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Thursday, April 26, 2018 

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Tens of thousands join Indian leader for world yoga day


Rats enjoy $19,000 meal in India


Rival Koreas agree to August reunions of war-split families


On North Korean side of DMZ, it’s change in the air


From The Asian Reporter, V28, #13 (July 2, 2018), page 2.

Koreas combining in three sports at Asian Games

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — The Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) says North and South Korea will field combined teams in three sports — canoeing, rowing, and women’s basketball — at the Asian Games in the latest sign of cooperation between the countries. The Koreas will also march together at the opening and closing ceremonies at the games in Indonesia from August 18 to September 2. Ties between the neighbors have improved since the PyeongChang Olympics in South Korea in February. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in agreed at a summit in April to jointly participate in international sports events. Vinod Kumar Tiwari, the OCA director of international and National Olympic Committee relations, said, "This will be an historic Asian Games for the Olympic Council of Asia and for the continent because it will be the first time that North Korea and South Korea will form a unified team in certain sports. "They have marched together before in the opening ceremony and we are delighted that they are extending their joint cooperation further in the spirit of unity and friendship."

Mayor saved by nurse says female sumo ban irrelevant

TOKYO (AP) — A Japanese mayor who suffered a stroke at a sumo event and was given first aid by a female nurse who entered the male-only ring has said the sport’s ancient ban on women is outdated. Ryozo Tatami, the mayor of Maizuru city in northern Kyoto, recently resumed work after recovering from the stroke he suffered in April while making a speech in the ring, or dohyo. Sumo officials repeatedly demanded that the nurse leave the ring, triggering public criticism of the female ban. Tatami said the ban is outdated, especially in life-threatening situations. "Even though sumo has a long history and traditions, its female ban policy is irrelevant today," Tatami told a news conference on his first day back at work. He was earlier presented with a bouquet as city employees welcomed his return. "At least in situations requiring first aid, male or female should not matter. Anyone should be allowed to help out," he said. When Tatami, 67, collapsed on the dohyo, two women in the audience, including one later identified as a nurse, rushed in and started performing first aid as sumo officials looked on helplessly. When two more women entered the dohyo trying to join the effort, a sumo official repeatedly made an announcement demanding that the women get out of the ring. In male-only sumo, women are considered ritually unclean and are banned from the dohyo, which is considered sacred. Tatami’s case has prompted sumo officials to review the policy. Some female mayors also demanded that the sumo association treat them the same as their male counterparts at sumo events. The head of the sumo association has acknowledged that the announcement at the Kyoto event was inappropriate, but said women can only enter the dohyo in an "emergency."

Former Cambodian PM Ranariddh hurt in crash, wife killed

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Former Cambodian Prime Minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh has been seriously injured in a road crash that killed his wife and injured at least seven other people. A senior official from his FUNCINPEC political party said the 74-year-old Ranariddh was in a convoy along with senior party figures heading toward Sihanoukville in southwest Cambodia when a taxi travelling in the opposite direction slammed into his SUV. Sihanoukville police chief Gen. Chuon Narin said Ranariddh — a son of the late King Norodom Sihanouk — suffered head injuries. He was transferred to Phnom Penh for urgent treatment. Chuon Narin said Ranariddh’s wife, Ouk Phalla, died at the hospital. Ranariddh was co-prime minister for four years in a power-sharing arrangement with current Prime Minister Hun Sen after a U.N.-organized election in 1993.

South Korean crypto exchange loses $31 million from hack

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — A leading South Korean cryptocurrency exchange says $31 million worth of virtual currencies were stolen by hackers, the latest in a series of recent hacks that raised security concerns. Bithumb, South Korea’s second-largest exchange, said cyberattacks led to the loss of 35 billion won worth of cryptocurrencies. Bithumb said it has suspended trading and exchanging cryptocurrencies to Korean won following the hacking. It did not say which types of coins were lost. The company promised it would compensate the loss. Cyberattacks on crypto exchanges have raised security concerns for investors. Earlier in June, a small exchange in South Korea called Coinrail was hacked and reportedly lost coins worth $37 million. Beefing up security on crypto exchanges will be a key in shoring up confidence in the largely unregulated sector that has risen as one of the hottest investment areas.

Five arrested in crackdown on commercial surrogacy

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Cambodian police have arrested five people on charges of providing commercial surrogate services. Keo Thea, chief of anti-trafficking police for the Phnom Penh Municipality, said four Cambodian women and a Chinese man were arrested in a house in Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital. He said that during the raid, police rescued 33 pregnant surrogates who were allegedly hired by the Chinese man. Developing countries are popular for surrogacy because costs are much lower than in countries such as the United States and Australia, where surrogate services can cost around $150,000. The surrogacy business boomed in Cambodia after it was put under tight restrictions in neighboring Thailand. There also were crackdowns in India and Nepal. After Cambodia’s crackdown, the trade shifted to neighboring Laos. In July last year, a Cambodian court sentenced an Australian woman and two Cambodian associates to 1 1/2 years in prison for providing commercial surrogacy services.

All aboard Hello Kitty: Pink bullet train debuts in Japan

TOKYO (AP) — A Hello Kitty-themed shinkansen bullet train has debuted in Japan. Adorned with the cartoon icon inside and out, it’s a dream ride for fans of the internationally popular character. A special shinkansen took its inaugural round trip between Osaka and Fukuoka, connecting Japan’s west and south. It will run through September. The stylish, eight-car train is painted pink and white, showcasing Hello Kitty images and trademark ribbons from flooring to seat covers and windows.

In one car, a life-size Hello Kitty doll donning a train crew uniform and a hat — decorated with a pink bow, of course — greets passengers, offering a chance for selfies. Hours later in Osaka at the train’s final stop, hundreds of fans waited for the arrival of the first Hello Kitty shinkansen, cheering and taking photos during its 16-minute stopover before it headed back to Fukuoka, according to Japanese media reports. Hello Kitty, created in 1974 by the Japanese company Sanrio Co., is a global icon with fans of all ages. After more than 40 years in the market, the round-faced feline with no mouth is still seen everywhere, on stationery and towels to jewelry and even furniture.

Rocket developed by Japan startup in flames after liftoff

TOKYO (AP) — A rocket developed by a Japanese startup company burst into flames seconds after a failed liftoff in northern Japan. The MOMO-2 rocket, developed by Interstellar Technologies, was launched in Taiki town on Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost main island. It was supposed to reach as high as 62 miles into space. Television footage showed the 33-foot pencil rocket lifted only slightly from its launch pad before dropping to the ground, disappearing in a fireball. Footage on NHK public television showed a charred rocket lying on the ground. The incident caused no injuries. Interstellar Technologies president Takahiro Inagawa said he believes the rocket suffered a glitch in its main engine. He apologized for the failure and said his team would collect the debris to analyze the problem and improve the rocket. The failure was the second after the rocket’s first launch last July. The project was started in 2005 by maverick entrepreneur Takafumi Horie, founder of internet service provider Livedoor, who was joined by science journalists and other space fans in an effort to develop a small, lightweight, and low-cost rocket to send information satellites into space.

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