Top Asian News 5:06 a.m. GMT
SYDNEY (AP) — Black Lives Matter protests across Australia on Saturday got underway against a backdrop of possible clashes between demonstrators and police in Sydney, after a court sided with police that the gathering posed too much risk for spreading the coronavirus. The first gathering in the southern city of Adelaide was held to honor George Floyd and to protest against the deaths of indigenous Australians in custody. That was the plan in Sydney as well, where thousands of people were expected to rally. But New South Wales state Supreme Court Justice Des Fagan ruled on Friday that the rally was not an authorized public assembly.
BEIJING (AP) — China is advising its citizens not to visit Australia, citing racial discrimination and violence against Asians, in what appears to be Beijing’s latest attempt to punish the country for advocating an investigation into the coronavirus pandemic. A notice issued by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism late Friday said there has “been an increase in words and deeds of racial discrimination and acts of violence against Chinese and Asians in Australia, due to the impact of COVID-19 pandemic.” “The ministry advises Chinese tourists to raise their safety awareness and avoid travelling to Australia,” the notice said. As part of its perceived retaliation, China has already effectively ended imports of Australian barley by putting tariffs of more than 80% on the crop, accusing Australia of breaching World Trade Organization rules by subsidizing barley production and selling the crop in China at below production costs.
TOKYO (AP) — Shigeru Yokota, a Japanese campaigner for the return of his daughter and more than a dozen others who were abducted to North Korea in the 1970s, has died. He was 87. His family said Yokota died of natural causes in a hospital in Kawasaki, near Tokyo, on Friday, before he was able to meet his daughter again. “My husband and I did our best together, but he passed before seeing Megumi again. Now I’m at a loss,” his wife Sakie, 84, said in a statement. Megumi disappeared in 1977 on her way home from her a junior high school in Niigata on Japan’s northern coast when she was 13.
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea on Saturday reported 51 new cases of COVID-19, mostly in the densely populated capital region, as authorities scramble to stem transmissions among low-income workers who can’t afford to stay home. The figures announced by South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention brought national totals to 11,719 workers and 273 deaths. At least 34 of the new cases were linked to door-to-door sellers hired by Richway, a Seoul-based health product provider. Vice Health Minister Kim Gang-lip said the spread of the virus among Richway sellers was particularly alarming as most of them are in their 60s and 70s.
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea threatened to permanently shut a liaison office with South Korea as it continued to condemn its rival for failing to prevent activists from sending anti-North Korean leaflets across the border. The statement by North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party on Friday came a day after the powerful sister of leader Kim Jong Un said her country would end a military agreement reached with South Korea in 2018 to reduce tensions if Seoul fails to stop the activists. Kim Yo Jong also said North Korea could permanently shut the liaison office and a joint factory park in the border town of Kaesong, which have been symbols of reconciliation between the two countries.
TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Taiwanese in the southern port city of Kaohsiung voted Saturday in a special election to recall their mayor, whose failed bid for the presidency on behalf of the China-friendly Nationalist Party earlier this year brought widespread disapproval among residents. Results of the recall election — Taiwan’s first — are expected soon after the 1,823 polling stations close at 4 p.m. (0800 GMT). To succeed, the measure to recall Mayor Han Kuo-yu must receive support from 25% of the city’s more than 2 million eligible voters, with more backing it than voting against it. Han won a surprise victory in 2018 in what had long been a stronghold of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, which rejects China’s demand that it recognize Taiwan as a part of Chinese territory.
TOKYO (AP) — Japan has kept its deaths from the new coronavirus low despite a series of missteps that beg the question of whether it can prevent future waves of infections. Authorities were criticized for bungling a cruise ship quarantine and were slow to close Japan’s borders. They have conducted only a fraction of the tests needed to find and isolate patients and let businesses operate almost as usual, even under a pandemic state of emergency. But the roughly 900 deaths, or 7 per million people, in Japan are far fewer than the 320 per million in the U.S. and more than 550 per million in Italy and Britain.
BANGKOK (AP) — Factories and stores are reopening, economies are reawakening – but many jobs just aren’t coming back. That’s the harsh truth facing workers laid off around the world, from restaurants in Thailand to car factories in France, whose livelihoods fell victim to a virus-driven recession that’s accelerating decline in struggling industries and upheaval across the global workforce. New U.S. figures released on Friday showed a surprise drop in joblessness as some of those who were temporarily laid off returned to work. But it’s only a dent in the recent months’ surge of unemployment, which remains near Depression-era levels. In a pattern repeated across the world, high unemployment means less money spent in surviving stores, restaurants and travel businesses, with repercussions across economies rich and poor.
STOCKHOLM (AP) — Sweden’s former ambassador to China went on trial Friday charged with unauthorized contacts with a foreign power for organizing a meeting in Stockholm between the daughter of a Swedish publisher detained in China, Beijing’s ambassador and two Chinese businessmen about the possible release of the publisher. Broadcaster SVT said it was the first time since 1794 that a Swedish diplomat has gone on trial for such accusation. At that time, Gustaf Mauritz Armfelt, Sweden’s envoy to Naples, Italy, was tried for secretly communicating with Russian Empress Catherine the Great. Sweden’s Foreign Ministry said it had no advance knowledge of the January 2019 meeting arranged by former Swedish Ambassador to China Anna Lindstedt, who was summoned home for an investigation the following month.