JAKARTA: The Indonesian navy said yesterday it would turn back a boat of six Australian activists seeking to sail into the restive region of Papua to draw attention to rights abuses. It came as the unarmed yacht, the Pog, hovered in Papua New Guinea waters not far from the maritime border with Indonesia. The activists were waiting to hear directly from the navy and receive assurances force would not be used against them before entering Indonesian waters, their spokesman said. Any confrontation could strain relations between Indonesia and Australia, as the Southeast Asian nation is highly sensitive about its sovereignty over Papua.
Japan protests French cartoons
TOKYO: Japan voiced anger yesterday over cartoons published in a French newspaper that took aim at the decision to award the 2020 Olympics to Tokyo despite the ongoing nuclear crisis at Fukushima. Satirical weekly Le Canard Enchaine published a cartoon depicting sumo wrestlers with extra limbs competing in front of a crippled nuclear plant, which said the disaster had made it a feasible Olympic sport. Another cartoon showed two people standing in front of a pool of water while wearing nuclear protection suits and holding a Geiger counter, saying water sport facilities had already been built at Fukushima.
Tokyo hangs sixth murderer
TOKYO: Japan hanged a 73-year-old man yesterday, bringing to six the number of inmates executed since the conservative government of Shinzo Abe came to power in December. Justice Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki announced the execution of Tokuhisa Kumagai, who was convicted of shooting dead the owner of a Chinese restaurant in a May 2004 robbery, among other crimes. The execution was the first since two gangsters were sent to the gallows in April and took place despite repeated protests from European governments and human rights groups. Japan now 132 on death row, according to the Justice Ministry.
Ma spokesman resigns
TAIPEI: A spokesman for Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou resigned yesterday amid a deepening political scandal that saw the parliamentary speaker expelled over influence peddling claims. Lo Chih-chiang, deputy secretary-general of the presidential office, said the expulsion of speaker Wang Jin-pyng on Wednesday had prompted his surprise decision, adding: “I want to take a break and spend time with my family.” Lo became the fourth top member to resign recently.
China vows air pollution cuts
BEIJING: China vowed yesterday to reduce levels of atmospheric pollutants in Beijing and other major cities by as much as 25 percent to try to improve their dire air quality. The State Council, or cabinet, said “concentrations of fine particles” in the capital’s air will fall by “about 25 percent” from 2012 levels by 2017. Other major Chinese cities on China’s affluent east coast, including Shanghai and Guangzhou, will see reductions of between 10 and 20 percent from 2012 levels over the same period, said a plan posted on the central government’s website. AGENCIES