Russia expels Japanese journalist in military espionage row

Ties between Japan and Russia have been strained for decades by a territorial dispute over a chain of islands in the Pacific. Above, Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during his annual press conference in Moscow on December 19, 2019. (AFP)
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Updated 28 January 2020

Russia expels Japanese journalist in military espionage row

  • The expelled journalist works for Japan’s Kyodo News agency
  • The reporter was told to leave Russia in 72 hours

MOSCOW/TOKYO: Russia said on Monday it expelled a Japanese journalist last month for trying to obtain secret information related to Russian military capabilities in the Russian Far East, Russia’s RIA news agency reported.
The expelled journalist worked for Japan’s Kyodo News agency, it said on Tuesday, denying the accusation of attempted espionage.
Kyodo did not identify the reporter but said he was detained on Dec. 25 in Vladivostok and released after about five hours of questioning.
The reporter was told to leave Russia in 72 hours, Kyodo said.
“For safety reasons, he left the country the following day. It is our understanding that he was engaged in standard reporting activities,” Kyodo said in an emailed statement.
Russia’s foreign ministry summoned a Japanese embassy official to make an official diplomatic protest over the incident, RIA reported.
Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it could not comment on the matter.
Ties between Japan and Russia have been strained for decades by a territorial dispute over a chain of islands in the Pacific.
Known in Russia as the Southern Kuriles and in Japan as the Northern Territories, the islands were seized by the Soviet army in the waning days of World War Two.
The dispute has prevented Russia and Japan from signing a formal peace treaty and developing their relations.
“The Japanese citizen was detained by Russian law enforcement officers in Vladivostok on Dec. 25, 2019 trying to receive secret materials about Russia’s military potential in the Far East,” RIA quoted the Russian foreign ministry as saying.


Ardern’s online messages keep spirits up in New Zealand’s coronavirus lockdown

A woman struggles moving her office chair and other items in the normally-busy central business district Wellington after New Zealand imposed a lockdown in a bid to smother coronavirus infection rates. (AFP)
Updated 31 March 2020

Ardern’s online messages keep spirits up in New Zealand’s coronavirus lockdown

  • 39-year-old PM’s clear communication wins praise, even from fiercest critics more txt pls more

WELLINGTON: Hours after New Zealand imposed a nationwide lockdown to beat a coronavirus pandemic, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern took to Facebook, livestreaming in a sweater from bed, to “check in” on citizens and tell them of the day’s events.

Ardern’s news conferences for more than 30 minutes a day, taking queries, streaming Facebook videos and posting pictures on Instagram, offer a contrast with some world leaders who have stumbled through confusing briefings about virus combat plans.
“I thought I would jump online quickly and check in with everyone ... as we all prepare to hunker down for a few weeks,” she said in one of her social media messages, seen and cheered by millions in lockdown. “This feels like the comfort of being tucked into bed at night by my mum,” said a viewer who responded to the post. “Thanks for checking in with us.”
New Zealand’s tally of 589 virus infections, and one death, is far smaller than other countries, such as giant neighbor Australia, which has 4,200 cases and 17 deaths.
Thursday’s lockdown is expected to have far-reaching effect on the export-oriented economy of the nation of five million.
But the 39-year-old prime minister’s clear communication has garnered praise, even from her fiercest critics.
“I think she communicates really clearly and really well,” John Key, a former prime minister and senior leader of the opposition National Party said on a radio show.

I think she (Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern) communicates really clearly and really well.

John Key, Former prime minister

While urging New Zealanders to keep to their own “bubble,” or stay home to save lives, Ardern has also talked about working from her office, spending time with family, and even a struggle with toilet training her daughter, who turns two in June.
Ardern took the helm of the Labour-led government in October 2017, as the youngest female prime minister at the time, and became only the second elected leader to give birth while in office, after Pakistan’s Benazir Bhutto.
Her compassionate yet decisive actions after last year’s mass shooting at two Christchurch mosques drew global praise.
But facing domestic criticism for her government’s handling of housing shortages and the economy, Ardern is expected to face a tough re-election contest in September.
On Instagram on Sunday, she described events in her “bubble,” and was asked how toilet training was going with daughter Neve Te Aroha, who was three months old when she accompanied Ardern at her UN debut in 2018. “We are having zero success!” Ardern replied.