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Japanese lower house okays bill to introduce joint custody after divorce

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Tokyo, April 16 (IANS) Japan’s House of Representatives on Tuesday passed a bill to introduce joint custody after divorce.

At a plenary session of the lower chamber of the Diet, the country’s parliament, the bill, calling for allowing divorced parents to choose either sole custody or joint custody, was approved by a majority vote, Xinhua news agency reported.

Japan’s current Civil Code grants parental custody to only one of the parents after divorce.

Under the envisioned amendments to the civil law, if parents cannot reach an agreement on custody for their children after divorce, a family court will intervene and make a decision based on the children’s interests.

If there is suspicion of child abuse or domestic violence by one of the parents, the family court will require the other parent to have sole custody under the bill.

The bill will now be sent to the House of Councillors, the upper chamber, setting the stage for its passage during the ongoing regular Diet session ending on June 23. If enacted, the new legislation will take effect by 2026 and be applied retroactively to those who have already divorced.

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–IANS

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In a first, Indian Haj pilgrims travel from Jeddah to Mecca by high-speed train

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Jeddah, May 26 (IANS) In a historic first, Indian Haj pilgrims, who arrived at the Jeddah airport on Sunday, travelled to Mecca by high-speed Haramain Train instead of buses.

The arrangement, which will make the journey of the pilgrims more comfortable, has been facilitated by India’s Consulate General in Jeddah in coordination with the concerned Saudi authorities.

The Ambassador of India to Saudi Arabia Suhel Ajaz Khan and Consul General Shahid Alam accompanied by Vice President of Saudi Arabian Railways, Al Harbi and other officials from Ministry of Haj and Ministry of Transport, escorted the Indian Haj pilgrims from Jeddah Airport to Mecca on first such journey on the High Speed Train on Sunday.

With the highest speed of the train being 300 km per hour, the journey will also reduce the travel time from Jeddah to Mecca considerably.

It is estimated that about 32,000 Indian Haj pilgrims will use the exclusive service this year.

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The Indian Haj Mission – the biggest operation of its kind handled by the Indian government outside the country’s borders, has closely coordinated logistics with the concerned Saudi authorities to make the new initiative a success.

–IANS

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Gaza aid deliveries restart from Egypt via Kerem Shalom crossing

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Cairo, May 26 (IANS/DPA) Badly needed aid to the Gaza Strip started coming from Egypt through the Kerem Shalom crossing for the first time in nearly three weeks on Sunday, an Egyptian TV station reported.

The state-affiliated al-Qahera News TV said 200 trucks carrying humanitarian supplies were moving from outside the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing, heading to the Karm Abu Salem crossing or Kerem Shalom.

According to the broadcaster, these included four fuel trucks and began moving through Karen Shalom.

Earlier this month, Israel took control of the Gaza side of the Rafah, crossing with Egypt, in an operation that halted aid deliveries via the vital facility into the heavily populated strip.

Since the closure of the Rafah crossing, Egypt has indicated it will not coordinate aid transports through Rafah until the Israeli forces withdraw.

Hamas has recently attacked the Kerem Shalom crossing and Israeli settlements with rockets.

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Earlier this week, US President Joe Biden and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi agreed on aid deliveries to Gaza through the Kerem Shalom crossing.

Egypt, in a temporary arrangement, will hand over humanitarian aid and fuel to the United Nations at the crossing until a legal mechanism is reached to reopen the Rafah crossing from the Palestinian side, an Egyptian presidency statement said.

–IANS/DPA

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Taiwan thanks the US, others for supporting peace in the region

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Taipei, May 26 (IANS/DPA) Taiwan President Lai Ching-te on Sunday expressed his gratitude to the US and the international community for support amid higher tensions in the region, calling on China to jointly shoulder the important responsibility of regional stability.

“I am very grateful to US President Biden, the US government and Congress, and other countries around the world for their firm support for peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” Lai told reporters in southern Taiwan at an event held by his independence-leaning Progressive Progressive Party Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

During his inaugural speech on Monday, Lai stressed that peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait are indispensable to global security and prosperity.

“Any country that creates disturbance in the Taiwan Strait and affects regional stability will not be accepted by the international community,” Lai said.

Lai said he is very much looking forward to enhancing mutual understanding and reconciliation through exchanges and cooperation with China in order to create mutual benefits.

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Lai’s comments came just a day after Washington said it was “deeply concerned” about China’s military drills in the Taiwan Strait and around Taiwan, which were conducted days after Lai’s inauguration.

“We are monitoring PRC activities closely and coordinating with allies and partners regarding our shared concerns,” US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a statement on Saturday.

“We strongly urge Beijing to act with restraint. Using a normal, routine, and democratic transition as an excuse for military provocations risks escalation and erodes longstanding norms that for decades have maintained peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, which is critical for regional and global security and prosperity and a matter of international concern,” Miller said.

–IANS/DPA

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Four injured, over 2,700 affected as tropical cyclone hits Philippines

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Manila, May 26 (IANS) Four people were injured and 2,734 affected as tropical cyclone Ewiniar triggered floods and landslides in parts of the Philippines, the government said on Sunday.

In a report, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said the four injured people were from the Bicol region, southeast of the Philippine capital, Manila, Xinhua news agency reported.

It added that no deaths have been reported so far.

Meanwhile, more than 6,000 passengers, truck drivers and cargo helpers were stranded in all ports nationwide on Sunday morning due to the inclement weather conditions, said the Philippine Coast Guard.

Ewiniar, the first cyclone to hit the Philippines this year, has affected the Bicol region on the main Luzon island and the Eastern Visayas region in the central Philippines.

The state weather bureau said Ewiniar will continue to dump heavy rain in many areas, including Metro Manila, warning of more flooding and possible landslides.

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The bureau forecast Ewiniar to reach severe tropical storm category on Monday and typhoon category by Tuesday before exiting the Philippines on Wednesday.

The Philippines is one of the most disaster-prone countries globally, mainly due to its location in the Pacific Ring of Fire and the Pacific typhoon belt. On average, the archipelagic country experiences 20 typhoons yearly, some intense and destructive.

–IANS

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North Korea warns of military action over alleged sea border incursions

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Seoul, May 26 (IANS) North Korea on Sunday threatened to take action against South Korea over what it claims are violations of the de facto western maritime border, ratcheting up tensions ahead of a trilateral summit in Seoul.

North Korea’s supreme military leadership instructed its army on Friday to take offensive action against the encroachment upon its sovereignty, North Korea’s Vice Defence Minister Kim Kang-il said, according to the country’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

“We officially warn that we can never tolerate such continued encroachment on our maritime sovereignty and that we may exercise our self-defensive power on or under the water at any moment,” Kim said in a statement carried by the KCNA, Yonhap news agency reported.

The statement came hours before South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol will have back-to-back bilateral talks with Chinese Premier Li Qiang and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida at the presidential office.

The three leaders will hold a trilateral summit on Monday. It marks the first three-way summit among the Asian countries since December 2019, after a hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic and strained Seoul-Tokyo relations over historical disputes.

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Tension remains high along the Northern Limit Line (NLL), the de facto maritime border, Yellow Sea. North Korea has never recognised the NLL, demanding it be re-drawn further south.

Waters near the NLL have been a flashpoint between the two Koreas, where three bloody naval skirmishes took place in 1999, 2002 and 2009.

In March 2010, Pyongyang torpedoed a South Korean warship near the sea border, killing 46 sailors on board. In November of that year, the North bombarded South Korea’s border island of Yeonpyeong, killing two civilians and two Marines.

North Korea also accused South Korea and the United States of intensifying their hostile aerial espionage as it vowed to scatter “mounds of wastepaper and filth” over the inter-Korean border areas in retaliation against anti-Pyongyang leaflets.

For years, North Korean defectors in South Korea and conservative activists have sent balloons carrying leaflets critical of the North’s leader Kim Jong-un into North Korea. Pyongyang has bristled at the propaganda campaign amid concern that an influx of outside information could pose a threat to the Kim regime.

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North Korea blew up the joint liaison office in the now-shuttered inter-Korean factory park in the North Korean border city of Kaesong in 2020 in anger over Seoul’s failure to stop North Korean defectors from sending anti-Pyongyang leaflets across the border.

–IANS

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