Student charged in crash
Police on Friday charged a US student with careless driving over a crash on a remote highway that killed three of his college classmates. The 20-year-old Boston University student was charged with three counts of careless driving causing death and four of careless driving causing injury, police said. The crash occurred on Saturday last week, when the van he was driving — one of two carrying 16 students on a hiking excursion — rolled, near Tongariro National Park on North Island. The students were taking courses at Auckland University as part of an exchange program. Police did not name the driver, but local media identified him as US citizen Stephen Houseman. He appeared at Auckland District Court on Friday and was bailed to reappear on June 8 after surrendering his passport.
Penguin still on the run
A penguin that has been on the run from a Tokyo aquarium is alive and well, a park official said on Thursday. More than 30 sightings of the 60cm Humbolt penguin have been reported to Tokyo Sea Life park since it fled in early March, “many of them recently, including today,” park spokesman Takashi Sugino said. With an identification ring attached to its wing, the one-year-old bird has been spotted swimming in various locations around Tokyo Bay, “mostly in our neighborhood,” Sugino said. “It is difficult to capture the animal unless we gather more information and narrow down the area of its movement,” he said. “It moves fast like a fish and cannot be captured by a net from a boat. One idea is to catch it when it is on the land.”
Two whaling ships set sail
A pair of whaling vessels left on Friday for the northwestern Pacific, aiming to catch 260 whales for scientific research, a fisheries ministry official said. The Yushin Maru and Yushin Maru No. 2 departed from Shimonoseki port in Yamaguchi to join the mother vessel, Nisshin Maru, which has already set sail, the official said. The fleet is scheduled to catch about 260 of the mammals, including 100 minke whales and 10 sperm whales, between now and early August, the official said. Commercial whaling is banned under an international treaty, but Japan has since 1987 carried out “lethal research” in the name of science.
North denies jamming
Pyongyang has denied claims that it jammed electronic signals on hundreds of flights and ships in South Korea. Seoul said the North interfered with GPS on civilian flights and commercial ships operating near the nations’ western border between late last month and earlier this week. The North’s Ministry of Post and Telecommunications on Friday called Seoul’s claim a “smear campaign” and accused the South of trying to escalate tension.
Japan unnerved by plaque
Japanese officials are asking a small northern New Jersey town with a large Korean immigrant population to remove a public monument dedicated to women who were forced into sexual slavery by Japanese soldiers during World War II. The New York Times reported on Friday that Palisades Park administrators were surprised by the request from two delegations of visiting Japanese officials. Town officials have declined the request to remove the plaque. It was dedicated in 2010 to the “comfort women” of World War II, many of whom were Korean.
Bus crash kills 16 people