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.
People enjoy viewing the 15-meter snow walls of the Yuki no Otani (Great Snow Valley), along the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route that passes through the Northern Japan Alps to link Toyama and Nagano prefectures. (The Japan News )
Tokyo prosecutors plan to look into whether a man, who has been arrested for allegedly vandalizing copies of Anne Frank's diary, is mentally competent to be held criminally responsible for his actions, informed sources said Wednesday. (Jiji Press )
Apparently perplexed but thrilled to find himself in the spotlight, Iwao Hakamada, formerly the world's longest-serving death-row inmate, made his first public appearance Monday in Tokyo since being released from prison and hospitalized. (Japan Times )
Aichi prefectural police are investigating a possible link between the discovery of the bodies of a husband and wife and their eldest son, and the body of a male relative of the deceased family who was found hanging by his neck in a hotel. (Japan Today )
The body of one of two missing workers who died on March 30 after a floating pier overturned while being unloaded from a barge during construction work on a remote rocky atoll, was found on Sunday, the coast guard said. (Japan Today )