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Top Asian News 4:24 a.m. GMT

January 14, 2023 GMT

Suspect charged with murder in assassination of Japan’s Abe

TOKYO (AP) — Japanese prosecutors formally charged the suspect in the assassination of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe with murder, sending him to stand trial, a court said Friday. Tetsuya Yamagami was arrested immediately after allegedly shooting Abe with a homemade gun as the former leader was making a campaign speech in July outside a train station in Nara in western Japan. He then underwent a nearly six-month mental evaluation, which prosecutors said showed he is fit to stand trial. Yamagami was also charged with violating a gun control law, according to the Nara District Court. Police have said Yamagami told them that he killed Abe, one of Japan’s most influential and divisive politicians, because of Abe’s apparent links to a religious group that he hated.

S. Korean police seek manslaughter charges over deadly crush


SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korean police are seeking criminal charges including involuntary manslaughter and negligence against 23 officials, about half of them law enforcement officers, for a lack of safety measures they said were responsible for a crowd surge that killed nearly 160 people. Despite anticipating a weekend crowd of more than 100,000, Seoul police had assigned 137 officers to the capital’s nightlife district Itaewon on the day of the crush. Those officers were focused on monitoring narcotics use and violent crimes, which experts say left few resources for pedestrian safety. Son Je-han, who headed the National Police Agency’s special investigation into the incident, said Friday his team will now send the case to prosecutors.

Sri Lanka church seeks criminal justice for Easter bombings

Sri Lanka’s Catholic Church urged the country Friday to criminally prosecute its former leader for negligence, a day after the top court ordered him to pay compensation to the victims of the 2019 Easter Sunday bomb attacks that killed nearly 270 people. Two local Muslim groups that had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group were accused of carrying out six near-simultaneous suicide bomb attacks, targeting worshippers at Easter services in three churches and tourists having breakfast at three popular hotels. The attacks killed 269 and wounded some 500 more. Duthika Perera, an attorney representing Archbishop of Colombo Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, said the church expects the attorney general to file criminal charges against former President Maithripala Sirisena and four others whom the court found to have neglected their duties to protect the people.


Relief groups say 5 die as Myanmar air strikes hit churches

BANGKOK (AP) — Air strikes by Myanmar’s military on two villages inhabited largely by ethnic Karen killed five civilians, including a mother and her 2-year-old daughter, and destroyed two churches, two relief organizations said Friday. The dead from the air strikes on Thursday also included the pastor of a Baptist church, a Catholic deacon and a church layman, according to the Karen Women’s Organization and the Free Burma Rangers. Another woman and her child were wounded in a second village, they said. The Karen, who live largely in the eastern part of Myanmar along the border with Thailand, are one of the most established ethnic minority rebel forces and have been fighting for decades for greater autonomy from the central government.


Hong Kong DJ who broadcast for six decades dies at 98

HONG KONG (AP) — Ray Cordeiro, who interviewed music acts including the Beatles during a six-decade career on Hong Kong radio that earned him the title of the world’s longest-working disc jockey, has died, his former employer announced. He was 98. Cordeiro died Friday, according to Radio Television Hong Kong, where he worked until 2021. It gave no cause of death. Cordeiro, who was born in Hong Kong in 1924 of Portuguese descent, was recognized by the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s longest-working DJ. He joined Hong Kong’s public broadcaster in 1960 after working as a prison warden and bank clerk.


Japan eyes delay of Fukushima plant water release

TOKYO (AP) — Japan has revised the timing of a planned release to the sea of treated but still radioactive wastewater at the Fukushima nuclear power plant to “around spring or summer,” indicating a delay from the initial target of this spring, after factoring in the progress of a release tunnel and the need to gain public support. The government and the plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, announced in April 2021 a plan to begin releasing the treated wastewater into the sea starting in spring 2023. They say more than 1 million tons of water stored in about 1,000 tanks at the plant are hampering its decommissioning and risk leaking in the event of a major earthquake or tsunami.

Biden and Kishida discuss Japan ‘stepping up’ security

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida held wide-ranging talks at the White House on Friday as Japan looks to build security cooperation with allies in a time of provocative Chinese and North Korean military action. The two administrations also sealed an agreement to bolster U.S.-Japanese cooperation on space with a signing ceremony by Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Japanese Foreign Affairs Minister Hayashi Yoshimasa. The Oval Office meeting and signing ceremony at NASA’s Washington headquarters capped a weeklong tour for Kishida that took him to five European and North American capitals for talks on his effort to beef up Japan’s security.


Afghan rulers urged to reverse ban on women aid workers

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — A strong majority of the U.N. Security Council urged Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers Friday to immediately reverse all “oppressive” restrictions on girls and women including the latest ban on women working for aid organizations which is exacerbating the already critical humanitarian crisis in the country. The joint statement from 11 of the 15 council members said female aid workers are crucial to addressing Afghanistan’s “dire humanitarian situation” because they provide “critical life-saving support to women and girls” that men can’t reach. It reiterated the council’s demand for “unhindered access for humanitarian actors regardless of gender.” Japanese Ambassador Kimihiro Ishikane, the current council president, delivered the statement to reporters before a closed council meeting, surrounded by diplomats from the 10 other countries -- Albania, Brazil, Ecuador, France, Gabon, Malta, Switzerland, Britain, United States and United Arab Emirates.

EXPLAINER: List of states banning TikTok grows

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin and North Carolina have joined at least 22 other states in banning the popular social media app TikTok on state-owned devices, including Mississippi, Indiana, Louisiana and South Dakota. Congress also recently banned TikTok from most U.S. government-issued devices over bipartisan concerns about security. TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a Chinese company that moved its headquarters to Singapore in 2020. It has been targeted by critics who say the Chinese government could access user data, such as browsing history and location. U.S. armed forces also have prohibited the app on military devices. TikTok is consumed by two-thirds of American teens and has become the second-most popular domain in the world.

China’s trade surplus swells to $877.6B as exports grow

BEIJING (AP) — China’s trade surplus swelled to a record $877.6 billion last year as exports rose despite weakening U.S. and European demand and anti-virus controls that temporarily shut down Shanghai and other industrial centers. Exports increased 7% from a year earlier to $3.95 trillion, decelerating from 2021′s explosive 29.9% gain, customs data showed Friday. Imports edged up 1.1% to 2.7 trillion, cooling from the previous year’s 30.1% rise as economic growth slowed and consumer spending weakened. The country’s politically volatile global trade surplus expanded by 29.7% from 2021′s record, already the highest ever for any economy. “China’s foreign trade and exports showed strong resilience in the face of many difficulties and challenges,” said a customs agency spokesperson, Lu Daliang, at a news conference.