Tokyo, Aug 23 (AP/UNB) — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said South Korea's decision to cancel a deal to share military intelligence, mainly on North Korea, is damaging mutual trust and vowed Friday to work closely with the U.S. for regional peace.
Abe also accused South Korea of not keeping past promises. The intelligence agreement started in 2016.
"We will continue to closely coordinate with the U.S. to ensure regional peace and prosperity, as well as Japan's security," he said ahead of his departure for the Group of Seven summit of industrialized nations in France.
South Korea announced Thursday it would terminate the intelligence deal because Tokyo's decision to downgrade South Korea's preferential trade status had caused a "grave" change in the security cooperation between the countries. Seoul says it will downgrade Tokyo's trade status as well, a change that would take effect in September.
Senior South Korean presidential official Kim Hyun-chong on Friday defended his government's decision. He told reporters that "there is no longer any justification" for South Korea to continue the deal because of Japan's claim that basic trust between the countries had been undermined.
South Korea has accused Japan of weaponizing trade to punish it over a separate dispute linked to Japan's brutal colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945. Japan denies any retaliation.
Kim accused Japan of having ignored South Korea's repeated calls for dialogue and other conciliatory steps to resolve the bitter trade and history disputes. He said Japan's "breach of diplomatic etiquette" had undermined "our national pride."
Japan has long claimed all wartime compensation issues were settled when the two countries normalized relations under a 1965 treaty.
But South Korea's Supreme Court last year ruled that the deal did not cover individual rights to seek reparations and has ordered compensation for victims of forced labor under Japan's colonial rule.
South Korea's decision on the military intelligence pact came as a surprise to many and underlined how much relations with Japan have deteriorated.
The U.S. sees both South Korea and Japan as important allies in northern Asia amid continuing threats from North Korea and China. The Pentagon expressed "strong concern and disappointment" over the collapse of the agreement.
Kim said South Korea will push to bolster its alliance with the United States. He said South Korea will also try to actively use a trilateral intelligence-sharing channel with the United States and Japan. Before the 2016 bilateral deal was forged, Seoul and Tokyo used that three-way channel to exchange intelligence via the United States.
China, North Korea's last major ally, which earlier criticized the intelligence deal, said Friday that it respects South Korea's "independent right of a sovereign state" to take the step.
"The bilateral arrangements between the relevant sides should be in favor of regional peace and stability and the peace process of the peninsula. It should not harm the interests of any third parties," Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said in a daily briefing.
Despite ample signs of friendly relations between their people, such as the popularity of K-pop in Japan and of Japanese animation in South Korea, the nations are entangled in a history that has bred animosity.
"The weight of past history influences current relations," said Daniel Sneider, lecturer in international policy at Stanford University, noting that generations that never directly experienced the colonial and wartime past can still be affected.
Sneider compared the situation to the divisive legacy of the U.S. Civil War, which remains relevant for many Americans. He also warned that an easy exit for the Japan-Korea tensions was not in sight.
"Korea certainly was a historical victim in that sense from the countries around it. That's very embedded in the historical memory that is created for Koreans. It's in their school curriculum, and it's in their popular culture," he said.
"They have this narrative of victimization, in which Japan certainly comes at the top of the list."
Koichi Ishizaka, an expert on intercultural communication and a professor at Rikkyo University in Tokyo, called for more dialogue, noting that Abe likely feels he gains political points with some voters by slamming South Korea.
"The situation is escalating, and it's hard to see how the spiraling conflict can be stopped," he said. "Although cordial exchange between the people is working for a brighter future, politics has taken a step back and has not caught up with that."
Liberal South Korean President Moon Jae-in has declared that his country will "never again lose" to Japan, although he later softened his tone and said he was willing to talk with Tokyo.
South Koreans have held massive rallies and started a boycott of Japanese products.
The tit-for-tat actions could lead to economic damage that's bigger for South Korea than Japan. Major South Korean manufacturers, including Samsung, rely heavily on materials and components imported from Japan.
Srinagar, Aug 23 (AP/UNB) — Authorities intensified patrols Friday in Indian-controlled Kashmir's main city after posters appeared calling for a public march to a United Nations office to protest New Delhi's tightened grip on the disputed region.
Police and paramilitary soldiers re-imposed restrictions on traffic in areas where they had been eased, putting steel barricades back up and laying razor wire across roads, bridges and intersections.
Schools were scheduled to reopen and some constraints on movement and assembly were lifted this week.
On Aug. 5, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist-led government revoked Muslim-majority Kashmir's decades-old special status guaranteed under Article 370 of India's Constitution and sent thousands of troops to the region, which is split between archrivals Pakistan and India and claimed by both in its entirety.
The move by the Modi government touched off anger among residents of Indian-controlled Kashmir.
Posters bearing the name of the Joint Resistance Leadership comprised of three separatist leaders fighting Indian sovereignty in Kashmir appeared Thursday across Srinagar urging Kashmiris to march to the U.N. office after Muslim Friday prayers.
The posters called for preachers to educate the public about the "explosive situation arising from India's political, geographical and demographic plans" in Kashmir.
The changes in Indian-controlled Kashmir's status allow anyone to buy land in the territory, which some Kashmiris fear could mean an influx of Hindus who would change the region's culture and demographics.
It was not immediately possible to verify that the posters were connected to the separatist leaders because two are under house arrest and one is being held in a New Delhi jail.
Security forces in riot gear carrying assault rifles surrounded the U.N. office.
A paramilitary officer said all vehicles and pedestrians were banned in the area to stop any anti-India protest.
"We have directions to not allow even top officials in the area," he said, speaking on condition of anonymity in keeping with department policy.
Since Monday, two weeks since Kashmir's special status was abolished, authorities have eased some restrictions, allowing some businesses to reopen in Srinagar. Landline phone service has been restored in some areas. Officials also say they have opened grade schools. But both student and teacher attendance has been sparse.
However, downtown Srinagar, the urban heart of resistance against India where about half a million people live, remained under a blockade. Some vendors and shopkeepers complained that police were forcing them to resume business to "enforce normalcy" in Kashmir.
"They are telling us if you don't resume business, we will take away the space allotted for vendors," said Mohammed Akbar, a vendor in the city's main business center, Lal Chowk. Some taxi drivers also said authorities were forcing them on the roads even without passengers so that roads appeared busy with traffic.
"They are exploiting the concerns of people pertaining to their livelihood. They're using the same tactics they've employed time and again to break our resolve," said Shakil Ahmed Bhat, a local resident. "But they should know that this people will never surrender."
Kashmir has seen mass arrests and lockdowns before. The partition of the territory left India in control of most of Kashmir, and Pakistan and China in charge of other parts. India has often tried to suppress uprisings, including a bloody armed rebellion in 1989. About 70,000 people have been killed since that uprising and a subsequent Indian military crackdown.
Dhaka, Aug 23 (UNB) - Pakistan’s electronic media watchdog has warned the cable TV operators of Lahore region against airing Indian channels and content, days after it banned the airing of advertisements featuring Indian artists, reports The Indian Express.
Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) Chairman Muhammad Saleem Baig said Tuesday that “strict” legal action will be taken if the cable operators will continue to air Indian channels, The News reported.
In a press release, Pemra said if the cable operators violated the orders of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, “the authority will not spare any licensee and will lodge FIRs against such network operators”.
Pakistan’s Supreme Court had reinstated a ban on airing Indian content on TV channels in the country in October 2018.
Pemra’s recent action is the latest in the series of measures announced by Pakistan in reaction to India’s move to revoke the special status to Jammu and Kashmir earlier this month.
Soon after India’s actions on Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan imposed a ban on the screening of Indian films in the country.
On August 16, Pemra announced that it has decided to ban the airing of advertisements featuring Indian artists.
Pakistan had taken a similar decision after the Balakot air strikes by India in February this year.
Hong Kong, Aug 22 (AP/UNB) — Hong Kong riot police faced off briefly with protesters occupying a suburban train station Wednesday evening following a commemoration of a violent attack there by masked assailants against supporters of the anti-government movement.
Near the end of the event, the police began what they called a "dispersal operation, using minimum force" after some protesters blocked roads and flashed laser pointers at officers.
Police with riot shields faced off at the station entrance against a group of remaining protesters, who sprayed a firehose and spread soap on the floor to slow a police approach, while piling up trash bins, a wheelchair and umbrellas in a makeshift blockade.
They also discharged fire extinguishers, creating a cloud obscuring visibility. The station's entrance shutters were lowered, barricading the protesters inside.
The confrontation ended without further incident, as police retreated and protesters left on trains.
The black-clad protesters flooded earlier into Yuen Long station to commemorate the July 21 rampage by a group of men suspected of organized crime links, in what was a shocking escalation of the city's summer of protest.
The protesters observed a moment of silence, then covered their right eyes, a reference to a woman who reportedly suffered a severe eye injury from a police projectile.
Many sat on the station floor, while others walked slowly around the concourse in a protest march.
Chanting "Liberate Hong Kong" and "Revolution of our times," they also drew attention to what they say is the lack of progress by police in investigating the attack, which left both protesters and bystanders injured. Protesters have accused the police of colluding with the attackers by delaying their response, but authorities have denied it.
Police say they have arrested 28 people in connection with the attack but haven't charged anyone yet. They say some of those arrested have triad links, referring to organized crime syndicates.
The anti-government protests began more than two months ago and have spiraled into a political crisis, with supporters demanding full democracy and an investigation into alleged police brutality.
The Yuen Long attack came after a massive protest was winding down in July. The assailants, all clad in white in contrast to the protesters' black, swung wooden poles and steel rods, injuring 45 people.
Also Wednesday, China said a staffer at the British consulate in Hong Kong has been given 15 days of administrative detention in the neighboring mainland city of Shenzhen for violating regulations on public order.
The case is stoking fears that Beijing is extending its judicial reach to semi-autonomous Hong Kong.
"The relevant employee is a Hong Kong resident, not a British citizen," so the case is "purely the internal affairs of China," foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a daily briefing.
A small group of supporters gathered outside the British consulate to demand the U.K. government step up efforts to secure the release of the man, Simon Cheng Man-kit, chanting "Save Simon now!"
Foreign Minister Wang Yi said China brooked no foreign interference in Hong Kong but understood foreign countries' concerns about the safety of their citizens and investments and was determined to maintain the territory's stability and prosperity under the "one country, two systems" framework, which gives Hong Kong wide autonomy.
"We believe the government of the special administrative region can maintain (foreign nationals') proper legal rights. All sides should understand and support the special region government in stemming violence and chaos using the law and take an objective and fair stance on this," Wang said, according to a statement on the ministry's website.
New Delhi, Aug 22 (AP/UNB) — Federal investigators on Wednesday arrested a key opposition Indian National Congress party leader at his home in the Indian capital in a suspected money laundering case.
Palaniappan Chidambaram was taken into custody on suspicion of conspiring with a Mauritius-based firm to illegally obtain money for his son's company while he was India's finance minister in 2006.
Abhishek Dayal, a spokesman for the Central Bureau of Investigation, confirmed the arrest.
Investigators took Chidambaram from his New Delhi home on Wednesday night and drove him to the Central Bureau of Investigation's office.
His son Karti Chidambaram has already been named as a defendant in the money-laundering case involving 3 billion rupees ($43 million). Chidambaram denies the allegation and accuses Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government of pursuing a political vendetta. He suffered a setback as a court Tuesday rejected his bail plea in the case.
Investigators couldn't find Palaniappan Chidambaram until Wednesday evening as his attorneys tried to get bail for him from the country's top court. The Supreme Court scheduled his bail plea for a hearing on Friday.
Chidambaram unexpectedly appeared at his party headquarters on Wednesday night and addressed reporters. He asked the prosecutors to wait until Friday for a ruling by the top court. He said he was yet to be formally charged in the case.
The CBI, he claimed, hasn't imputed any wrongdoing in the criminal case registered against him. "Yet there is a widespread impression that grave offences have been committed" by him and his son), he told reporters.
Teams of investigators soon rushed to the Congress party headquarters and his New Delhi home to arrest him.
Corruption in business deals is rampant in India.
Modi's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party came to power after defeating a Congress party government in 2014 and won a second term in 2019 national elections. Several top-level Congress politicians and high ranking bureaucrats faced bribery charges after hosting the New Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games.
For years, anti-corruption campaigners have said the party in power uses the top investigating agency to cover up wrongdoing and target political opponents.
Modi, who won on an anti-corruption platform in 2014, has yet to appoint a Lokpal or anti-corruption ombudsman.