Quake rocks Honshu
A magnitude 5.2 earthquake struck the island of Honshu on Saturday, the US Geological Survey (USGS) reported, but there were no reports of injuries or damage. The quake, centered 80km southeast of Kanazawa, occurred at 8:38pm on Saturday at a depth of 3km the USGS said. Japan is one of the world’s most earthquake-prone countries, with a tremor occurring at least every five minutes. The country accounts for about 20 percent of the world’s earthquakes of magnitude 6.0 or greater.
Red Shirts call for release
Seven recently freed leaders of the anti-government “Red Shirt” movement are calling for the release of more than 180 of their colleagues who have been jailed since a violent military crackdown last year. The seven gathered yesterday for a ceremony at Bangkok’s Wat Pathuwanaram, where six people were fatally shot last year as the army swept demonstrators from the streets. Weng Tojirakarn, who was among seven Red Shirt leaders freed on bail on Tuesday, said that one the group’s main goals was to “to get all our friends in jail released.” The group has vowed it will go forward with another large rally on March 12, the day it kicked off mass street demonstrations last year.
NALCO chairman arrested
The head of the state-run National Aluminium Co (NALCO) was in court-ordered custody on Saturday on bribery charges, heaping fresh embarrassment on the scandal-tainted Congress government. NALCO chairman Abhay Kumar Srivastava along with his wife and two others were arrested late on Friday on bribery charges, marking the latest in a string of corruption scandals that have shaken the government. Srivastava, who has been suspended from his post, is accused of taking gold and cash for brokering a deal with a business group in central Madhya Pradesh state, according to the federal Central Bureau of Investigation. The federal agency said it had seized nearly 11kg of gold and 2.95 million rupees (US$65,200) from a bank locker in New Delhi. In court, Srivastava’s weeping wife, Chandani, sought to take the blame, saying her husband was innocent. “The bank locker is in my name. I operate it. My husband has nothing to do with it and he is in no manner linked to this. He is innocent,” she told the court, according to the Press Trust of India.
Exam questions released
Elite universities have had their entrance exams — the most important hurdle in any Japanese student’s life — compromised by efforts to seek online help during the tests, they admitted yesterday. Maths and English questions from the entrance examinations for the prestigious Kyoto University were placed on Yahoo Japan’s question-and-answer service Web page on Friday and Saturday. The postings were made under the same user name, “aicezuki,” which does not seem to relate to any common Japanese term, and online answers were soon offered for his or her appeal. A Kyoto University official confirmed that the postings matched questions from their tests. Other top institutions, including the private Waseda and Keio universities, faced similar problems, Japanese media reported yesterday as the Kyoto incident made front-page headlines. The top-selling Yomiuri Shimbun suspected that candidates took pictures of questions on their mobile phones and sent them to an outside associate who placed the queries online.