City in Tokyo approves imports of Ebola virus by research facility
Japan Times -- Jul 02
Musashimurayama Mayor Masaru Fujino informed health minister Takumi Nemoto on Monday of his approval of a plan to keep deadly viruses such as Ebola at a research facility in the city, which is located on the outskirts of Tokyo.

The viruses will be imported to the Murayama branch of the National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NIID), which can handle dangerous pathogens designated the highest biosafety level, or BSL, of 4 under the World Health Organization’s standards, as early as this summer.

The move will help strengthen Japan’s inspection system for diseases that have never spread within the country, in preparation for an expected increase in visitors from abroad ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games next summer.

At a meeting with Nemoto, Fujino made five requests, including the implementation of full safety measures, the proactive disclosure of information and future consideration for a relocation. The ministry will answer the requests in writing.

The pathogens to be imported to the facility are those related to Ebola, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, South American hemorrhagic fever, Marburg disease and Lassa fever.

All of the deadly viruses are ranked as the most dangerous under Japan’s infectious disease prevention law.

Under the law, the health minister is expected to grant the NIID approval for importing the pathogens within a few days.

To prepare for an outbreak of a dangerous disease, the NIID has adopted an inspection system involving artificially made pathogens of deadly diseases.

News source: Japan Times
Aug 19
Police in Japan have arrested a man on a national wanted list who is suspected of forcibly stopping a car and beating the driver on a highway. (NHK)
Aug 19
Anime fans from around the world continue to visit Kyoto to mourn the victims of the arson attack on a famous animation studio one month ago. (NHK)
Aug 19
More than 2,000 people tested their skills at scooping up goldfish at an annual event in Nara Prefecture, western Japan, on Sunday. (NHK)
Aug 19
Japan's government is promoting private lodgings for tourists who will visit during the Olympic and Paralympic games next summer. (NHK)
Aug 16
A powerful typhoon ripped through western Japan on Thursday, leaving one man dead and about 50 people injured, while greatly disrupting summer holiday traffic. (Kyodo)
Aug 16
Japan's new emperor spoke Thursday (Aug 15) of "deep remorse" over the country's wartime past, in his first speech to commemorate the end of World War II since his enthronement in May. (channelnewsasia.com)
Aug 16
An estimated 12,751 people were rushed to hospitals due to heat-related conditions across Japan over the week from Aug 5, of whom 23 died, the Fire and Disaster Management Agency said Wednesday. (Japan Today)
Aug 16
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has skipped a visit to the controversial Yasukuni shrine for war dead, but sent a ritual offering on the 74th anniversary of Japan's World War II surrender, a gesture likely to be criticised by Asian neighbours. (aljazeera.com)
Aug 16
People in Japan hoping to predict the next big earthquake should ignore mysterious deep-sea fish after experts said rare sightings of the creatures on the country's beaches did not, as some had believed, foretell a seismic calamity. (theguardian.com)
Aug 15
With Severe Tropical Storm Krosa approaching western Japan, evacuation instructions had been issued to five people in three households in Wakayama Prefecture as of 4 a.m. Thursday. The instruction urges immediate evacuation. (NHK)