Kyoto animation studio fire death toll rises to 33

Marje Pelayo   •   July 19, 2019   •   1283

Fire-damaged animation studio building | Courtesy: China Central Television (CCTV)

The death toll from an animation studio fire in Kyoto, Japan on Thursday has risen to 33, local police and rescuers said.

The local fire department said 36 others have been injured, 10 of them critically, in the blaze that sent people desperately scrambling up the stairs toward the roof of the three-story building of the Kyoto Animation Co.

The blaze, ignited by a 41-year-old man with flammable liquid, is believed to be the country’s worst case of arson in decades.

About 70 people were working in the studio when the fire started.

Witnesses said that they saw victims who were badly bleeding were rushed to hospital in the incident that took place at around 10:35 local time in the city’s Fushimi Ward Thursday morning.

Police said the largest number of victims were found on the top floor of the three-story building, including some who had collapsed on the stairs leading to the roof.

The fire caused an explosion that shattered all the windows on the second and third floors.

More than 30 fire engines were deployed to the scene.

The firefighters managed to contain the fire around 03:20 local time, about five hours after it started.

“We sent out a quick report that the building had burned down. This is what has been learned from the investigation at the moment. The building, about 691 square meters, was completely destroyed,” said a Kyoto fireman.

The suspect is also being treated in hospital for injuries sustained during the fire and has been taken into custody, investigators said. His motives are yet to be determined. (REUTERS)

South Korea to scrap intelligence-sharing pact with Japan amid history feud

Robie de Guzman   •   August 23, 2019

South Korea’s deputy director of the National Security Council (NSC), Kim You-Geun | Courtesy: Reuters

South Korea said on Thursday (August 22) it will scrap an intelligence-sharing pact with Japan, a decision that could further escalate a dispute over history and trade and undercut security cooperation on North Korea.

The decision was announced after an hours-long debate within the presidential National Security Council (NSC).

Japan created a “grave change” in the environment for bilateral security cooperation by removing South Korea’s fast-track export status, citing security concerns without providing clear evidence, said Kim You-geun, a deputy director of the National Security Council.

The General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) was due to be automatically renewed on Saturday (August 24), unless either side decided to cancel it. (Reuters)

(Production: Dogyun Kim, Minwoo Park)

Japan, South Korea, China vow to address diplomatic issues at trilateral summit

Robie de Guzman   •   August 21, 2019

(L-R) Korean foreign minister Kang Kyung-wha, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi and Japanese foreign minister Taro Kono speaking at trilateral summit, commenting on diplomatic issues between three countries| Courtesy: Reuters

China, Japan and South Korea foreign ministers on Wednesday (August 21) vowed to address diplomatic issues at a trilateral summit.

Ties between Japan and South Korea were arguably at their lowest ebb since their relationship was normalized in 1965, hit by a heated feud over the issue of South Korean forced labour during World War Two, which spilled over into a bitter tit-for-tat trade row.

During a joint statement given by all three foreign ministers, South Korea’s Kang Kyung-wha said that the three countries should “remember to face history” and remove “retaliatory trade measures,” a clear jab at recent measures taken by Japan to remove it from its “white list” of trade partners.

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono shied away from commenting directly on the strain with South Korea, instead saying that all three countries should “work closely” in light of diplomatic “difficulties”.

China’s Wang Yi, following Kono’s words, said that China “hopes” Japan and South Korea will take the opportunity to manage their differences constructively during the summit.

This is the ninth such trilateral foreign ministers meeting, the last being three years ago.

From 2008, the three countries had agreed to hold a summit every year to foster regional cooperation. But bilateral tension, including that between China and Japan, has often intervened. (Reuters)

(Production: Wang Shubing, Joseph Campbell, Hyunyoung Yi, Kwiyeon Ha)

Japanese flying car successfully hovers during test flight

Robie de Guzman   •   August 7, 2019

Courtesy: Reuters

Japanese electronics manufacturer NEC Corporation unveiled a prototype flying car that stayed in the air for almost a minute during a test in Japan this week.

About the size of an auto rickshaw and equipped with four horizontal propellers, the drone-like prototype reached a height of three metres (10 feet) during the test in Chiba, east of Tokyo, on Monday (August 5).

The flying car is designed for unmanned delivery flights, NEC officials said.

The Japanese government aims to start commercializing flying vehicles from around 2023, beginning with transportation of goods, and expanding to moving people closer to 2030. (REUTERS)

(Production: Yoko Kono, Akiko Okamoto)

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