1. Japan’s Empress Masako marked her 59th birthday on Friday. In a statement released by the Imperial Household Agency, the Empress said she feels deep sorrow over the fact that the lives of many people, including children, have been lost due to wars and conflicts around the world. 2. Japan’s Finance Minister Suzuki Shunichi says the government must sincerely explain to the public its plan to raise taxes to finance the country’s growing defense budget. Prime Minister Kishida Fumio instructed ministers and the ruling coalition parties to raise Japan’s defense budget amid the increasingly severe security environment surrounding the country. 3.Chinese President Xi Jinping is exploring new territory during what he has called a “pioneering” trip to Saudi Arabia. He has signed dozens of deals to “usher in a new era” in relations with the Arab world.