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BC-AS--Asian News Digest, AS

April 1, 2014


YOKOHAMA, Japan — Just as colonialism influenced the past of the vast region stretching from Siberia to New Zealand to Afghanistan, the future of the Asia-Pacific region will be shaped — for better or worse — by the climate change imperatives of this century. A report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change outlines the risks facing the 4.3 billion people, 60 percent of humanity, living in the region. By Elaine Kurtenbach. Upcoming.


BUSAN, South Korea — As Dr. Kim Seok-Kwun begins what will be 11 hours of surgery meant to create a functioning penis for a Buddhist nun, he is well aware of the unease his work creates in this deeply conservative country. The devout Protestant known as the “father of South Korean transgender people” once wrestled with similar feelings. Kim has conducted more than 300 sex-change operations and is a pioneer in slowly changing views on sexuality and gender in South Korea. By Hyung-jin Kim. UPCOMING: 1000 words by 0900GMT, photos, video.


KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — From “All right, good night” to “Good night, Malaysian three-seven-zero.” Malaysia’s correction on what it previously said were the final words received from the cockpit of the missing jetliner would appear insignificant to the hunt for the plane. But for relatives and a world still hungry for answers, the unexplained change has only strengthened perceptions that the government lacks credibility. By Chris Brummitt and Gillian Wong. UPCOMING: 900 words by 1000GMT, photos.


PERTH, Australia — Australia will deploy a modified Boeing 737 to act as a flying air traffic controller over the Indian Ocean to prevent a collision among the aircraft searching for the Malaysia Airlines jetliner that went missing over three weeks ago. By Rob Griffith and Rod McGuirk. Sent: 900 words, photos, video.


TOKYO — For the first time since Japan’s nuclear disaster three years ago, authorities are allowing residents to live in their homes within a tiny part of a 20-kilometer (12-mile) evacuation zone around the Fukushima plant. The decision applies to 117 households from a corner of Tamura city after the government determined that radiation levels are low enough for habitation. By Yuri Kageyama. Sent: 370 words.


BEIJING — China’s Defense Ministry says inspectors have uncovered widespread irregularities and suspected corruption among military units based around Beijing. The announcement comes as President Xi Jinping ratchets up an anti-graft campaign that is turning its attention to the sprawling 2.3 million-member People’s Liberation Army, long dogged by a culture of bribery, corruption and power abuse. Sent: 370 words.


ABOARD BRP SIERRA MADRE, Spratly Islands — On board the crumbling carcass of this World War II-era warship, Filipino marine 1st Lt. Mike Pelotera and his eight men make their way to a deck to raise the Philippine flag up a leaning pole and then salute it. Across the calm, turquoise waters, two Chinese coast guard ships lurk. The BRP Sierra Madre is a rusty, hole-riddled symbol of the Philippines’ claim to a submerged coral outcrop that has been disputed by China and the Philippines for years. By Jim Gomez. Sent: 940 words, photos.


NEW DELHI — The American ambassador to India said she will retire before the end of May, ending a two-year tenure after the strip-search of an Indian diplomat in New York City badly damaged U.S.-India ties. Sent: 400 words, photo.


TOKYO — Japan relaxed a decades-old ban on military-related exports in a bid to expand joint arms development with allies and equipment sales to Southeast Asia and elsewhere. By Mari Yamaguchi. Sent: 450 words, photo.


TOKYO — A Japanese government-funded laboratory said it found that data in a widely heralded stem-cell research paper was falsified, holding the lead researcher responsible for the fabrication. By Elaine Kurtenbach. Sent: 310 words.


MANILA, Philippines — International drug enforcement officials say methamphetamine is the drug of choice in Asia but new synthetic drugs have found their way in the region, with authorities constantly playing catch up with traffickers. Sent: 130 words.


BEIJING — Johnny Depp showed off a diamond “chick’s ring” on his left ring finger as “not very subtle” evidence of his engagement to actress Amber Heard, in an AP interview. By Louise Watt. Sent: 500 words, photos, video.



TOKYO — Japan raised its sales tax, moving to stabilize government finances but at the risk of undermining a shaky economic recovery. It’s a gamble the world’s No. 3 economy cannot afford to take, given its soaring public debt. By Elaine Kurtenbach. Sent: 900 words, photos.


HONG KONG — Growth in the developing economies of Asia will edge higher as the recovery in rich countries helps the region weather the slowdown in China, the Asian Development Bank said. Sent: 240 words.



BRUSSELS — NATO foreign ministers meet for a two-day session officials say will be dominated by the crisis over Ukraine and how to deal with Russia, which NATO once deemed its “partner.” Escalation of Western sanctions against Moscow or other drastic action seems unlikely. By Raf Casert. UPCOMING: 300 words by 7 a.m., photos, video.


SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Blizzards, jammed phone lines and buggy websites couldn’t stop a last-minute flood of procrastinators from trying to sign up for insurance under U.S. health care reforms. The months ahead will show whether President Barack Obama’s signature domestic policy initiative meets its mandate to provide affordable coverage or whether high deductibles, paperwork snags and narrow physician networks make it a bust. By Judy Lin. SENT: 1,000 words, photos.


CARACAS, Venezuela — Battling food shortages, the government is rolling out a new ID system that is either a grocery loyalty card with extra muscle or the most dramatic step yet toward rationing in Venezuela, depending on who is describing it. By Hannah Dreier. SENT: 750 words, photos.



SEOUL, South Korea — South Korean organizers for this year’s Asian Games say they’ve asked the International Olympic Committee to help bring North Korea to the quadrennial sports events. North Korea’s state media said in January the country will take part in men’s and women’s football competitions at the Asian Games to be held in South Korea, but it’s not clear if it will take any further part in the event. Sent: 130 words.


YOUR QUERIES: The editor in charge at the AP Asia-Pacific Desk in Bangkok is Malcolm Foster. Questions and story requests are welcome. The news desk can be reached at (66) 2632-6911 or by email at asia@ap.org.

The Asia Photo Desk can be reached at (81-3) 6215-8941 or by fax at (81-3) 3574-8850.

Between 1600 GMT and 0000 GMT, please refer queries to the North America Desk in New York at (1) 212-621-1650.

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