The deadly collapse last weekend of hundreds of concrete ceiling slabs in a tunnel outside Tokyo is raising calls for more spending on Japan's aging infrastructure, but the country might simply not have the money.
Nine people were killed Sunday in the tunnel, a major link between the capital and central Japan that opened in 1977 at the peak of the country's postwar road construction boom. Police searched the tunnel operator's offices Tuesday, looking for evidence of negligence.
The transport ministry has ordered inspections of 49 other highway and road tunnels of similar construction around the mountainous country.
Much more of Japan's transportation system may require refurbishing after years of spending cuts that starved projects of funding, including for needed basic maintenance.
The infrastructure ministry, which is in charge of land and roads, joined with three government highway operators last month in forming a panel on how to handle problems of deteriorating expressways and tunnels.
Experts told the panel that about 40 percent of the 8,716 kilometers of expressways the agencies run had been in operation for more than 30 years, the Yomiuri newspaper reported Tuesday.
Japan's farm ministry said Thursday that the highly pathogenic avian influenza found at a poultry farm in the southwestern Japan prefecture of Kumamoto has been confirmed to be the H5N8 subtype, the same virus strain as the bird flu found in South Korea. (Jiji Press )
Train operators in Tokyo and surrounding areas will be shutting down coin-operated luggage lockers at main stations before and during US President Barack Obama's visit next week, as a security measure. (NHK )
Just over one ton of water contaminated with radioactive particulates leaked from one of the containment vessels at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant on Wednesday, Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) said. (Japan Today )
Japan is expected to secure the minimum required power supply capacity when electricity demand peaks in August, even if all the country's nuclear reactors remain offline, estimates by major regional utilities showed Thursday. (Kyodo )
Tochigi prefectural police said Thursday that they are questioning a man in his 30s over the murder of a 7-year-old girl in December 2005. Japanese media quoted police as saying that the man, who was arrested for dealing in fake brand-name goods, has hinted at his involvement in the murder. (Japan Today )
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 )