Japan's foreign ministry on Wednesday said it would close its embassy in Syria, citing deteriorating security conditions amid a brutal crackdown on anti-government protestors.
A ministry statement said the embassy, which had already been reducing its operations since earlier this month, will continue to operate out of Japan's diplomatic compound in neighbouring Jordan.
"We have decided to temporarily close the Japanese embassy in Syria as of today due to worsening public safety conditions in Syria, including the capital Damascus," it said.
The ministry added that Japan was continuing to urge its nationals to avoid travel to the violence-wracked nation.
A number of countries have already curtailed their diplomatic activities in Damascus, including the United States, Canada, France, the United Kingdom, Italy and Switzerland.
Syria has called on Tunisia and Libya to close their embassies in the capital, after they ordered Syrian officials to leave Tunis and Tripoli.
The Japanese embassy closure came as UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon said Wednesday the organisation was aiming to end the violence in Syria while starting political dialogue and providing humanitarian aid.
Kanagawa prefectural police said Friday they have arrested four individuals in Ebina, in connection with a robbery case in which a pregnant woman on her way home was struck in the face and robbed of approximately 100,000 yen in cash. (Japan Today )
Yoko Ono says her own bitter experience in Japan during World War II inspired her to support WhyHunger's "Imagine There's No Hunger" campaign to fight childhood hunger around the world. (abcnews.go.com )
Japanese police arrested former sumo ozeki Kotomitsuki on Wednesday on suspicion of violating the immigration law by employing foreigners illegally at a barbecue restaurant he runs in Nagoya, central Japan. (Jiji Press )