Government sinks 125 boats
The government has sunk 125 mostly foreign vessels involved in illegal fishing as it ramps up efforts to exert greater control over the nation’s vast maritime territory, an official said yesterday. The sinkings at 11 locations were carried out simultaneously on Monday. Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries spokeswoman Lily Pregiwati yesterday said the operation was not announced in advance to avoid straining relations with neighboring countries. The government said it has sunk 488 illegal fishing vessels since October 2014, usually with explosives. The illegal boats are a threat to the nation’s fishing industry, it said, adding that their operators are frequently perpetrators of modern-day slavery, using workers trafficked from Southeast Asian nations. The vessels sunk on Monday included 86 Vietnamese-flagged ships, 20 Malaysian and 14 from the Philippines. Video shot by local media showed ministry workers scrambling to an adjacent boat from a sinking vessel that had been filled with sand and flooded.
Ministries probed over quota
The government is investigating claims that ministries routinely overstated the number of disabled people on their staff to meet a legal quota, an official said yesterday. The probe began after local media last week reported that the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism and the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications had padded their data on the hiring of disabled employees. Additional reports this week emerged of similar cheating at other ministries and local governments. Last fiscal year, the government set a quota for the number of disabled employees in ministries of at least 2.3 percent. Last year, ministries reported that 2.49 percent of their staff were people with disabilities, but the alleged padding might mean that the government is in violation of the law. The Japan Broadcasting Corp yesterday reported that ministries in June last year said they had 6,000 people with disabilities on staff, but more than 1,000 of those employees were not disabled, citing government sources. Private broadcaster TV Asahi put the figure even higher, at about 2,000. Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications Seiko Noda earlier this week told reporters that officials at her ministry had confirmed the manipulation of data on its disabled employees. “I was extremely shocked to hear that such a thing was happening, even though I don’t know the exact number,” Noda said. “Speaking as the mother of a disabled child, not as the internal affairs minister, this is something I cannot allow.”
Fleet returns with whales
A fleet of whaling ships caught 177 minke and sei whales during a three-month tour of the northwestern Pacific Ocean, the government said yesterday. The three-ship mission returned home as Tokyo prepares to make its case to resume commercial whaling at a meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in Brazil next month. During the latest 98-day mission, the ships caught 43 minke whales and 134 sei whales, the Fisheries Agency said in a statement. “Data that were gathered during this mission will be analyzed, along with results from coastal research programs,” the agency said, adding that the data “will be presented to IWC’s scientific committee and will enhance scientific knowledge for conserving and managing cetacean resources.” The mission was part of a 12-year project to study the number, eating patterns and biology of whales to support Tokyo’s claim that certain whales are not endangered and could be caught for consumption.
EVOLVING SITUATION: Of the latest cases, 23 percent were found to be asymptomatic, but the coronavirus strain in Da Nang is more contagious, authorities said A COVID-19 outbreak that began in the Vietnamese city of Da Nang more than a week ago has spread to at least four city factories with a combined workforce of about 3,700, state media reported yesterday. Four cases were found at the plants in different industrial parks in the central city that collectively employ 77,000 people, the Lao Dong newspaper said. Vietnam, praised widely for its decisive measures to combat the novel coronavirus since it first appeared in late January, is battling new clusters of infection having gone for more than three months without detecting any domestic transmissions. Authorities yesterday reported one new
WARNINGS OVER COMPLACENCY: The curves of new infections in numerous countries is climbing, while others see the the first new infections in months Spikes in COVID-19 infections in Asia have dispelled any notion that the region might be over the worst, with Australia and India yesterday reporting record daily infections, Vietnam fretting over a new surge and North Korea urging vigilance. Asian nations had largely prided themselves on rapidly containing initial outbreaks after the coronavirus emerged in central China late last year, but flare-ups this month have shown the danger of complacency. “We’ve got to be careful not to slip into some idea that there’s some golden immunity that Australia has in relation to this virus,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters. Australia recorded its
‘COVIDIOTS’: Politicians condemned the protest that came amid surging infections in the country, while a marcher said government-induced fear weakened the body Loudly chanting their opposition to masks and vaccines, thousands of people on Saturday gathered in Berlin to protest against COVID-19 restrictions before being dispersed by police. Police put turnout at about 20,000 — well below the 500,000 organizers had announced as they urged a “day of freedom” from months of virus curbs. Despite Germany’s comparatively low toll, authorities are concerned at a rise in infections over the past few weeks and politicians took to social media to criticize the rally as irresponsible. “We are the second wave,” shouted the crowd, a mixture of hard left and right and conspiracy theorists, as they converged
The Australian government yesterday said that it plans to give Google and Facebook three months to negotiate with media businesses fair pay for news content. In releasing a draft of a mandatory code of conduct, Canberra aims to succeed where other nations have failed in making tech firms pay for news siphoned from commercial media companies. Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that Google and Facebook would be the first platforms targeted by the proposed legislation, but others could follow. “It’s about a fair go for Australian news media businesses, it’s about ensuring that we have increased competition, increased consumer protection and a sustainable