Japan searching for North Korean boat crew who fell into sea

The coast guard said it dispatched four patrol vessels and two aircraft after receiving calls reporting a capsized boat. (File/Shutterstock)
Updated 16 October 2019

Japan searching for North Korean boat crew who fell into sea

  • Officials say the boat capsized in a rich fishing ground frequented by North Korean poachers
  • Another North Korean boat sank in a recent incident after colliding with a Japanese fishing vessel

TOKYO: The Japanese coast guard was searching for crew members who fell into the sea from a wooden North Korean fishing boat that capsized off Japan’s northwestern coast, officials said Wednesday.
The coast guard said it dispatched four patrol vessels and two aircraft after receiving information of the capsizing earlier Wednesday.
Officials said the incident occurred near an area called Yamatotai, a rich fishing ground that’s also crowded with North Korean poachers.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters that a Japanese fisheries inspection ship received a distress call from another North Korean boat. He said the Japanese fisheries and coast guard patrol boats are jointly searching for the missing.
No further details were available, including the number of crew or why the boat capsized. It was not immediately known if the boat was inside Japan’s 200-mile (322-kilometer) exclusive economic zone, where the country has the right to all resources.
Last week, a North Korean boat in the area sank after a collision with a Japanese fisheries boat warning it to leave the Japanese exclusive economic zone. About 60 crew members of the North Korean steel boat were safely rescued by another boat from the North.
Japanese Fishing Agency and coast guard officials said they did not arrest the North Koreans because their boat had sunk and could not obtain proof they were fishing illegaly. The area is too deep to retrieve the sunken ship, officials said.
The government plans to release a video around the time of the collision.
Japan has stepped up sea patrols after noticing more North Korean boats as Pyongyang tries to boost fish harvests.


Indians demonstrate against ‘divisive’ citizenship bill

Updated 11 December 2019

Indians demonstrate against ‘divisive’ citizenship bill

  • The bill, which goes to the upper house on Wednesday, would ensure citizenship for Hindus, Sikhs, Parsis and Buddhists from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, but exclude Muslims

NEW DELHI: Protests erupted across various parts of India on Tuesday, a day after the lower house of Parliament passed the controversial Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) which makes religion the basis for granting Indian citizenship to minorities from neighboring countries. 

The bill, which goes to the upper house on Wednesday, would ensure citizenship for Hindus, Sikhs, Parsis and Buddhists from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, but exclude Muslims.

“After the CAB, we are going to bring in the National Register of Citizens (NRC),” Home Minister Amit Shah said after the passage of the bill. 

The fear among a large section of Indians is that by bringing in the CAB and the NRC — a process to identify illegal immigrants — the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is trying to target Muslim minorities. 

They insist that the new bill protects all other communities except Muslims, who constitute around 14 percent of India’s total population.

The opposition Congress Party said that the bill was a move to “destroy the foundation” of India.

“The CAB is an attack on the Indian constitution. Anyone who supports it is attacking and attempting to destroy the foundation of our nation,” party leader Rahul Gandhi posted in a tweet.

Priyanka Gandhi, Rahul’s sister and a prominent opposition leader, called the bill “India’s tryst with bigotry.”

However, BJP spokesperson Sudesh Verma said: “The opposition is communalizing the bill. 

The CAB saves minorities who owe their origin to India from being prosecuted on grounds of religious status. The same is not the case with Muslims since they have not been prosecuted because of their religion.”

Eight northeastern states observed a day-long strike against the CAB. 

“Once the bill is implemented, the native tribal people will become permanent minorities in their own state,” Animesh Debbarma, a tribal leader who organized the strike in the state of Tripura said.

“The bill is against our fundamental rights and it is an attack on our constitution and secularism,” he told Arab News.

In Assam, some places saw violence with a vehicle belonging to the BJP state president vandalized.

In New Delhi, different civil society groups and individuals gathered close to the Indian Parliament and expressed their outrage at the “open and blatant attack” on what they called the “idea” of India.

“The CAB is not only against Muslim minorities but against all the minorities — be it Tamils or Nepali Gurkhas — and is a blatant attempt to polarize the society in the name of religion and turn India into a majoritarian Hindu state,” Nadeem Khan, head of United Against Hate, a campaign to connect people from different faiths, said.

Rallies and protests were also organized in Pune, Ahmadabad, Allahabad, Patna and Lucknow.

On Tuesday, more than 600 academics, activists, lawyers and writers called the bill “divisive, discriminatory, unconstitutional” in an open letter, and urged the government to withdraw the proposed law.

They said that the CAB, along with the NRC, “will bring untold suffering to people across the country. It will damage fundamentally and irreparably, the nature of the Indian republic.”

Delhi-based activist and a prominent human rights campaigner, Harsh Mander, said: “I feel the CAB is the most dangerous bill that has ever been brought by the Indian Parliament. We need a mass civil disobedience movement to oppose this legislation.”

Meanwhile, the international community is also watching the domestic debate on the CAB. 

Describing the initiative as a “dangerous turn in the wrong direction,”  a federal US commission on international religious freedom has sought US sanctions against Shah and other Indian leaders if the bill with the “religious criterion” is passed.

EU ambassador to India, Ugo Astuto, in a press conference in New Delhi on Monday said that he hopes: “The spirit of equality enshrined in the Indian constitution will be upheld by the Parliament.”