Heavy rains that already caused deadly floods in southern Japan was moving northeast Wednesday, battering large areas of Japan's main island, swelling more rivers, triggering mudslides and destroying houses and roads.
At least 58 people have died in several days of flooding.
Footage on NHK television showed a swollen river gouging into the embankment, destroying a highway, while in the city of Gero, the rising river was flowing just below a bridge.
As of Wednesday morning, the death toll from the heavy rains starting over the weekend had risen to 58, most of them from the hardest-hit Kumamoto prefecture. Four others were found in Fukuoka, another prefecture on Kyushu, Japan's third-largest island.
Across the country, about 3.6 million people were advised to evacuate, although evacuation is not mandatory and the number of people who actually took shelter was not provided.
Rain subsided by Wednesday afternoon in many areas, where residents were busy cleaning up their homes and work places.
Though the rains were causing fresh flooding threats in central Japan, flooding was still affecting the southern region. And search and rescue operations continued in Kumamoto, where 14 people are still missing.
Tens of thousands of army troops, police and other rescue workers mobilized from around the country to assist, and the rescue operations have been hampered by the rains, flooding, mudslides and disrupted communications.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga urged residents to use caution. “Disasters may happen even with little rain where grounds have loosened from previous rainfalls,” he said.
Suga pledged continuing search and rescue effort, as well as the government:s emergency funds for the affected areas.
Japan is at high risk of heavy rain in early summer when wet and warm air from the East China Sea flows into a seasonal rain front above the country. In July 2018, more than 200 people, about half of them in Hiroshima, died from heavy rain and flooding in southwestern Japan.
China’s legislative body has adopted the Law of the People's Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR).
Chinese lawmakers on Tuesday voted to adopt the "landmark" law on safeguarding national security in Hong Kong.
The law was passed unanimously at the 20th session of the Standing Committee of the 13th National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature.
President Xi Jinping signed a presidential order to promulgate the law, which goes into effect on the date of promulgation.
With 66 articles in six chapters, the law clearly defines the duties and government bodies of the HKSAR for safeguarding national security and four categories of offences -- secession, subversion, terrorist activities, and collusion with a foreign country or external elements to endanger national security -- and their corresponding penalties.
According to the law, the central government will set up an office in the HKSAR for safeguarding national security.
The HKSAR will establish a committee for safeguarding national security, which is under the supervision of and accountable to the central government. To be chaired by the HKSAR chief executive, the committee shall have a national security adviser designated by the central government. The Hong Kong police force will also set up a department for safeguarding national security, according to the law.
After the law was passed, the NPC Standing Committee consulted its HKSAR Basic Law Committee and the HKSAR government, and adopted on Tuesday afternoon, by a unanimous vote, a decision to list the law in Annex III to the HKSAR Basic Law.
The newly-adopted decision stipulates that the law shall be applied locally in the HKSAR by way of promulgation by the region.
HKSAR Chief Executive Carrie Lam said in a statement that the HKSAR government welcomes the passage of the law.
"I am confident that after the implementation of the national security law, the social unrest which has troubled Hong Kong people for nearly a year will be eased and stability will be restored, thereby enabling Hong Kong to start anew, focus on economic development and improve people's livelihood," she said.
Addressing the closing meeting of the NPC Standing Committee session, Li Zhanshu, chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, said the unanimous passage of the law and the decision has reflected the common will of the Chinese people including Hong Kong compatriots.
Stressing that national security, social stability and the order of rule of law are the premises of the development of Hong Kong, Li said the legislation represents the aspirations of the people and an irresistible trend of the times.
In a statement, the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council voiced firm support for the law, calling it a "milestone" event that will usher in a turning point for Hong Kong to end chaos and bring back order.
Nearly 2.93 million Hong Kong residents earlier signed a petition in support of the national security legislation during an eight-day campaign starting May 24.
The Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council said in its statement that for a tiny number of people endangering national security, the law will be a "sharp sword" hanging over their heads.
But for the vast majority of Hong Kong residents including foreigners in Hong Kong, the law will be a "guardian" that protects their rights, freedoms and peaceful life, said the office.
According to the law, people convicted of the national security crimes could face up to life imprisonment.
Convicted criminals will be disqualified from running for public office, and people in public office who are found guilty of the crimes will be removed from their posts.
China has reacted over US remarks centering China's Xinjiang policy and urged some U.S. politicians to immediately stop smearing China.
The US politicians have also been urged to stop interfering in China's internal affairs by creating rumors under the pretext of Xinjiang.
Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian made the remarks in response to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's statement over China's Xinjiang policy on Tuesday.
"We urge U.S. politicians like Pompeo to reject bias and double standards, face up to the issue of racial discrimination at home, spend more time and energy on improving human rights conditions at home, and immediately stop smearing China and interfering in China's internal affairs by creating rumors under the pretext of Xinjiang," Zhao said.
The Chinese government equally protects the legitimate rights and interests of people of all ethnic groups, including ethnic minorities, Zhao said.
From 1978 to 2018, the population of Uygurs in Xinjiang grew from 5.55 million to 11.68 million, registering a 2.1 times increase and accounting for about 46.8 percent of the total population of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, the spokesperson said.
Zhao said ethnic minorities in the United States have long been suffering from bullying, exclusion and wide, systemic discrimination in economic, cultural, social and other aspects, citing examples from the killing of Indians through the Westward Expansion to the death of African American George Floyd.
Thousands of people in western Myanmar have been fleeing their villages over the past week after an evacuation order from officials due to clashes between the government and ethnic rebels.
The Rakhine state government, in an order last Tuesday, instructed village administrators in Rathedaung township to tell residents to stay away from their homes due to military plans to conduct a “clearance operation” against the rebels. “Clearance operation” is Myanmar military parlance for counterinsurgency action.
“Since the day the order was issued, more than 10,000 people from the operation area fled their villages,” Khin Maung Latt, an upper house member of parliament for Rathedaung township, said Monday, reports Associated Press on Tuesday.
The government has been embroiled for more than a year in an intermittent conflict with the Arakan Army, a well-trained and well-armed guerrilla force representing members of the area’s Rakhine ethnic group.
In Rakhine in 2017, the military carried out counterinsurgency operations against insurgents from the Muslim Rohingya minority, but critics charge they employed a campaign of terror to drive the Rohingya out of the country. An estimated 740,000 Rohingya fled to neighbouring Bangladesh, where they remain in refugee camps.
The Rakhine are Buddhist, the religion of almost 90 percent of Myanmar’s people.
“We have to flee the village as we don’t want to face the soldiers from the military. They were shooting into the village, arresting the villagers to use as human shields,” said Aye Mg, a 58-year-old resident of Rathedaung township’s Kyauktan village, where the government previously detained dozens of suspected Rakhine militants.
Civil society organisations and Buddhist monks are helping the newly displaced villagers find shelter.
“People can’t live in their places any longer due to the fighting. We are hosting over 300 displaced people at our monastery; around 100 of them have arrived recently,” Okkahta, a monk, said from the Tahtipati Sipintharyar Monastery in Rathedaung town.
“It’s like doomsday for them,” lawmaker Khin Maung Lat said, explaining why villagers fled. “They are in fear. This is the impact of the evacuation order to stay away from the village during the military operation.”
“Even most of the village administrators are fleeing from the villages,” he said. “Even they are scared to go back to their villages.”
The Indian government has imposed a ban on using 59 Chinese-owned apps, including TikTok, which is operated by Chinese internet firm Bytedance amid a border standoff between the Asian giants.
On Tuesday, Indian TikTok users awoke to a notice from the popular short-video app saying their data would be transferred to an Irish subsidiary in what is being seen as a tit-for-tat response.
Digital experts say the quick workaround showed the ban was largely symbolic since the apps can’t be automatically erased from devices where they are already downloaded, and is a response to a border clash with China where 20 Indian soldiers died earlier this month.
“They want to send a message. This is a decision based on a geopolitical situation,” said digital rights activist Nikhil Pahwa.
Indian protesters have been calling for a boycott of Chinese goods since the June 15 confrontation in the remote Karakoram mountain border region.
Late Monday, the government said that it was banning 59 Chinese-owned apps, including TikTok. It cited privacy concerns that it said pose a threat to India’s sovereignty and security.
The banned apps include some that enable TikTok users to add visual effects and music to their posts, as well as dating apps, privacy apps and multiplayer games.
India’s information technology ministry issued a statement saying it had received reports that mobile apps were “stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users’ data."
The compilation of such data, and its mining and profiling by elements hostile to India is “a matter of very deep and immediate concern which requires emergency measures,” the statement said.
Chinese products are ubiquitous in India, from toys to smartphones to Made-in-China Hindu idols. Two-way trade grew from $3 billion in 2000 to $95 billion in 2018, according to Indian government data, with the balance strongly favoring China.
“There is too much of Chinese presence in the everyday life of the average Indian,” said Alka Acharya, professor of Chinese Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. The soldiers’ deaths meant the Indian government had to hit back, Acharya said.
The ban on Chinese apps, signed by India's powerful Home Minister Amit Shah, asked phone companies to begin blocking the applications Tuesday, as top Army officers from India and China were set to meet for a third time to try to quell tensions and rein back on military build-ups in the disputed border area.
Supporters of the ban hailed it as a way to curtail China's growing influence.
“They are earning from us and then bullying us,” 30-year-old Sonu Mishra said in New Delhi.
Others bemoaned the potential loss of jobs at the app companies' Indian offices. Some slammed it as an encroachment on free speech.
TikTok "continues to comply with all data privacy and security requirements under Indian law and has not shared any information of our users in India with any foreign government, including the Chinese government,” the company's India chief, Nikhil Gandhi, said in a statement.
This isn't the first time TikTok has been banned in India — the Madras High Court in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu banned it last year over hate speech concerns, but quickly vacated its order.
Chinese-owned apps have found a fast-growing market in India, with some companies creating India-specific apps that have exploded in popularity.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government has used the country’s 500 million internet users — second only to China — as a lure in getting tech giants including Twitter to localise Indians' data. It is expected to sponsor data localization legislation later this year.
Among the list of newly-banned apps, Alibaba’s UC Browser, Meitu’s Beauty Plus camera app and Bigo’s Likee video editing app are among the top 100 most downloaded apps in India, according to app intelligence firm App Annie.
India is one of TikTok's largest markets. As of April, 30 percent of TikTok’s 2 billion downloads were from India, according to app data analytics firm Sensor Tower.
Bytedance also operates the now-banned Helo social networking app, which was created for the Indian market and has over 50 million users.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said China was very concerned about the Indian move and seeking more information. The Indian government has the responsibility to uphold the legitimate rights of foreign investors, while Chinese companies should abide by local laws, he said.
The Karakoram clash fanned already growing anti-Chinese sentiment amid the coronavirus pandemic, which emerged in China in December. India is the fourth worst affected, with nearly 570,000 cases and more than 16,000 deaths. In response to the crisis, a movement has emerged to promote India as an alternative to China for Western markets and to shun Chinese goods.
TikTok has sought to cultivate goodwill: in April it said on Twitter that it had donated 30 crore rupees (about $40 million) to PM Cares, a fund set up by Modi’s office to battle the coronavirus.
The antagonisms carry risks for India: A broader boycott could backfire if China were to retaliate by banning exports of raw materials used by India’s pharmaceutical industry. So far, it has not.
In the longer term, Chinese companies might avoid investing in India's technology sector and Indian start-ups might be reluctant to accept Chinese investments for fear of repercussions, said Shaun Rein, managing director of market intelligence firm China Market Research Group.
“Chinese investors are going to become very wary of investing in India. They’ll be worried that they might invest billions of dollars into the country and either Indian consumers will boycott and protest against them, or the government will just ban them because they’re backed by Chinese,” Rein said.