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What is Shinzo Abe’s legacy? | Asia



The surprise resignation of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sent shockwaves through the country’s political establishment.

The 65-year-old quit citing health reasons related to ulcerative colitis, a chronic bowel disease he has lived with since he was a teenager.

Abe apologised to the Japanese people and said he did not want his illness to get in the way of decision-making.

Described as a nationalist, he has struggled to introduce aggressive economic reforms.

So how far has he succeeded? And how will Japanese remember him?

Presenter: Adrian Finighan


Tomohiko Taniguchi – Special adviser to Abe’s cabinet and professor at Keio University 

Lauren Richardson – Director of studies at Australian National University’s Asia-Pacific College of Diplomacy

David Leheny – Professor of Japanese politics at Waseda University

Source: Al Jazeera News

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COVID-free Australia ‘in no hurry’ to open its borders | Coronavirus pandemic News




Scott Morrison says he will not put at risk Australians’ nearly coronavirus-free lifestyle.

Australia is in no hurry to reopen its international borders and risk the country’s nearly coronavirus-free lifestyle, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Sunday.

Australia closed its borders to all non-citizens and non-residents in March 2020 and has been permitting only limited international arrivals in recent months, mainly its citizens returning from abroad.

The border closure, together with snap lockdowns, swift contact tracking and high community compliance with health measures, have made Australia one of the world’s most successful countries in curbing the pandemic, limiting coronavirus cases to under 29,500 infections and 910 deaths.

“Australia is in no hurry to open those borders, I assure you,” Morrison said at a televised briefing.

“I will not be putting at risk the way we are living in this country which is so different to the rest of the world today.”

For months now, except for some short snap lockdowns, Australians have been able to dine out, gather nearly freely and stop wearing face masks in most places.

They exchanged their international forays for local trips, with government figures showing big annual increases in intra-state travel in the first months of 2021.

From Monday, Australians and neighbouring New Zealanders will be able to travel between both countries without the need to apply for an exemption or spend time in mandatory quarantine.

New Zealand has had only 2,239 confirmed coronavirus cases and 26 related deaths.

Morrison flagged on Sunday that vaccinated Australians could be able to travel overseas “for essential purposes” and return via home quarantine in the second half of the year, but that possibility is only in “planning stages”.

Australia recently abandoned a goal to vaccinate nearly all of its 26 million population by the end of 2021 following advice that people under the age of 50 take Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine rather than AstraZeneca’s shot.

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Chad’s Deby takes early election lead as rebels near Ndjamena | Elections News




Partial provisional results came as the US orders some diplomatic staff to leave Chad amid reports of a rebel convoy nearing the capital.

Chad’s President Idriss Deby has taken a strong early lead and appeared poised to extend his 30-year rule, partial provisional results of the April 11 presidential election showed, as the United States and the United Kingdom warned of possible violence in the Chadian capital, Ndjamena.

The Independent National Election Commission (CENI) said on Saturday that Deby won a majority in all but one of the 51 departments announced so far, and secured a plurality in the other.

Results from 61 departments are yet to be announced.

Kilmapone Larme, head of logistics at the CENI, said they had still not received more than 30 percent of the results.

The UK government, meanwhile, said two convoys of a Libya-based rebel group were heading towards the capital. The convoys belonged to the Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT), which had attacked a border post in the north of the country on election day.

Ballots are counted after the closing of the voting operations at a roadside voting station in Ndjamena, on April 11, 2021 [File: Marco Longari/ AFP]

The UK government urged its citizens to leave the country as soon as possible, saying one convoy had passed the town of Faya, some 770km (478 miles) northeast of Ndjamena, while the other was seen approaching the town of Mao, about 220km (137 miles) to the north.

The US also ordered non-essential diplomats at its embassy in Chad to leave the country.

“Armed non-governmental groups in northern Chad have moved south and appear to be heading toward N’Djamena,” the US Department of State said in a travel alert. “Due to their growing proximity to N’Djamena, and the possibility for violence in the city, non-essential US government employees have been ordered to leave Chad by commercial airline.”

FACT is based in Libya, where it has a non-aggression pact with renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar who controls much of the country’s east. Mainly made up of the Saharan Goran people, FACT clashes regularly with the Chadian army.

The AFP news agency reported tanks and soldiers at the northern entrance to the city, while Chad’s army said it had “completely destroyed” a FACT convoy in the north of Kanem province on Saturday afternoon.

Soldiers were searching for the last of the rebels, army spokesman Azem Bermandoa Agouna said in a statement read out on national television.

Deby, 68, is an ally of Western powers in the fight against armed groups in West and Central Africa. He is one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders, but there are signs of growing discontent over his handling of the nation’s oil wealth.

Chad’s government has been forced to cut back public spending in recent years because of the low price of oil, its main export. The measures sparked protests and labour strikes.

Opposition leaders had called on their supporters to boycott last week’s polls.

“Until midday, the polling stations were almost empty in almost all towns in the country but CENI has just concocted fictitious results to deceive Chadians,” Yacine Abderaman Sakine, the head of the opposition Reform Party, told the Reuters news agency on Saturday.

“We do not recognise this result.”

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US, China agree to tackle climate crisis with urgency | Climate Change News




The US and China agree on the need for stronger climate commitments before the new round of international talks in Glasgow.

China and the United States, the world’s two biggest carbon polluters, have agreed to cooperate with other countries to fight climate change.

The joint statement on Sunday followed two days of talks between Chinese climate envoy Xie Zhenhua and his US counterpart, John Kerry, in Shanghai.

“The United States and China are committed to cooperating with each other and with other countries to tackle the climate crisis, which must be addressed with the seriousness and urgency that it demands,” their statement said.

The two countries will also continue to discuss “concrete actions in the 2020s to reduce emissions aimed at keeping the Paris Agreement-aligned temperature limit within reach”, it said.

In the Paris accord, countries agreed in 2015 to keep rising global temperatures to below 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit).

China and the US are the world’s top carbon polluters, pumping out nearly half of the fossil fuel fumes that are warming the planet’s atmosphere. Their cooperation is key to the success of global efforts to curb climate change, but frayed ties over human rights, trade and China’s territorial claims to Taiwan and the South China Sea have been threatening to undermine such efforts.

Kerry’s trip to Shanghai marked the highest-level travel to China by a US official since President Joe Biden took office in January.

Biden, who has said fighting global warming is among his highest priorities, had the US rejoin the Paris climate accord in the first hours of his presidency, undoing the withdrawal ordered by his predecessor, Donald Trump.

The new US president has also invited 40 world leaders, including Chinese President Xi Jinping, to a virtual summit to discuss the issue on April 22 and 23.

The US and other countries are expected to announce more ambitious national targets for cutting carbon emissions before or during the meeting, along with pledging financial help for climate efforts by less wealthy nations.

When Kerry was still in Shanghai, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng signalled on Friday that China is unlikely to make any new pledges at next week’s summit.

“For a big country with 1.4 billion people, these goals are not easily delivered,” Le said during an interview with The Associated Press news agency in Beijing. “Some countries are asking China to achieve the goals earlier. I am afraid this is not very realistic.”

On whether Xi would join the summit, Le said, “The Chinese side is actively studying the matter.”

During a video meeting with German and French leaders on Friday, Xi said climate change “should not become a geopolitical chip, a target for attacking other countries or an excuse for trade barriers”, though he called for closer cooperation on the issue, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.

Xi pledged last year that China would achieve “carbon neutrality by 2060” and ensure its greenhouse gas emissions peak before 2030.

The top emitters of greenhouse gases are also preparing for the next United Nations climate summit taking place in Glasgow, United Kingdom, in November. The summit aims to relaunch global efforts to keep rising global temperatures to below 1.5C as agreed in the Paris accord.

The US-China statement said the two countries also agreed to discuss specific emission reduction actions, including energy storage, carbon capture and hydrogen. They said they would take action to maximise financing for developing countries to switch to low-carbon energy sources.

It added that both countries “are firmly committed to working together and with other Parties to strengthen implementation of the Paris Agreement”.

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