‘No Bangladesh garment firm totally safe’

Updated 23 April 2015
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‘No Bangladesh garment firm totally safe’

DHAKA: Safety overhauls of Bangladesh’s garment factories were running behind schedule and none were considered totally safe two years after the Rana Plaza disaster, a global labor group said Thursday.
IndustriALL said thousands of factories were found to have some structural flaws following inspections carried out in the wake of the tragedy that killed more than 1,100 people.
The Swiss-based group said efforts to upgrade the factories were lagging despite some 200 mostly European retailers
“Important progress has been made, but the fact that all remediation is currently behind schedule, some over six months behind, is a serious problem,” IndustriALL said in a statement on the eve of Friday’s anniversary of the disaster.
“It is an unacceptable reality that not a single factory can yet be called 100 percent safe,” the group, which played a key role in sealing the agreement, said.
The nine-story Rana Plaza factory complex imploded on April 24, 2013 in one of the world’s worst industrial disasters.

The collapse triggered international outrage and put pressure on European and US brands who had placed orders to improve the woeful pay and conditions at Bangladesh’s 4,500 garment factories.
Two years on, nearly $25 million in compensation has been paid out to survivors and relatives of the dead.
More than 2,500 garment factories have been inspected for structural, fire and electrical safety since the disaster, the ILO said in a statement on Thursday.
Despite IndustriALL’s statement, Bangladesh Junior Labor Minister Mujibul Haque hailed progress made so far in improving the safety of Bangladesh’s $25 billion garment industry.
“Almost three quarters of garment factories have now been assessed for structural and fire safety with only a very small number being deemed too unsafe to operate,” he said at an event to mark the disaster.
The Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association also said Thursday that major improvements had been made to factories, with only around one percent deemed too unsafe to repair and forced to shut down.


Japan drops ‘maximum pressure’ on North Korea from diplomatic book

Updated 25 min 49 sec ago
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Japan drops ‘maximum pressure’ on North Korea from diplomatic book

  • Language was dropped after consideration of latest developments surrounding North Korea
  • Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, seen as a foreign policy hawk, has also softened his rhetoric toward North Korea

TOKYO: Japan on Tuesday dropped the push to apply “maximum pressure” on North Korea from its official foreign policy, an apparent softening of Tokyo’s position as major powers engage with Pyongyang.
In last year’s “Diplomatic Bluebook,” published when tensions on the Korean peninsula were soaring, Japan said it was coordinating efforts with its allies to “maximize pressure on North Korea by all available means.”
But this language was dropped from this year’s edition, drawn up after diplomats had “taken comprehensively into account the latest developments surrounding North Korea,” according to chief government spokesman Yoshihide Suga.
“There have been major developments in the situation surrounding North Korea in light of events such as the US-North Korea summits in June last year and February,” Suga told reporters.
Abe, seen as a foreign policy hawk, has also softened his rhetoric toward North Korea, frequently offering to meet leader Kim Jong Un to negotiate the decades-old issue of Japanese civilians kidnapped by the North.
“Japan seeks to normalize its relations with North Korea by comprehensively resolving outstanding issues of concern such as the abductions, nuclear and missile issues as well as settling an unfortunate past,” Suga said.
Tokyo has been one of the most hawkish of the major powers on North Korea and has been on the receiving end of some of Pyongyang’s harshest rhetoric — as well as missiles launched over its territory.
Until late 2017, North Korea repeatedly tested missiles that flew toward or over Japan, sparking warnings blared out on loudspeakers and stoking calls for a tough stance against Pyongyang.
However, Japan now finds itself battling to keep itself relevant in the fast-moving North Korea issue as Kim expands his diplomatic circle.
Kim is now preparing for talks with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, after multiple meetings with US President Donald Trump, Chinese President Xi Jinping and South Korean leader Moon Jae-in.
Abe will soon meet Trump at the White House where the issue of North Korea is bound to be on the table.