Kyodo news summary -9-.
---------- Saudi Arabia nabs 172 militants, seizes caches of arms, money
RIYADH - Saudi Arabian authorities have arrested 172 militants and seized large caches of arms and money, Al-Arabiya satellite TV channel reported Friday.
The Associated Press quoted the Interior Ministry as saying in a statement that the militants planned to carry out suicide attacks against ''public figures, oil facilities, refineries...and military zones.''
---------- 12 people file damages suit as Minamata poisoning sufferers
NIIGATA, Japan - A group of 12 people claiming to be victims of the Niigata Minamata Disease mercury poisoning filed a damages suit Friday against the central and Niigata prefectural governments as well as Showa Denko K.K.
Aged in their 40s to 70s, the plaintiffs say in the suit filed with the Niigata District Court that they have suffered sensory impairment since eating fish from the Agano River polluted by Showa Denko, though they have not been officially recognized as the disease's victims.
---------- Japan scrambles more fighters against Russian aircraft
TOKYO - Japan scrambled its Air Self-Defense Force fighters a total of 239 times in fiscal 2006, up 10 from the previous fiscal year, with more jets than before dispatched to try and intercept Russian aircraft, and less jets than previously against Chinese ones, Japanese Defense Ministry officials said Friday.
There were no cases in which foreign aircraft actually intruded into Japan's airspace in the fiscal year through March, the officials at the ministry's Joint Staff Office said.
---------- Japan asks for U.S. probe into discovery of beef in pork shipments
TOKYO - The agricultural ministry said Friday it has asked the U.S. government to undertake an investigation as American beef, without a sanitary certificate attached, was found in pork imports from a U.S. company amid the mad cow disease scare.
The inclusion of such beef violates the law to prevent infectious diseases of cattle, said the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
---------- Japan, U.S. agree on use of U.S. military facility in disasters
TOKYO - Japan and the United States agreed Friday on an arrangement in which Japanese local governments will be able to use U.S. military premises to deal with disasters such as earthquakes by obtaining prior consent from the United States, Japanese officials said.
The arrangement, agreed on at a meeting of the Japan-U.S. Joint Committee, involves the use of U.S. military facilities and areas for rescue work and medical service provision, emergency transport of supplies and food, evacuating residents and disaster drills, the officials said.
---------- U.S. F-22A fighters hold 1st joint drill with Japan's ASDF
NAHA, Japan - U.S. Air Force F-22A stealth fighters took part in a joint dogfight drill with the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force for the first time Friday in airspace south of Okinawa Island.
A squadron of the state-of-the-art U.S. fighters, called the Raptor, has been deployed since February at the U.S. Kadena Air Base in Okinawa for the first time outside of U.S. territory on a temporary basis through May.
---------- Diplomats, academics discuss 6-way process in Beijing
BEIJING - Diplomats and academics from five of the six countries involved in talks on North Korea's nuclear programs on Friday discussed the need to move forward on the six-party process for denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, participants said.
North Korea, which had been contacted about the one-day workshop hosted by U.S., Chinese and South Korean think tanks, did not send a representative to the meeting, which was attended by experts from China, Japan, South Korea, the United States and Russia, they said.
---------- Korean-American group's full-page ad raps Abe over 'comfort women'
NEW YORK - A Korean-American group placed a full-page advertisement criticizing Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's response to the ''comfort women'' issue on the New York Times on Friday, just a day after a similar advertisement was placed on the Washington Post by a different U.S. civic group.
In the ad titled ''An Open Letter to: Mr. Shinzo Abe,'' the Korean American National Coordinating Council said Abe's recent negative response to the U.S. House Resolution urging Japan to formally and unequivocally admit responsibility over its sexual exploitation of Asian women during World War II was ''received with uniform outrage by the 1.2 million Korean Americans.''
---------- Aso sends greetings telegrams to ex-, new Chinese counterparts
TOKYO - Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso sent greetings telegrams Friday to his new Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi and his predecessor Li Zhaoxing, who left the post the same day, calling for continued efforts to establish a mutually beneficial relationship between the two countries.
''I wish to closely cooperate with Foreign Minister Yang for Japan and China to jointly contribute to peace and prosperity of Asia and the world by striving to establish a strategically reciprocal relationship as agreed to by the two leaders,'' Aso said in his telegram for Yang, according to the Japanese Foreign Ministry.
---------- Bush indicates hope for Japan's easing of U.S. beef import controls
WASHINGTON - U.S. President George W. Bush indicated his desire Friday to see Japan's mad cow disease-linked controls on American beef imports eased as quickly as possible.
Bush said in a joint news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe after their talks at the president's Camp David retreat just outside Washington that while active U.S.-Japan trade is ''positive'' for the two nations, there also are ''always complicated trade issues.''
---------- Bush accepts Abe's apology over 'comfort women' issue
WASHINGTON - U.S. President George W. Bush said Friday he accepts an apology expressed by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during their talks for the situation of women who were forced to provide sex for Japanese soldiers during World War II.
''That issue is a regrettable chapter in the history of the world and I accept the prime minister's apology,'' Bush said at a joint press conference with Abe after their meeting at the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland, just outside Washington.
---------- Abe, Bush urge N. Korea to meet denuke obligations
WASHINGTON - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President George W. Bush agreed Friday on the need to press North Korea to implement the initial denuclearization steps contained in a Feb. 13 agreement at the six-party talks, warning Pyongyang of further sanctions.
Speaking at a joint press conference after their talks at Camp David just outside of Washington, Bush underscored his strong commitment to helping Japan resolve the issue of Japanese abducted by North Korea as the two leaders reaffirmed the strong bilateral alliance.
---------- Abe, Bush agree on cooperation to tackle global warming
WASHINGTON - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President George W. Bush agreed Friday to work hand in hand to tackle global warming without curbing economic growth.
In a joint press statement issued after their summit at Camp David just outside of Washington, the two leaders said they remain committed to stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would protect the climate system, and will further explore steps to this end.
---------- Abe, Bush bolster alliance, agree unity on defusing N. Korea standoff
WASHINGTON - Visiting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President George W. Bush reaffirmed a strong bilateral alliance Friday and agreed to continue pressing North Korea to act on its promise to abandon nuclear arms through pressure and dialogue.
In the summit talks to foster closer friendship during Abe's first visit to the United States as premier, Abe and Bush also resolved to continue cooperation on Iraq's reconstruction, agreed in a joint statement to confront climate change and concurred to enhance bilateral and global trade.