North Korea, angered by drills, fires short-range missiles

admin   •   March 2, 2015   •   2089

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (C) supervises an expanded meeting of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea in Pyongyang in this February 18, 2015 photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang February 19, 2015.
CREDIT: REUTERS/KCNA

(Reuters) – North Korea fired two short-range missiles off its east coast on Monday, South Korean officials said, a defiant response to annual military exercises between South Korea and the United States but one which drew a swift protest from Japan.

The firing came hours before the U.S.-South Korean military exercises were scheduled to begin, drills which the secretive North denounces as a preparation for war.

The missiles hit the sea early on Monday morning after traveling for about 490 km (305 miles), according to South Korea’s defense ministry.

Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said North Korea fired the missiles without designating any no-sail zones, which was regarded as a provocation.

“If North Korea takes provocative actions, our military will react firmly and strongly so North Korea will regret it in its bones,” Kim told a news briefing.

Pyongyang has escalated its rhetoric against the drills, with a spokesman for its army general staff saying Washington and Seoul “should be dealt with only by merciless strikes”.

Japan quickly lodged a protest with North Korea over the latest missile launches, saying they posed a serious threat to safety at sea and in the sky.

“The ballistic missile launches by North Korea are extremely problematic conduct in terms of aviation and navigation safety,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference.

“We swiftly lodged a stern protest with North Korea.”

Japan needs to tread a fine line between conveying its condemnation to Pyongyang while not derailing bilateral talks aimed at resolving the issue of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korean agents decades ago.

In July, Japan eased some sanctions on North Korea in return for the North reopening its investigation into the fate of Japanese abductees. Little progress has been made so far.

North Korea frequently tests short-range missiles off its coast as part of military drills.

The United Nations has imposed sanctions banning North Korea from using ballistic missile technologies.

(Additional reporting by Kaori Kaneko and Kiyoshi Takenaka in TOKYO; Editing by Paul Tait)

Japanese Embassy issues advisory on visa application for eligible Filipino travelers

Marje Pelayo   •   October 19, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Japanese Embassy in Manila has issued an advisory on the changes in the scope of acceptance of visa applications for eligible Filipino travelers to Japan.

This is according to the advisory issued by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).

The advisory emphasized the inclusion of eligible Filipino travelers under the “Phased Measures toward Resuming Cross-Border Travel”, a special quota on the entry into and departure from Japan, which covers technical intern trainees and specified skilled workers. 

“Applicants may directly visit the embassy for own visa application while students and technical intern trainees whose sending/accepting organization is same can apply through a representative with authorization letters from every applicant,” the POEA noted.

For short-term stay for business, required documents for visa application include:

  • Visa application form with attached photo
  • Passport
  • Certificate of Employment
  • Invitation letter
  • Letter of guarantee, and;
  • A written pledge. 

POEA advised applicants that the Embassy may request for additional requirements, if necessary, and it may deny visa acceptance for incomplete requirements. 

The Embassy reminded that accepting time for visa application starts at 8:40am to 11:00am, every Mondays to Fridays except on Embassy holidays, the POEA stressed.

“The embassy does not accept applications after the said accepting time,” it added.

Prior to visiting the Embassy, applicants are also advised to first contact its hotlines through the numbers 02-8834-7514 and 02-8834-7508 as the embassy is strictly implementing appointment schedule and social distancing measures as preventive measures against COVID-19.

Avigan clinical trials in PH may start next week – DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   October 9, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The clinical trials on anti-flu drug Avigan in the country may finally begin next week, the Department of Health (DOH) said.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the process for the clinical trial is currently being finalized, adding that the proponent of the research has been given go signal to recruit study participants.

Vergeire said a minor issue on the insurance documents just needed to be fixed before they could begin the trial.

“Merong minor comment ang legal service namin for this insurance document. Iyon na lang but we already gave the go signal to the proponents,” she said.

“Kapag nakapag-recruit na tayo, hopefuly by next week talagang officially starting na tayo,” she added.

The clinical trial, which aims to look into the possible benefits of the Japan-made drug to coronavirus disease patients, will last for nine months. Four hospitals will participate in the trial.

It was supposed to start in August but was delayed due to some issues in legal arrangements.

Avigan tablets were delivered in early August by the Japanese government for the use of 100 patients. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Aiko Miguel)

PH begins exporting okra to Japan as new normal starts

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 1, 2020

The Department of Agriculture (DA) led the initial shipment of two tons of okra or ladyfinger to Japan on Tuesday (September 29).

Agriculture Secretary William Dar said around 300 farmers were involved in the production of the export-grade okra products that were harvested from different farms in 14 barangays of Tarlac.

Jelfarm Fresh Produce Enterprise, one of the country’s leading okra exporters, will be shipping about five tons daily as the harvest season begins and it will increase to an average of 13–15 tons everyday during peak season.

 “It’s a win-win arrangement because the farmers planting these are getting higher levels of income compared to rice,” Dar said.

Jeffrey Fernandez of Jelfarm said they are looking for alternative livelihoods for farmers who are suffering from unstable palay prices throughout the year. Fernandez said okra farmers can harvest 500 kilograms up to one ton of okra per hectare for 75 days straight and earn a net income of P80,000 – P120,000.

“It’s a fast turnaround crop, high-yielding crop, and a good source of income for the farmers,” he said. AAC

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