Papers see opposition win
Major local newspapers are projecting that the main opposition Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) will win a majority of seats in elections on Sunday next week. The projections by the Asahi and Yomiuri newspapers published yesterday were based on telephone polls and their own reporting, analysis and prediction methods. A survey by Asahi estimated that the LDP, which ruled the nation for most of the post-World War II era, could win 257 to 285 seats in the 480-seat lower house, while the ruling Democratic Party of Japan could capture about 80 seats. However, Asahi said about 40 to 50 percent of voters were undecided, meaning the actual results could be quite different.
Beer is good for you: study
Consuming large quantities of a key ingredient in beer can protect against winter sniffles and even some serious illnesses in small children, Sapporo Breweries said, citing a scientific study. A chemical compound in hops, the plant brewers use to give beer its bitter taste, provides an effective guard against a virus that can cause severe forms of pneumonia and bronchitis in youngsters, Sapporo Breweries said on Wednesday. In research with scientists at Sapporo Medical University, the compound — humulone — was found to be effective in curbing the respiratory syncytial virus, the firm said.However, beer contains such small quantities of humulone that one would have to drink about 30 350ml cans for it to have any virus-fighting effect, said Jun Fuchimoto, a researcher at the company.
Schools shut after attacks
Teachers in the restive southern region yesterday suspended lessons at hundreds of schools after gun attacks on two educators this week, in the second recent class stoppage in the region over security fears. The local teaching association in Narathiwat, one of three insurgency-plagued provinces, said it had called for all state schools in the area to close for two days after a teacher was shot dead on Monday. “We demand effective security measures for teachers. State agencies should take responsibility for this incident,” chairman Sanguan Intarak said, adding the group would reassess the situation before schools reopen early next week.
Jazz legend Brubeck dies
Jazz pianist Dave Brubeck, whose choice of novel rhythms, classical structures and brilliant sidemen made him a towering figure in modern jazz, has died at the age of 91, his longtime manager and producer Russell Gloyd said on Wednesday. Brubeck died of heart failure on his way to a regular medical exam at a hospital in Norwalk, Connecticut, Gloyd said. His Dave Brubeck Quartet put out one of the biggest-selling jazz songs of all time: Take Five. Like many of the group’s works, it had an unusual beat — 5/4 time as opposed to the usual 4/4. “We play it differently every time we play it,” Brubeck told the Philadelphia Inquirer in 2005. “So I never get tired of playing it. That’s the beauty of jazz.”
Beijing to allow free transit
China will allow transit passengers from 45 countries and areas, including the US, Canada and the EU, to spend up to 72 hours in Beijing without a visa starting on Jan. 1, authorities said. The policy only applies to travelers in transit to a third country, and not for return flights to the capital. Travelers would “face punishment” if they left the capital and lawbreakers would be banned for life, a city official said.