Tokyo (AFP) - Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday said Japan "cannot do without" nuclear power, speaking on the eve of the fifth anniversary of the devastating Fukushima disaster.
On March 11, 2011, a magnitude 9.0 undersea earthquake off Japan's northeastern coast sparked a massive tsunami that swept ashore leaving about 18,500 people dead or missing.
The wall of water also caused the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl when reactors melted down at the overwhelmed Fukushima power plant.
"Our resource-poor country cannot do without nuclear power to secure the stability of energy supply while considering what makes economic sense and the issue of climate change," Abe told a press conference.
Japan's entire stable of reactors was shuttered in the aftermath of the disaster but Abe and utility companies have been pushing to get reactors back in operation.
The disaster had forced resource-poor Japan to turn to expensive fossil fuels to plug the energy gap left by the shutdowns.
His comments came a day after a Japanese court ordered the shutdown of two nuclear reactors previously declared safe under post-disaster safety rules.
But Abe said the government would "not change its policy" in which reactors that meet the new standards can be restarted.
The court ruling was the first to force the shutdown of reactors switched on under the stricter safety rules adopted after the 2011 disaster, a blow to Abe's bid to bring back nuclear power.
It ordered the shuttering of Kansai Electric's No. 3 and No. 4 reactors at the Takahama nuclear plant, some 350 kilometres (215 miles) west of Tokyo.
The No. 4 reactor was taken offline last month due to an unexpected technical glitch days after it restarted, while the No. 3 reactor is currently operating.
Abe has argued that resuming nuclear power is key to Japan's energy policy, but memories of Fukushima are still fresh for many. Anti-nuclear sentiment still runs high and there was widespread opposition to restarts.
Japan has since the disaster set up an independent atomic watchdog, the Nuclear Regulation Authority, replacing the previous arrangement where the industry ministry both oversaw the regulator and promoted nuclear power.
Abe insisted at the press conference that safety was the government's "top priority."
"And it's important to recover public trust more than anything," he said.
Abe, however, also said that the government was "going to reduce dependence" on nuclear energy.
Two reactors in the southern prefecture of Kagoshima, operated by Kyushu Electric Power, restarted last year, ending a two-year hiatus in nuclear power generation.
Japan will hold a national ceremony on Friday to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the disaster to be attended by Abe, the emperor and empress and other dignitaries.
Late last month three former executives of Tokyo Electric Power, the operator of the Fukushima plant, were indicted on criminal negligence charges over the meltdowns.
Reports coming in say the Constitutional Court upholding a parliamentary motion to dismiss the President from office over roles in a corruption and influence-peddling scandal has given its ruling leading to the historic impeachment of Park Geun, the President of South Korea.
Park, according to reports coming in, is to face fresh criminal charges. The scandal that led to the impeachment revolves around Park and her lifelong friend, Choi Soon-sil, who held no official position but turned out to wield huge influence over the president, much more than her official advisers and ministers.
Elections for a new president must now be held within 60 days.
BEIJING/HONG KONG (Reuters) - A U.S. navy warship sailed close to a disputed reef in the South China Sea on Tuesday, a U.S. Department of Defense official said, prompting anger in Beijing which denounced the patrol as illegal and a threat to peace and stability.
Guided missile destroyer the USS William P. Lawrence traveled within 12 nautical miles of Chinese-occupied Fiery Cross Reef, Defense Department spokesman Bill Urban said. The so-called freedom of navigation operation was undertaken to "challenge excessive maritime claims" by China, Taiwan, and Vietnam which were seeking to restrict navigation rights in the South China Sea, he said.
"These excessive maritime claims are inconsistent with international law as reflected in the Law of the Sea Convention in that they purport to restrict the navigation rights that the United States and all states are entitled to exercise," Urban said in an emailed statement.
Beijing and Washington have traded accusations that the other is militarizing the South China Sea as China undertakes large-scale land reclamations and construction on disputed features while the United States has increased its patrols and exercises in the region.
Facilities on Fiery Cross Reef include a 3,000-metre (10,000-foot) runway and Washington is concerned China will use it to press its extensive territorial claims at the expense of weaker rivals.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said the U.S. ship illegally entered Chinese waters and was tracked and warned.
"This action by the U.S. side threatened China's sovereignty and security interests, endangered the staff and facilities on the reef, and damaged regional peace and stability," he told a daily news briefing.
China claims most of the South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei also have overlapping claims.
The Pentagon last month called on China to reaffirm it has no plans to deploy military aircraft in the disputed Spratly Islands after Beijing used a military plane to evacuate sick workers from Fiery Cross.
"Fiery Cross is sensitive because it is presumed to be the future hub of Chinese military operations in the South China Sea, given its already extensive infrastructure, including its large and deep port and 3000-metre runway," said Ian Storey, a South China Sea expert at Singapore's ISEAS Yusof Ishak Institute.
"The timing is interesting, too. It is a show of U.S. determination ahead of President Obama's trip to Vietnam later this month," Storey added.
Speaking in Hanoi ahead of Obama's visit, Daniel Russel, the Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and the Pacific, said freedom of navigation operations were important for smaller nations.
"If the world's most powerful navy cannot sail where international law permits, then what happens to the ships of navy of smaller countries?," Russel told reporters before news of the operation was made public.
"If our warships can't exercise its legitimate rights under international law at sea, then what about the fishermen, what about the cargo ships? How will they prevent themselves from being blocked by stronger nations?"
China has reacted with anger to previous U.S. freedom of navigation operations, including the overflight of fighter planes near the disputed Scarborough Shoal last month, and when long-range U.S. bombers flew near Chinese facilities under construction on Cuarteron Reef in the Spratlys last November.
U.S. naval officials believe China has plans to start reclamation and construction activities on Scarborough Shoal, which sits further north of the Spratlys within the Philippines claimed 200 nautical mile (370 km) exclusive economic zone.
The move also comes as tough-talking city mayor Rodrigo Duterte looks set to take the Philippines' presidency. He has proposed multilateral talks on the South China Sea.
Criticism of China over the South China Sea will rebound like a coiled spring, a Chinese diplomat said on Friday, as a U.S. warship visited Shanghai against a backdrop of rising tension in the region.
PARIS, JUNE 11, 2016: (DGW) Naik referred to Nigerians with the pejorative: “Negroes causing problems in Goa and other parts of India.
“They create problems everywhere. We do not want Nigerian tourists.
“The Nigerians should be asked to leave India, we don’t want Nigerian tourists.
“The Government of India should ban Nigerians from entering India.”
Reacting to this statement, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, says the statement against Nigerians as ''condescending and unacceptable'' adding that the statement does not represent that of the government and people of India.
“As Nigerians, we respect humanity and will not descend so low to use derogatory words even for Indians in Nigeria who are involved in illegal activities. Rather, we will allow the law to take its course.”
However, she adjured Nigerians in the Diaspora to be law-abiding and to also be good ambassadors in their various countries of residence.
SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korean leader Kim Jong Un watched a ballistic missile launch test and ordered the country to improve nuclear attack capability by continuing to conduct more tests, the official KCNA news agency reported on Friday.
The report did not say when the test took place but it was likely referring to the launch of two short-range missiles by North Korea on Thursday that flew 500 km (300 miles) and splashed into the sea.
"Dear comrade Kim Jong Un said work ... must be strengthened to improve nuclear attack capability and issued combat tasks to continue nuclear explosion tests to assess the power of newly developed nuclear warheads and tests to improve nuclear attack capability," KCNA said.
Tension rose sharply on the Korean peninsula after the North conducted its fourth nuclear test in January and fired a long-range rocket last month leading to the U.N. Security Council to adopt a new sanctions resolution.
Conducting more nuclear tests would be in clear violation of U.N. sanctions which also ban ballistic missile tests, although Pyongyang has rejected them. North Korea has a large stockpile of short-range missiles and is developing long-range and intercontinental missiles.
The North Korean leader was quoted in state media on Wednesday as saying that his country had miniaturized nuclear warheads to mount on ballistic missiles. South Korea said it did not believe that North Korea had successfully miniaturized a nuclear warhead or deployed a functioning intercontinental ballistic missile.
Pyongyang has conducted four nuclear tests in the past decade and claimed to have successfully tested a hydrogen bomb in January but most experts expressed doubt saying the blast was too small to back up the assertion.
North Korea has issued nearly daily reports this week of Kim's instructions to fight South Korea and the United States as those two allies began large-scale military drills.
North Korea called the annual drills "nuclear war moves" and threatened to respond with an all-out offensive. Kim last week ordered his country to be ready to use nuclear weapons in the face of what he sees as growing threats from enemies.
PARIS, APRIL 12, 2017: (DGW) North Korean state media warned on Tuesday of a nuclear attack on the United States at any sign of American aggression as a U.S. Navy strike group steamed toward the western Pacific.
U.S. President Donald Trump, who has urged China to do more to rein in its impoverished neighbour, said in a Tweet that North Korea was “looking for trouble” and the United States would “solve the problem” with or without China’s help.
Tension has escalated sharply on the Korean peninsula amid concerns that reclusive North Korea may soon conduct a sixth nuclear test and after Washington said at the weekend it was diverting U.S. Navy strike group Carl Vinson from port calls to Australia toward the Korean peninsula as a show of force.
U.S. officials have stressed that stronger sanctions are the most likely U.S. course to press North Korea to abandon its nuclear program but Washington has said all options, including military ones, are on the table and that a U.S. strike last week against Syria should serve as a warning to Pyongyang.
North Korea’s official Rodong Sinmun newspaper said the country was prepared to respond to any U.S. aggression.
“Our revolutionary strong army is keenly watching every move by enemy elements with our nuclear sight focused on the U.S. invasionary bases not only in South Korea and the Pacific operation theatre but also in the U.S. mainland,” it said.
South Korea’s acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn warned of “greater provocations” by North Korea and ordered the military to intensify monitoring and ensure close communication with Washington.
“It is possible the North may wage greater provocations such as a nuclear test timed with various anniversaries including the Supreme People’s Assembly,” said Hwang, acting leader since former president Park Geun-hye was removed amid a graft scandal.
Trump said in a Tweet that a trade deal between China and the United States would be “far better for them if they solved the North Korea problem”.
“If China decides to help, that would be great,” he said. “If not, we will solve the problem without them!”
Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping met in Florida last week and Trump pressed Xi to do more to rein in North Korea.
China’s ambassador to the United Nations, Liu Jieyi, repeated China’s call for a return to dialogue with North Korea.
“The situation is tense and we certainly want a peaceful solution and we believe that it is highly important to move toward denuclearization, to maintain peace and stability and it’s time that different sides sit down to talk about achieving these objectives,” he told Reuters.
Asked about Trump linking a trade deal to China’s help with North Korea: “We need to look at the situation on the Korean Peninsula as something that we should work together on.”
North Korea convened a Supreme People’s Assembly session on Tuesday, one of its twice-yearly sessions attended by leader Kim Jong Un, and reported a successful national budget execution and personnel appointments, the official KCNA news agency said.
The agency made no mention of North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme or being under threat from the United States.
South Korean officials sought to quell talk in social media of an impending security crisis.
“We’d like to ask for precaution so as not to get blinded by exaggerated assessment about the security situation on the Korean peninsula,” Defence Ministry spokesman Moon Sang-kyun said.
Saturday is the 105th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il Sung, North Korea’s founding father and grandfather of the current ruler.
A military parade is expected in Pyongyang to mark the day. North Korea often also marks important anniversaries with tests of its nuclear or missile capabilities in breach of U.N. Security Council resolutions.
Men and women in colourful outfits were singing and dancing on the streets of Pyongyang, illuminated by better lighting than seen in previous years, apparently practising for the parade.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad sent congratulations, lambasting “big powers” for their “expansionist” policy.
“The friendly two countries are celebrating this anniversary and, at the same time, conducting a war against big powers’ wild ambition to subject all countries to their expansionist and dominationist policy and deprive them of their rights to self-determination,” the North’s KCNA news agency quoted his message as saying.
North Korea’s foreign ministry said the approach of the U.S. Navy strike group showed Washington’s “reckless moves for invading had reached a serious phase”.
“We never beg for peace but we will take the toughest counteraction against the provocateurs in order to defend ourselves by powerful force of arms and keep to the road chosen by ourselves,” an unidentified ministry spokesman said.
U.S. officials said at the weekend the carrier group would take more than a week to reach waters near the Korean peninsula.
A statement from U.S. forces in South Korea on Tuesday said General Vincent Brooks, commander of United States Forces Korea, would not attend a Congressional hearing expected for later this month because of the “security situation on the Korean Peninsula.” The statement said the step was not unprecedented.
North and South Korea are technically still at war because their 1950-1953 conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty. North Korea regularly threatens to destroy South Korea and its main ally, the United States.
India’s Delhi Police Crime Branch claimed to have busted in two incidents, two drug trafficking modules with the arrest of three drug traffickers, including a Nigerian.
The accused were identified as Uchenna (28), from Nigeria, Indian Ajay (33) and his associate Naresh Kumar (39), from Mohan Garden in west Delhi’s Uttam Nagar.
The Hindu newspaper said as much as 170 grams of cocaine and 590 grams of fine-quality heroin estimated to be worth a consolidated amount of ₹2 crore, about $320,000 in the underground drug market were seized from the trio, said Ravindra Yadav, joint commissioner of police (crime).
In the first incident, Mr. Yadav said, information was received that Uchena would arrive near the Dwarka Mor between 2 p.m and 3 p.m following which a trap was laid near the local taxi stand leading to Uchenne’s apprehension on Saturday.
Around 330 grams of fine-quality heroin and 170 grams of fine-quality cocaine valued at 1.5 crore, $240,000 in the international market was seized from him.
In the second incident, a tip-off led a Crime Branch team to Ajay and Naresh Kumar from near the local TVS Bajaj showroom on the Mor road leading towards Vikas Nagar.
The duo were apprehended and 260 grams of fine quality heroin was seized from Ajay.
The heroin is roughly worth 50 lakh in the international market, according to the police.
SHANGHAI—At least five people were hurt Sunday in an attack in front of check-in counters at Shanghai’s main international airport, which police blamed on a man who tossed an explosive made from a beer bottle.
Police said that after the man threw the bottle—just steps away from a check-in counter at Shanghai Pudong International Airport’s Terminal 2—about 2.30 p.m. local time, he took out a knife and cut his throat. He was taken to a hospital and is in critical condition.
Four others, including a Philippine national, were hospitalized with cuts from glass fragments, according to a statement by Shanghai police posted online.
Police said the explosive was homemade and that an investigation had started. Other reports, including from state media, said the attack involved fireworks.
The incident comes at the start of a week expected to draw global media attention to Shanghai as Walt Disney Co. officially opens a theme park in the city, its first in mainland China.
An unverified video shared on social media showed what appeared to be a parcel or suitcase exploding with small reddish-colored blasts close to check-in counters. The video indicated passengers lining up to check in scattered just ahead of the explosion, suggesting a moment of warning. The explosion appeared to leave most of the people nearby unhurt.
Another video showed a light plume of smoke wafting toward the terminal’s high ceiling, and a photo showed medical authorities rushing a person with a white bandage on their neck on a stretcher through the terminal.
The blast comes days before the scheduled opening of Shanghai Disneyland a short distance from the airport.
Other international events are currently under way in Shanghai include a major financial conference, Lujiazui Forum, and an annual film festival that has drawn Hollywood stars including Ian McKellen.
Authorities said that apart from three flights, the airport was operating normally on Sunday evening. The area where the blast occurred houses the check-in area for several Asian and European carriers. - WSJ