Top Asian News 3:27 a.m. GMT
TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga won’t run for governing party leadership election, indicating he will step down as Japanese leader at the end of this month, public broadcaster NHK said. Suga told executives of his ruling Liberal Democratic Party on Friday that he will not run for leadership race set for Sept. 29, NHK said. This means Japan is likely to have a new leader who is elected as head of LDP, due to the party’s majority in the parliament. Suga has faced criticism and nosediving support ratings over slow coronavirus measures and holding the Olympics despite the public’s health concerns.
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — It felt like hell itself had opened up, said Ramal Ahmadi, who was watching cartoons with his nephew when a U.S. drone slammed into his family’s courtyard where just moments before there had been a noisy celebration to greet the family’s oldest brother. The last thing Ahmadi remembers was the sound of his brother’s car horn announcing his arrival and the squealing of the children. He says his mind “is not right” since that day. Sunday’s U.S. drone strike killed 10 members of his family, six of them children, Ahmadi said. Senior U.S. military officials said the drone strike hit an Islamic State target and weakened the extremists’ ability to further disrupt the final phase of the U.S.
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Even in the final days of Washington’s chaotic airlift in Afghanistan, Javed Habibi was getting phone calls from the U.S. government promising that the green card holder from Richmond, Virginia, his wife and their four daughters would not be left behind. He was told to stay home and not worry, that they would be evacuated. Late Monday, however, his heart sank as he heard that the final U.S. flights had left Kabul’s airport, followed by the blistering staccato sound of Taliban gunfire, celebrating what they saw as their victory over America. “They lied to us,” Habibi said of the U.S.
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Qatar’s top diplomat said Thursday that experts are racing to reopen Kabul’s airport but warned it was not clear when flights would resume, with many still desperate to flee Afghanistan’s new Taliban leaders amid concerns over what their rule will hold. In the wake of their rapid takeover, the Taliban have sought to calm those fears, including pledging to let women and girls attend school and allow people to travel freely. But many are skeptical, and Britain’s foreign minister stressed the importance of engaging with the new rulers to test their promises. In a reflection of those anxieties, dozens of women protested outside the governor’s office in the western province of Herat to demand their rights be protected.
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ordered officials to wage a tougher epidemic prevention campaign in “our style” after he turned down some foreign COVID-19 vaccines offered via the U.N.-backed immunization program. During a Politburo meeting Thursday, Kim said officials must “bear in mind that tightening epidemic prevention is the task of paramount importance which must not be loosened even a moment,” the official Korean Central News Agency reported Friday. While stressing the need for material and technical means of virus prevention and increasing health workers’ qualifications, Kim also called for “further rounding off our style epidemic prevention system,” KCNA said.
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Pakistan is urging the international community to adopt a three-pronged approach to Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover: quickly deliver aid to 14 million people facing a hunger crisis, promote an inclusive government, and work with the Taliban to attack all terrorist groups in the country. Pakistan’s ambassador to the United Nations, Munir Akram, laid out his government’s vision for a future international role in Afghanistan in an Associated Press interview on Thursday, saying Pakistan has been in contact with regional countries and the broader global community on working together on the three priorities. He stressed that humanitarian help must be the top priority and called it “very unhelpful” for Afghanistan’s assets to have been frozen, by the United States and others, because this leaves the Taliban with no access to dollars or foreign exchange to buy food or import oil.
NEW DELHI (AP) — The death of a top separatist leader in disputed Kashmir and the ensuing crackdown on public movement and communications by Indian authorities have highlighted the turmoil seething just below the surface in the region. Here’s a closer look at what Syed Ali Geelani meant to Kashmir and why problems still roil the region two years after India revoked its semi-autonomy and declared it a federal territory. WHY HAS THIS DEATH STRUCK A RAW NERVE? For many in the region, Geelani was the face of Kashmiri resistance against India. To his detractors, he was a hard-liner responsible for stoking tensions in the region, a charge he had denied.
SRINAGAR, India (AP) — Indian authorities cracked down on public movement and imposed a near-total communications blackout in disputed Kashmir on Thursday after the death of Syed Ali Geelani, a top separatist leader who became the emblem of the region’s defiance against New Delhi. Geelani, who died late Wednesday at age 91, was buried in a local graveyard in a quiet funeral organized by authorities under harsh restrictions, his son, Naseem Geelani, told The Associated Press. He said the family had planned to bury him at the main martyrs’ graveyard in Srinagar, the region’s main city, as specified in his will but were not allowed to do so by police.
BEIJING (AP) — China’s government banned effeminate men on TV and told broadcasters Thursday to promote “revolutionary culture,” broadening a campaign to tighten control over business and society and enforce official morality. President Xi Jinping has called for a “national rejuvenation,” with tighter Communist Party control of business, education, culture and religion. Companies and the public are under increasing pressure to align with its vision for a more powerful China and healthier society. The party has reduced children’s access to online games and is trying to discourage what it sees as unhealthy attention to celebrities. Broadcasters must “resolutely put an end to sissy men and other abnormal esthetics,” the National Radio and TV Administration said, using an insulting slang term for effeminate men — “niang pao,” or literally, “girlie guns.” That reflects official concern that Chinese pop stars, influenced by the sleek, fashionable look of some South Korean and Japanese singers and actors, are failing to encourage China’s young men to be masculine enough.
BEIJING (AP) — Chinese regulators have ordered ride-hailing platforms to correct unfair market tactics amid a broad crackdown on the internet sector that has spooked investors and shaved billions off the valuations of some of China’s biggest technology companies. The transport ministry, internet watchdog and other regulators on Wednesday ordered 11 such platforms by year’s end to stop unfair competition tactics and practices such as recruiting unlicensed drivers, according to a statement published Thursday. The ride-hailing industry led by companies such as Didi Global and Meituan employs millions of drivers who are part of China’s growing gig economy, and platforms often jostle for market share by offering passengers and drivers discounts and incentives.