Tag Archives: tokyo

Police need next of kin’s DNA before releasing Kim Jong-nam’s body – New York Post

Posted: February 19, 2017 at 10:50 am

The mysterious murder of the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un added another bizarre twist when Malaysian police said the body will not be released until they get DNA samples from his next of kin.

Kim Jong-nam, 46, was slain Monday while he was passing through the Kuala Lumpur airport. It is believed that he was doused with a fast-acting poison by a woman who claims she was duped into the crime.

A fourth suspect, this one from North Korea, was arrested by Malaysian police late Friday. The man, identified as Ri Jong Chol, 46, was nabbed in Selangor near Kuala Lumpur. The police statement gave no other details about why he was considered a suspect.

An Indonesian woman, Siti Aishah, her Malaysian boyfriend, and Doan Thi Huong, 29, who was traveling on a Vietnamese passport and wearing an LOL t-shirt during the encounter with Kim, were arrested earlier in the week. Indonesias police chief said Aishah was duped into thinking she was part of a comedy show prank and did not know who Kim Jong-nam was.

Police are hunting four men believed to have been accomplices. They released airport security camera photos of the four, believed to be North Korean agents who watched the murder go down from an airport restaurant about 50 yards away.

South Korea and the US both placed the blame for the murder on North Korea. It is believed the mercurial Kim Jong-un has executed or purged a slew of high-level officials, including several relatives, since taking power in 2011.

North Korea failed to stop Malaysian authorities from doing an autopsy. Malaysian authorities said a first autopsy was inconclusive and a second was slated for late Friday.

We will categorically reject the result of the post-mortem, said North Korean Ambassador Kang Chol, who claimed Malaysia may be trying to conceal something and is colluding with hostile forces.

Selangor state police chief Abdul Samah Mat told Reuters the body would not be released until next-of-kin DNA had been obtained to confirm the identity of the victim.

Kim Jong-nam is believed to have two sons and a daughter with two women living in Beijing and Macau, where he was headed when he died.

The dictators half-brother had spoken out publicly against his familys dynastic control of the isolated, nuclear-armed North Korea. He reportedly fell out of favor in Pyongyang in 2001, when he was caught trying to enter Japan on a false passport to visit Tokyo Disneyland.

Alternative theories to his murder are floating around, including that he was a known gambler and owed money to mobsters. Macau is home to multiple casinos. With Post Wire service

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Human Rights Watch: Japan should condemn Duterte’s drug war – Philippine Star

Posted: February 18, 2017 at 4:46 am

MANILA, Philippines Japan should condemn President RodrigoDuterte’swar on drugs and not condone it, international group Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Friday.

HRW Deputy Asia Director Phelim Kine said Tokyo turned a blind eye to the country’s “abusive drug war” while theUnited States and the European Union have publicly criticizedthe rising cases of alleged extrajudicial killings in the Philippines.

Duterte’s crackdown on illegal drugs has left more than 7,000 suspected drug offenders both from legitimate police operations and vigilante-style or unexplained killings, since he took office in June.

According toKine,showing a lack of commitment inaddressing human rights violationsis not only a “wasted opportunity.”

“It doubtlessly gives encouragement to a government that deems as ‘inhuman’ those slaughtered in its anti-drug campaign,”Kinesaid in a dispatch released Friday.

The HRW director noted that Japan had plenty of opportunities to address the problem, such as during thePhilippines-Japan vice-ministerial meeting in Tokyo on February 10, but failed to do so.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also made a state visit to the Philippines last January 12 to 13 to renew its ties with the country. During the two-day official visit, Abe extended financial assistance in building a drug rehabilitation center in the country as support to the Philippines’ anti-drug campaign.

“But during his visit and afterward, Abe made no public referenceto the ‘war on drugs’ and its brutal cost in lives and the impact on affected families,” saidKine.

“It needs to make clear that unlessDutertedecisively ends the killings and prosecutes those responsible, he risks a suspension of Japanese financial aid, training programs, and equipment sales to the Philippine National Police,” he added.

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Human Rights Watch: Japan should condemn Duterte’s drug war – Philippine Star

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Tokyo Institute of Technology taps Nvidia for Japan’s fastest AI supercomputer – TechCrunch

Posted: at 4:06 am

Nvidias business is increasingly the business of artificial intelligence, and its latest partnership fits with that new role. The graphics processing maker is supplying the Tokyo Institute of Technology for the GPUs that will power its new AI supercomputer, which will be the fastest of its kind in Japan once completed.

Nvidia Tesla P100 GPUs, which use Pascal processing architecture, will be used in the creation of the cluster, which will be known as TSUBAME3.0, and which will replace TSUBAME2.5 with twice the performance capabilities. Dont feel too badly for TSUBAME2.5, however its still going to be in active use, adding its power to TSUBAME3.0s projected 47 petaflops for a combined total of 64.3 petaflops in total youd need a heck of a lot of iPhones to match that (like very, very insanely many).

The goal is for TSUBAME3.0 to be up and processing by this summer, where its prowess will be put to use in service for education and high-tech research at the Tokyo academic institution. Itll also be available for private sector contracting, and the school says it cant wait to start teaching the new virtual brain.

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First crop of Chinese cabbage harvested on space station – Financial Express

Posted: at 3:51 am

The crop was chosen after evaluating several leafy vegetables on a number of criteria, such as how well they grow and their nutritional value. (Reuters)

The International Space Station crew will soon get to eat some Chinese cabbage, thanks to the efforts of astronaut Peggy Whitson who has harvested the space stations first crop of Tokyo Bekana Chinese cabbage after tending to it for nearly a month.

This is the fifth crop grown aboard the station, and the first Chinese cabbage. While the space station crew will get to eat some of the Chinese cabbage, the rest is being saved for scientific study back at Kennedy Space Center, NASA said in a statement on Friday.

I love gardening on Earth, and it is just as fun in space Whitson tweeted in early February.

I just need more room to plant more! Whitson said.

The crop was chosen after evaluating several leafy vegetables on a number of criteria, such as how well they grow and their nutritional value.

The top four candidates were sent to Johnson Space Centers Space Food Systems team, where they brought in volunteer tasters to sample the choices. The Tokyo Bekana turned out to be the most highly rated in all the taste categories.

Later this spring, a second Veggie system will be sent up to be seated next to the current one, NASA said.

It will provide side-by-side comparisons for future plant experiments and will hopefully make astronauts like Whitson happy to have a bigger space garden.

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60 Minutes’ Bill Whitaker to receive the RTDNF First Amendment … – CBS News

Posted: February 15, 2017 at 8:58 pm

Whitaker will be honored next month with a prestigious award for his contribution as a journalist to the protection of First Amendment freedoms

CBS News

Bill Whitaker, the veteran CBS newsman and 60 Minutes correspondent, will be honored with the Leonard Zeidenberg First Amendment Award, the Radio Television Digital News Foundation announced. Whitaker will receive the award at the RTDNFs annual First Amendment Awards dinner on March 14 in Washington, DC.

RTDNF presents this award annually to a radio or television journalist or news executive who has made a major contribution to the protection of First Amendment freedoms. It is named for the late Broadcasting & Cable senior correspondent, Leonard Zeidenberg.

Whitaker joins past CBS News Ziedenberg winners Walter Cronkite, Ed Bradley, Mike Wallace, Bob Schieffer and Cami McCormick, and other notable journalists who have won the award, including Diane Sawyer, Lester Holt and Judy Woodruff.

Whitaker has been wide-ranging and prolific in his 60 Minutes reporting on domestic and international stories since joining the broadcast in 2014. He recently chronicled the vetting process for Syrian refugees coming to the U.S. He has reported from Asia, Africa, Europe, Mexico and the Middle East for the news magazine, including a timely interview with Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and an Emmy-winning story on the biggest data leak in Swiss banking history. Domestically, his stories have provided keen insights into the hot-button issue of race and policing in America, the death penalty and Americas heroin epidemic. He has chronicled the epic battle to capture and hold Mexicos infamous drug lord Joaquin El Chapo Guzman, gaining rare access to investigations on both sides of the border.

During his more than 30 years with CBS News, Whitaker has covered three presidential campaigns; the O.J. Simpson case; overseas wars and events; and interviewed several national figures, including First Lady Michelle Obama.

Whitaker began his career at CBS News in 1984 as a reporter based in Atlanta, where he covered the 1988 presidential campaign of Michael Dukakis and received an Emmy for his reports on the collapse of Jim and Tammy Bakkers television ministry. He then spent three years as a CBS News Tokyo correspondent, developing an impressive portfolio as a foreign correspondent. He covered stories throughout Asia, including the pro-democracy uprising in Tiananmen Square.

In 1992, Whitaker was sent to Los Angeles, where he reported for over 20 years on the CBS Evening News and other CBS News broadcasts, including Sunday Morning.

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60 Minutes’ Bill Whitaker to receive the RTDNF First Amendment … – CBS News

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Congress could limit the Fed’s independence and hurt the US economy – Washington Post

Posted: February 13, 2017 at 9:45 am

By David A. Singer By David A. Singer February 13 at 8:00 AM

On Tuesday, Federal Reserve Chair Janet L. Yellen will testify before the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee.On Jan. 31, Rep. Patrick T. McHenry (R-N.C.), vice chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, wrote a scathing letter to Yellen. Citing the clear message by President Donald Trump to put America first, he called on her to cease all international negotiations on regulations covering bank capital, systemic risk and other areas, and suggested that the Fed had no authority to engage in such activities.

[Is Trump an authoritarian at heart? It matters less than you think.]

McHenry went on to call the Feds activities secretive, and suggested that its participation in international forums was killing American jobs. Hisletter echoes the heated rhetoric by President Trump during the campaign in which he said that Yellen should be ashamed of herself for keeping interest rates low for political reasons.

Such intervention by elected leaders is alarming for two reasons. First, research suggests that it is an America first strategy for the Fed to coordinate international financial regulation. Second, the Fed is an independent agency, and congressional leaders have generally refrained from directly threatening a sitting chair. I will explain below.

The Feds ability to negotiate international regulations helps ensure U.S. financial stability and competitiveness

One of the Feds key responsibilities is ensuring the stability of the financial system. It sets regulations for bank holding companies, which include most of the largest financial institutions in the United States, as well as many state-chartered banks and foreign banks with U.S. affiliates. Its independence enables the Fed to commit to a prudent set of policies without having to renege when politically expedient, thereby keeping inflation low and financial institutions resilient which, in a global economy, requires international cooperation.

[3 lessons from Republicans failed attempt to silence Elizabeth Warren]

In my book, Regulating Capital: Setting Standards for the International Financial System, I chronicle 40 years of the Feds efforts to work with its foreign counterparts to set international standards for the worlds largest financial institutions.

Why create international standards? The financial system has become increasingly globalized, which means that the collapse of a major bank in London, Paris or Tokyo could cause U.S. banks to falter. International standards help level the playing field. Applying stringent regulations to U.S. banks would do little good if foreign banks were permitted to engage in risky behaviors. Without international standards, tightening U.S. regulations could give foreign banks a competitive advantage, thereby shifting capital and jobs overseas.

My research shows that the Fed has had tremendous influence over international standards on bank capital since the 1980s, ensuring that domestic efforts to prevent another financial crisis are not undercut by lax regulations in other parts of the world.

[Democratic and Republican appointees to the Fed arent that different after all]

The original cooperative agreement was the 1988 Basel Accord, an international agreement on bank capital and was the Feds solution to a thorny problem. The 1980s were a time of rampant bank failures. The Fed needed a way to shore up the banking system without jeopardizing the United States competitive advantage internationally. The Basel Accord allowed the Fed to enforce more stability-enhancing regulations domestically with the confidence that other countries would do the same.

My research builds on previous work by Thomas Oatley and Ethan Kapstein, who each emphasize U.S. regulators power to use international standards to force other countries to adjust their regulations.

The Feds international negotiations are not rogue or opaque. Although Congress did not have the perfect foresight in 1913 to explicitly mention international regulatory coordination in the Federal Reserve Act, it did specify in Section 13 of the Act that forging relationships with foreign central banks was critical for U.S. financial stability. Today, the Fed cooperates with nearly 30 countries on the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision and more than 30 countries on the Financial Stability Board.

Decisions by these bodies are not legally binding. Each countrys regulators must implement and enforce any regulatory standards that might emerge from international negotiations.

Contrary to McHenrys assertion in his letter, the Fed is transparent about its international activities. Its website contains extraordinarily detailed information about proposed rules. Moreover, it actively invites comments from affected banks and other institutions at each stage in an international negotiation.

The Feds independence enables it to focus on long-term U.S. financial health rather than short-term political positioning

The second area of concern is the integrity of the Feds monetary policymaking. Like most central banks in developed countries, the Fed is an independent government agency whose funding is not appropriated by Congress. The Feds members are nominated by the president, confirmed by the Senate and receive 14-year terms that cannot be cut short by anyone except the member. The chair is appointed to a four-year term with the possibility of reappointment. Yellens term as chair expires in January 2018.

All this insulates the Fed politically which helps ensure that interest-rate policy is designed for the countrys long-term health rather than short-term political gains by one side or another. Otherwise, elected leaders might pressure the Fed to lower interest rates in the months before an election, triggering a temporary boost to the economy and an uptick in the stock market. That would come at a cost. The Fed would lose its credibility, inflation would become increasingly difficult to manage and the value of the dollar could gyrate wildly.

Zimbabwes 90 sextillion percent inflation in 2008 is an extreme example of the effect of political interference on monetary policy.But research shows that central bank independence has beenhighly correlated with inflation in developed and developing countries since the 1950s.

All political threats to the Fed are serious. Its independence is a congressional creation, which means that Congress could take it away. But keeping the Fed independent and actively engaged in international coordination is the best way to maintain a stable and internationally competitive financial system in the 21st century.

David A. Singer is associate professor of political science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the author of Regulating Capital: Setting Standards for the International Financial System (Cornell University Press, 2010).

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Congress could limit the Fed’s independence and hurt the US economy – Washington Post

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Increasing opposition in Philippines to war on drugs: UN official – Reuters

Posted: February 9, 2017 at 6:47 am

BANGKOK A United Nations human rights investigator says there are signs of mounting opposition within the Philippines to President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs, with police operations on hold and the Church getting critical of the campaign.

Agnes Callamard, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, however said the thousands of killings in the campaign had given rise to a sense of impunity, which could lead to increased lawlessness and violence.

More than 7,600 people, mostly drug users and small-time dealers, have been killed since Duterte took office on June 30, about a third of them in police operations. Callamard said she knew of only four court cases seeking justice for the victims.

“The difference between the number of reported killings and the number of court cases is unbelievable,” she told Reuters in Bangkok. “It’s very unusual for that degree of impunity to remain restricted to one kind of crime or one type of community.”

Spokesmen for Duterte could not immediately be reached for comment.

The war on drugs has been a signature policy of Duterte, who remains popular in opinion polls.

But Callamard, a human rights expert from France who took up the U.N. post in August, said opposition to the drug war was increasing and had reached a “tipping point.”

“There is an increasing awareness on the part of the Filipino people that the war on drugs could hurt them,” she said. “The surveys that are being done indicate support for the president…but critique the war on drugs.”

One of the Philippines’ top polling agencies, Social Weather Stations, said after a survey of 1,500 people in early December that most were satisfied with Duterte’s rule. But 78 percent said they were worried that they or someone they knew would be a victim of an extra-judicial killing.

In a series of reports last year, Reuters showed that the police had a 97-percent kill rate in their drug operations, the strongest proof yet that police were summarily shooting drug suspects.

Both the government and police have strenuously denied that extra-judicial killings have taken place.

The Church in the Philippines, Asia’s largest Catholic nation, had been a muted critic of the campaign but slammed it earlier this month for creating a “reign of terror” among the poor.

The bloodshed had also generated growing unease and criticism from Philippine civil society groups and media, Callamard said.

Her remarks come as Duterte and his police chief Ronald Dela Rosa face intense criticism for the October kidnap and killing of a South Korean businessmen by anti-narcotics officers inside national police headquarters.

He was arrested for drug offences that his wife said was an official cover for kidnap for ransom.

The case, which came to light in January, prompted dela Rosa to announce the suspension of anti-drug operations to purge the police force of what he termed “rogue cops.” Duterte has however vowed to maintain his anti-drugs campaign until his term ends in 2022.

Callamard said real opposition to the drugs war would come from within the Philippines rather than international bodies such as the International Criminal Court (ICC).

In October, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda warned the Hague-based tribunal could prosecute if the killings were “committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack against a civilian population.”

Duterte has threatened to withdraw from the ICC, calling it “useless,” and said in a November speech: “You scare me that you will jail me? International Criminal Court? Bullshit.”

(Reporting by Andrew R.C. Marshall, Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)

TOKYO Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will propose new cabinet level U.S.-Japan talks on trade, security and macroeconomic issues, including currencies, when he meets U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday, a Japanese government official involved in planning the summit said.

SEOUL Lawyers for South Korean President Park Geun-hye have rejected a plan by a special prosecutor investigating a graft scandal to question her, citing a media leak, a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office said on Thursday.

STOCKHOLM Eight countries have joined an initiative to raise millions of dollars to replace shortfalls caused by President Donald Trump’s ban on U.S.-funded groups around the world providing information on abortion, Sweden’s deputy prime minister said.

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Russia calls Romania ‘a clear threat’ and NATO outpost: Ifax – Reuters

Posted: at 5:55 am

MOSCOW Russia views Romania as a NATO outpost and as a threat due to it hosting elements of a U.S. anti-missile shield, the Interfax news agency reported on Thursday, citing a Russian foreign ministry official.

The U.S. military, which says the shield is needed to protect from Iran, not threaten Russia, switched on the $800 million Romanian part of the shield in May last year. Another part of the shield is due to be built in Poland.

“Romania’s stance and the stance of its leadership, who have turned the country into an outpost, is a clear threat for us,” Alexander Botsan-Kharchenko, a senior Russian foreign ministry official, told Interfax in an interview.

“All these decisions … are in the first instance aimed against Russia,” he said, accusing Romanian authorities of reveling in anti-Russian rhetoric.

Moscow’s comments come as NATO deploys thousands of soldiers and heavy weaponry to Poland, the Baltic states and southeastern Europe, in its biggest buildup since the Cold War.

U.S. and NATO officials say the move is needed to provide extra security and reassurance to European countries after Russia’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea, but Russia says it is part of an aggressive strategy on its borders.

(Reporting by Andrew Osborn; Editing by Alexander Winning)

TOKYO Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will propose new cabinet level U.S.-Japan talks on trade, security and macroeconomic issues, including currencies, when he meets U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday, a Japanese government official involved in planning the summit said.

SEOUL Lawyers for South Korean President Park Geun-hye have rejected a plan by a special prosecutor investigating a graft scandal to question her, citing a media leak, a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office said on Thursday.

STOCKHOLM Eight countries have joined an initiative to raise millions of dollars to replace shortfalls caused by President Donald Trump’s ban on U.S.-funded groups around the world providing information on abortion, Sweden’s deputy prime minister said.

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Japan begins offshore construction work on moving US base in Okinawa – RT

Posted: February 6, 2017 at 3:48 pm

Despite strong local opposition, the Japanese authorities began offshore construction work aimed at relocating a US Marine Corps base on the island of Okinawa.

The US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma is being moved from densely populated Ginowan to a less populated location in eastern Okinawa the Henoko coastal area of Nago. Last week, US Defense Secretary James Mattis and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held talks in Tokyo and agreed to go ahead with the plan.

The offshore construction work, which started on Monday, will see over 200 concrete blocks dumped in the sea to create a screen, preventing debris and sediment generated from coastal revetment work from damaging the environment.

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Tokyo will also make sure that an undersea survey in the area is carried out, using the same vessels which earlier delivered the blocks to the site, Kyodo news agency reported.

Based on relevant law, the government will pay as much consideration as possible to the natural environment and the livelihoods of local people as we move forward with work to relocate (the base to) Henoko, Yoshide Suga, Japanese chief cabinet secretary, said.

Around 100 people gathered outside Camp Schwab, another US base near the construction site, to protest the relocation again on Monday.

The demonstrators held banners reading No to new Henoko base and Independence from colonialism, AP reported.

Many residents, including Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga, object to the heavy US military presence on the island, saying that the Futenma base should be removed, not just relocated.

They cite jet crashes related to the US bases and sexual assaults linked to US military personnel as major reasons for concern.

Large-scale protests against the US bases, which gather thousands of people, are staged regularly on the island.

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Onaga is now expected to refuse the renewal of a permit for moving coral reefs in the construction area, which expires in March, in order to stall the Futenma base relocation, Kyodo said.

The Okinawa governor visited Washington last week, reiterating his strong stance against the US bases on the island.

US military bases occupy 6 percent of the whole of Japan and 70 percent of those US military bases are in places where the population density is about the same as Tokyo. I don’t like it anymore, Onaga said.

The Futenma base relocation began in October 2015, but was suspended due to resistance from the Okinawa authorities and population.

The work was resumed by the government on December 27 after the Supreme Court rejected an injunction order earlier issued by the Okinawa governor.

This is a country ruled by law, and we feel that both the state and Okinawa Prefecture will cooperate and act sincerely in continuing with the reclamation work, in line with the Supreme Court ruling, Cabinet Secretary Suga said.

READ MORE: US F-35 fighter jets arrive at military base in Japan in 1st overseas deployment

Tokyo believes that the relocation of the base is the only solution to move it away from the densely populated area, while not undermining the Japan-US security alliance.

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Offshore Work Begins on Relocating US Base on Okinawa – ABC News

Posted: at 3:48 pm

Japan’s government started offshore construction work Monday on relocating a U.S. Marine base on Okinawa.

The step marks the beginning of the main construction to move Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to Henoko, a less populated area on the island’s east coast.

It comes just days after U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis during a visit to Tokyo reaffirmed with Japanese leaders that the Henoko plan is the only option.

Workers are to dump large concrete blocks into sea to create undersea silt curtains to reduce environmental impact a process needed before creating a coastal embankment and subsequent landfill.

The relocation has stalled for over 20 years due to persistent protests. About 100 people gathered outside Camp Schwab, a U.S. base near the construction site, to protest. The held up placards with messages such as “No to new Henoko base” and “Independence from colonialism.”

Many residents complain about the large American troop presence on Okinawa and want the Futenma base removed, not relocated.

Monday’s move follows a series of legal battle between Japan’s central government and the island, which ended up with a supreme court decision rejecting an injunction order back by Okinawa.

Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga, seeking to block the construction, is expected to refuse to renew a current permit for moving coral reefs in the designated area when it expires at the end of March, according to media reports.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters that the central government is determined to “move forward with the relocation work,” while paying attention to environment and the livelihoods of residents.

Follow Mari Yamaguchi on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/mariyamaguchi

Find her work at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/mari-yamaguchi

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