Category Archives: East Asia – Japan 🇯🇵

Tokyo olympics boss resigns over sexism row.

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As he stepped down, Mori was praised by officials including Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike and the International Olympic Committee.

Tokyo Olympics chief Yoshiro Mori bowed to mounting pressure and resigned Friday over sexist remarks, leaving a leadership vacuum after opposition emerged to his favoured successor.

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The controversy over Mori’s comments has been an unwanted additional headache for organisers already struggling to win over a sceptical public less than six months before the Games open.

After a two-hour meeting, Tokyo 2020 organisers said they will form a committee with a 50-50 gender mix to select Mori’s replacement.

It will be headed by Canon CEO Fujio Mitarai, 85, an appointment that may not appease critics who say key positions consistently go to an entrenched old boy network.

Mori, 83, claimed last week that women speak too much in meetings, prompting outrage from officials, sports stars and Olympic sponsors.

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On Friday he announced he would step down, effective immediately.

“My inappropriate statement has caused a lot of chaos. I would like to express my sincere apologies,” he told Tokyo 2020’s executive board and council.

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“What is important is to hold the Olympics. It must not be the case that my presence becomes an obstacle to that.”

Reports initially suggested Mori had selected well-known sports administrator Saburo Kawabuchi, 84, to replace him.

The transition appeared a done deal, with the former footballer describing his planned priorities in the new job to Japanese media.

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But opposition to the selection of another octogenarian — and Mori’s control over the process — quickly mounted.

By Friday afternoon, reports said Tokyo 2020 was under pressure to reverse the appointment, and Kawabuchi subsequently turned down the job.

Selection committee
Tokyo 2020’s CEO Toshiro Muto said the new president should be chosen “as soon as possible” but set no deadline.

He said Mori’s successor needed to have some Games experience, but that gender would not be decisive.

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“I don’t think we need to discuss the gender of the person. We will choose the most qualified person. Isn’t that what we should strive for?”

Muto said organisers had also decided to form a team to promote gender equality and would seek to increase female representation among its staff and senior executives.

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But he declined to be drawn on any deadline for improving female representation or any specific gender balance goal, saying he hoped to see progress by a March 22 board meeting.

Tokyo 2020 president Yoshiro Mori announces his resignation over sexist remarks, at a meeting with council and executive board members at the committee headquarters in Tokyo on February 12, 2021. (Photo by YOSHIKAZU TSUNO / POOL / AFP)

Mori’s resignation caps over a week of uproar after he told members of Japan’s Olympic Committee that women have difficulty speaking concisely, “which is annoying.”

He apologised but then defended his remarks and told reporters: “I don’t speak to women much.”

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Several hundred Olympic volunteers have withdrawn in the wake of his comments and a petition calling for action against him gathered nearly 150,000 signatures.

On Friday Mori said he does not “look down on women”, and had supported the seven women on the 35-member Tokyo 2020 board.

“They hesitated to raise their hand to speak up. I even called out their name to encourage them,” he said.

Praise for Mori
As he stepped down, Mori was praised by officials including Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike and the International Olympic Committee.

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Mori had helped make Tokyo “the best-ever prepared Olympic city,” IOC chief Thomas Bach said in a statement.

International Paralympic Committee president Andrew Parsons thanked Mori, adding that he hoped reaction to his comments would “be harnessed so that society places greater emphasis on diversity and inclusion.”

The race to fill Mori’s former post now appears wide open, with reports suggesting Olympic Minister Seiko Hashimoto — a former Olympic athlete and one of just two women in Japan’s cabinet — is a leading candidate.

The fallout comes with organisers already battling public doubt about holding the international event this summer.

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Around 80 percent of Japanese polled in recent surveys back either further postponement or outright cancellation.

Organisers have tried to quell the disquiet by releasing virus rulebooks, but doubts persist with Tokyo and other regions under a Covid-19 state of emergency.

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#Newsworthy

COVID-19: Japan tighten Border restrictions.

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The emergency declaration will last until February 7 for all regions covered.

Japan expanded a coronavirus state of emergency on Wednesday to seven more regions — including Osaka and Kyoto — and also tightened border restrictions as infections surge nationwide.

The expansion means that from Thursday, 11 of the country’s 47 prefectures will be under the state of emergency — accounting for about 60 percent of its GDP.

While the country’s outbreak remains comparatively small, with around 4,100 deaths overall, there has been a sharp spike in cases this winter and medics say hospitals are under heavy strain in the worst-affected areas.

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“We continue to see a serious situation,” Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said, adding that the measures were “indispensable”.

“We must overcome this challenge that we face.”

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The month-long state of emergency was implemented in the greater Tokyo area last week.

People walk at Shinagawa station in Tokyo on January 13, 2021 as the country expanded the Covid-19 coronavirus state of emergency to seven more regions and tightened border restrictions. (Photo by Philip FONG / AFP)

It asks restaurants and bars to close by 8 pm, with residents urged to avoid unnecessary outings and working from home strongly encouraged.

Although — unlike most places in the world — the law does not currently allow authorities to enforce these requests, the government is planning legislation to fine businesses that do not comply.

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The areas affected range from central Aichi, an industrial and commercial hub, to Fukuoka in the southwest, and Osaka, which has reported record new cases in recent days along with neighbouring Kyoto and Hyogo prefectures.

Suga also announced Wednesday that the government would further tighten entry restrictions, which already bar the entry of almost all foreign visitors.

It will now suspend a programme allowing business visits from 11 countries and regions, he said, all but ending the entry of foreigners who are not existing residents.

Late Wednesday, the government also said it would tighten quarantine rules, threatening to name and shame Japanese citizens who violate the measure, and warning it could revoke the residency of foreign nationals who do the same and deport them.

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The measures come just over six months before the virus-postponed Tokyo Olympics are due to open.

Suga has insisted he is committed to holding the Games this summer, despite polls showing widespread public opposition.

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#Newsworthy

Typhoon Haishen brings heavy winds to Japan.

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The powerful typhoon has begun to lash southern Japan with officials warning it could bring record rainfall.

Typhoon Haishen has drawn closer to Japan’s southern mainland, prompting authorities to recommend evacuations and warn of potentially record rainfall, unprecedented wind, high tides and large ocean swells.

Authorities urged early evacuation for more than 100,000 households in the southern prefectures of Okinawa, Kagoshima, Kumamoto, and Nagasaki, according to the Fire and Disaster Management Agency (FDMA).

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Sunday met the relevant cabinet ministers to discuss the emergency response to the typhoon, his office said.

“Maximum caution is needed as record rain, violent winds, high waves and high tides are possible,” he said.

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“I ask the Japanese people, including those who live in high-risk areas for flooding rivers or high tides to stay informed and take action immediately to ensure their safety.”

Elderly citizens wearing face masks due to the coronavirus outbreak were slowly gathering at evacuation centres in Kagoshima and other parts of southern Japan, footage on national broadcaster NHK showed.

The typhoon has cut power to more than 3,000 homes in Okinawa, the southernmost island prefecture, and more than 8,000 homes in Amamioshima, according to NHK.

Two injuries have been reported, according to the FDMA, but authorities were advising the highest levels of caution for a typhoon.

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The typhoon is forecast to have an atmospheric pressure of 935 hectopascals at its centre, and sustained winds of up to 234 kilometres per hour (145 miles per hour) by Monday, the meteorological agency said.

Haishen, currently equivalent to a strong Category 2 storm, is located about 400km (260 miles) south of Sasebo on the island of Kyushu, moving northwest at 30km/h (20mph).

Japanese authorities urged early evacuation for more than 100,000 households in the southern prefectures of Okinawa, Kagoshima, Kumamoto and Nagasaki [AFP]

The storm is expected to pass to the west of Kyushu any time between 12:00-18:00 GMT on Sunday, and is likely to lose some intensity as it hits southwest Japan.

Haishen is expected to be further downgraded by the time it makes landfall with 150km/h (90mph) wind, equivalent to a Category 1 hurricane. It is then forecast to hit the Korean Peninsula early on Monday morning.

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High waves lashed the southwest coast of Kagoshima and strong winds rattled street signs, NHK video footage showed.

“I live near a river, and I wanted to go to a safe place and thought about the coronavirus too,” a woman in Miyazaki told NHK after bringing her family to a local hotel.

Airlines have cancelled more than 500 flights departing from Okinawa and southern Japan, NHK said.

Typhoon Haishen follows Typhoon Maysak, which smashed into the Korean Peninsula on Thursday, leaving at least two dead and thousands temporarily without power.

Just a week before Maysak, Typhoon Bavi caused widespread damage and flooding in North Korea.


#Newsworthy…

Storyline: Ship conveying cattles, 42 crew, lost off Japan.

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Japan’s coastguard said one Filipino crew member had so far been found during the search.


Rescuers in Japan were searching on Thursday for a ship carrying 43 crew and nearly 6,000 cattle that was feared sunk after it sent a distress signal during stormy weather in the East China Sea.

Japan’s coastguard said one person had so far been found in a search involving four vessels and several planes.

The rescued crew member, 45-year-old Filipino Sareno Edvarodo, told the coastguard that the Gulf Livestock 1, a 139-metre Panamanian-flagged vessel, capsized after losing an engine.

The cargo ship sent a distress call from the west of Amami Oshima island in southwestern Japan on Wednesday as the region experienced strong winds, heavy seas and torrential rain from Typhoon Maysak as it headed towards the Korean Peninsula.

Japan’s coastguard said P-3C surveillance aircraft spotted Edvarodo, who was the ship’s chief officer, on Wednesday night. He was wearing a life vest and waving while bobbing up and down in the water.

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According to Edvarodo, who is able to walk and in good health, the ship lost an engine before it was hit by a wave and capsized, a coastguard spokeswoman said.

When the ship capsized, the crew were instructed to put on lifejackets. Edvarodo said he jumped into the water and did not see any other crew members before he was rescued.

The crew included 39 people from the Philippines, two from New Zealand and two from Australia, the coastguard said. Pictures provided by the agency showed a person in a lifejacket being hauled from choppy seas in darkness.

The Gulf Livestock 1 left Napier in New Zealand on August 14 with 5,867 cattle and 43 crew, bound for the Port of Jingtang in Tangshan, China. The journey was expected to take about 17 days, New Zealand’s foreign ministry told the Reuters news agency.

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New Zealand animal rights organisation, Save Animals From Exploitation (SAFE), said the tragedy demonstrated the risks of the live animal export trade.

A Filipino crew member believed to be onboard Gulf Livestock 1 is rescued by a Japan coastguard boat [Japan Coast Guard/ Handout via Reuters]

“These cows should never have been at sea,” said the campaigns manager, Marianne Macdonald.

“This is a real crisis, and our thoughts are with the families of the 43 crew who are missing with the ship. But questions remain, including why this trade is allowed to continue.”

Meanwhile, on the Korean Peninsula, one woman was killed in the South Korean city of Busan when a strong gust of wind shattered her apartment window after Maysak made landfall.

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More than 2,200 people were evacuated to temporary shelters, and around 120,000 homes were left without power across southern parts of the peninsula and on Jeju island.

The typhoon also brought heavy downpours across the north, and North Korea’s state media have been carrying live broadcasts of the situation, with one showing a reporter standing in a street inundated with water in the port town of Wonsan.

But authorities lifted their typhoon warning as the storm weakened and moved towards China.

“The typhoon will pass through Musan and leave our country,” a meteorological officer told Korean Central Television. “I don’t expect any effects.”


SOURCE: NOBLE REPORTERS MEDIA, NEWS AGENCIES


#Newsworthy…