Japan | Gov’t agonizes over ways to free Islamic State hostages

Lacking strong clout and diplomatic reach in the Middle East, Japan scrambled yesterday for ways to secure the release of two hostages held by the Islamic State group, as two people with

Myanmar | UN criticizes sexist language used by ultranationalist monk

  The United Nations’ human rights chief urged Myanmar’s leaders to condemn an ultranationalist Buddhist monk who called a visiting U.N. envoy a “bitch” and a “whore” during a public rally last week. Zeid

Volcanic eruption in Tonga creates new island

A volcanic eruption in Tonga has created a new island — although one scientist said yesterday it could soon disappear. The volcano has been erupting for a month in the ocean

Philippines | Manila: China’s reclamation in disputed reefs now massive

  China’s land reclamation in contested reefs in the South China Sea has become “massive,” and is continuing despite protests from other countries, a Philippine official said yesterday, citing surveillance photographs. Philippine

Australia | Gov’t detains Malaysian killer but won’t allow execution

A fugitive detained in Australia has created a diplomatic problem for the Australian government which cannot by law extradite someone who could face capital punishment. Sirul Azhar Umar, a 43-year-old former

TERRORISM | Japan’s Abe ‘fighting against time’ seeking to free hostages

  Japan is doing all it can to free two hostages the Islamic State group is threatening to kill within 72 hours, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said yesterday, vowing never to

The Buzz | Thai agency seeks prosecution of ex-ministers for rice sale

Thailand’s anti-graft agency has called for corruption charges against a former commerce minister and his deputy for allegedly committing fraud in a government-to-government rice sale. National Anti-Corruption Commissioner Wicha Mahakhun said

TERRORISM | Japanese premier vows to save Islamic State group hostages 

  The Islamic State group threatened to kill two Japanese hostages yesterday unless they receive USD200 million in 72 hours, directly demanding the ransom from Japan’s premier during his visit to the Middle

Hostage crisis hijacks agenda of Abe’s Mideast tour

The release of yesterday’s online video purporting to show an Islamic State figure demanding USD200 million in ransom for two Japanese hostages ambushed Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as he was

Myanmar | Street kids turn to sniffing glue to forget hunger

Sweaty hair matted to his pale, emaciated face, Thant Zin Oo starts his days early, winding through small alleyways outside Myanmar’s biggest city Yangon and scavenging through garbage piled up

SOUTH KOREA | Former Korean Air exec pleads not guilty in nut rage case 

  The former Korean Air executive famous for an inflight tantrum over macadamia nuts pleaded not guilty yesterday to violating aviation safety law and three other charges. Lawyers for Cho Hyun-ah did

North Korea | Camp survivor may end rights crusade after lying

A North Korean prison camp survivor whose testimony helped spark UN condemnation of the Kim Jong Un regime says he may end his human rights campaign after revealing he lied

Indonesia | Drug executions trigger recalls of Brazilian, Dutch envoys

Indonesia executed six people for drug trafficking, ignoring a plea for clemency from Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff and prompting the Latin American nation and the Netherlands to recall their ambassadors. Rousseff

PHILIPPINES | Record 6 million turn out for pope’s final day in Manila

  A crowd estimated at a record 6 million people by officials poured into Manila’s rain-soaked streets and its biggest park yesterday as Pope Francis ended his Asian pilgrimage with an

Indonesia | Authorities reject foreign appeals, execute 6 drug convicts 

  Indonesia brushed aside last-minute appeals by foreign leaders and executed by firing squad six people, including five foreigners, convicted of drug trafficking, sending a message that the new government will not

Philippines | Pope arrives in Manila on first papal visit in 20 years 

  Ecstatic crowds greeted Pope Francis as he arrived yesterday in the Philippines, Asia’s most populous Catholic nation, for the first papal visit in 20 years. Church bells tolled across the country

FLIGHT 8501 | Divers search AirAsia fuselage for bodies

Indonesian navy divers were trying to find and retrieve bodies yesterday believed to be trapped inside a large chunk of the AirAsia jet›s fuselage, an official said. Indonesian Search and Rescue Agency chief

Japan | Cabinet OKs record military budget with eye on China 

  Japan’s Cabinet approved the country’s largest ever defense budget yesterday, including plans to buy surveillance aircraft, drones and F-35 fighter jets to help counter China’s rising assertiveness in the region. Prime Minister Shinzo

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