Japan’s Abe to visit Iran next week

Local media have said Abe will hold talks with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani. (File/AFP)
Updated 06 June 2019
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Japan’s Abe to visit Iran next week

  • A government official told AFP that Tokyo was “still arranging details, including whom our prime minister will meet there”
  • Japan and Iran have maintained a good relationship as resource-poor Japan relies heavily on imports of oil from the Middle East

TOKYO: Shinzo Abe plans to travel to Iran next week, officials said Thursday, the first visit by a Japanese prime minister in more than four decades as Tokyo hopes to mediate between Washington and Tehran.
A government official told AFP that Tokyo was “still arranging details, including whom our prime minister will meet there” but local media have said Abe will hold talks with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani.
Local news agency Kyodo reported it would be the first such visit for 41 years.
As tensions intensify between Iran and Japan’s key ally the United States, Abe has reportedly proposed serving as a go-between by directly holding talks with Iran’s key leaders.
During his state visit to Tokyo in late May, US President Donald Trump said he remained open to talks with Tehran, appearing to give the green light to Abe’s plan.
Abe told a news conference with Trump: “By closely cooperating between Japan and the US, I would like to help ease the current tension surrounding the Iranian situation.”
Japan and Iran have maintained a good relationship as resource-poor Japan relies heavily on imports of oil from the Middle East, though crude from Iran accounted for just 5.3 percent of the country’s total imports last year.
On the other hand, Iranian and US leaders have ratcheted up barbs and insults ever since Trump was elected as president in 2016.
Living up to his campaign promises, Trump withdrew the US in May 2018 from the landmark 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and major world powers, and reimposed sanctions.
The war of words intensified after Iran’s revolutionary guards were designated a “terrorist organization,” with Tehran hitting back by declaring the US a “state sponsor of terrorism” and Washington’s forces in the region “terrorist groups.”
Fears the war of words could flare into a military clash escalated when Washington dispatched the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier group, an amphibious assault ship, a Patriot missile battery and B-52 bombers to the region.


Indonesia sending back 547 containers of waste from West

Updated 58 min 29 sec ago

Indonesia sending back 547 containers of waste from West

  • Nine containers with at least 135 tons of waste were sent back to Australia on Wednesday
  • They were among 156 containers held in Tangerang port near Jakarta that will be returned soon to other countries

JAKARTA, Indonesia: Indonesia is sending 547 containers of waste back to wealthy nations after discovering they were contaminated with used plastic and hazardous materials, amid a growing backlash in Southeast Asia against being a dumping ground for the developed world’s trash.

Nine containers with at least 135 tons of waste were sent back to Australia on Wednesday, customs director Heru Pambudi said at a news conference in Jakarta.

“Some food still remains there with liquid flowing,” Pambudi said as he showed the contents of several containers.

He said 91 other containers will be returned to Australia after administrative processes are complete.

They were among 156 containers held in Tangerang port near Jakarta that will be returned soon to other countries, including the US, New Zealand, Spain, Belgium and Britain, he said.

Pambudi said the government has stopped more than 2,000 containers this year in several ports in East Java, Jakarta, Tangerang and Batam near Singapore. So far it has sent back 331, which will be followed by 216 others to French, Germany, Greece, Netherlands. Slovenia, Canada, Japan and Hong Kong. Authorities are still investigating the rest.

The government announced in July that it had sent back nearly 60 containers of waste from Australia that were supposed to contain only paper but included household waste, used cans, plastic bottles, oil packaging, used electronics, used baby diapers and used footwear.

Pambudi said several Indonesian-owned companies that imported the waste must return it to the countries of origin within 90 days. No other sanctions were declared, although importing hazardous waste is a criminal offense with penalties of up to 12 years in prison and a fine of up to 12 billion rupiah ($850,000).

China banned the import of plastic waste at the end of 2017, resulting in more used plastic being sent to developing Southeast Asian nations.

A study published in June last year in the journal Science Advances that used United Nations data found other nations will need to find a home for more than 110 million tons of plastic waste by 2030 because of the Chinese ban.

Indonesia and China themselves are among the world’s biggest producers of plastic waste, which is increasingly fouling their land, seas and beaches.