Japanese, South Korean FMs to Discuss Trade Dispute

Foreign Ministers of South Korea and Japan will meet this Thursday in Bangkok to negotiate a solution to the trade confrontation between the two countries.

South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha and his Japanese counterpart Taro Kono are in Bangkok to participate in the Regional Forum of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

The diplomats will take advantage of the meeting to hold the first meeting between the two since the Japanese government banned the export to South Korea of materials for high-tech equipment.

The bilateral talks will be held one day before the Japanese government approves a law amendment to remove Seoul from the so-called white list of trusted trading partners.

At the bilateral meeting, Kang will urge Kono to withdraw what the South Korean Executive has described as unfair and unilateral measures, as well as the cancellation of South Korea's exclusion from the group of countries with minimal restrictions.

Tokyo and Seoul are in the midst of an unprecedented lawsuit due to the Japanese ban on selling to South Koreans raw materials for the production of high-tech equipment on the pretext that they are sent to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) to manufacture weapons.

  • Published in World

Korea wins thriller against Venezuela in Day 4 of the U-12 Baseball World Cup

Day 4 of the U-12 Baseball World Cup made it clear that Japan and Chinese Taipei in group A and Korea in group B will play the super round.

Korea defeated Venezuela, 6-5, in what has been by far the most exciting game of the tournament so far. Venezuela tied it on a home run by Johan Fernandez and Korea walked it off on a solo shot by Park Yechan.

In the other two games of Day 4 in group B Mexico and the USA warmed up for the key matchup scheduled on Tuesday, 30 July.

Mexico used 26 hits to outscore Australia, 21-2

The USA scored 11 in the first and combined 28 hits to beat Italy, 28-1.

There were no surprises in group B.

The hosts Chinese Taipei needed five innings and two home runs to beat the Czech Republic, 16-0.

Cuba also played five innings and used the long ball, three home runs, to overcome South Africa, 13-0.

Cuba and the Czech Republic are now tied in third place and will face an elimination game on Tuesday, 30 July.

Japan overwhelmed Fiji 30-0. The young Samurai got 23 hits, including three home runs.

  • Published in Sports

Russia-China joint bomber patrol meets Japanese & S. Korean fighters, but missions will go on

Russian and Chinese strategic bombers have flown their first mission together over the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea. Tokyo and Seoul are up in arms, but Moscow points out it's all within international rules and regulations.

Two Russian Tu-95ms and two Chinese Xian H-6 bombers patrolled a pre-planned route above the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea, “strictly in accordance with international law,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement. 

Also on rt.com S. Korean pilots ‘acted unprofessionally’, Russian bombers did not violate airspace – Moscow...

Seoul claims the bombers breached its air defense identification zone (KADIZ), but Moscow insists this designation is not supported by any international rules and that no third country's airspace was violated.

In its own response to the intercept, China reminded South Korea that KADIZ is not recognized as part of a country's airspace and is thus free for other countries’ aircraft to pass through. The Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson also warned Seoul to “be careful when using the word 'invasion'.”

The route apparently took the aircraft close to a set of tiny islands in the Sea of Japan, known as the Dokdo islands in South Korea and as Takeshima in Japan, and contested by both nations.

The countries subsequently scrambled its military aircraft to ward off the bombers. South Korea also claimed its jets had to fire “warning shots,” but Moscow insists these were only flares.

South Korea also claimed its jets had to fire “warning shots,” but Moscow insists these were only flares. The latter has accused the South Koreans of acting “unprofessionally” and of putting the Russian bombers’ safety at risk by dangerously cutting across their course.

The first-ever joint patrol of the long-range aviation in the Pacific was the beginning of a wider program, which aims to boost the Russian and Chinese militaries' ability to work together, Moscow says. The planned program stretches at least for the remainder of the year and is “not aimed at against third countries.”

  • Published in World

Abe's party wins big in Upper House polls

Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) won big in yesterday's Upper House election, but fell just short of the numbers required to push through a revision of the pacifist Constitution.

Otherwise, there were few surprises amid the lowest voter turnout since 1995, although the LDP lost in key battlegrounds such as Akita and Okinawa where defence issues took centre stage.

Still, after yesterday's big win, LDP secretary-general Toshihiro Nikai told a radio programme that it "will not at all be strange" were Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to seek another term as party chief beyond September 2021, given the stability he has brought to Japanese politics.

Internal LDP rules have already been changed once to let Mr Abe remain party leader for a third straight three-year term, and hence premier. A fourth consecutive term will mean, barring any electoral upsets, Mr Abe could stay in power until 2024. He will rewrite the record as Japan's longest-serving prime minister in November. Mr Abe said last night he has not given any thought to the idea of another term.

A tally as of 12.55am showed the LDP and its coalition partner Komeito winning 69 of the 124 seats up for grabs. The opposition clinched 50 seats, with another five unaccounted for.

There are 245 seats in the Upper House, whose lawmakers serve six-year terms. A vote is held every three years to elect half the chamber, which cannot be dissolved for a snap election.

Attention was paid to whether the pro-constitutional revision alliance comprising LDP, Komeito, as well as the Nippon Ishin no Kai and other independents will keep its two-thirds majority, or 164 seats, in the Upper House yesterday. It had 157 seats last night.

The top law, which Mr Abe is targeting for a revision by next year, has not been changed since its enactment in 1947. Yesterday's election, Mr Abe said, was one where voters will "either choose a party that will discuss constitutional revision, or politicians who do not fulfil their responsibilities and refuse to even hold these discussions".

He needs the support of two-thirds of lawmakers in each of the two Houses of Parliament, before constitutional revision can be put to a public referendum. The alliance already had the numbers in the Lower House.

The losses in Akita and Okinawa will also complicate the government's defence strategy. Akita residents, angered by a flawed ground survey for a plan to install the Aegis Ashore anti-missile system, ousted the LDP incumbent. Okinawa was won by an independent who opposes the relocation of a US Marine Corps air base.

Voter turnout was low due to public apathy, despite businesses like Patagonia closing its stores to allow staff to vote, and eateries such as ramen chain Ippudo offering discounts to those who prove they have cast their votes.

Another possible reason was the heavy rain that lashed the southwestern island of Kyushu yesterday, triggering widespread floods and landslide warnings.

Voter turnout is likely to be under 50 per cent for the first time since 1995. Just 30.1 per cent had voted as of 7.30pm. Another 16 per cent cast their ballots in early voting.

During the campaign hustings, Mr Abe stressed the stability of his administration after 6½ years in power, citing an improving economy and a nation regaining its international clout.

On constitutional revision, Mr Abe wants to add a clause to the war-renouncing Article 9 to enshrine the Self-Defence Forces, so as to remove any doubt of their legitimacy. But there are fears that this will lead down a slippery slope towards greater militarisation.

University of Tokyo political scientist Yu Uchiyama said Mr Abe might be forced to compromise, noting that a few other parties are open to the idea of an amendment without Article 9.

"If Mr Abe wants to go down in the record books for successfully changing the Constitution, it may be politically easier for him to do so without changing Article 9."

  • Published in World

Cuban Gracial homers twice, bats in 5 in Japan

Cuban Yurisbel Gracial was again the offensive leader of the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks on their 6-3 win over the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, in the Japanese Professional Baseball League (NPB).

Batting fifth and defending the left-field, Gracial batted 3 for 4, including two homers and 5 RBIs.

Thus, the Cuban outstanding player has now offensive line (AVG, SLG, OBP) of (.341, .663, .393), with 19 homers and 46 RBIs in 56 games.

The also Cuban DH and clean-up hitter Alfredo Despaigne hit 0 for 3 with one walk in this game and now has average of .259, with 18 homeruns and 47 RBIs.

Lefty setup pitcher and utility Oscar Colas, the latter was recently ascended to the first squad, also play for the Hawks, who appear on top of the standings of the NPB Pacific League with 44 wins, 30 losses and 4 ties, 5 games ahead of the Eagles and 5.5 over the Saitama Seibu Lions.


  • Published in Sports

Helms-Burton Law Threatens Peace, Cuban President Warns

Cuba's President Miguel Diaz-Canel has warned the Helms-Burton Act threatens peace, solidarity, peaceful coexistence and friendship.

'It's a law enacted to neo-colonize and enslave,' he further wrote in Twitter about Washington's barring the Peace Boat from docking in Cuban ports, as a result of restrictions recently enforced on US private vessels and planes.

Due to such punitive measures that are hurting the Cuban people, the NGO Peace Boat, with headquarters in Japan, won't be able to touch Cuban land as it was scheduled next June 13 because the vessel is US property.


The cruise ship was reportedly carrying donations given by the Cuban community living in Japan and by Japanese individuals and organizations for the victims of the killer tornado that violently hit municipalities of Havana on January 27.

The peace-promoting NGO has visited Cuba 19 times as part of its itinerary around the world, carrying a message of peace, love and against nuclear weapons.

The Peace Boat came to the island twice last year, and its members participated at a forum dedicated to Cuban historical leader Fidel Castro and paid homage to the thousands of victims the two US atomic attacks caused in the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

  • Published in Cuba

Cubans lead Softbank to victory in Japanese baseball

Excellent performances by Cubans Alfredo Despaigne and Livan Moinelo were essentials in the 9-6 win of the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks over the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters, in the Pacific League of the Japanese Professional Baseball League (NPB).

According to the NPB website, Despaigne batted 2 for 5, with two runs batted in and same amount of runs scored, thus increasing his batting average to .224 and now amounts ten RBIs.

Meanwhile, Moinelo pitched one scoreless inning, with three strikeouts and one walk, and he did not allow hits or runs and kept immaculate his ERA (0.00).

The lefty reliever has seen action in 11 games always as closer and now has 10 innings pitched in which he amounts 12 strikeouts, with four walks and has only allowed four hits.

After this match, the Hawks leads the standings of the Pacific League with balance of 15 wins, 10 losses and two draws, 0.5 games ahead of the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles (13-10-1) and 1.5 games over the Saitama Seibu Lions (12-11-1).

  • Published in Sports
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