Anti-plastic drive in UAE expects major results

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Anjana Sankar /Abu Dhabi
Filed on April 20, 2018

“People need to change the way they think of plastic.”

The UAE is taking its fight against plastic seriously with new legislations and guidelines on plastic waste consumption and disposal.

Yousif Alrayssi, director, municipal affairs department at the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, told Khaleej Times that the ministry is working on creating a fundamental shift in public mindset and behaviours towards reducing, reusing and recycling plastic products.

“People need to change the way they think of plastic, understand the implications of using and disposing of plastic in an irresponsible manner and act accordingly.

We are spreading awareness of the matter to get members of the public on board with the nation-wide efforts to keep the plastic waste in our cities at a minimal level.”

The official said the ministry is currently running the ‘Responsible Consumption for Sustainable Future’ awareness campaign, under the theme ‘Preserving our Environment: Smart Use of Plastic’. The campaign is running from April 12 to 26, with the aim to raise awareness of the importance of preserving our environment and the smart use of plastic, by educating the public on green practices that promote the principles of the three R’s – Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle – when using and disposing of plastic products at both corporate or personal levels.

The UAE has also issued a decision obliging manufacturers and suppliers of plastic products to register biodegradable plastic products according to the Emirates Conformity Assessment System (ECAS). They also have to adhere to the list of requirements and conditions for registering biodegradable plastics in accordance with the Emirati specification standards, UAE 2009:5009.

Also, there is a UAE Cabinet decision issued in 2009 regarding ban on production of plastic bags other than oxy-biodegradable ones. “Under the UAE’s Vision 2021, the country is aiming to divert 75 per cent of all generated waste, including plastic waste, from landfills. This indicator measures the percentage of treated waste out of the total generated waste (solid municipal waste) using various treatment methods (recycling, incineration, waste-to-energy, chemical treatment, exporting for external treatment, except for the landfill),” said Alrayssi.

Ibrahim Abdulmajid Al Ali, Projects and Facilities Director at Tadweer -Centre for Waste Management, Abu Dhabi, said door-to-door and mass awareness campaigns are being conducted targeting sustainable consumption, reducing waste generation and source segregation to promote recycling of all recyclables like plastic, paper, metal (aluminium cans), etc. “Since 2012, Tadweer has provided all residential areas with two separate bins – black for general household waste and green for all recyclable waste including plastic, paper and metal.”

Tadweer also runs a plastic waste recycling plant in Al Ain that receives all segregated plastic waste to produce plastic granules, which is raw material for plastic-based products manufacturing industries.

“Tadweer has developed an integrated waste management master plan for the next 25 years and the same has been approved by Executive Council of Abu Dhabi. Accordingly, Tadweer is working on establishing state of the art waste management facilities where waste including plastic bags, etc. will be processed to produce chemicals or biofuels including jet-fuel,” said the spokesperson.

anjana@khaleejtimes.com

 

Source :  The Khaleej Times

Sharjah Police warn against ‘exaggerated’ reports of car thefts on social media

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Web Report
Filed on April 20, 2018 | Last updated on April 20, 2018 at 04.34 pm

Some local media outlets took the report seriously.

An audio clip of a man warning residents about a gang that targets cars has been slammed by Sharjah Police.

In an official statement issued on Friday, the police denied rumours of a car thefts gang in Sharjah being circulated on social media and local news outlets.

Colonel Ibrahim Al Ajal, director of the criminal investigation department at Sharjah Police, confirmed: “After examining the recording, we found his claims to be untrue.”

He called on all members of the community, the leaders of the social media sites and the media not to publish or circulate such news before verifying its source.

In the clip, the man said that two cars parked in front of the Sharjah Family Court had been robbed of their contents that included money and personal documents, reported Al Ittihad.

He stated that the gang was organised and would monitor their victims prior to the theft. They would use a special device to break the windows.

Sharjah Police confirmed the robberies but denied all details which the man related in the recording.

They added, “He greatly exaggerated the facts. There is no gang which robbed the vehicles. There was only one incident of such a theft reported to the authorities. We are doing what we can to bring the perpetrator to justice.”

The incident referred to in the recordings happened in Al Hazana area, police confirmed.

“Such audio recordings published on social media sites greatly exaggerate such incidents and are factually flawed,” Sharjah police warned.

Thefts from vehicles have declined in recent periods, and police awareness campaigns continue to be carried out in this regard.

 

Source :  The Khaleej Times

APS travel spend booms as bill nears $600 million in 2017

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By Doug Dingwall

The federal government’s travel bill is on a steep climb despite efforts to cut back, as its agencies’ spending on flights and hotels reached more than half a billion dollars last year.

Government departments paid $593 million for flights, accommodation and hire cars in 2017, keeping an upward trajectory for the federal travel spend since the Coalition came into office.

The Defence Department was the government’s big spender with a bill topping $230.3 million, nearly half of the Commonwealth’s total travel and accomodation costs, while the former Immigration Department ($43.7 million) had the next-largest spend.

Home of Australia’s diplomatic corps, Foreign Affairs and Trade, reached $42 million in travel, while Human Services ($41.3 million) and Attorney-General’s ($41.3 million) rounded out the top five.

The government has asked public servants to reconsider their need to travel for work and to use video conferencing and other technology when possible in a drive to cut costs, but the latest figures show spending continues to soar from $377 million in the 2013-14 financial year.

Most of the 2017 bill went towards air travel, which cost agencies $439.1 million, and domestic flights from Canberra to Sydney and Melbourne were the most frequented routes for the bureaucracy.

International flights were more likely to carry public servants to Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea, and Manus Island, than most other destinations suggesting Immigration workers kept a thoroughfare to the country in a year that saw the troubled closure of its controversial detention centre for asylum seekers trying to reach Australia.

Dallas, Singapore and Los Angeles were among other cities public servants landed most in 2017.

Governments have previously declined to release the total amount spent on travel as part of the centralised arrangements for non-corporate Commonwealth entities, with the bill estimated at about $500 million in 2012.

Established in July 2010, the government-wide system is designed to reduce costs and simplify some booking and administration processes.

Administered by Finance, the system requires bureaucrats and officials to buy the lowest practical airline fare – the cheapest ticket that suits the “practical business needs of the traveller”.

For overseas travel, the best international fare must be selected from at least three quotes with public servants required to apply “an appropriate level of rigor” in finding value for money.

Public servants, staffers and other employees from 150 government entities are part of the system, which includes more than 100,000 travellers every year and sees everything from VIP travel to budget flights and group travel discounting.

Tickets can be booked from a panel of 18 airlines, including Qantas, Virgin, Jetstar, Regional Express, Air New Zealand, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Air Niugini, Etihad and Singapore Airlines.

 

Source :  The Brisbane Times

Sydney Airport reports double-digit increase in international passengers

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An April 2015 image of Emirates Airbus A380 A6-EEF taking off from Sydney Airport. (Seth Jaworski)

Sydney Airport has reported a double digit increase in international passengers in March thanks to the timing of the Easter holidays and fuller aircraft in the month.

There were 1.371 million international passengers at Sydney Airport in March, the company said in a regulatory filing to the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) on Friday. This was up 11.1 per cent from 1.234 million a year ago.

Sydney Airport chief executive Geoff Culbert said the “exceptional international passenger traffic growth” was supported by more seats and increased load factors, as well as, in part, Easter falling in late March 2018 compared with 2017, when it was in April.

“During this period, we had capacity growth of 7.5 per cent (more than 120,000 additional seats) and a 2.3 percentage point increase in average load factors above the prior corresponding period,” Culbert said in a statement.

On March 26, Emirates introduced a fourth daily Sydney-Dubai rotation, operated by Airbus A380s. Sydney Airport said the new flight would be served with a combination of A380s and Boeing 777-300ERs depending on the time of the year and add about 300,000 annual seats on the route.

Meanwhile, Air India added a fifth weekly flight on its nonstop Delhi-Sydney flight with Boeing 787-8s starting March 30, representing an additional 14,000 seats a year.

There are more new services to come later in 2018, with Virgin Australia to start daily Sydney-Hong Kong flights with Airbus A330-200s from July 2. Sydney Airport said this new flight represented an 200,000 seats a year on the route, which is already served by Cathay Pacific and Qantas.

Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand have also announced additional trans-Tasman flights, including from Sydney to various points in New Zealand, from October, when the pair’s alliance ends.

Sydney Airport said the number of Chinese nationals travelling to Sydney rose 19.9 per cent in the month, compared with the prior corresponding period. China is Sydney Airport’s largest foreign source market.

India recorded the largest increase in March, climbing 28.2 per cent, while travellers from South Korea were up 15.2 per cent and the United States up 14.3 per cent.

“This is a pleasing performance from some of our largest markets and is a direct result of increasing seat capacity,” Culbert said.

Away from the international market, Sydney Airport reported a 3.5 per cent improvement in domestic passengers in March to 2.414 million, compared with the prior corresponding period.

Culbert noted the “robust” domestic growth was driven by a 1.4 percentage point lift in load factors, with capacity up 1.7 per cent in the month.

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce noted in the airline group’s first half results in February there was “good growth” in the eastern states with financial services, construction and infrastructure sectors of the economy “doing very well”.

There was also encouraging signs in the premium leisure and resources sector.

“We are seeing really strong growth in the premium leisure,” Joyce said on February 22.

“The one part that was letting us down for the last few years was the decline in the resort sector which was significant.

“This is the first time now in over three years that we’ve seen growth in that sector. Small growth but growth and that’s a good indication I think that the Australian economy is starting to fire on all cylinders.”

Virgin Australia chief executive John Borghetti also noted a pickup in domestic activity at his airline’s 2017/18 first half results presentation on February 28, which showed a return to profitability at the underlying level.

“This result was driven by capacity and network optimisation, the benefits of our fleet simplification program and improved corporate demand, including a pick-up in the resources market,” Borghetti said in a statement.

 

Source :  Australian Aviation

Australian War Memorial to add RF-111C to its collection

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A Royal Australian Air Force F-111 A8-134 performs its signature "Dump and Burn" during its dramatic aerial display at the Australian International Airshow 2009, at Avalon. (Defence)

The Australian War Memorial is to add a reconnaissance-configured Royal Australian Air Force RF-111C to its collection by mid-2019.

RF-111C A8-134 is the “sole surviving RF-111C that participated in missions over East Timor and has the greatest operational provenance of the preserved Australian F-111 fleet,” the Australian War Memorial said on Friday.

The aircraft is currently held by the South Australian Aviation Museum in Port Adelaide, and it will be the only F-111 in the AWM’s collection.

A8-134 served with both 1 and 6 Squadrons in the RAAF from 1973 until its retirement on December 3 2010, and was one of four RAAF F-111s modified to the reconnaissance RF-111C configuration, which involved fitting cameras mounted in a special pallet carried in the aircraft’s bomb bay.

An RAAF F-111 A8-134 takes off at RAAF Base Amberley. (Defence)

“This RF-111C aircraft is a major piece of Australian aviation history, which will one day be an invaluable addition to the Memorial’s displays,” Australian War Memorial Assistant Director Major General Brian Dawson (Rtd) said in a statement.

“It will be a powerful visual demonstration to visitors of the important work of the men and women of the RAAF who supported and flew the RF-111C aircraft in theatres like East Timor and the F-111 fleet more broadly over nearly 40 years.

“I offer my thanks to the South Australian Aviation Museum for its assistance with the transfer. We are also working with the museum and the RAAF to secure a replacement aircraft for South Australia.”A file image of RAAF F-111C A8-134 being transported by road from RAAF Base Amberley in Queensland to the Australian Aviation Museum (SAAM) in South Australia. (Defence)

Despite being in service for 37 years as Australia’s principal strike and reconnaissance aircraft, from 1973 until 2010, the F-111 was only used once operationally, when RF-111Cs performed reconnaissance flights over East Timor in late October and early November 1999.

“In June 1999, civil unrest broke out in East Timor,” recalls the February 2010 issue of the Air Power Development Centre’s Pathfinder newsletter.

“When militia gangs later threatened United Nations staff and Australian nationals as well as the East Timorese, Australian peacekeeping troops were inserted under Operation SPITFIRE. With tensions building, six aircraft (both F-111s and RF-111s) from Nos 1 and 6 Squadrons deployed to RAAF Tindal if called upon.

“When INTERFET forces arrived in Dili on 20 September, the situation on the ground was volatile. Requests for RF-111 overflights of East Timor were initially refused by the Indonesian Air Commander, but after Indonesian forces withdrew in late October overflights were permitted. RF111 missions began on 5 November and continued until four days later.

“These flights over East Timor were the only operational employment of the RAAF F-111 fleet.”

A 1989 image of an F-111 loaded with 48 Mk82 500lb low drag bombs. (Defence) Date/ time 15Nov89

When the F-111 was retired in 2010, six museums/historical organisations were chosen to display examples of the jet, comprising:

  •  Aviation Historical Society of the Northern Territory (Winnellie, NT);
  • Evans Head Memorial Aerodrome Heritage Aviation Association (Evans Head, NSW);
  • Fighter World (Williamtown, NSW);
  • Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (Albion Park, NSW);
  • Queensland Air Museum (Caloundra, Qld); and
  • South Australian Aviation Museum (Port Adelaide, SA).

The six jets were A8-109 and A8-113 (both ex USAF F-111As that saw Vietnam combat), A8-129, A8-134 (the RF-111C bound for the AWM), A8-147 and A8-148 (the last RAAF F-111C).

These jets were in addition to F-111s already on display at the Aviation Heritage Centre at RAAF Base Amberley, the RAAF Museum at RAAF Base Point Cook, as well as at RAAF Base Edinburgh and and RAAF Base Wagga.

There were 13 F-111 aircraft in total that were preserved, including A8-130 which was gifted to the Pacific Aviation Museum in Hawaii.

 

Source :  Australian Aviation

When housemaids and drivers run away leaving sponsors in lurch

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Saudi Gazette report

THE increasing number of domestic workers has caught the interest of many social experts in the Kingdom in the last few years. Many have conducted social studies about the economic impact and security problems those workers cause to some Saudi families, Al-Riyadh daily reported. Many families have suffered financially after their domestic workers used them to gain entry into the Kingdom before escaping.

Because of the absence of laws protecting families against such situations, they end up bearing the full brunt of this escape act of the domestic workers paying heavily in monetary terms and time spent in getting the worker to the Kingdom. For they do not get compensated for the money they spend on visas applications, ticket and residence permit issuance, while also the labor and time in getting the domestic help arrive.

What was, in early times, just an act of few has now swelled in numbers with many domestic workers, chasing the quick buck, know that they would be aided and abetted in their effort by community members. Moreover, a large number of families agree that domestic workers encourage one another to escape from the sponsor because they know they can get away with it, as there are no laws that punish expatriate workers who run away from their sponsors.

Dr. Latifah Al-Abdullatif, an associate professor of sociology, King Saud University, is one of the experts who carried out studies about the negative impact of domestic workers on families, and she even suggested solutions for this problem in her study. She recommended that concerned authorities, in charge of recruitment, should work with one another to draft laws ensuring full protection of Saudis whose expatriate workers run away.

The Saudi employer should be reimbursed for every amount of money he paid. The laws should require the runaway expatriate worker or their embassy to compensate the Saudi employer and pay him back all the money. Also, the Saudi employer should not be required to pay the expatriate worker’s travel tickets.

She recommended that a domestic worker should be aware right from the start that if he or she escapes, necessary legal procedures would be taken and the expatriate worker would be liable to pay back all the money borne by the Saudi employer for the domestic worker’s recruitment.

“Authorities should impose strict penalties on recruitment offices that violate pertinent laws and manipulate the system to make personal gains at the expense of Saudi employers.

Authorities need to keep a closer eye on recruitment offices, especially those which overcharge Saudi employers,” she said, adding that this too is part of the problem.

Because of the exorbitant recruitment prices, some Saudis use unlicensed overseas recruitment offices and end up being conned of their money, or if successful in getting a domestic worker ends up paying more than what the recruitment office would have charged.

Authorities have registered several cases where Saudis have been victims of fraud and deception practiced by unlicensed brokers. Al-Abdullatif also recommended that a domestic worker, who runs away from the sponsor, should never be allowed to enter the Saudi territory again as a deterrent for others.

Penalties

In her study, Al-Abdullatif called for imposing fines and prison sentences on investors who abuse the system and urged embassies or consulates to take strict measures against their nationals who violate recruitment laws. The missions should also warn their nationals against the dire consequences of running away from the sponsor and urge them to resolve any dispute with the sponsor through legal channels.

Al-Abdullatif suggested that labor courts should be set up all over the country and run by highly-competent judges and legal consultants, who, in turn, should guarantee fair trial for both parties of the conflict.

She stressed the importance of setting up nurseries in all private and public organizations for working mothers so that the mothers do not find themselves in a situation where they have no choice but to leave their children in the custody and care of housemaids.

“Working mothers will feel their children are safer and more secure if they are put in nurseries near them. The nurseries will also protect children against the crimes that might be committed by some maids, let alone they will provide job opportunities for thousands of young women who continue to be jobless,” she said.

Al-Abdullatif also called upon authorities to closely monitor the remittances made by domestic workers and some workers were caught transferring a large amount of money that did not commensurate with their monthly salary.

Source : Saudi Gazette

Asir emir visits injured security official in Majarida shootout

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Saudi Gazette report

ABHA – Prince Faisal Bin Khalid, emir of Asir, visited on Friday the security official Sultan Al-Shihri, who was admitted to Al-Namas General Hospital, after sustaining injuries in a shootout with a terror suspect on Thursday night. The emir conveyed greetings of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman and Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, to Al-Shihri.

Prince Faisal wished him speedy recovery and appreciated his courage and determination in protecting his religion and nation. Al-Shihri was among five security men who were injured in an exchange of fire with Bandar Al-Shihri, a terror suspect, who was killed in the shootout. Ayed Al-Shihri, one of the injured security men, died while being taken to hospital.

Bandar Al-Shihri was among the three men involved in the checkpoint attack in Majarida that resulted in the martyrdom of three security officials — Sgt. Ahmed Asiri, Deputy Sgt. Abdullah Al-Shihri, and Deputy Sgt. Saleh Al-Amri.

Asir emir also visited the family members of Ayed Al-Shihri, who died in the Majarida shootout. He conveyed condolences of King Salman and Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman to the bereaved family members of the deceased security official.

Meanwhile, Al Arabiya English reported more details about Bandar Al-Shihri, who was killed during exchange of fire with security forces. Bandar, who worked in the region’s civil defense department and, according to his family, had lead an unstable life, lived with his parents and 11 siblings in the Tanuma governorate which is about an hour away from the checkpoint that he attacked.

One of Bandar’s cousins said that he suffered from a horrific accident following a drifting accident with his car. Bandar remained in hospital for two months. The cousin added that Bandar would disappear for days at a time without informing any of his family member of his whereabouts.

He said that when the family gathers to spend the summer together, Bandar is barely there and would rather spend his time with friends outside the house. Security forces did not reveal the names of the other two men involved in the shooting.

 

Source :  Saudi Gazette

Market to absorb higher oil prices, says Saudi Arabia

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Saudi Energy Minister Khaled Al-Faleh (center) attends a meeting of OPEC and non-OPEC members in Jeddah. — AFP
 Saudi Gazette report

THE global market has the capacity to absorb higher oil prices, Minister of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources Khaled Al-Faleh has said.

Faleh’s statement at a meeting of oil producers in Jeddah on Friday came as crude hit the highest level in more than three years.

The statement drew a swift reaction from US President Donald Trump who accused OPEC of inflating prices. “Looks like OPEC is at it again,” Trump tweeted.

Oil has rebounded to over $70 a barrel, after prices crashed to as low as $26 in January 2016.

“I have not seen any impact on demand with current prices,” Faleh told reporters, ahead of a ministerial committee for OPEC and non-OPEC producers.

“Reduced energy intensity and higher productivity globally of energy input leads me to think that there is the capacity to absorb higher prices,” he said.

The ministerial committee said Friday that crude inventory levels have been reduced but were still higher than desired.

Stockpiles were at 2.83 billion barrels, down from their peak of 3.12 billion barrels two years ago, it said in a statement.

Gunning for $80b

Analysts believe Saudi Arabia, the world’s top crude exporter, aims to see much higher oil prices to overcome its domestic financial difficulties and raise the valuation of state oil giant Aramco ahead of a planned five-percent IPO.

After prices hit $70 a barrel, the Kingdom “is thought to be unofficially gunning for $80 a barrel, with some even suggesting that it favors a return to $100 (a barrel) oil”, Stephen Brennock of PVM Oil Associates said.

“As well as helping to reduce the Saudi government balance sheet, a further spike in prices would act as a boon for the impending Aramco IPO,” Brennock said.

“This is why Saudi Arabia is keeping the supply of oil tight,” Commerzbank said.

Faleh on Friday insisted the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries does not have a price target for oil.

“We never have a price target … Prices are determined by the market,” said Faleh who warned against the danger of price fluctuations, saying “volatility is our enemy.”

Saudi-Russia ‘consensus’

Russia, the world’s top oil producer, on Friday gave its backing to the idea of establishing an enduring alliance for producers to continue their control of the market.

“We have created a very solid foundation for cooperation between OPEC and non-OPEC countries in the future even beyond the declaration of cooperation,” Russia Energy Minister Alexander Novak told reporters in Jeddah.

Saudi Arabia said a “consensus” was emerging for a long-term cooperation agreement.

OPEC and non-OPEC producers struck a deal in late 2016 to trim production by 1.8 million barrels per day to reduce a global glut that sent prices crashing.

The deal, which is due to run out at the end of this year, has helped boost oil prices to above $70 a barrel from below $30 in early 2016.

The recovery has also been fueled by geopolitical tensions, Trump’s threat to reimpose sanctions on Iran and production problems in Venezuela, Nigeria and Libya. — With inputs from AFP

 

Source :  Saudi Gazette

Man arrested for alleged murder of wife disguised as drowning

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A 29-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of drowning his wife last summer while snorkeling in Wakayama Prefecture, allegedly disguising the killing as an accident so he could collect an insurance payout, police said Friday.

Takashi Noda, a driver from Osaka, is suspected of deliberately drowning his wife Shiho, 28, a restaurant manager in Osaka, at the beach in the town of Shirahama on July 18, 2017.

The woman was pronounced dead at a hospital two days later, according to police. The man, who was arrested Thursday, has kept silent.

The couple, who got married around 2015, was in the middle of divorce negotiations at the time of the incident and Noda was designated as the beneficiary of his wife’s 30 million yen life insurance payout, investigative sources and Shiho’s coworkers said.

A postmortem examination found a large amount of sand in the victim’s system, suggesting she was drowned in shallow water, the sources said.

At the time of the incident, Noda called for help and joined the rescue effort alongside a lifeguard, explaining his wife drowned while he was at the toilet. But suspicions were immediately raised because the woman was a licensed scuba diver.

Noda had invited his wife to go to the beach, the police said.

The police said Noda had been arrested four times since December 2017 on theft and other allegations, and in three cases he was indicted on theft charges.

© KYODO

Source :  Japan Today

Opposition boycotts Diet sessions as gov’t scandals pile up

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Opposition parties’ lawmakers boycotted scheduled Diet committee sessions Friday, to protest the ruling coalition’s refusal to meet their demands over a series of scandals, including resurgent cronyism allegations against Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The opposition parties want a former secretary of Abe to be summoned as a sworn witness in the Diet after a local government document showed he referred to Abe in discussions about building a new department in a specially deregulated zone at a university run by one of the prime minister’s close friends.

They also want Finance Minister Taro Aso to resign over claims that his ministry’s top bureaucrat sexually harassed reporters, as well as the ministry’s doctoring of public records related to separate favoritism allegations involving the sale of state land at a steeply discounted price to a school operator with ties to Abe’s wife.

“This is not a situation in which we can enter into Diet debate,” Tetsuro Fukuyama, secretary general of the leading opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, said at a party meeting.

“We want to tell (the government and ruling coalition) not to make a fool out of the Diet or the public,” he said.

The ruling coalition struck back. “I don’t think it’s right to refuse to turn up to debate just because your demands aren’t met,” said Yoshihisa Inoue, the secretary general of the Komeito party, the junior partner of Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party in the ruling coalition.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a press conference that the government will “respond sincerely to demands from the Diet, and exert every effort to make careful explanations.”

As for Aso — currently overseas for a multilateral meeting — Suga said there is “no change to our belief that we want (him) to work to regain trust in the Finance Ministry.”

The scandals involving Abe’s friend Kotaro Kake and Osaka-based school operator Moritomo Gakuen dented the prime minister’s popularity last year, and both have attracted renewed scrutiny recently.

The Finance Ministry admitted to altering the Moritomo files, and a local government document emerged reviving suspicions that Abe exerted influence in the government’s approval of a veterinary department at a university operated by Kake Educational Institution, headed by Kake.

The document made by Ehime Prefecture, where the new veterinary school — the first in a half century — was to be located, shows that Abe’s then-secretary Tadao Yanase encouraged local officials in 2015 to proceed with the vet school project, saying it was a “matter concerning the prime minister.”

The ruling coalition has suggested to the opposition that Yanase be called as an unsworn witness at a special Diet committee session to be held Monday, but changed its mind Friday.

LDP Diet affairs chief Hiroshi Moriyama said the party decided that going ahead with the session without opposition lawmakers “wouldn’t look good.”

The secretaries general of six opposition parties agreed Thursday not to agree to any changes in the Diet schedule.

Unlike unsworn witnesses, sworn witnesses can be legally punished for lying or not showing up without a good reason.

© KYODO

Source :  Japan Today
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