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.
A collection of materials related to a 17th century mission sent by a Japanese feudal lord to Europe and the world's oldest autographic diary left 10 centuries ago by a Japanese regent have been selected for the UNESCO Memory of the World registry, the Japanese education ministry said Wednesday. (Global Post )
Almost 1,500 people were transported to hospitals by ambulance due to heatstroke last week, up sharply from 942 in the preceding week, the Fire and Disaster Management Agency said Tuesday. (Japan Times )
Among about 200,000 traffic signals nationwide, 16 percent are being used beyond the end of the expected lifetime of their electrical systems and some have even toppled over due to age, according to the National Police Agency. (Yomiuri )
In May, Akira Ikoma, the editor of a guide to men's entertainment called Ore no Tabi (My Journey), said that "Abenomics" had caused a spike in prices at high-end soapland bathhouses in Tokyo. However, the same editor tells Shukan Post (June 28) that the initiative is not impacting the low-end market in the same way. (Tokyo Reporter )
Tokyo District Court decided on Monday to open planned examinations of three witnesses who are former senior members of the Aum Shinrikyo doomsday cult and now death-row inmates, during an upcoming trial of another former senior Aum member. (Jiji Press )