2024年7月24日水曜日

CREW FAILURE TO KEEP LOOKOUT BEHIND APRIL CHOPPER CRASH: JAPAN MINISTRY

CREW FAILURE TO KEEP LOOKOUT BEHIND APRIL CHOPPER CRASH: JAPAN MINISTRY

@Jackie San


Japan's Defense Ministry said Tuesday crew failing to keep a lookout was among the causes for two Maritime Self-Defense Force helicopters colliding in April over the Pacific in an incident that claimed the lives of all eight personnel aboard.


The two SH-60K choppers may have mistaken the distance between them and taken no maneuvers to avoid contact until they collided during a night drill to detect submarines, according to the investigation results released by the ministry.


Each of the helicopters was under the control of a ship-based officer giving instructions, and poor communication between the two officers in charge was also a factor in the collision, it said, noting they failed to take preventive steps such as ordering the choppers to fly at different altitudes.


As measures to prevent such incidents occurring in the future, the ministry will consider installing proximity warning devices, ensuring crew maintain a proper lookout, and requiring officers in charge to communicate adequately and keep the choppers at separate altitudes when necessary, it said.


"Taking the investigation results seriously, we will make every possible effort to take countermeasures, with a determination not to cause any single casualty," Defense Minister Minoru Kihara told a press conference.


Drills involving multiple SH-60Ks are allowed from Tuesday. Since early May, operations had been restricted to flights by single helicopters.


The two choppers, each carrying four MSDF members, collided on April 20 when conducting the exercise above waters around 270 kilometers east of Torishima Island, about 600 km south of Tokyo, in the Izu island chain, with the water's depth at about 5,500 meters.


The two aircraft were moving to the same target spot to drop sonar devices into the water to detect a submarine.


One of the eight crew members was confirmed dead the following day. Last month, the SDF declared the seven missing crewmen dead, while continuing its search efforts for their bodies and the fuselages of the crashed helicopters.


Flight recorder data indicated no abnormalities in either of the choppers, according to the ministry.

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@Jackie San

2024年7月23日火曜日

EX-SENIOR DEFENSE FORSE (SDF) MEMBER GONOI SETTLES WITH 3 SEXUAL ASSAULT PERPETRATORS - YOKOHAMA JAPAN

EX-SENIOR DEFENSE FORSE (SDF) MEMBER GONOI SETTLES WITH 3 SEXUAL ASSAULT PERPETRATORS - YOKOHAMA JAPAN

@Jackie San


Rina Gonoi, who was sexually assaulted while serving in Japan's Ground Self-Defense Force, said Tuesday she has reached a civil settlement with three of her convicted former colleagues.


In the lawsuit filed at the Yokohama District Court in January 2023, Gonoi, 24, had sought damages from the state and five former GSDF members for mental distress over the sexual assault she endured while serving in a unit at Camp Koriyama in Fukushima Prefecture. Gonoi left the GSDF in 2022.


The settlement, initiated by the three former sergeants who were Gonoi's superiors, involves them apologizing and paying a sum of money, Gonoi said on her X account without disclosing the amount.


"I will live each day feeling some happiness," Gonoi said.


The Fukushima District Court last December delivered two-year prison sentences, suspended for four years, to each of the three former GSDF members who were found guilty of indecent assault against Gonoi. The ruling has been finalized.


Gonoi had previously reached a settlement with another of the five former GSDF members.


The case drew widespread attention as Gonoi made the rare move of coming forward to expose her ordeal, prompting the Defense Ministry to dishonorably discharge the three and two others and implement efforts to address harassment issues.

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@Jackie San

2024年7月22日月曜日

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIALS, SDF MEMBERS TO BE DISCIPLINED OVER SCANDALS - JAPAN

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIALS, SDF MEMBERS TO BE DISCIPLINED OVER SCANDALS - JAPAN

@Jackie San


Japan's Defense Ministry is planning to take disciplinary action later this week against some senior officials and a number of Self-Defense Force members over abuse of power and the mishandling of classified information, government sources said Tuesday.


The move comes with public mistrust toward the ministry and the SDF mounting over a series of scandals, amid the government's attempt to significantly boost the country's defense capabilities to address the increasingly severe security environment.


Earlier Tuesday, a Defense Ministry source also said some members of the Maritime Self-Defense Force are suspected of having fraudulently received allowances for diving training and duty, triggering further criticism of the SDF.


The ministry officials to be disciplined, including senior deputy minister-level personnel, have been accused of repeatedly making intimidating remarks against their subordinates, causing psychological suffering, the sources said.


Crew members on several destroyers have also been accused of mishandling sensitive information during an investigation covering the entire ministry and SDF, following initial cases revealed in the Ground Self-Defense Force and the MSDF in April.


In the first MSDF case, four members on the destroyer Inazuma, including a captain, were suspended or given pay cuts for assigning an unqualified crew member the task of recording vessel movements without confirming the personnel's eligibility.


Adm. Ryo Sakai, chief of staff of the MSDF, is reportedly considering resigning. Similar cases are also suspected to have occurred in the Air Self-Defense Force and the Joint Staff Office responsible for integrating operations of the three branches.


Regarding the diving allowances, the sum of the alleged improper benefits paid to MSDF members, who had falsely stated they were engaged in diving work, might total tens of millions of yen, the source said.


A government ordinance stipulates more than 10,000 yen ($62) per hour is paid to each member who has to dive while on duty or for training, depending on the depth. The suspected misconduct, believed to have become normal practice among dozens of MSDF members, may have spanned years, the source said.


Defense Minister Minoru Kihara said at a press conference that his ministry is investigating the case and will take strict action based on the facts that come to light, adding that the MSDF "must not" do anything that could raise doubt among the public.


On Friday, meanwhile, Kihara instructed the launch of a special investigation into the alleged use of slush funds by Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd. to provide money and goods to MSDF submarine crew members under the guise of transactions with subcontractors.


The special investigation is carried out independently by the Inspector General's Office of Legal Compliance, headed by a former prosecutor.

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2024年7月21日日曜日

JAPAN DEFENSE FORCES AT RECORD-LOW 51% OF RECRUITMENT GOAL IN FY 2023 - TOKYO JAPAN

JAPAN DEFENSE FORCES AT RECORD-LOW 51% OF RECRUITMENT GOAL IN FY 2023 - TOKYO JAPAN

@Jackie San

Japan's Self-Defense Forces secured a record-low 51 percent of its recruitment goal in fiscal 2023, the Defense Ministry said Monday, as competition with the private sector to secure personnel has intensified amid the nation's chronic labor shortage.


In the fiscal year through March, the SDF took in 9,959 new members, far short of the 19,598 it targeted. At 51 percent of the goal, the recruitment fell below the previous low of 56 percent in fiscal 1993 to mark the worst result since the SDF's establishment in 1954, the ministry said.


The data was revealed at the inaugural meeting of a ministry committee tasked with discussing ways to address the SDF personnel shortage.


The committee is considering measures such as improving wages and working conditions to overcome the recruitment shortfall, as well as looking at increasing efficiencies through the use of artificial intelligence and utilizing more retired service members.


Japan aims to boost its defense capacity under the government's long-term National Security Strategy policy guidelines, which were updated in late 2022 to deal with increasingly severe security challenges posed by China, North Korea and Russia.


But the SDF has been struggling to meet its higher recruitment target due to a decline in applicants as the nation faces a chronic labor shortage attributed to the aging, shrinking population and low birthrate.


The job availability ratio for high school graduates in Japan, whom the ministry mainly recruits as cadets, has remained at high levels recently, increasing competition between the SDF and companies that are hoping to attract young people, a ministry official said.


The recruitment rate stood at 94 percent in fiscal 2021 but tumbled to 66 percent in fiscal 2022.


Defense Minister Minoru Kihara said at a press conference on Friday that the recruitment problem is likely to be ongoing for the SDF.


The committee will release a report related to the SDF personnel shortage in late August after holding several meetings. The ministry said it will request recruitment budgets for fiscal 2025 based on the report.

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2024年7月20日土曜日

JAPAN ZOO TO EXHIBIT ENDANGERED KOMODO DRAGON - NAGOYA JAPAN

JAPAN ZOO TO EXHIBIT ENDANGERED KOMODO DRAGON - NAGOYA JAPAN 

@Jackie San


A Komodo dragon, the world's largest lizard and an endangered species, will be housed at a central Japan zoo, the city of Nagoya said Monday, making it the only one of its kind to be exhibited in the country.


The reptile, a 13-year-old male named "Taro," will arrive in Japan on July 18 and be exhibited at Higashiyama Zoo and Botanical Gardens from around late August, the city said.


"We have finally managed to bring (a Komodo dragon) here after intense negotiations. Please look forward to it," Nagoya Mayor Takashi Kawamura said at a press conference.


During his election campaigns, Kawamura had promised to introduce attention-grabbing animals, such as a Komodo dragon, to the zoo.


Singapore Zoo, which has been housing the giant lizard, decided to transfer it due to lack of space after receiving a female Komodo dragon for breeding purposes.


Taro, owned by Tokyo's Ueno Zoological Gardens, will be offered on loan to the Higashiyama zoo.


Komodo dragons, a species native to Indonesia and designated as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, can grow to over 3 meters in length and weigh more than 160 kilograms.


They have previously been exhibited in Japan at the Ueno zoo and Sapporo Maruyama Zoo in Hokkaido, according to Nagoya city.

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2024年7月19日金曜日

TOKYO GOVERNMENT KOIKE REELECTED, BEATING OPPOSITION RENHO, RISING EX-MAYOR - TOKYO JAPAN

TOKYO GOVERNMENT KOIKE REELECTED, BEATING OPPOSITION RENHO, RISING EX-MAYOR - TOKYO JAPAN

@Jackie San


Incumbent Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike was reelected in Sunday's gubernatorial election with the effective backing of the ruling party, signaling that voters have positively evaluated her policies centered on quality of life and political competence over the past eight years.


Koike, 71, secured a third consecutive four-year term, defeating Shinji Ishimaru, a 41-year-old social media-savvy former mayor from Hiroshima Prefecture, who closely contested second place with Renho, a 56-year-old former lawmaker backed by the main opposition party.


The election was initially expected to be a neck-and-neck race between Koike and Renho, both former TV anchors. However, Ishimaru, relatively unknown in Tokyo before the official campaign began, significantly boosted his profile by expanding his election activities through social media.


Ishimaru apparently garnered popularity from voters with no particular party affiliation as a recent political funds scandal eroded trust in politics, but it was not enough to catch up with Koike. After the polls closed, he spoke before a group of supporters and said, "I did all I could."


Sunday's election was closely watched as the outcome could affect the future course of national politics, with the Liberal Democratic Party, led by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, under heavy scrutiny amid the slush funds scandal revealed late last year.


The race was also seen as a proxy war between national parties as the conservative incumbent was challenged by the left-leaning opposition politician, while the election was criticized for prioritizing popularity over policies due largely to swing voters.


In 2024, a record 56 people, including former Air Self-Defense Force chief Toshio Tamogami, 75, threw their hats into the ring. According to political pundits, many candidates entered the race solely to gain fame through campaign broadcasts and posters.


Some candidates in Tokyo's gubernatorial race were criticized for making a mockery of the electoral process by posting sexually explicit posters or covering large parts of official campaigning boards with their materials, with some groups obstructing the election campaigns of others.


Koike told her supporters on Sunday, "I received threats and heckling. It was the toughest election campaign I have ever experienced," emphasizing the necessity of amending legislation related to the electoral system.


All incumbents in past Tokyo gubernatorial elections who sought reelection have gone on to win, but this year's race sparked enthusiasm among voters as they were able to choose from a diverse range of candidates.


After the media reported her loss, Renho said, "I was able to express my thoughts from the bottom of my heart thanks to the support of many people, and I did everything I could," adding that Sunday's result came "down to my lack of ability."


The governor of Japan's capital, home to around 14 million people, controls an annual budget of more than 16 trillion yen ($100 billion), nearly equivalent to the national spending of Sweden or the Czech Republic.


Koike became the first female Tokyo governor in 2016. The former LDP lawmaker was also Japan's first female defense minister, while Renho was a member of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan before running in the gubernatorial election.


The LDP did not field its own candidate, as support for the ruling party has plummeted to its lowest levels since it returned to power in 2012 after a brief period in opposition. It decided to back Koike along with its junior coalition partner, the Komeito party.


Yuko Obuchi, the LDP's election campaign chief, said Koike's victory may "provide a big advantage in upcoming elections, but restoring trust in politics is still a work in progress," with another party lawmaker saying, "This is not a triumph for the LDP."


Renho who served as minister in charge of administrative reform under the three-year rule of the now-defunct Democratic Party of Japan from 2009, was backed by the CDPJ, the Japanese Communist Party and the Social Democratic Party.


A former banker, Ishimaru has attracted attention with his YouTube posts featuring fierce exchanges with municipal assembly members. He has broadened his support base among the younger generation and gathered thousands of volunteers for his campaign.


On the policy front, Koike has touted assistance measures for raising children, such as cash handout programs, as one of her achievements during her eight years in office. Critics, however, argue that she has not fulfilled most of her pledges from previous races.


In the latest election, Koike promised to concentrate primarily on supporting families and child-rearing, while Renho committed to enhancing policies to benefit those in the younger generation who wish to have children.


Renho contended that a core issue would be how to handle the controversial redevelopment of the Meiji Jingu Gaien district, which would involve demolishing two historic sports venues and tearing down hundreds of trees. Koike has greenlit the project.


Ishimaru, meanwhile, pitched himself as a candidate "well versed in economic theories and practices," vowing to hand out 1 million yen to student council presidents of public high schools in Tokyo.


Asked about his future ambitions, he told reporters, "One option is to run" in a House of Representatives election "from the Hiroshima No. 1 district, which is Prime Minister Kishida's constituency," indicating the possibility of stepping into the national political arena.


Voter turnout in Sunday's gubernatorial election was 60.62 percent, up from 55.00 percent in the 2020 race, the Tokyo metropolitan election management committee said.

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2024年7月18日木曜日

JAPAN'S TOP COURT RULES FORCED STERILISATION LAW UNCONSTITUTIONAL - TOKYO JAPAN

JAPAN'S TOP COURT RULES FORCED STERILISATION LAW UNCONSTITUTIONAL - TOKYO JAPAN 

@Jackie San


Japan's top court ruled on Wednesday that a defunct eugenics law under which thousands of people were forcibly sterilised between 1948 and 1996 was unconstitutional.


The Supreme Court also declared that a 20-year statute of limitations could not be applied, paving the way for compensation claims from victims after years of legal battles.


"For the state to evade responsibility for damages payments would be extremely unfair and unjust, and absolutely intolerable," the court in Tokyo said.


Japan's government acknowledges that around 16,500 people were forcibly sterilised under the law that aimed to "prevent the generation of poor quality descendants".


An additional 8,500 people were sterilised with their consent, although lawyers say even those cases were likely "de facto forced" because of the pressure individuals faced.


A 1953 government notice said physical restraint, anaesthesia and even "deception" could be used for the operations.


"There are people who couldn't be here today. There are those who died as well. I want to visit the grave of my parents and tell them we've won," victim Saburo Kita, who uses a pseudonym, told reporters after the ruling.


Kita was convinced to undergo a vasectomy when he was 14 at a facility housing troubled children. He only told his wife what had happened shortly before she died in 2013.


"But a complete resolution of this issue hasn't been realised yet. Together with lawyers, I will continue to fight," said Kita, one of several victims who celebrated outside the court, some in wheelchairs.


The number of operations in Japan slowed to a trickle in the 1980s and 1990s before the law was scrapped in 1996.


That dark history was thrust back under the spotlight in 2018 when a woman in her 60s sued the government over a procedure she had undergone at age 15, opening the floodgates for similar lawsuits.


The government, for its part, "wholeheartedly" apologised after legislation was passed in 2019 stipulating a lump-sum payment of 3.2 million yen (around $20,000 today) per victim.


However, survivors say that was too little to match the severity of their suffering and took their fight to court.


Regional courts have mostly agreed in recent years that the eugenics law was a violation of Japan's constitution.


However, judges have been divided on whether claims are valid beyond the 20-year statute of limitations.


Some ordered the state to pay damages but others dismissed cases, saying the window for pursuing damages had closed.


Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said the government would "swiftly pay damages based on the finalised ruling" and discuss "the new ways in which (victims) can be compensated".


The government "sincerely apologises" for the policy that "trampled on the human dignity" of victims, Kishida said, adding he would meet survivors in coming weeks to listen "face-to-face to their stories of suffering".


A group of victims said on Wednesday it "wholeheartedly" welcomed the ruling.


"We cannot forgive the irresponsibility of the government and its lack of human rights awareness, as well as the fact that what is now described as the biggest human rights violation in Japan's post-war history was left unaddressed for such a long time," the group said in a statement.


Lawyer Koji Niizato said it was "the best ruling we could have hoped for".


"Victims of the eugenics law put up a wonderful fight, one that influenced the Supreme Court and changed society," Niizato said.

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2024年7月17日水曜日

JAPAN COURT ORDER GOVERNMENT TO ADMIT GAY MAN AS REFUGEE OVER PERSECUTION - OSAKA JAPAN

JAPAN COURT ORDER GOVERNMENT TO ADMIT GAY MAN AS REFUGEE OVER PERSECUTION - 

OSAKA JAPAN  

@Jackie San


A Japanese court ordered Thursday the government to grant refugee status to a gay man from a North African country who is seeking asylum from persecution, ruling against immigration authorities.


The man in his 30s came to Japan in December 2019, leaving his home country, where having a relationship with a same-sex partner is banned by law and violators face arrest.


He felt his life was in danger if he stayed in the Islamic nation, saying his family prevented him from moving freely after learning he was in a relationship with another man. An attempt was also made to run him over, according to documents submitted to the court and other sources.


After coming to Japan, he made an application for refugee status in January 2020 at the Osaka regional immigration bureau but it was declined in February 2021. His appeal to have the bureau's decision reviewed was also turned down in May 2022.


In July of that year, he filed a lawsuit at the Osaka District Court, seeking revocation of the immigration authorities' decision not to grant him refugee status.


The ruling comes as Japan in March 2023 unveiled for the first time its guidelines for recognizing refugees to ensure transparency amid criticism that it accepts very few refugees compared with other countries.


Under the guidelines, the Immigration Services Agency of Japan said refugee status could be granted if applicants are deemed at risk of persecution in their home countries for their gender, or for identifying as a member of a sexual minority.


Japan gave refugee status to a record-high 303 people in 2023. But the number is tiny in comparison to European countries, where refugees are taken in by their tens of thousands annually, and the United States, which recently raised its yearly cap to 125,000.

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2024年7月16日火曜日

19,000 PEOPLE WITH DEMENTIA REPORTED MISSING IN JAPAN IN YEAR 2023

19,000 PEOPLE WITH DEMENTIA REPORTED MISSING IN JAPAN IN YEAR 2023

@Jackie San


The number of dementia sufferers or those suspected to have the disease who were reported missing in Japan reached a record 19,039 in 2023, up 330 from the previous year amid the rapidly aging population, police data shows.


The figure has increased each year since first being compiled in 2012. Police said they are working on steps to locate missing individuals more quickly, such as by flying drones and using GPS data from devices distributed to the elderly in some municipalities.


Including those reported missing before 2023, 18,221 were found alive, of whom 17,988 were located within three days of filing a missing person report, the National Police Agency said.


The overall number of missing people in Japan stood at 90,144 in 2023, increasing for the third straight year after it fell to a record low of 77,022 in 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic, the data showed.


By prefecture, Hyogo had the most dementia-related missing persons at 2,094, followed by Osaka at 2,016, both in western Japan. Men accounted for 55.7 percent and women 44.3 percent of the total.


Of the overall figure, individuals aged 10 and 19 made up the largest group at 17,732, followed by those in their 20s at 17,600, while those aged 80 and older accounted for 14,640.


Among reasons for going missing, 27.8 percent were cited as having illnesses, including dementia, while 15.2 percent had family issues and 10.7 percent work-related problems, the data showed.

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2024年7月15日月曜日

RAINFOREST WORLD MUSIC FESTIVAL (RWMF 2024) SETS NEW RECORD WITH OVER 26,000 ATTENDEES - SARAWAK

RAINFOREST WORLD MUSIC FESTIVAL (RWMF 2024) SETS NEW RECORD WITH OVER 26,000 ATTENDEES - SARAWAK

@Jackie San


SANTUBONG, KUCHING, SARAWAK

(July 1, 2024): The Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) 2024 at the Sarawak Cultural Village (SCV) here over the weekend set a new record of over 26,000 attendees.


Tourism, Creative Industry, and Performing Arts Minister Dato Sri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said the previous record was 23,000 festival-goers in 2019.


“However, for this year, RWMF has already welcomed over 26,000 attendees, with more still arriving. There’s a possibility we may even reach 30,000.


“So far, we’ve had record-breaking attendance on both the first and second days,” he told a press conference last night.


Abdul Karim also highlighted the success of the Rainforest Youth Summit (RAYS), held in conjunction with RWMF, which focused on empowering youth for a sustainable future.


“Our goal is to raise awareness and foster a sense of responsibility among future leaders from Asean countries towards protecting our environment and our shared Earth,” he said.

@Jackie San


Abdul Karim said RAYS aspires to be an annual iconic event under the Sarawak Tourism Board (STB).


“It will be held every two years in Sarawak and on the third year in one of the Asean countries.


“There is significant interest in this initiative, and we want to make sure that RAYS, apart from being held in Sarawak, Malaysia, is also being held in other Asean countries,” he said.


On sustainability efforts at RWMF, he highlighted Green Ruai, a dedicated area at SCV where partnerships with various agencies advocating for sustainability, responsibility, and environmental conservation were showcased.


“In addition, we’ve increased the number of water stations to reduce single-use plastic bottles and provided free shuttle buses to minimise carbon emissions,” he said.


He added RWMF embodies more than just music and cultural celebration because it stands as a commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship.


Among those present during the press conference were Telang Usan assemblyman and STB chairman Datuk Dennis Ngau and STB chief executive officer Sharzede Salleh Askor.

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CREW FAILURE TO KEEP LOOKOUT BEHIND APRIL CHOPPER CRASH: JAPAN MINISTRY

CREW FAILURE TO KEEP LOOKOUT BEHIND APRIL CHOPPER CRASH: JAPAN MINISTRY @Jackie San TOKYO Japan's Defense Ministry said Tuesday crew fai...