Cabinet resigns for reshuffle
Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda sacked five members of his Cabinet yesterday, bowing to opposition demands for ministerial scalps as he sought cross-party support for a crucial tax hike. Noda called on the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) to back a bill that would double sales tax to try to tackle Japan’s debt mountain, currently twice its GDP. Defense minister Naoki Tanaka and transport minister Takeshi Maeda lost their jobs and Noda named Takushoku University professor Satoshi Morimoto as the new defense minister, while the new transport minister will be his party’s chief of upper house affairs, Yuichiro Hata. Noda also sacked agriculture, forestry and fisheries minister Michihiko Kano, whose involvement in a spy scandal with a Chinese diplomat has proved an embarrassment. Justice minister Toshio Ogawa and postal services minister Shozaburo Jimi were also removed.
Wedding bus crashes
At least 23 wedding guests, including six children, were killed and 60 injured when a bus plunged into a ravine near Islamabad, police said yesterday. The driver lost control of the vehicle late on Sunday at a sharp bend near Narr village, around 25km east of Islamabad. The bus was carrying 97 people to Chakwal District, 100km south of the capital, after a wedding. The bus was accompanying the bride and groom, who were traveling in a separate vehicle.
Former PM’s trial delayed
A court agreed yesterday to delay former president Nambaryn Enkhbayar’s corruption trial after he sought more time to study the case against him. Prosecutors have gathered about 5,000 pages of documents against Enkhbayar, his son Batshugar said in a phone interview from Ulan Bator. Enkhbayar, who was prime minister from 2000 to 2004 and president from 2005 to 2009, argues that the corruption accusations against him are meant to derail his bid to run in parliamentary elections later this month. The charges include privatizing a hotel for his own benefit and misappropriating television equipment donated to a Buddhist monastery. The case was delayed until June 12, Batshugar Enkhbayar said. Mongolia’s electoral commission ruled yesterday that Enkhbayar may not run for parliament, saying that he didn’t have enough education or experience to be a member, according to Batshugar Enkhbayar. His Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party planned to file an appeal today, his son said.
War sites opened to US
The government yesterday agreed to open three new sites for excavation by the US to search for troop remains from the Vietnam War, the minister of defense told US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta during a meeting. The announcement came as Panetta and Vietnamese Defense Minister Phuong Quang Thanh exchanged artifacts collected during the war — letters written by a US soldier who was killed that had been kept and used as propaganda and a diary belonging to a Vietnamese soldier. US officials said this is the first time an exchange of war artifacts has occurred. The two defense leaders agreed to return the papers to the families of the deceased soldiers. Vietnamese officials said they would open the three previously restricted sites that the Pentagon believes are critical to locating troops missing in action.
‘Truman’ delusions studied
Two psychiatrists in the US have just published a paper called The Truman Show Delusions, in which brothers Joel and Ian Gold describe the cases of five psychiatric patients with experiences similar to the 1998 film, in which Jim Carrey’s character Truman Burbank is the unwitting star of a carefully controlled reality show. Three of the patients referenced the film directly. This is more common than you would think, says Peter Byrne, director of public education at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, who has treated people with such experiences. “Psychosis is a mixture of delusions — beliefs that are false, which arrive without any evidence or logic — but often also hallucinations, usually voices. It is true that some young people, because their experience includes reality TV, which is everywhere, and [CCTV] cameras, which are also everywhere, thanks to [former British prime minister] Tony Blair and co, then hear a commentary about themselves and assume it’s some kind of reality TV show.”