Hundreds evicted from Italy refugee home; More than 500 migrants have been forcibly removed from Italy’s second-largest refugee center. Itay’s populist government claims it is “helping Italians,” but the town complains that years of hard work are being ruined. The Italian government deported over 500 people from the country’s second largest refugee center on Tuesday and Wednesday, shipping people off in buses to undisclosed locations. The mayor of Castelnuovo di Porto, the small suburb north of Rome, said that the migrants were removed from his town with little warning or further information. Thousands of migrants have passed through Castelnuovo di Porto in the past decade, and it was famously the site of Pope Francis’s traditional Easter foot washing in 2016. The move comes a little more than month after a new immigration law, dubbed “Salvini’s decree,” after hardline anti-immigrant Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, came into force
Malaysia’s royalty to pick new king; Malaysia’s new monarch will be selected from a group of nine sultans. The ceremonial proceedings at the top of the Southeast Asian nation won’t mark the beginning of a new era, but are not completely irrelevant either.When Malaysia’s King Muhammad V unexpectedly abdicated in early January, it was not bad health that forced the 49-year-old to give up his post. The youngest king in Malaysia’s history apparently stepped down because of his liaison with a former “Miss Moscow,” whom he is said to have secretly married. In 2008, he divorced his first wife, a Muslim princess from Thailand, making him the first unmarried king to ascend the throne. The king’s private life, which is considered incompatible with Islamic values, has led the other sultans of Malaysia to believe that Muhammad V should be replaced.
Juan Guaido: the ‘survivor’ challenging Venezuela’s Maduro; He will need to be: the bold young politician, head of Venezuela’s opposition-controlled legislature, became public enemy number one when he declared himself interim president Wednesday, defying embattled President Nicolas Maduro. Guaido did not set out to supplant Maduro, the socialist president who has presided over a spiraling political and economic crisis in Venezuela. But the sometimes reserved 35-year-old was thrust to the front of the Venezuelan opposition when more senior leaders were forced from the scene — some detained, some banned from politics and some pushed into exile.
Japan fishery group plans commercial whale hunt; NHK has learned that a Japanese fishery group plans to resume commercial whaling for the first time in 31 years. Sources say the cooperative will team up with a group of firms to form a fleet. It plans to head out on its first hunt on July 1st. The cooperative is based in western Japan’s Wakayama Prefecture, in the town of Taiji. Officials made the decision after Japan announced last month it would withdraw from the International Whaling Commission. The ships will likely depart from Hokkaido or Aomori prefectures, in the north of the country. Both have ports specially equipped to handle the extra-large cargo. The crews will spend about a week at sea hunting minke whales. The cooperative will separately conduct an expedition off central Japan that will end in August. And it plans to reform the larger fleet down the track for a two-month hunt. The head of Japan Small-Type Whaling Association, Yoshifumi Kai, says he’s been waiting years for this day to come. Kai said, “It’s important that we abide by the catch quota and make sure the whale population does not dwindle.” Japan suspended commercial whaling in line with a 1988 moratorium. Since then it has been taking small catches for research purposes.
Former S.Korea Chief Justice arrested; outh Korea’s Chosun Ilbo newspaper and other media outlets report that a former Supreme Court Chief Justice was arrested early Thursday on suspicion of abuse of power. This is related to allegations of unjustly delaying a ruling on the wartime labor issue involving Japanese firms. Yang Sung-tae is accused of acting in line with the wishes of the government of then-president Park Geun-hye, which is said to have been concerned about worsening of ties with Japan. He is reportedly the first former South Korean Chief Justice to be arrested.
Japan, S.Korea FMs differ on bilateral issues; South Korea did not take a stance on Japan’s call for talks on the wartime labor issue at a meeting of the two countries’ foreign ministers. Japan’s Taro Kono met his South Korean counterpart, Kang Kyung-wha, on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Switzerland on Wednesday. This is their first meeting since South Korea’s Supreme Court recently ordered Japanese companies to compensate Koreans who say they were forced to work for the companies during World War Two. Kono hoped South Korea would agree to hold talks at an early date based on an agreement reached in 1965. The Japanese government says any right to such claims was settled finally and completely in the agreement the countries signed when they normalized ties. Kang only said the government is carefully studying the matter. But she said it was regrettable that there have been low-altitude flights by Japanese Self-Defense Force planes close to South Korean warships. Kono rebutted South Korea’s claims, saying Japanese aircraft weren’t flying as close to South Korean vessels as Seoul claims they were. The Japanese Foreign Ministry says further worsening of ties is undesirable as there is the need to address issues relating to North Korea.
China detains Chinese-Australian writer; The Australian government says China’s authorities have detained a Chinese-Australian writer who has become a vocal critic of the Communist Party in China. Australian officials say Yang Hengjun is in detention. He is a former diplomat for China who took Australian nationality after retiring. Yang’s acquaintances have lost contact with him since he arrived in Guangzhou on Saturday from New York. Australia’s Foreign Affairs and Trade Department says that on Wednesday, the Chinese authorities informed the Australian Embassy in Beijing of the detention. The department is asking China to disclose the reason for the detention and allow officials to meet him. Feng Chongyi, associate professor at University of Technology Sydney, is an acquaintance of Yang. Feng told NHK that Yang was likely taken away by Chinese officials who were waiting for his arrival at the airport, and sent to Beijing on the same day. Yang wrote on his blog on December 30th that Western nations’ legal, economic, and social systems have many loopholes, and most of those who exploit them for profit are Chinese. In another post on December 18th, he wrote that the spirit of China’s reform and opening-up policy centers on the liberation of thought, and that repressing freedom of speech only reverses history. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said at a news conference on Wednesday that the ministry has no information on the matter.