Connect with us
BMW

World

Japan’s Ex-Leader Shinzo Abe Assassinated During a Speech

Published

on

In this image from a video, Japan’s former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe makes a campaign speech in Nara, western Japan shortly before he was shot Friday, July 8, 2022. Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, a divisive arch-conservative and one of his nation's most powerful and influential figures, has died after being shot during a campaign speech Friday in western Japan, hospital officials said.(Kyodo News via AP)

TOKYO (AP) — Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was assassinated Friday on a street in western Japan by a gunman who opened fire on him from behind as he delivered a campaign speech — an attack that stunned a nation with some of the strictest gun control laws anywhere.

The 67-year-old Abe, who was Japan’s longest-serving leader when he resigned in 2020, collapsed bleeding and was airlifted to a nearby hospital in Nara, although he was not breathing and his heart had stopped. He was later pronounced dead after receiving massive blood transfusions, officials said.

A hearse carrying Abe’s body left the hospital early Saturday to head back to his home in Tokyo. Abe’s wife Akie lowered her head as the vehicle passed before a crowd of journalists.

Nara Medical University emergency department chief Hidetada Fukushima said Abe suffered major damage to his heart, along with two neck wounds that damaged an artery. He never regained his vital signs, Fukushima said.

Police at the shooting scene arrested Tetsuya Yamagami, 41, a former member of Japan’s navy, on suspicion of murder. Police said he used a gun that was obviously homemade — about 15 inches (40 centimeters) long — and they confiscated similar weapons and his personal computer when they raided his nearby one-room apartment.

Police said Yamagami was responding calmly to questions and had admitted to attacking Abe, telling investigators he had plotted to kill him because he believed rumors about the former leader’s connection to a certain organization that police did not identify.

Dramatic video from broadcaster NHK showed Abe standing and giving a speech outside a train station ahead of Sunday’s parliamentary election. As he raised his fist to make a point, two gunshots rang out, and he collapsed holding his chest, his shirt smeared with blood as security guards ran toward him. Guards then leapt onto the gunman, who was face down on the pavement, and a double-barreled weapon was seen nearby.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and his Cabinet ministers hastily returned to Tokyo from campaign events elsewhere after the shooting, which he called “dastardly and barbaric.” He pledged that the election, which chooses members for Japan’s less-powerful upper house of parliament, would go on as planned.

“I use the harshest words to condemn (the act),” Kishida said, struggling to control his emotions. He said the government would review the security situation, but added that Abe had the highest protection.

Even though he was out of office, Abe was still highly influential in the governing Liberal Democratic Party and headed its largest faction, Seiwakai, but his ultra-nationalist views made him a divisive figure to many.

Opposition leaders condemned the attack as a challenge to Japan’s democracy. Kenta Izumi, head of the top opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, called it “an act of terrorism” and said it “tried to quash the freedom of speech … actually causing a situation where (Abe’s) speech can never be heard again.”

In Tokyo, people stopped to buy extra editions of newspapers or watch TV coverage of the shooting. Flowers were placed at the shooting scene in Nara.

When he resigned as prime minister, Abe blamed a recurrence of the ulcerative colitis he’d had since he was a teenager. He said then it was difficult to leave many of his goals unfinished, especially his failure to resolve the issue of Japanese abducted years ago by North Korea, a territorial dispute with Russia, and a revision of Japan’s war-renouncing constitution.

That ultra-nationalism riled the Koreas and China, and his push to create what he saw as a more normal defense posture angered many Japanese. Abe failed to achieve his cherished goal of formally rewriting the U.S.-drafted pacifist constitution because of poor public support.

Loyalists said his legacy was a stronger U.S.-Japan relationship that was meant to bolster Japan’s defense capability. But Abe made enemies by forcing his defense goals and other contentious issues through parliament, despite strong public opposition.

Abe was groomed to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather, former Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi. His political rhetoric often focused on making Japan a “normal” and “beautiful” nation with a stronger military and bigger role in international affairs.

Tributes to Abe poured in from world leaders, with many expressing shock and sorrow. U.S. President Joe Biden praised him, saying “his vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific will endure. Above all, he cared deeply about the Japanese people and dedicated his life to their service.“

On Saturday, Biden called Kishida and expressed outrage, sadness and deep condolences on the shooting death of Abe. Biden noted the importance of Abe’s legacy including through the establishment of the Quad meetings of Japan, the U.S., Australia and India. Biden voiced confidence in the strength of Japan’s democracy and the two leaders discussed how Abe’s legacy will live on as the two allies continue to defend peace and democracy, according to the White House.

Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose tenure from 2005-21 largely overlapped with Abe’s, said she was devastated by the “cowardly and vile assassination.” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared Saturday a day of national mourning for Abe, and U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres tweeted that he would remember him for “his collegiality & commitment to multilateralism.”

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian declined to comment, other than to say Beijing offered sympathies to Abe’s family and that the shooting shouldn’t be linked to bilateral relations. But social media posts from the country were harsh, with some calling the gunman a “hero” — reflecting strong sentiment against right-wing Japanese politicians who question or deny that Japan’s military committed wartime atrocities in China.

Biden, who is dealing with a summer of mass shootings in the U.S., also said “gun violence always leaves a deep scar on the communities that are affected by it.”

Japan is particularly known for its strict gun laws. With a population of 125 million, it had only 10 gun-related criminal cases last year, resulting in one death and four injuries, according to police. Eight of those cases were gang-related. Tokyo had no gun incidents, injuries or deaths in the same year, although 61 guns were seized.

Abe was proud of his work to strengthen Japan’s security alliance with the U.S. and shepherding the first visit by a serving U.S. president, Barack Obama, to the atom-bombed city of Hiroshima. He also helped Tokyo gain the right to host the 2020 Olympics by pledging that a disaster at the Fukushima nuclear plant was “under control” when it was not.

He became Japan’s youngest prime minister in 2006, at age 52, but his overly nationalistic first stint abruptly ended a year later, also because of his health.

The end of Abe’s scandal-laden first stint as prime minister was the beginning of six years of annual leadership change, remembered as an era of “revolving door” politics that lacked stability.

When he returned to office in 2012, Abe vowed to revitalize the nation and get its economy out of its deflationary doldrums with his “Abenomics” formula, which combines fiscal stimulus, monetary easing and structural reforms.

He won six national elections and built a rock-solid grip on power, bolstering Japan’s defense role and capability and its security alliance with the U.S. He also stepped up patriotic education at schools and raised Japan’s international profile.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

World

US opts to not rebuild renowned Puerto Rico telescope

Published

on

FILE - This July 13, 2016 photo shows the world's largest single-dish radio telescope at the Arecibo Observatory in Arecibo, Puerto Rico. The National Science Foundation announced Oct. 13, 2022 that it will not rebuild the renowned radio telescope, which was one of the world’s largest until it collapsed in August 2020. (AP Photo/Danica Coto, File)

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — The National Science Foundation announced Thursday that it will not rebuild a renowned radio telescope in Puerto Rico, which was one of the world’s largest until it collapsed nearly two years ago.

Instead, the agency issued a solicitation for the creation of a $5 million education center at the site that would promote programs and partnerships related to science, technology, engineering and math. It also seeks the implementation of a research and workforce development program, with the center slated to open next year in the northern mountain town of Arecibo where the telescope was once located.

The solicitation does not include operational support for current infrastructure at the site that is still in use, including a 12-meter radio telescope or the Lidar facility, which is used to study the upper atmosphere and ionosphere to analyze cloud cover and precipitation data.

The reflector dish and the 900-ton platform hanging 450 feet above it previously allowed scientists to track asteroids headed to Earth, conduct research that led to a Nobel Prize and determine if a planet is potentially habitable.

“We understand how much the site has meant to the community,” said Sean Jones, assistant director for directorate of mathematical and physical sciences at NSF. “If you’re a radio astronomer, you’ve probably spent some time of your career at Arecibo.”

But all research abruptly ended when an auxiliary cable snapped in August 2020, tearing a 100-foot hole in the dish and damaging the dome above it. A main cable broke three months later, prompting the NSF to announce in November 2020 that it was closing the telescope because the structure was too unstable.

Experts suspect that a possible manufacturing error caused the cable to snap, but NSF officials said Thursday that the investigation is still ongoing.

Jones said in a phone interview that the decision to not rebuild the telescope comes in part because the U.S. government has other radar facilities that can do part of the mission that Arecibo once did. He added that the NSF also envisions a five-year maintenance contract to keep the site open, which would cost at least $1 million a year.

“This is a pivotal time. The education component is very important,” said James Moore, assistant director for education and human resource directorate at NSF.

He said by phone that one of the agency’s priorities is to make STEM more accessible and inclusive and that the proposed education center would fill that need.

“It’s a way to augment some of the things that young people are getting in their schools or not getting,” he said.

Continue Reading

World

Judge rules new DACA program can continue temporarily

Published

on

FILE - Susana Lujano, left, a dreamer from Mexico who lives in Houston, joins other activists to rally in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, also known as DACA, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on June 15, 2022. The fate of DACA, a program preventing the deportation of hundreds of thousands of immigrants brought into the United States as children, was set Friday, Oct. 14, 2022, to again be in front of a federal judge who has previously declared it illegal. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

HOUSTON (AP) — A federal judge ruled Friday that the current version of a federal policy that prevents the deportation of hundreds of thousands of immigrants brought to the U.S. as children can continue, at least temporarily.

U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen — who last year declared the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program illegal — said that the policy, which is set to proceed under new regulations at the end of the month, can continue with limitations that he previously set. Those limitations say there can be no new applicants for DACA and that those who are already in the program can continue to be in it and renew their application.

Hanen ordered attorneys in the case to provide more information and said he expects additional legal arguments related to the new rule, but there was no timetable set for future hearings. It’s also unclear when Hanen will give his final decision on the case, which is expected to end up at the U.S. Supreme Court.

The current version of DACA, which the Biden administration created to improve its chances of surviving legal scrutiny, is set to take effect Oct. 31.

The case went back to Hanen after the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans said last week he should take another look at DACA following revisions adopted by the Biden administration.

Before the hearing Friday morning, a group of about 30 community activists gathered in support of DACA at a park next to the federal courthouse. They held up signs that said, “Judge Hanen Do the Right Thing Protect DACA” and “Immigrants Are Welcomed.” They chanted as many of them marched into the courthouse to attend the hearing.

Hanen last year declared DACA illegal after Texas and eight other Republican-leaning states filed a lawsuit claiming they are harmed financially, incurring hundreds of millions of dollars in health care, education and other costs, when immigrants are allowed to remain in the country illegally. They also argued that the White House overstepped its authority by granting immigration benefits that are for Congress to decide.

“Only Congress has the ability to write our nation’s immigration laws,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said Thursday in a statement.

Hanen found DACA had not been subjected to public notice and comment periods required under the federal Administrative Procedures Act. But he left the Obama-era program intact for those already benefiting from it, pending the appeal. There were 611,270 people enrolled in DACA at the end of March.

A three-judge panel of the New Orleans-based appeals court upheld Hanen’s initial finding but sent the case back to Hanen so he could review the impact of the federal government’s new DACA regulation.

The new rule’s 453 pages are largely technical and represent little substantive change from the 2012 memo that created DACA, but it was subject to public comments as part of a formal rule-making process.

But even if Hanen were to issue a positive ruling on the new DACA regulation, the judge might still decide the program is illegal because it was not created by Congress, Perales said.

“Which is why so many right now are calling on Congress to act,” she said.

After last week’s appeals court ruling, President Joe Biden and advocacy groups renewed their calls for Congress to pass permanent protections for “Dreamers,” which is what people protected by DACA are commonly called. Congress has failed multiple times to pass proposals called the DREAM Act to protect DACA recipients.

Whatever Hanen decides, DACA is expected to go to the Supreme Court for a third time. In 2016, the Supreme Court deadlocked 4-4 over an expanded DACA and a version of the program for parents of DACA recipients. In 2020, the high court ruled 5-4 that the Trump administration improperly ended DACA, allowing it to stay in place.

Continue Reading

World

Proposed UN resolution would sanction top Haitian gang chief

Published

on

FILE - Barbecue, the leader of the "G9 and Family" gang, stands next to garbage to call attention to the conditions people live in as he leads a march against kidnapping through La Saline neighborhood in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Friday, Oct. 22, 2021. Haiti Prime Minister Ariel Henry and 18 top-ranking officials have requested on the second week of Oct. 2022, the immediate deployment of foreign armed troops as gangs and protesters paralyze the country. (AP Photo/Odelyn Joseph, File)

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. Security Council is negotiating a resolution that would impose an arms embargo, asset freeze and travel ban on influential Haitian gang leader Jimmy Cherizier, nicknamed “Barbeque.”

It also would target other Haitian individuals and groups who engage in actions that threaten the peace, security or stability of the Western Hemisphere’s poorest country, according to the text obtained Thursday by The Associated Press.

The U.S.-drafted resolution singles out by name Cherizier, a former police officer who leads an alliance of Haitian gangs known as the “G9 Family and Allies.” But it would establish a Security Council committee to designate other Haitians and groups to be put on a blacklist and subjected to sanctions as well.

The draft resolution expresses “grave concern about the extremely high levels of gang violence and other criminal activities, including kidnappings, trafficking in persons and the smuggling of migrants, and homicides, and sexual and gender-based violence including rape and sexual slavery, as well as ongoing impunity for perpetrators, corruption and recruitment of children by gangs and the implications of Haiti’s situation for the region.”

The Security Council moved up a meeting on Haiti to Monday because of the increasingly dire situation in the country.

Daily life in Haiti began to spin out of control last month just hours after Prime Minister Ariel Henry said fuel subsidies would be eliminated, causing prices to double. Gangs blocked the entrance to the Varreux fuel terminal, leading to a severe shortage of fuel at a time that clean water is also scarce and the country is trying to deal with a deadly cholera outbreak.

The draft resolution says “Cherizier and his G9 gang confederation are actively blocking the free movement of fuel from the Varreux fuel terminal — the largest in Haiti.”

“His actions have directly contributed to the economic paralysis and humanitarian crisis in Haiti,” it says.

In a video posted on Facebook last week, Cherizier called on the government to grant him and G9 members amnesty and to void all arrest warrants against them. He said in Creole that Haiti’s economic and social situation is worsening by the day, so “there is no better time than today to dismantle the system.”

He outlined a transitional plan for restoring order in Haiti. It would include creation of a Council of Sages with one representative from each of Haiti’s 10 departments to govern the country with an interim president until a presidential election could be held in February 2024. It also calls for restructuring Haiti’s National Police and strengthening the army.

“The country is (facing) one crisis after another,” Cherizier said. “During all these crises, the first victim is the population, the people in the ghettos, the peasants.”

Haiti has been in the grips of an inflationary vise that is squeezing its people and exacerbating protests that have brought society to the breaking point. Violence is raging, making parents afraid to send their kids to school. Hospitals, banks and grocery stores are struggling to stay open.

The president of neighboring Dominican Republic, which shares the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, recently described the situation as a “low-intensity civil war.” His government is cracking down on Haitians migrating to the Dominican Republic.

Political instability has simmered ever since last year’s still-unsolved assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, who had faced opposition protests calling for his resignation over corruption charges and claims that his five-year term had ended. Moïse dissolved Parliament in January 2020 after legislators failed to hold elections in 2019 amid political gridlock.

Last week, Haiti’s prime minister and 18 high-ranking officials requested “the immediate deployment of a specialized armed force, in sufficient quantity” by international partners to stop the “criminal actions” of armed gangs across the country.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres sent a letter to the Security Council on Sunday calling for the deployment of a rapid action force by one or several U.N. member states to help Haiti’s National Police.

That force would “remove the threat posed by armed gangs and provide immediate protection to critical infrastructure and services,” as well as secure the “free movement of water, fuel, food and medical supplies from main ports and airports to communities and health care facilities,” he said.

The draft resolution takes note of Guterres’ letter, welcomes the appeal from Haiti, and encourages “the immediate deployment of a multinational rapid action force” to support the Haitian National Police, as the secretary-general recommends.

U.S. officials said Wednesday the Biden administration will provide security and humanitarian assistance to Haiti and pull visas to current and former government officials involved with gangs.

Continue Reading

Trending