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International News


Will flying cars take off? Japan’s government hopes so

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Mystery around disappearance of Chinese star Fan Bingbing

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From The Asian Reporter, V28, #19 (October 1, 2018), page 2.

Special throne for Japan’s next emperor arrives in Tokyo

TOKYO (AP) — The special imperial throne to be used for the coronation of Japan’s new emperor arrived in Tokyo from an ancient imperial palace in Kyoto more than a year ahead of time. Crown Prince Naruhito will become Japan’s next emperor on May 1 of next year, the day after his 84-year-old father, Emperor Akihito, abdicates. The Takamikura throne will be used at a ceremony in October 2019, when Naruhito formally announces his succession. The 21-foot-high canopied and decorated structure was last used by Akihito in 1990 and has since been stashed away at the Kyoto palace. The huge structure was taken apart for shipment to Tokyo, where it will be repaired, fine-tuned, and reassembled. The 58-year-old Naruhito will be the 126th emperor of one of the world’s oldest monarchies, and he will be Japan’s first emperor born after World War II. The current structure was built for his great-grandfather Taisho’s coronation in 1915 and was also used for his grandfather Hirohito, who was revered as the god of Shinto until the end of World War II, which Japan fought in his name.

Malaysia urged to ban child marriages

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Malaysia’s government has come under renewed pressure to outlaw child marriages after another case of a child bride surfaced in a poor rural state, the second in weeks. A 15-year-old teenager became the second wife of a 44-year-old Muslim man in northeast Kelantan state, the New Straits Times newspaper reported. It said the union was approved by the Islamic Shariah court in July after her parents consented due to poverty. The latest case occurred in the same month that a Kelantan rubber trader married an 11-year-old girl as his third wife, but only became public recently. Muslim girls under the minimum legal marriage age of 16 can wed with the consent of the Shariah court and their parents. Muslim men can marry up to four wives. The case has sparked renewed outrage among rights groups. UNICEF in a statement slammed the latest child marriage as "unacceptable" and urged Malaysia to bring legislative change to ban the practice.

In a first, HK bans pro-independence political party

HONG KONG (AP) — Authorities in Hong Kong have taken an unprecedented step against separatist voices by banning a political party that advocates independence for the southern Chinese territory on national security grounds. John Lee, the territory’s secretary for security, announced that the Hong Kong National Party was prohibited from operation. Lee’s announcement did not provide further details, but Hong Kong’s security bureau had previously said in a letter to the National Party’s leader, 27-year-old Andy Chan, that the party should be dissolved "in the interests of national security or public safety, public order, or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others." Chan had no immediate comment. That letter had cited a national security law that has not been invoked since 1997. The ban is likely to raise further questions about Beijing’s growing influence in the former British colony, which was promised semi-autonomy as part of the 1997 handover. Chinese President Xi Jinping and other officials have warned separatist activity would not be tolerated. The perception that Beijing is reneging on its promise of semi-autonomy and eroding Hong Kong’s free elections and freedom of speech is helping fuel a rising generation of young activists calling for greater autonomy, if not outright independence.

Seven die of suspected drug overdoses at music festival

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — Seven people died last month of suspected drug overdoses during a music festival in Vietnam. The Capital Police newspaper said several other people were also in comas after overdosing at the festival. The music festival was held in a water park near Hanoi’s city center and attended by thousands of people. The state-run media outlet said all the victims tested positive but it didn’t identify which drug or drugs were involved. It said police had seized suspected drug substances at the scene. Government data say Vietnam has 220,000 drug addicts with police records and some 1,600 overdose deaths annually. Methamphetamine and heroin are the most common drugs used and overdosed, with meth use rising in recent years.

Japan digital currency exchange hacked, $60 million lost

TOKYO (AP) — Hackers have stolen 6.7 billion yen ($60 million) worth of cryptocurrencies from a Japanese digital currency exchange, according to the operators. Tech Bureau Corp. said a server for its Zaif exchange was hacked for two hours in September, and some digital currencies were unlawfully relayed from what’s called a "hot wallet," or where virtual coins are stored at such exchanges. The exchange was taken offline until details of the damage could be confirmed, and efforts were underway to get it repaired, Tech Bureau said. Japan has been bullish on virtual money and has set up a system requiring exchanges to be licensed to help protect consumers. The system is also meant to make Japan a global leader in the technology. Bitcoin has been a legal form of payment in Japan since April 2017, and a handful of major retailers here already accept bitcoin payments, but the recurrence of cryptocurrency heists shows problems persist. Earlier this year, the Tokyo-based exchange Coincheck reported a 58 billion yen ($547 million) loss of a cryptocurrency called NEM from suspected criminal hacking. The cryptocurrencies stolen in the Tech Bureau hack included Bitcoin and Monacoin. Of the stolen money, 2.2 billion yen ($20 million) belonged to the company, and the rest were customers’ assets, according to Tech Bureau.

Rare Sumatran tiger caught in animal trap dies

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — A critically endangered Sumatran tiger pregnant with two cubs was found dead in the Indonesian province of Riau after being caught in a pig trap, according to authorities, in the latest setback to a species whose numbers are estimated to have dwindled to about 400. The head of the local conservation agency, Suharyono, said the tiger, about four years old, was reportedly trapped earlier in the week, escaped, then was found dead in a ravine about 500 feet from the trap with part of the snare wrapped around its body. It was pregnant with male and female cubs, said Suharyono, who uses a single name. He said the snare rope had ruptured its kidney. "We will cooperate with law enforcement agencies for an investigation and to launch an operation against wild hunters and traps," Suharyono said. He said a villager who admitted to setting traps for pigs was detained for interrogation. Sumatran tigers, the most critically endangered tiger subspecies, are under increasing pressure as their jungle habitat shrinks. Two people have died in tiger attacks on Sumatra this year and villagers slaughtered a tiger they reportedly believed was a supernatural creature.

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