1 dead, 5 injured in iron factory blast in northern Japan

The 56-year-old manager, Akira Sato, died at a local hospital where he was taken after suffering serious burns from the 8:30 a.m. blast at Hiyama Iron Works Co. Fifteen others were also taken to the hospital, of whom five men in their 20s to 60s were confirmed to have sustained injuries.

The blast shattered windows at the iron factory and left a hole in one of its walls, the police said. The explosion prompted nearby residents and workers to evacuate the area for fear of further blasts.

The explosion occurred near the furnace used to melt metal, when all 16 of the workers present were inside the factory. The police suspect that melted steel was inadvertently allowed to touch coolant water, triggering a vapor explosion.

The factory is located about 2 kilometers from JR Asahikawa Station. Hokkaido Railway Co. said it has suspended some train operations.

The United States, Japan and other countries surrounding North Korea are on high alert over the nation’s provocative actions, including the possibility it would conduct its sixth nuclear test, as Tuesday marked the 85th anniversary of the foundation of its Korean People’s Army. (the-japan-news.com)

A furnace exploded Tuesday morning at an iron factory in Asahikawa, Hokkaido, killing the manager and leaving five people injured, police and firefighters said. (Japan Today)

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has decided to appoint Masayoshi Yoshino, a former State Minister of the Environment, as the new minister in charge of rebuilding areas hit by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. (NHK)

Japan’s catches of smaller Pacific bluefin tuna this season are very close to topping the annual limit set under an international accord for resources conservation. (the-japan-news.com)

Japan Post Holdings says it expects to book a net loss of about 360 million dollars for the business year that ended in March. (NHK)

Canadian pop singer Justin Bieber, 23, will perform at Tokyo’s Ajinomoto Stadium on Sept 23 and 24. It will be Bieber’s fourth concert tour in Japan and his first visit since last August. (Japan Today)

Despite the initial excitement among major financial institutions, the Bank of Japan’s push for exchange-traded funds tracking companies that actively raise employee pay or invest in new equipment has run aground. (Nikkei)

Japan’s growing labor shortage threatens the nation’s ubiquitous convenience stores, whose business model relies on an army of part-timers packing bento lunch boxes, manning cash registers and delivering goods 24/7. (Japan Today)

The labor ministry referred advertising agency Dentsu Inc. and three officials from its offices in Nagoya, Osaka and Kyoto to prosecutors on Tuesday on suspicion of violating the Labor Standards Law by making employees work overtime beyond legal limits. (Japan Times)

It has been revealed that information related to Japan’s national security was included in the confidential documents disclosed by former US National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. (NHK)

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