Kyrgyz election: Country divided


BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan — Kyrgyzstan’s north-south political rift is on display, as defeated southern candidates call for a new presidential election because of irregularities in Sunday’s vote that returned a northern politician to power.

“There were tens of thousands of people shut out of the vote,” said defeated presidential candidate Adahkan Madumarov, vowing to “to fight for every single vote of the electorate.” 

Read more at The Washington Times

Shrinking lake: Dry times ahead in Kazakhstan

Turkmenistans voters assail lack of choice in election-WashingtonTimes

KUIGAN, Kazakhstan — In eastern Kazakhstan, a lake is slowly dying.

But in this village of 1,800 people on the southwestern tip of Lake Balkhash, fishermen don’t believe the lake is shrinking.

“We call it the ‘ocean’ because if you’re out on the water in a storm, you realize it’s just as dangerous,” says Oleg Schumacher, one of the village’s 200 fishermen. “Look how much water the Ili River [which feeds to the lake] has this year.”

Read more at The Washington Times

Fleeing Fukushima: youth divided


FUKUSHIMA, Japan — Ko Saito is in his final year of high school in Fukushima and sees a bleak future for his native province.

“I am very scared of the radiation,” the 18-year-old said while waiting with friends near the city’s train station. They discussed whether to stay or leave a region devastated by the meltdown of a nuclear power plant that was crippled by a killer tsunami six months ago.

Read more at The Washington Times

Uzbek independence: Little to celebrate


TASHKENT, Uzbekistan — Uzbekistan celebrated the 20th anniversary of its independence earlier this month, but many say there is little to celebrate.

“There is the same leader, the same oppressive system, the same kind of corruption, the same massive human rights abuses,” said Andrew Stroehlein, communications director for the International Crisis Group in Brussels. “There is no political engagement, no political discussion — I don’t know what to celebrate.”

Read more at The Washington Times

After Fukushima: survivors in limbo


FUKUSHIMA CITY, JAPAN FUKUSHIMA CITY, JAPAN — Disaster survivors in northeastern Japan are demanding that government officials spend more resources on them instead of focusing on political squabbles in Tokyo, where Yoshihiko Noda took office this week as the country’s sixth prime minister in five years.

From the tsunami-ravaged towns of Ofunato and Rikuzen-takata to the radiation-troubled city of Fukushima, residents of Japan’s wide-ranging disaster zones told The Washington Times that Japan’s weak national leaders have left their lives in limbo.

Read more at The Washington Times

Thai tsunami: Fugitive leader plan to visit area


TOKYO — Thailand’s self-exiled former prime minister is planning to visit tsunami survivors this week as part of a charm offensive to restore his international reputation.

Japanese authorities this month granted a visitor’s visa to Thaksin Shinawatra, who was overthrown in a military coup in 2006 and convicted in absentia of corruption in 2008. His younger sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, became Thailand’s first female prime minister earlier this month.

Read more at The Washington Times

Japanese tsunami: More helpers needed


ISHINOMAKI, JAPAN When Masaru Tanaka joined a rush of volunteers during holidays in May, he planned to stay in the tsunami disaster zone for only a week.

Three months later, long after many volunteers have gone home, Mr. Tanaka is still helping feed survivors in Ishinomaki city in Miyagi province.

Read more at The Washington Times

Japanese tourism: Flock to 'miracle' Matsushima


MATSUSHIMA, Japan — Japanese tourists are flocking to Matsushima, a fabled destination that escaped the wrath of the March 11 tsunami.

Widely considered one of Japan’s “three great views,” the seaside resort town of Matsushima in Miyagi province, with pine trees studding 260 islands in a majestic bay, has long been known for its esoteric powers.

Read more at The Washington Times

Japan economy: Fears over recovery

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_JPN121121AA001.jpegSHINOMAKI, JAPANHideki Suenaga says he can understand how many people feel watching their stock holdings plummet during the most recent financial crisis.

For Mr. Suenaga and most of his friends in Ishinomaki, the March 11 tsunami took away almost everything they had, and now worldwide fears of a deeper recession could set back their recovery even further.

Read more at The Washington Times

Japanese economy: Weakens Yen to aid recovery and export


TOKYO — Japan's government called for global action to calm currency markets Thursday as it took bold measures to help Japanese companies trying to recover from the March 11 disasters and a rising yen.

The Finance Ministry said it took the drastic measure of intervening in currency markets in order to weaken the yen, which has risen in value by 5 percent in the past month amid investor concerns over skyrocketing debt in Europe and the United States.

Read more at The Washington Times

Japanese women: Leading social change


NIIGATA, Japan — Onstage in front of about 5,000 ecstatic fans, Nic Endo unleashes a torrent of beats and shouts to help Japanese vent their feelings about their recent disasters.

“We need to release our subdued feelings,” she told The Washington Times in an exclusive interview after a frenzied performance by her pioneering digital hard-core band, Atari Teenage Riot, at the Fuji Rock Festival on Sunday night.

Energy conservation: Japan saves energy during heat wave


TOKYO — The central government has asked civil servants to wear T-shirts and Hawaiian shirts instead of suits and ties.

Businesses such as Hitachi and Kyocera are growing vines to cover factory walls — and are asking their employees to do the same at home.

Read more at The Washington Times

Japanese football: women's team victory gives Japan hope


TOKYO — In one of the most dramatic victories in Japanese sports history, Japan won its first women's World Cup on Sunday, upsetting the United States on penalty kicks after a 2-2 draw.

While 50,000 spectators packed a sold-out stadium in Frankfurt, Germany, fans crammed into sports bars in Tokyo and other cities throughout the night, and many across Japan got up at 3:45 a.m. to watch the historic match live on TV at home.

Read more at The Washington Times

Nuclear power: Japan debates restarting reactors


TOKYO — Japan’s nuclear industry is eager to restart reactors shut down for maintenance or switched off after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami caused explosions and meltdowns at a power plant in the northeast and sparked a nationwide panic over radiation exposure.

Energy officials and pro-nuclear politicians say they need to “gain public understanding” — a buzzword often heard at civic forums, on news programs and on Internet chat sites across Japan, where thousands are passionately arguing the pros and cons of nuclear power in the disaster-prone nation.

Read more at The Washington Times

Japan earthquakes: Preparing for the next Big One


TOKYO - It sounds like a weather forecast — not for today, but for the next 30 years.
There is a 70 percent chance of a 7.2-magnitude earthquake between now and 2040 in the southern Kanto area around Tokyo, and a 90 percent chance in nearby Ibaraki, according to Japan's Earthquake Research Promotion agency.

Read more at The Washington Times

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