City, near Tokyo. (NHK)
Mar 02
Tokyo Metropolitan Police on Monday announced the bust of a club in which male members have sex with prostitutes in hotel rooms, reports TBS News (March 2). (Tokyo Reporter)