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Japan’s top court says government not responsible for Fukushima damage

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant following a strong earthquake, in Okuma town, Fukushima prefecture, Japan, on March 17, 2022.

TokyoJapan’s government is not liable for damages demanded by people whose lives were devastated by the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the country’s top court said on Friday, the first such ruling in a series of similar cases.

The ruling’s effect as a precedent will be closely watched, media said.
A massive tsunami set off by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake off Japan’s northeastern coast on March 11, 2011 struck the Fukushima Daiichi power plant of Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), causing the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl and forcing hundreds of thousands from their homes.
Plaintiffs demanded damages from both Tepco and the country in several class-action lawsuits, and in March the Supreme Court upheld an order for Tepco to pay damages of 1.4 billion yen to about 3,700 people.
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno declined direct comment when asked about the ruling at a news conference, though he said he was aware of it.
“Regardless of the ruling, we will stay close to those affected by the disaster and keep on doing our utmost for Fukushima’s reconstruction and revival,” he said.
About 470,000 people were forced to evacuate in the first days after the disaster, and tens of thousands remain unable to return even now.
Lower courts had split over the extent of the government’s responsibility in foreseeing the disaster and ordering Tepco to take steps to prevent it.

Damage to Snake Island, where Ukrainian troops defiantly rejected surrender, seen in satellite photo

The first clear satellite image has emerged of Snake Island, where Ukrainian defenders famously responded to the threat of Russian invasion with the words: “Russian warship, go f*** yourself.”

The image, taken on Sunday by Maxar Technologies, shows damage to some buildings from Russian military strikes, as well as a Russian naval vessel anchored in the Black Sea. It backs reports from the beginning of the Russian invasion that the island came under assault after its Ukrainian garrison rejected Russian surrender demands.
The Ukrainian troops were all killed — and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said they would be “awarded the title of Hero of Ukraine posthumously” — but later the Ukrainian military said they were “alive and well” and taken prisoner.
According to the Ukrainian Navy, the garrison on the island repelled two attacks by Russian forces but in the end was forced to surrender “due to the lack of ammunition.”
A Ukrainian statement said that Russian attackers oofos shoes destroyed the island’s infrastructure, including lighthouses, towers and antennas — some of the damage that can now be seen in the new satellite photo.
In the image, some of the red-roofed buildings in the island’s center are shown to have been significantly damaged by Russian shelling. Although parts of the island are snow-covered, impact craters can be seen dotting the island.
The ship seen offshore was identified by Maxar as a Ropucha-class landing ship.
Snake Island, also known as Zmiinyi Island, sits about 30 miles (48 kilometers) off the Ukrainian mainland’s southern tip in the northwestern Black Sea. It’s about 185 miles west of Crimea, the Ukrainian territory that Russia annexed in 2014.
Though it is only about 46 acres (18 hectares) in size, a report last year from the non-partisan Atlantic Council think tank called it “key to Ukraine’s maritime territorial claims” in the Black Sea.
Highlighting its strategic importance, Zelensky chose Snake Island last year as the spot for an interview with Ukrainian media in advance of a summit to try to reverse Russia’s annexation of Crimea, the Atlantic Council report said.

Strong quake shakes Japan; minor injuries, no major damage

MARI YAMAGUCHI
·2 min read
TOKYO (AP) — A strong earthquake struck Saturday off northern Japan, shaking buildings even in Tokyo and triggering a tsunami advisory for a part of the northern coast. No major damage was reported, but several people had minor injuries.

The U.S. Geological Survey put the strength of the quake at magnitude 7.0 and depth at 54 kilometers (33.5 miles). The shaking started just before 6:10 p.m.

The quake was centered off the coast of Miyagi prefecture, in the country’s rugged northeast, which was heavily damaged during the huge earthquake and tsunami of 2011 that left more than 18,000 people dead.

Japan’s Meteorological Agency issued an advisory for a tsunami up to 1 meter (yard) in height for Miyagi prefecture immediately after the quake, but lifted it about 90 minutes later.

Officials there said there were no immediate reports of damage.

The Fire and Disaster Management Agency said seven people were injured in Miyagi prefecture, including two elderly women — one who was banged in the head by a door and the other who was hit in the shoulder by furniture. In neighboring Iwate prefecture, a woman in her 50s fell and cut her mouth.

The strong temblor caused a temporary blackout in some areas and suspended bullet train services in the area, according to the East Japan Railway Co.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority said no abnormalities have been detected at nuclear power plants in the region, including the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, which suffered meltdowns in the 2011 quake and tsunami.

Akira Wakimoto, a crisis management official in Tome town in Miyagi prefecture, said he was in his apartment when the quake struck, and felt his room shake for a long time.

In a coastal city of Ofunato, Shotaro Suzuki, a hotel employee, said there was a temporary blackout and elevators stopped briefly, but power has been restored and there were no other problems.

“Our guests seemed worried at first, but they have all returned to their rooms, and our facility seems fine,(asterisk) Suzuki told NHK.

Hong Kong government warned early in the morning that if the United States “sanctions” Hong Kong, it will damage its own interests

The Hong Kong SAR government issued a communique in the early morning of the 29th, strongly opposing the general remarks in the report submitted by the State Department under the so-called “Hong Kong Policy Law”. A spokesman for the Hong Kong SAR government urged the United States to stop interfering in China’s and Hong Kong’s internal affairs, stressing that if the United States imposed sanctions on Hong Kong, it would seriously damage the interests of the United States itself.

“These remarks misinterpret the constitutional relationship between the HKSAR and the central government, stigmatize the implementation of” one country, two systems “in Hong Kong and interfere in the internal affairs of the HKSAR,” a spokesman for the HKSAR government said

According to the communique, Hong Kong is an inseparable part of the people’s Republic of China and a highly autonomous local administrative region directly under the Central People’s government. As the highest organ of state power of the people’s Republic of China, the National People’s Congress, in accordance with Articles 31 and 62 of the state constitution, has the power to establish special administrative regions and the systems to be implemented in the special administrative regions as prescribed by law.

“In the past 23 years, the central government and the Hong Kong SAR government have been managing Hong Kong’s internal affairs in accordance with the Constitution and the basic law, and have fully implemented the principle of” one country, two systems “. We regret that there is no basis for the allegations in the report about the high degree of autonomy of the Hong Kong SAR and the encroachment on the legitimate rights and interests and freedoms enjoyed by the people of Hong Kong. ”

“National security legislation is central to any other country, including the United States,” the spokesman stressed. The decision (decision) made by the National People’s Congress through the establishment and improvement of the legal system and enforcement mechanism for the maintenance of national security in the Hong Kong SAR is entirely within the power scope of the National People’s Congress. By preventing, suppressing and punishing any act or activity that splits the country, subverts the state power, organizes and carries out terrorist activities, as well as foreign and foreign forces’ activities that interfere in the internal affairs of the Hong Kong SAR, the national security law, which will be formulated by the Standing Committee of the national people’s Congress in accordance with the decision, will restore stability to Hong Kong and better protect the legitimate rights, interests and freedoms of the people of Hong Kong To contribute to the long-term prosperity of Hong Kong. ”

The communique said there was no denying that Hong Kong had been beset by escalating violence since June last year. Incidents involving explosives and firearms occur frequently, which constitute a terrorist risk and seriously endanger public security. In addition, organizations promoting “Hong Kong Independence” and “self-determination” were allegedly supported by foreign or external forces, inciting demonstrators, especially young people, to challenge the authority of the central and SAR governments. These facts are clear.

In response to media inquiries about Hong Kong’s “special status” or special treatment under U.S. law or possible sanctions against Hong Kong, a spokesman for the SAR government pointed out that Hong Kong’s “status as a separate customs area” was conferred by the basic law. We will continue to pursue free trade policy. As a separate member of the world trade organization, we expect fair treatment from our trading partners. “The use of sanctions as a threat to intervene in policies elsewhere is contrary to international law and practice. In fact, in the relationship between Hong Kong and the United States, any sanctions measure is a double-edged sword, which will not only damage the interests of Hong Kong, but also seriously damage the interests of the United States itself. ”

The communique stressed that in the past decade, the United States has earned the highest trade surplus in Hong Kong among its global trading partners. Between 2009 and 2018, the cumulative trade surplus of related goods amounted to US $297 billion. In 2019, due to trade frictions between China and the United States, the relevant surplus has been reduced from $31.4 billion in 2018 to $26.4 billion. If sanctions are imposed on services and investment, 1300 US companies in Hong Kong may be further affected. “The SAR government hopes that the U.S. government will adopt a pragmatic attitude, based on its own interests in Hong Kong, stop interfering in China’s and Hong Kong’s internal affairs, and continue to maintain its economic and trade policy towards Hong Kong.