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JAPAN

Tuna sells for record $736,000

TOKYO | This tuna is worth savoring: It cost nearly three-quarters of a million dollars.

A bluefin tuna caught off northeastern Japan fetched a record $736,000 Thursday in the first auction of the year at Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish market. The price for the 593-pound tuna beat last year’s record of $420,000.

The price translates to $1,238 per pound - also a record, said Yutaka Hasegawa, a Tsukiji market official.

Though the fish undoubtedly is of high quality, the price has more to do with the celebratory atmosphere that surrounds the first auction of the year.

The winning bidder, Kiyoshi Kimura, president of Kiyomura Co., which operates the Sushi-Zanmai restaurant chain, said he wanted to give Japan a boost after last March’s devastating tsunami.

PHILIPPINES

Filipinos refuse to flee strife-torn Syria

MANILA | Most of the 10,000 Filipinos working in strife-torn Syria have refused to leave despite mounting violence in the country, the Philippines’ foreign minister said Wednesday.

Albert del Rosario said he tried to persuade more Filipinos to leave during a recent visit to Syria, but “I did not see too many people who were enthusiastic about being repatriated.”

Mr. del Rosario added that Filipinos even were entering Syria illegally to find work.

The minister said many Filipinos - most working as domestic helpers - did not think they were in danger.

U.N. humanitarian officials estimate that at least 5,000 Syrians have been killed in the nine months since a popular uprising erupted against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, most of them killed by security forces.