Japanese PM Abe to visit China in sign of improved relations

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Head of the Chinese Communist Party's International Department Song Tao talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during their meeting at Abe's official residence in Tokyo, Japan October 11, 2018. (Reuters)
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Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (L) shakes hands with China’s President Xi Jinping (R) prior to their bilateral meeting in Vladivostok on September 12, 2018, on the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum hosted by Russia. (AFP)
Updated 12 October 2018
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Japanese PM Abe to visit China in sign of improved relations

BEIJING: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is to travel to China later this month for his first formal visit in seven years, in a further sign of improving relations between the regional rivals.
Bilateral ties nosedived in 2012 after Japan nationalized a group of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea claimed by Beijing, setting off violent protests in China.
Despite close economic ties, many Chinese also resent Japan over its invasion of their country last century. Beijing routinely warms of resurgent Japanese militarism, despite little evidence of that appearing.
Abe’s Oct. 25-27 visit follows a trip to Japan in May by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, the ruling Communist Party’s second-ranking official. President and party leader Xi Jinping is also expected to visit Japan at a future date.
“With joint efforts by the two sides, we maintained the momentum of improving bilateral ties,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang told reporters Friday.
Along with trade and investment, talks between the leaders are expected to touch on North Korea, which both countries have been pressing to abandon its nuclear weapons program.
Japan hopes to “step up cooperation in all areas and elevate Japan-China relations to a higher level,” Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Friday. “I hope (the leaders) open their hearts and discuss frankly.”


New Zealand orders top-level inquiry into mosque massacres

Updated 25 March 2019
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New Zealand orders top-level inquiry into mosque massacres

  • "One question we need to answer is whether or not we could or should have known more," Ardern said
  • Ardern ruled out New Zealand re-introducing the death penalty for accused gunman Brenton Tarrant

WELLINGTON: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday ordered an independent judicial inquiry into whether police and intelligence services could have prevented the Christchurch mosque attacks on March 15.
Ardern said a royal commission -- the most powerful judicial probe available under New Zealand law -- was needed to find out how a single gunman was able to kill 50 people in an attack that shocked the world.
"It is important that no stone is left unturned to get to how this act of terrorism occurred and how we could have stopped it," she told reporters.
New Zealand's spy agencies have faced criticism in the wake of the attack for concentrating on the threat from Islamic extremism.
Instead, the victims were all Muslims and the massacre was allegedly carried out by a white supremacist fixated on the belief that there was an Islamist plot to "invade" Western countries.
"One question we need to answer is whether or not we could or should have known more," Ardern said.
"New Zealand is not a surveillance state ... but questions need to be answered."
Ardern ruled out New Zealand re-introducing the death penalty for accused gunman Brenton Tarrant, 28, who was arrested minutes after the attack on the mosques and has been charged with murder.
She said details of the royal commission were being finalised, but it would be comprehensive and would report in a timely manner.
It will cover the activities of intelligence services, police, customs, immigration and any other relevant government agencies in the lead-up to the attack.
The gunman livestreamed the attack online, although New Zealand has outlawed the footage as "objectionable content".
Ardern reiterated her believe it should not be aired.
"That video should not be shared. That is harmful content," she said when questioned about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan showing excerpts of the footage at campaign rallies for local elections this month.
Erdogan had angered both Wellington and Canberra with campaign rhetoric about anti-Muslim Australians and New Zealanders being sent back in "coffins" like their grandfathers at Gallipoli, a World War I battle.
New Zealand Foreign Minister Winston Peters travelled to Istanbul to meet Erdogan and address an emergency meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.
Peters said OIC members were full of praise for the support New Zealand had offered its small, tight-knit Muslim community in the wake of the killings.
"A number of them were weeping and sobbing at the demonstration (of support) by non-Muslim New Zealand towards the Muslim victims," he told reporters.
"It was dramatic and I was told by countless ministers that they've never seen anything of that type."
The body of an Indian student killed in the Christchurch mosque attacks, meanwhile, was returned Monday to her grieving family in Kochi, where relatives remembered a bright young woman dedicated to her studies.
Ansi Alibava, 25, was the first of at least five Indians shot dead on March 15 to be repatriated.
The family planned to hold a funeral ceremony for the masters student in their nearby hometown of Kodungallur.