Royal decree: Public prosecution to be linked to king

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JEDDAH: The Royal Court on Saturday issued a number of orders, including amending the name of the Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution (BIP) to the Public Prosecution, and linking its office directly to the king.
The office of the public prosecutor will be completely independent, stipulated the orders, as reported by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).
The king directed the Cabinet to review the regulations and bylaws of the bureau and other related legislation, and within 90 days, propose amendments that are in accordance with the directives in this decree.
Other orders included relieving BIP’s head, Sheikh Mohammed Al-Oraini, and appointing Sheikh Saud bin Abdullah Al-Meageb as public prosecutor with the rank of minister.
The decree also ordered the retirement of the director of general security, Lt. Gen. Othman bin Naser Al-Muhrij, who was replaced by Lt. Gen. Saud bin Abdul Aziz Hallal.
Abdulhakeem bin Mohammed Al-Tamimi was appointed president of the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) with the rank of minister, and Suhail Mohammed Abanumai was named in the decree as governor of the General Authority of Zakat and Tax (GAZT).
The decree also appointed Faisal bin Abdul Aziz bin La as adviser at the Royal Court at the rank of general, and Abdul Aziz Al-Hamed as director of Prince Sattam bin Abdul Aziz University.
Uqla bin Ali Al-Uqla was named deputy chief and Fahd bin Abdullah bin Abdullatif Al-Mubarak as adviser at the Royal Court at the rank of minister. The decree also appointed Tamim bin Abdul Aziz Al-Salem as assistant special secretary to King Salman at the rank of minister.


Source  :  Arab News

Riyadh says Turkish military base not needed in the Kingdom

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JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia said Saturday a Turkish military base similar to that built in Qatar would not be welcome in the Kingdom, stressing it is “not needed.”
The statement came after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reportedly said he had offered to build a military base in Saudi Arabia shortly after work began on Turkey’s facility in Qatar.
“The Kingdom cannot allow Turkey to set up a military base on its territory,” said a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA). The statement, quoting an official source, said Saudi Arabia has no need for this, adding that its armed forces and military capabilities are “at the best level.”
The official said Saudi armed forces are participating abroad, including Turkey’s Incirlik base, “in the fight against terrorism and protecting security and stability in the region.”
Turkey is supporting Qatar in the diplomatic crisis involving three Gulf countries. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain have broken off ties and imposed sanctions on Doha, accusing it of supporting terrorism and courting regional rival Iran — allegations Doha denies.
Meanwhile, Iraqi Vice President Iyad Allawi accused Qatar of promoting a plan to split Iraq along sectarian lines.
Allawi is a secular Shiite politician who has some support within Iraq’s Sunni community. His position as vice president is largely ceremonial and his views do not reflect those of the government.
“In Iraq, Qatar adopted a project similar to that of Iran; to split Iraq into a Sunni region in exchange for a Shiite region,” Allawi told a news conference in Cairo. “Unfortunately, some Arab states were silent when it came to Qatar.”
“It is time we all spoke honestly and made things clear (to the Qataris) so we can reach some results,” Allawi said. “After that confrontation, comes reconciliation.”
— With input from Reuters


Source :  Arab News

JR West launches new luxury train

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Japan’s latest super-deluxe train left Osaka Station Saturday with a select group of passengers who paid hundreds of thousands of yen for a leisurely trip harking back to an era of Art Deco opulence and a slower pace of life.

The Twilight Express Mizukaze departed Osaka on its maiden trip with around 30 well-heeled passengers on a journey to the far reaches of Japan’s main island.

The 10-coach train, which has 16 rooms, runs from Osaka to Shimonoseki in Yamaguchi Prefecture, offering passengers a one- or two-night tour. Passengers can get off the train and visit tourist sites

The company said there were a total of 2,022 applications during the initial round of reservations for tickets for the 368 rooms available between June 17 and September.

A one-night tour with a room for two people costs 270,000 yen. The price for a suite starts from 750,000 yen.

A couple staying in the 10-car train’s top room, The Suite, paid out a combined 2.4 million yen for a two-night, three-day return trip that rolls past emerald green rice paddies, craggy coastlines and ancient shrines.

That eye-popping price tag gets you five-star hotel luxury including a marble-floored bathroom with claw-legged tub in the priciest suite, food prepared by gourmet chefs, and sumptuous lounges where you can sip cocktails as you take in the dramatic scenery through huge viewing windows.

“I’m so delighted to get a spot on this historic train,” Ayaka Kobayashi, a newlywed who was travelling on the Mizukaze with her husband, told Jiji Press news agency. “I want to enjoy this special time and space.”

The Mizukaze, which means “fresh wind” in Japanese, is just the latest luxury offering in train-mad Japan, which has an extensive railway network covering most of the country.

These top-end rolling hotels pay homage to once numerous sleeper cars that were overtaken by Shinkansen bullet trains that cut hours off travel times.

“Things have been reset, giving birth to a new breed” of trains, said photojournalist and train expert Kageri Kurihara after touring The Mizukaze.

“Train companies are trying to show what they can do without constraints. You may have this idea that sleeper trains are cramped and inconvenient but these railways are saying ‘look what we can offer!’.

“Japanese people are very fond of trains and you’d be excited with all these superb choices,” he added.

Last month, the Shiki-Shima left Tokyo’s Ueno Station with passengers treated to meals whipped up by gourmet chefs.

A four-day journey in several rooms that boast a cypress wood tub cost a cool 950,000 yen per person.

Well-heeled passengers even got piano playing and a fireplace — actually a trick created by steam and colored light — on the trip that took them from Japan’s capital to the northernmost island of Hokkaido and back again.

It cost the Shiki-Shima’s operator 10 billion yen to refurbish it and build special lounges at regular stops, among other expenses. The train is booked out through to March next year.

In 2013, Kyushu Railway unveiled its “Seven Stars” service with a piano and a bar, top-end dining and luxury suites.

Japan’s train operators have some offerings a notch down too, including a carriage with a foot-soaker bath.

As Tokyo gets set to host the 2020 Olympics, the record numbers of tourists visiting Japan could be another lucrative market for luxury train operators.

“This trend comes when more and more travellers from abroad are visiting Japan so the timing is good,” Kurihara said.

And while the economy may not be as booming as it once was, there are still many Japanese willing to pay for a local version of the Orient Express.

Passengers on the Mizukaze and Shiki-Shima had to put their names into a lottery and hope they got picked.

“Luxury train travel is not feeling the impact of deflation or a weak economy — and there are rich people out there,” Kurihara said. “Money aside, I’d love to travel on it just once in my life.”

© 2017 AFP
Source  :  Japan Today

Scandal damage control behind tactic to push through ‘conspiracy’ bill

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The circumvention of Japan’s normal legislative process to avoid keeping parliament sitting at a time of image problems for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe makes clear the extent to which the administration is willing to go to protect its figurehead.

It also indicates the ruling coalition of Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito is confident that opposition parties are too weak to successfully turn the scandals or the parliamentary drama into fuel for a change of government.

“Dictatorial” was how protesters outside the Diet building, gathering in their thousands to object to “the anti-conspiracy bill,” described the way the ruling camp resorted to a rarely used method of bypassing a committee vote to speed the bill’s passage into law.

With the current Diet session set to end Sunday, the enactment early last Thursday of the law criminalizing the planning of serious crimes meant the government and ruling parties could avoid an extension of the session in the middle of smoldering favoritism allegations against Abe.

At the same time, the release on Thursday of the results of a probe into the allegations, as well as an update from an ongoing government-wide inquiry into inappropriate post-retirement job placements for bureaucrats, were carefully planned to distract voters from the Diet drama and limit the damage from the bypass decision.

The law is controversial in its own right, having split public opinion in polls and attracted the concerns of a U.N. special rapporteur. With opposition parties vowing to do all they could to block it, speculation had been rife that the Diet session would be extended for 10 days or so to allow time for its enactment.

But according to parliamentary sources, the prime minister’s office and the upper echelons of the LDP had already hatched a plan by Tuesday to both railroad the conspiracy bill into law and release the results of the probes on Thursday in an effort to deal with all the inconvenient issues at once.

The plan also included a compromise in the form of a special deliberation session on Friday. According to a senior member of the LDP’s Diet affairs committee, the session gives both Komeito, whose supporters take a dim view of railroading, and the main opposition Democratic Party a chance to let off some steam.

The sources said the sense of urgency behind the committee bypass move stemmed from a rumor planted by the prime minister’s office that spread among lawmakers Wednesday night.

It was rumored that the opposition parties were going to submit a no-confidence motion against the Abe cabinet, and a House of Representatives vote to dismiss it would not take place until at least Thursday afternoon.

That delay would have meant that even after the conspiracy bill became law, lawmakers would still have to come into work on the weekend to deliberate a penal code amendment bill before the session ends on Sunday.

The suggestion to hurry up and get the conspiracy law out of the way in the early hours of Thursday worked a treat on lawmakers eager to make it home to their constituencies on the weekend.

The Democratic Party and three other opposition parties did end up submitting a no-confidence motion in the cabinet, as well as a host of other motions. Diet procedures spanned Wednesday night and the conspiracy law was finally enacted early on Thursday morning.

But not all in the ruling coalition are comfortable with this way of doing things, with a mid-ranking LDP lawmaker warning the committee bypass move risked being taken as a denial of democracy.

“There has been quite a bit of objection within the party,” the lawmaker said.

For Abe, the shrewd management of scandals offers potentially massive rewards.

With a change of government looking unlikely in the face of solid support ratings for the Abe Cabinet, he could potentially remain prime minister until late 2021 if he wins a third straight term as LDP president in a party vote in the fall of next year.

Electoral victories have given the LDP, Komeito and likeminded lawmakers the supermajority needed to formally propose an amendment to the post-World War II Japanese Constitution, which will then have to gain a majority in a national referendum.

Abe made clear last month that he aims to bring an amendment into force by 2020, suggesting the retention of the existing clauses of the war-renouncing Article 9.

The conspiracy law’s rocky enactment indicates the Abe administration is prepared to break with convention to keep intact its hopes of achieving that legacy.

Source  :  Japan Today

Smart ‘green cards’ now available

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By ZHOU WENTING (China Daily)    10:33, June 17, 2017


A new ID card designed to give foreign permanent residents easier access to public services in China was issued across the country on Friday to expats holding “green cards”.

The machine-readable Foreign Permanent Resident ID Card — similar to the second-generation ID cards held by Chinese citizens that store information about the card holder on an embedded chip — can be used independently as legal proof of identity when dealing with such issues as finance, education, health, communication, accommodations, telecommunication, employment, taxes, social security, property registration and lawsuits in China.

While the new card can be used by itself for such transactions, the previous permanent resident’s permit needed to be used along with the holder’s passport.

The change is a response to the long complaint from holders of “green cards” — as permanent resident cards are known — who said the card was more like a long-term visa rather than something that made their lives in China more convenient.

On Friday, the first group of foreigners, including 10 top-talent expats in Shanghai, eight in Beijing and five in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, received the new cards issued by the Ministry of Public Security.

“I absolutely believe the new card will give foreign permanent residents more convenience to enjoy all the rights related to residency,” said Anders Lindquist, a chair professor of automation at Shanghai Jiao Tong University and a permanent resident in China from Sweden. “It also renders us a stronger sense of belonging in China.”

Fan Weishu, a 48-year-old Chinese-American who is a senior manager at an international insurance company in Beijing, said he was really excited to receive the card.

“I was born and raised in China, and today I felt that I’m back and I’m a real ‘Beijinger’,” he said.

Expats who obtain permanent residence in China as of Friday will be granted the new ID cards. Those who have an old permanent resident card can go to exit and entry administration bureaus of local public security agencies to replace their cards. The old cards are valid until the expiration date, according to the ministry.

Ghulam Sajid, who is from Pakistan and obtained permanent residence in China four years ago, said he planned to exchange the permit for the new smart card soon.

“Currently, I need to bring along my two thick passports together with the permanent resident permit to show my identity if I go to banks or purchase train tickets with manual service,” said Sajid, a 43-year-old manager of an import and export company in Shanghai.

“With the new card, I’ll be able to buy the train tickets on machines and get on a train by swiping the card like Chinese citizens,” he said.

China began issuing permanent resident permits for foreigners in 2004. More than 10,000 foreigners have been granted the status so far.


Source  :   China Daily