Russian and Japanese foreign and defense ministers have held "two-plus-two" talks in Tokyo to strengthen regional security and end a decades-long territorial dispute.
Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida was meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on Sunday after Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada sat down for talks with Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu.
Japan and Russia last held "two-plus-two" talks in November 2013. Meetings were shelved after that due to the crisis in Ukraine, as Japan joined sanctions against Moscow.
The one-day meeting is largely focusing on regional security, especially how best to deal with North Korea's launches of missiles and its nuclear program.
Russia's Foreign Ministry said before the talks that its envoys would raise the issue of a plan by the US and South Korea to deploy a missile system known as THAAD, which has antagonized China and Russia.
Joint efforts in fighting terrorism and drug trafficking were also on the agenda.
The Tokyo talks are not expected to lead to a breakthrough on conflicting claims to islands that came under Russian control after Japan's defeat in World War II.
The islands in the Western Pacific, called the Northern Territories in Japan and the Southern Kuriles in Russia, were seized by Soviet forces at the end of the war and 17,000 Japanese residents were forced to flee.
Despite the differences, the countries see more room for agreement on joint development of fisheries, tourism and other areas that might help bridge the gap.
Kishida said he intended to work in a "speedy manner" to move closer toward reaching a peace treaty, especially making progress on joint economic development.
Lavrov agreed, saying he believed "this joint development will become an important step to create an appropriate environment for resolving a peace treaty."
Japanese officials also said the talks would include work on planning a visit by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Moscow later this year. Logistics of visits by Japan's former residents of the disputed islands will also be addressed, they said.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe headed Sunday for a four-day trip to Europe, hoping to discuss security issues and make progress on trade as regional tensions soar over accelerating North Korean threats.
Abe's trip, which will take him to Germany, France, Belgium and Italy, comes a few days after US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visited Tokyo for talks on North Korean nuclear and missile threats.
The top US diplomat also travelled to Seoul and Beijing after Tokyo.
"I want to exchange opinions openly with G7 leaders," Abe told reporters at a Tokyo airport before his departure.
"We hope to closely cooperate with the EU on issues the international community is facing such as the problems on North Korea and free trade," he said.
Abe's itinerary includes a visit to technology show CeBIT in Hanover followed by a summit with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and a meeting with French President Francois Hollande in Paris.
Abe will hold talks with European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker and freshly re-elected European Union President Donald Tusk in Brussels as the EU aims to close a free trade deal with Tokyo this year.
The Japanese premier will return to Tokyo on Wednesday after meeting with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, chair of this year's Group of Seven industrialized countries.
Japan has launched a new spy satellite into space in an apparent mission to enhance the monitoring of North Korea.
The IGS Radar 5 satellite was launched into orbit on a Japanese H-2A rocket from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan on Friday.
Japan currently has three optical satellites for daytime surveillance and three radar satellites for nighttime monitoring. Two of those are backups.
The new satellite will replace one of the three radar satellites that had been launched in 2011.
The mission of the satellites is officially declared as “information-gathering” — a euphemism for spying — but they are also used to monitor damage in the wake of natural disasters. Japan started putting “information-gathering” satellites into orbit in 2003.
Paving the path to war?
The new launch comes at volatile times in the region. North Korea has attracted much attention with its increased missile and nuclear activities. On March 6, North Korea fired four ballistic missiles, three of which landed into the Sea of Japan, in an area that Tokyo claims as its sovereign territory. Japan reacted with rhetorical anger but took no action.
The United States, meanwhile, has been stirring regional tensions by holding military drills with South Korea and Japan that are meant to be a signal to North Korea.
North Korea interprets the maneuvers as rehearsals for a possible invasion of the country. It has been technically at war with South Korea for decades; a war between the two Koreas in the early 1950s ended in a ceasefire only and not a peace agreement.
Amid the military maneuvers, missile launches, and mutual pledges of strong action, the risks are high for the US, Japan, South Korea, and the North to stumble into war. While the joint drills between the US and South Korea are an annual occurrence, they can be particularly provocative this year.
The US has just begun deploying an advanced missile system in South Korea in a declared mission to counter threats from the North. The installment of the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) has angered Pyongyang, as well as its main ally Beijing.
The THAAD is equipped with a powerful detection system known as an X band radar, which experts say would destabilize regional security and upset the region’s current military balance.
China has warned that a war is likely and has been repeatedly calling on all parties to try to de-escalate the tensions to avoid conflict.
Just on Thursday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said two decades of US policies had failed to deter North Korea from advancing a military nuclear program, calling for “a new approach.” He did not explain.
Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has arrived in Tokyo on an extravagant visit to Japan along with an entourage of 1,000 people.
King Salman, who is scheduled to meet with Japanese Emperor Akihito and hold a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, arrived at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport on Sunday evening.
According to local media, the Saudi ruler is traveling with an enormous entourage estimated to have over 1,000 people. Some 1,200 rooms at Tokyo's luxury hotels have been booked by the delegation for the three-night stay through Wednesday.
Reports said hundreds of limousines have been brought into the Japanese capital to accommodate the visitors.
The trip is the first by a Saudi monarch to Japan in almost 50 years.
Saudi Arabia is the largest provider of oil for Japan. Tokyo relies on Middle East for energy to power the world's third largest economy.
Saudi king’s luxurious month-long Asia tour has already taken him to Malaysia and Indonesia and will also see him going to China and the Maldives. This comes as the world watches in surprise the extravagant lifestyle of the Saudi monarch at a time that the country is grappling with serious financial problems.
During his visit to Indonesia, the 81-year-old Saudi ruler was accompanied by at least 1,500 people -- including 10 ministers, 25 princes and 800 delegates -- who traveled to Indonesia on 36 different flights over a period of three weeks, the Indonesian news agency Antara reported.
Adji Gunawan, the president of the airport services company, PT Jasa Angkasa Semestar, told the Jakarta Post that the Saudi king had 459 tonnes of equipment, including two Mercedes-Benz S600s and two electric lifts.
The firm said 63 tonnes of King Salman’s cargo would be unloaded in Jakarta and 396 tonnes would be taken to Bali.
During his visit to Jakarta, a protest rally was held outside the Saudi embassy in Indonesian capital to condemn violence against Indonesian migrant workers in the kingdom.
The demonstrators held placards and umbrellas reading, “Stop Violence,” “World Peace” and “Stop violence against migrants.” At least, one protester was arrested during the rally.
King Salman’s expensive tour to East and Southeast Asia comes as the country’s fiscal reserves dropped to a four-year low last year after the country posted a record high budget deficit of $98 billion.
In late February, Saudi Arabia started taxing water after analysts warned that the kingdom's unsustainable and extravagant use of water was rapidly depleting the country's reserves, Saudi newspaper Al-Watan Arabic daily reported.
Last December, the official Saudi Press Agency reported that Riyadh had decided to raise gasoline prices by more than 50 percent for some products.
Prices have been also increased for electricity, water, diesel and kerosene under the cuts approved by the council of ministers, which is headed by King Salman.
The collapse in oil prices and military expenses in Syria and Yemen, however, are burning through the country's foreign reserves at an alarming pace.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) expects Saudi Arabia to run a budget deficit of 19.4% in 2016 and run out of financial assets within the coming five years.
According to the IMF, the kingdom would need an oil price of $106 a barrel to balance its budget.
Marine forces from Japan and the United States are conducting joint military exercises in the East China Sea amid an escalation of tensions in the region.
Japan’s Sankei Shimbun newspaper and Kyodo news agency reported on Friday that the two sides launched the military drills earlier this week. The maneuvers involve Japanese destroyers and a US Navy carrier strike group.
Sankei said the joint military drills were aimed at sending a warning to North Korea, which has been conducting ballistic missile tests in the region. The local media outlet added that the exercises were also meant to display the joint Japan-US military presence in the East China Sea, where Japan and China are locked in a long-running territorial dispute.
The US, an extra-regional country, has always taken sides will China’s rival claimants in regional territorial disputes. Last month, US President Donald Trump gave assurances to Japan that Washington was steadfast in its commitment to Tokyo against China and North Korea.
“We’re committed to the security of Japan… The bond between our two nations and the friendship between our two peoples runs very, very deep. This administration is committed to bringing those ties even closer,” Trump said in a joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Washington on February 10.
Trump told Abe that his administration, like past US administrations, would take Japan’s side in its territorial dispute with China over the disputed Diaoyus islands (known as Senkaku Islands in Japan).
China says the islands have been part of its territory since ancient times. Beijing has also called on the US “to take a responsible attitude, stop making wrong remarks... and avoid making the issue more complicated and bringing instability to the regional situation.”
China is also involved in a dispute with the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, and Vietnam over territory in the South China Sea.
There are 77,000 US soldiers based in Japan and neighboring South Korea.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un supervised the test launches of four missiles by an army unit commissioned with attacking US military bases in Japan, the country's official news agency reports.
North Korea fired four ballistic missiles into the sea off Japan's northwest yesterday, angering South Korea and Japan, days after it promised retaliation over US-South Korea military drills it sees as preparation for war.
"Involved in the drill were Hwasong artillery units of the KPA Strategic Force tasked to strike the bases of the US imperialist aggressor forces in Japan in contingency," the North's official KCNA news agency said.
"In the hearts of artillerymen ... there was burning desire to mercilessly retaliate against the warmongers going ahead with their joint war exercises," KCNA said.
"He (Kim) ordered the KPA Strategic Force to keep highly alert as required by the grim situation in which an actual war may break out any time, and get fully ready to promptly move, take positions and strike so that it can open fire to annihilate the enemies."
It came as the Secretary-General of the United Nations condemned North Korea's action.Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and US President Donald Trump discussed North Korea's missile launches during a phone call today, the Jiji and Kyodo news agencies reported.
"Such actions violate Security Council resolutions and seriously undermine regional peace and stability," a spokesman for UN chief Antonio Guterres said in a statement.
Guterres also called on North Korean leaders once again to refrain from further provocations and return to full compliance with the country's international obligations.
North Korea was practicing to strike American military bases in Japan with its latest barrage of missiles, state media in Pyongyang reported.
Leader Kim Jong Un presided over the launches, "feasting his eyes on the trails of ballistic rockets," the report from the Korean Central News Agency said, in language that will only heighten tensions in the region.
The four ballistic missiles fired yesterday were launched by a military unit "tasked to strike the bases of the U.S. imperialist aggressor forces in Japan," the KCNA report said.
The United States has numerous military bases in Japan, part of its post-war security alliance with the country.
Three of the four missiles flew about 1000km over North Korea and landed in the sea, within Japan's exclusive economic zone off the Oga peninsula in Akita prefecture, home to a Japanese self-defense forces base. The fourth fell just outside the EEZ.
The US Strategic Command said its systems detected and tracked the projectile but "determined the missile launch from North Korea did not pose a threat to North America".Shinzo Abe, Japan's Prime Minister, said that the launches "clearly show that North Korea now poses a new level of threat".
North Korea did not say what kind of missiles it had fired, but with a maximum height of 260km, analysts said they were probably medium-range Rodongs or extended-range Scuds.
The KCNA statement said that Kim supervised a rocket launching drill of the Hwasong artillery units, an elite missile division in the Korean People's Army's Strategic Force.
"Respected Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un learned in detail about the preparations for fire strike while going round the ballistic rocket launching grounds," the report said. "At an observation post he was briefed on a launching plan and gave an order to start the drill."
Kim noted that the four missiles, launched simultaneously, "are so accurate that they look like acrobatic flying corps in formation," according to the report.
The 33-year-old marshal also ordered the strategic forces to be on high alert "as required by the grim situation in which an actual war may break out anytime, and get fully ready to promptly move".
The launches coincided with joint US-South Korean military exercises on the southern half of the Korean Peninsula, drills that take place every year and which North Korea views as preparation for an invasion.
Washington says it has begun the deployment of its THAAD missile system to South Korea as North Korea announces that its latest missile tests were practice for attacking US military bases in Japan.
The launches were carried out by a unit "tasked to strike the bases of the US imperialist aggressor forces in Japan in contingency," said the North’s official KCNA news agency on Tuesday.
It added that it was carried out under the direct supervision of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un, who personally gave the launch orders.
On Monday, Pyongyang launched four missiles, three of which according to Tokyo went down in Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
New stage of North Korean threat
Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have engaged in a phone conversation in which they agreed that the threat from North Korea had "entered a new stage."
"Japan and the United States confirmed" the tests were in violation of UN Security Council resolutions and were a "clear challenge to the region and international community," said Abe after the call.
"President Trump said the United States is 100 percent with Japan and he told me to convey his remarks to the Japanese people…He said he wanted us to trust him and the United States 100 percent," he added.
UNSC to hold emergency meeting
Also on Monday, the United Nations Security Council announced that it will be holding a meeting on Wednesday over the North’s missile tests.
It noted that the meeting was being convened on the request of the US and Japan.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres also slammed the tests, while calling on North Korea to "refrain from further provocations."
North Korea’s missile launches coincided with massive joint military drills being carried out by the US and South Korea on the Korean Peninsula. The war games have been condemned by Pyongyang as “dangerous nuclear war drills against the DPRK at its doorstep.”
The US has military forces in South Korea — a long-time adversary of the North — and is deploying an advanced missile system there in response to perceived threats from Pyongyang. The US also occasionally deploys nuclear-powered warships and aircraft capable of carrying atomic weapons in the region.
US starts THAAD deployment to South Korea
Also on Tuesday, the US announced that it has started the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system to South Korea.
"Continued provocative actions by North Korea, to include yesterday's launch of multiple missiles, only confirm the prudence of our alliance decision last year to deploy THAAD to South Korea," said a statement released by the US Pacific Command.
Following the latest missile tests by North Korea, the White House announced that the US will hasten its deployment of its advanced missile system to South Korea.
"The Trump administration is taking steps to enhance our ability to defend against North Korea's ballistic missiles such as through the deployment of a THAAD battery to South Korea," said White House spokesman Sean Spicer.
Whoever wrote this note, sure know how to get their creep on.
When 25-year-old Hayley Minn from London lost her purse while on a boozy night out six weeks ago, she thought that would be the end of her valuables.
But instead of saying goodbye to the clutch and all that was contained within it, miraculously the purse was sent back to her in the post.
But instead of a simple, "Hey, found your purse - here it is", the letter was - as Ms Minn puts it, the "creepiest note ever".
"Dear Miss Hayley, How are you? Hoping you will be fine and well," the note started.
"I would like to inform you that I found your precious purse (looks like it) by Liverpool street (sic) station. Might you dropped it and looking for it."
At first the note is pretty standard. But then things take a turn for the worst.
"My whole intentions to go inside your purse was to look for your address or anything which can help me to send this thing to you nothing else but I found some naughty stuff as well - don't need to feel any embracement (sic) honestly I like those people who take extra care lol."
He's talking about condoms, according to The Mirror where Ms Minn is employed as a reporter.
"Kindly check all your belongings and if possible do let me know via email once you received it on email@example.com"
The email address is one thing, but the note just gets worse.
"Just a piece of advice kindly look after yourself and all your belongings when you go out or allow someone else because you are one of the beautiful person I ever seen (I am sure in real you are more beautiful as compare to your picture).
"I wish if I can take you out sometime and spend time but I am sure you will definitely have someone in your life who is taking care of you very well otherwise allow me lol :)
"Have a good weekend. Please do not hesitate to contact me should you require anything or if you think I would be able to do anything for you.
"Enjoy every single moment of your life and enjoy as much as you can because you never know what is going to happen next :)"
Signing off the letter with 'Your Secret Friend or Admirer lol', it is understood Ms Minn hasn't made contact with the funny stud.
North Korea may have fired an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the US mainland, South Korea's military said after it spotted several unidentified projectiles landing in the sea between Japan and the Korean Peninsula.
In Japan, the Government said that it had detected four missiles coming from North Korea and that three had landed perilously close to Japan, splashing down within its exclusive economic zone.
"These missile launches clearly show that North Korea has developed a new threat," a visibly worried Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters in Tokyo. "We will collect information and strongly protest to North Korea."
The launch coincides with annual exercises between the United States and South Korean militaries and is considered another display of Pyongyang's anger about the exercises, which it views as a pretext for an invasion.
The apparent missile was launched from a known long-range missile site on the west coast, not far from the border with China.
"We are conducting an analysis on the projectile to determine its type and flight range. It will take a while before we come up with a final analysis," the joint chiefs said, according to Yonhap News Agency.It flew more than 1000km across the country before splashing into the Sea of Japan, Seoul's Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a text message to local reporters.
South Korea's national security council convened an emergency meeting to discuss the launch.
North Korea has repeatedly claimed to be working on an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the West Coast of the United States, and has been making observable progress toward this goal. In his latest New Year's address, Kim Jong Un said North Korea had "entered the final stage of preparation for the test launch an intercontinental ballistic missile".
Regardless of whether the launch turned out to be an ICBM, it is just a matter of time until North Korea succeeds in its goal, said Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Non-Proliferation Programme at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey in California.
"It doesn't matter if it's today or tomorrow or next week or next year - that's where this is heading," Lewis said.
"But we have no plan other than saying this is unacceptable or that it won't happen," he said, referring to a tweet from President Donald Trump earlier this year.
After Kim's statement in his January 1 address that North Korea was working on its ICBM program, Trump tweeted: "It won't happen!"
His Administration is reviewing policy towards North Korea, which was characterised as "strategic patience" during the Obama Administration - waiting for sanctions to hurt and a humbled Kim to come to the negotiating table.
The latest provocation came as large-scale military exercises, involving more than 320,000 South Korean and US troops and high-tech US firepower, continue on the southern half of the peninsula. They began last week and will continue through the end of April.
In the past year or two, the exercises have become more overtly offensive, with the two militaries practicing "decapitation strikes" on the North Korean leadership.
North Korea denounced the exercises and warned last week that it was ready to retaliate. North Korea "will never remain a passive onlooker to the new US Administration overtly revealing its intention to put military pressure on [North Korea] and invade it while crying out for 'peace by dint of strength,' " the state-run Korean Central News Agency reported in a statement it attributed to the Foreign Ministry.
North Korea last month launched an intermediate-range missile, its first since Trump was elected president. The missile appeared to show significant technological advances, with upgraded power and range, and analysts said it could mark another step in the push toward the capacity to hit Alaska or Washington state.
After that, Kim's regime is suspected of ordering the assassination on the leader's half brother, Kim Jong Nam, who was attacked with a chemical weapon at the airport in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and died within 20 minutes.
The assassination led the Trump Administration to cancel visas for North Korean diplomats to go to New York for meetings with former US officials involved in North Korea policy, which would have been the first time in more than five years that such a meeting had taken place on US soil.
A Japanese man who was found dead in his apartment by a cleaner was not killed by a pile of pornography magazines.
The Daily Mail reported the 50-year-old former car maker identified only by the name Joji, had amassed more than six tons of porn and died when a huge pile of magazines fell on top of him.
The Mail reported a cleaner who was hired to remove the magazines discreetly had said that the man had died buried underneath under a pile of porn.
The man had reportedly been dead for six months.
However according to Gizmodo, the man, known as Joji, was reported dead by Nikkan Spa on 28 February, five days before the Daily Mail article was published.
Joji was not found for some time because fluids from his decomposing body were absorbed by the pile of magazines, rather than seeping through the floor to the apartment below.Nikkan Spa reports that the coronor found Joji had a heart attack. His body was found having fallen on to some magazines - of which there were a lot.
"In order not to become a shame of the deceased, we try to dispose of adult toys in the room so that the bereaved family will not be aware of it," a man from a cleaning crew who specialises in lonely deaths told Nikkan Spa.
North Korea has reportedly launched four ballistic missiles, three of which have landed into the Sea of Japan, in an area where Tokyo claims as its sovereign territory.
The missiles were fired early Monday morning, according to the South Korean military, which said they were unlikely to have been intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM).
Japanese officials said three of the ballistic missiles went down in Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) — waters claimed by Tokyo as its sovereign territory.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reacted to the launches immediately on Monday by saying, “This clearly shows North Korea has entered a new stage of threat.”
Abe said Pyongyang’s launches “clearly violate UN Security Council resolutions,” and that Tokyo “can never tolerate this.”
North Korea has been subjected to international pressure, including Security Council resolutions, to abandon its arms development and nuclear programs. Yet, it says the programs are meant to protect the country from US hostility.
In Washington, the US State Department strongly condemned the latest launches and claimed that Washington was ready to “use the full range of capabilities at our disposal against this growing threat.”
“We remain prepared — and will continue to take steps to increase our readiness — to defend ourselves and our allies from attack,” said spokesman Mark Toner.
South Korean Acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn also denounced Pyongyang’s missile tests as “a direct challenge to the international community and a grave violation.”
North Korea’s missile launches coincided with massive joint military drills being carried out by the US and South Korea on the Korean Peninsula. The war games have been condemned by Pyongyang as “dangerous nuclear war drills against the DPRK at its doorstep.”
The US has military forces in South Korea — a long-time adversary of the North — and is planning to deploy an advanced missile system there in response to perceived threats from Pyongyang. The US also occasionally deploys nuclear-powered warships and aircraft capable of carrying atomic weapons in the region.
A lonely Japanese man who amassed more than six tons of porn died when a huge pile of magazines fell on top of him.
And even more tragically, the man's body was only discovered six months later when the landlord entered the flat to find out why the rent had not been paid.
The man's lowly death was revealed by a member of the cleaning team, who said his company had been hired to remove the magazines discreetly in a way that would not be noticed by neighbours and the man's family to save them from the shame.
He said that the dead man, a 50-year-old former carmaker identified only by the name Joji, had died buried underneath under a pile of the pornographic magazines.
It was unclear if he had suffered a heart attack and fallen into the stacks of magazines which had then fallen on top of him, or whether he had been crushed by the mass of paper.
Every space in the flat was filled with piles of magazines, which also stacked on tables and on shelves.But the cleaner said that if he was still conscious, the paper would probably have muffled his cries.
There were also clippings from erotic magazines where it appeared the man had cut out his favourite articles, and thrown away the rest of the magazine.
Despite his trimming, at the time of his death the collection weighed in at six metric tons (13,228 pounds).