Japanese man detained in North Korea: media

A police man directs traffic on a street lined with apartment buildings in Pyongyang, North Korea, in this June 15, 2018 photo. (AP)
Updated 11 August 2018
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Japanese man detained in North Korea: media

  • Tokyo has advised Japanese citizens against travel to North Korea as part of its economic sanctions on the country
  • North Korea has a long history of arresting foreigners on spying charges and then using them as diplomatic pawns

TOKYO: A Japanese man has recently been detained in North Korea, a potential diplomatic dilemma as Tokyo pushes to hold a summit with Pyongyang, local media reported Saturday.
It was not immediately clear when or why the unidentified man was held but he may be charged with spying, the Asahi Shimbun reported, quoting government sources.
“Securing the man’s safety is the top priority but it is possible the North Korean side might make use of the case as a bargaining chip for its negotiations with Japan,” a source close the Japanese government told the paper.
Further details, such as the purpose of the man’s visit to North Korea, were not immediately available.
A foreign ministry official declined to confirm the news reports “due to the nature of such a case.”
“But the government is taking action and gathering information,” the official told AFP.
Tokyo has advised Japanese citizens against travel to North Korea as part of its economic sanctions on the country.
North Korea has a long history of arresting foreigners on spying charges and then using them as diplomatic pawns.
In 1999, a Japanese newspaper reporter in North Korea was detained for about two years on spying charges, Kyodo News reported.
Japan has largely maintained a hard line on Pyongyang — which fired multiple test missiles toward Japanese territory — and has long pushed for movement on citizens who were abducted decades ago by North Korean agents.
But reports suggest Tokyo is considering a summit soon between Kim and Abe in the wake of South Korea and Washington’s recent diplomatic detente with Pyongyang. Japanese media have floated a possible meeting on the sidelines of an international forum in Russia’s Vladivostok next month.
“Ultimately, I myself will have to directly face chairman Kim Jong Un and engage in dialogue and resolve the nuclear, missile and, above all, the all-important abduction issue, and then build new Japan-North Korea relations,” Abe said Monday.
During historic talks with US President Donald Trump in Singapore in June, Kim reportedly said he was open to a meeting with Abe.


India’s ruling BJP loses three crucial states in regional elections

Updated 13 min 8 sec ago
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India’s ruling BJP loses three crucial states in regional elections

Sanjay Kumar NEW DELHI: The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) suffered a big political blow in the regional elections results on Tuesday, losing three major states previously under its belt.
In a surprise performance, the main opposition Congress party defeated the BJP in the northern and central Indian states of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan.
The party also performed poorly in the southern Indian state of Telangana and the north-east state of Mizoram, which also went to polls.
The ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) retained its hold over the state, widely defeating the opposition Congress.
The tiny, hillside state of Mizoram went with the regional Mizo National Front (MNF), giving a thumping defeat to the ruling Congress party there.
However, the main contest was in the Hindi heartland, where the BJP and the Congress were pitted against each other.
In Rajasthan and Chhatisgarh, the Congress enjoyed a decisive victory. However, the party remains in a neck-to-neck battle overall with the BJP, which has been ruling the state for the last 15 years.
“It was incredible odds against which these elections were fought, where the Congress was outspent by a large margin by the BJP’s incredible resources,” Congress leader Shashi Tharoor told reporters after the victory.
“The result is a very strong expression of the popular will,” added the senior Congress leader.
The BJP says that “the result is a setback, but it is more to do with anti-incumbency factor.”
“We have been ruling Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh for the last 15 years. Naturally, there was some anti-incumbency against us. But we are performing quite well in Rajasthan despite losing,” says Amit Malviya, chief of the BJP’s Information Technology cell.
Political analyst Dr. Satish Mishra of New Delhi-based think tank, Observer Research Foundation, says that “with the victory of the Congress in the regional elections, the invincibility of Prime Minister Modi has now been shattered.”
“For the Congress leader, the result has come as a blessing. He is becoming acceptable to the opposition parties now. With the results on Tuesday, he has managed to shed considerable baggage that has been labeled on him by his political opponent,” said Mishra.
New Delhi-based political analyst, Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay, said that “for the Congress, the good news is its return not just as a credible alternative, but also to be considered once again a party of governance in the crucial Hindi heartland.”
“After this round of elections, Rahul Gandhi has emerged as a main challenger to Modi because it is under Gandhi’s leadership that Congress has performed well in all the three states,” Mukhopadhyay told Arab News. “His stock is high. He will be a serious challenger to Modi next year.”
“The results will speed up the process of alliance formation that can take on Modi next year. The Indian prime minister will have to cover a lot of ground now. I am sure he is not taking the 2019 elections for granted.”
However, Malviya doubts the results will impact the general elections in 2019. “The next elections would be fought around Modi’s achievement; his leadership and his vision. I don’t think any opposition alliance can defeat us,” he said.
Mukhopadhyay, meanwhile, underlines that “it would be paramount for the BJP to evaluate the ways in which it can recover lost ground in barely four months when it faces the electorate in 2019. The BJP had won 62 of the 65 parliamentary seats from the three states in 2014 and unless the present swing away is reversed, the results could be disappointing and impact its overall tally considerably.”