City looking to sell itself
A debt-ridden city is offering to rename itself after the highest bidder, an official said yesterday. Izumisano in Osaka Prefecture owes its creditors well over ￥100 billion (US$1.25 billion), the official said, adding the presence of Kansai International Airport was partly to blame. “The city spent a lot of money building roads and other infrastructure because the airport was built in this relatively remote place,” he said. “The mayor believes the city government needs to seek new ways to make profit.” Suitors will also need to sign a 10-year contract affirming a connection with the city, for example by moving their headquarters there. Officials originally announced the plan in June, but had no takers, the official said, adding so far the bulk of inquiries had been from city residents annoyed about the plan.
Woman crushed by elevator
A hotel cleaner was crushed to death in front of a colleague when she stepped into a moving elevator, police said yesterday. The 63-year-old woman was trapped between the floor of the elevator and the ceiling of the building. “The doors opened and she went to get in, but the cage was still moving up,” a police official in Kanazawa said. “She stumbled over the rising lift floor and fell.” The lift’s manufacturer, Switzerland-based Schindler, said in a statement it was cooperating with a police probe into the incident.
President’s brother quizzed
The brother of President Lee Myung-bak appeared before a special prosecutor yesterday over alleged irregularities in a project to build the president’s retirement home. Lee Sang-eun, 79, was called to testify about a 600 million won (US$542,000) loan he gave to his nephew and the president’s only son, Lee Si-hyung. “I’ll explain everything in there,” Lee, the eldest of the president’s two brothers, told reporters before entering the prosecutor’s office in southern Seoul. The case centers around the joint purchase last year by the president’s son and the presidential security service of a plot of land on the southern edge of the capital for a now-scrapped retirement home project.
Government points finger
The government says it has evidence that some individuals and organizations instigated recent deadly violence in the western state of Rakhine, but did not name them. State television broadcast an announcement on Wednesday night from the office of President Thein Sein saying the suspects include a group or groups that previously signed a ceasefire agreement with the government. The announcement said 89 people were killed, 136 were injured, and 32,231 were made homeless when more than 5,000 houses were burned down in violence between Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims between Oct. 21 and Oct. 30. It did not report any new clashes.
Bounty offered for leopard
The government yesterday offered a bounty for anyone who could hunt down a leopard that has killed more than a dozen people in the past year in the remote west. The 25,000 rupee (US$300) prize will go to anyone who can bring in the animal dead or alive, after more than 100 police and soldiers failed to capture it. “In the beginning, we wanted to capture it alive. But the security personnel who returned from the search said that thousands of villagers have been terrorized,” said Hariraj Bista, a local government official.