Tough China policy outlined
Five candidates vying to lead the country’s top opposition party, and possibly become the next prime minister, are calling for Japan to get tough with China in an escalating territorial dispute. The candidates — including former prime minister Shinzo Abe and former defense minister Shigeru Ishiba — slammed China in a debate yesterday ahead of the Liberal Democratic Party’s presidential election, scheduled for Sept. 26. They called for Japan to bolster its control of disputed East China Sea islands, saying they are Japan’s inviolable sovereign territory. They also discussed the sagging economy and its plan to phase out nuclear power.
Reactors defy atomic plans
The country said yesterday it would go ahead with planned work to complete three new nuclear power reactors, despite saying a day earlier it would phase out atomic power generation by 2040. The construction of the reactors at three different plants was suspended after a massive earthquake and tsunami sparked the Fukushima nuclear crisis on March 11 last year — the worst such accident in a generation. “We don’t intend to withdraw the permission that has already been given by the ministry,” the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Yukio Edano, said as he met local administrators in Aomori, northern Japan, according to reports. Two of the reactors are located at plants in Aomori while the third is in the western district of Shimane. Edano added, however, that the start-up of the reactors would be subject to approval by a newly created government commission to regulate nuclear power. On Friday, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s government adopted a new energy policy, including the nuclear phase-out, in what was widely seen as bowing to public pressure after the Fukushima disaster. Nuclear energy has become a hot issue in Japan. Protests have attracted tens of thousands of people calling for atomic power to be ditched.
Four killed in restive south
Three paramilitary soldiers and a woman were shot dead by militants who then torched their bodies in an early-morning ambush in the country’s restive south, police said yesterday. The victims were attacked as they drove to a market in Yala, one of the hotbeds of the eight-year insurgency which has claimed around 5,300 lives in Muslim-majority border provinces. “I think that they had already died before the gunmen set fire to their pick-up truck,” said Lieutenant Colonel Charas Chinapong, of Muang district police, adding that the bodies were found inside the truck. Hundreds of bullet cases were found at the scene, he said. A lattice of militant groups who want greater autonomy carry out near-daily attacks in Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat provinces. In response to an uptick in the violence over the summer authorities have said they are stepping up efforts to talk with militant leaders.
‘Door stop’ Ming vase sold
A rare Ming Dynasty vase that had been used as a doorstop in a New York home has sold for US$1.3 million at auction. The blue and white moon flask was auctioned on Wednesday at Sotheby’s sale of Chinese works of art. Its presale estimate was US$600,000 to US$900,000. The piece had been in the same family collection for decades. The auction house said the family decided to sell it after seeing a similar piece in a Sotheby’s advertisement. They had the vase on a wooden stand that was used as a doorstop in their Long Island home.