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From The Asian Reporter, V29, #18 (September 16, 2019), page 2.

In Japan, a court case highlights paternity leave issues

TOKYO (AP) — A father has filed one of Japan’s first cases alleging retribution after taking paternity leave. The lawsuit against major sportswear maker Asics opened this month. Asics said it will fight it in court. The case is among the handful of "pata-hara" cases, short for "paternity harassment," popping up lately. For decades, companies have demanded selfless loyalty, long hours, and foregone vacations. Japanese law guarantees both men and women up to one year leave from work after a child is born. Parents aren’t guaranteed pay from their companies, but are eligible for government aid while off. The man, whose sons are now four and one, was initially assigned to a sales-marketing section at Asics, where he rubbed shoulders with athletes, but was suddenly sent to a warehouse after his first paternity leave in 2015, according to the lawsuit. After he hurt his shoulder, he was assigned to the section he is in now, where he says he is forced to sit and do little. He wants his original assignment back and 4.4 million yen ($41,000) in damages.

Indonesian province shuts schools due to forest fire haze

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Several thousand schools were closed in an Indonesian province to protect children from thick, noxious haze as deliberately set fires burn through peatland forest. Indonesia’s Disaster Mitigation Agency said firefighting measures went full force, including aerial water drops, to battle the fires in worst-hit Riau province. Intentionally set fires in Indonesia’s peatland forests each year spread health-damaging haze across much of Southeast Asia. Riau provincial secretary Ahmad Syah Harofie said the air pollutant index hit the hazardous level in Riau’s capital, Pekanbaru, and was very unhealthy in many other areas. The province’s health office data showed nearly 300,000 people suffered respiratory illnesses since January when Riau and five other provinces declared states of emergency due to forest fires.

Elephant injures 18 in Sri Lanka Buddhist pageant

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — An elephant taking part in a Buddhist pageant in Sri Lanka has run berserk, injuring at least 18 people. Privately owned Derana Television aired footage of the pageant in Kotte, near Sri Lanka’s capital. The procession begins after a government minister places a sacred relic on a decorated casket atop an elephant adorned with shiny red clothing. A few minutes later, another elephant runs forward, forcing terrified people to scatter, some of whom run into an elephant walking at the front of the procession. The elephant that was hit becomes violent and runs, pushing onlookers. A man riding on the elephant falls off and narrowly escapes being trampled. Officials from two hospitals said 18 injured people were brought in.

Japan to put surname first for Japanese names in English

TOKYO (AP) — Japan wants to start using the traditional order for Japanese names in English in official documents, with family names first, a switch from the westernized custom the country adopted more than a century ago. The idea has been floated for years, most recently by foreign and education ministers in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ultra-conservative cabinet. Chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga said he looked forward to going by Suga Yoshihide, as he is known in Japan. He said the change will start with government documents. Japan adopted the first name first order for use with foreigners about 150 years ago as a way to modernize and internationalize itself. China and South Korea traditionally use surname first order both at home and internationally.

Sri Lanka church bomber’s remains exhumed after protests

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Police say the remains of a suicide bomber who attacked a church in eastern Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday have been exhumed after a court order that they be buried elsewhere following public protests. Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara said the remains were removed from Kalliyankadu cemetery in the presence of a judge, a medical officer, and police and were taken to a hospital morgue. They will remain there with police protection until the government provides a new burial site. An official said the remains consisted only of a head, but Gunasekara said they also included some other body parts. Hundreds of people protested the burial of Mohamed Azar, who attacked Zion Church in Batticaloa town, killing 27 people and wounding more than 70 others.

Chinese auto sales sink 7.7% in August

BEIJING (AP) — Chinese auto sales sank 7.7% in August from a year earlier extending a painful slump in the industry’s biggest global market, an industry group reported. Sales of sedans, SUVs, and minivans declined to 1.6 million, according to the Chinese Association of Automobile Manufacturers. Total vehicle sales, including trucks and busses, shrank 6.9% to 1.9 million. Chinese consumer demand has been hurt by unease about an economic slowdown and a trade war with the Trump administration. The industry has recorded monthly sales declines since June 2018, squeezing automakers that are spending heavily to meet government targets to develop electric cars. Sales of electric and hybrid vehicles fell 15.8% from a year ago to 85,000. The market segment has struggled as the government phases out subsidies that helped to make China the biggest market for electrics. Beijing is using sales quotas to shift the financial burden of promoting electrics to automakers. That raises the cost to buyers. Sales by Chinese brands fell 10.2% in August from a year earlier to 614,000. They lost 1.1 percentage points of market share to 37.2%. Auto sales for the eight months through August were off 12.3% from a year earlier at 13.3 million. Minivan sales declined 22.9% through August. SUV sales were off 10% and sedans down 12.6%.

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