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Jay Chou responds to Uncle Roger’s machi machi video

TAIPEI (The China Post) — Malaysian YouTuber Nigel Ng has won praise for his comments on recipes of egg fried rice recipes by BBC...

South Korea wants UNESCO to list sex slave records, and Japan doesn’t like it

dpa TOKYO — Japan on Tuesday protested to South Korea after Seoul said it would attempt to have documents relating to the...

Asia Today | Japan halts all foreign arrivals over UK variant

TOKYO (AP) — Japan is barring entry of all nonresident foreign nationals as a precaution against a new and potentially more contagious coronavirus variant that has spread across Britain.The Foreign Ministry says the entry ban will start Monday and last through Jan. 31. Last week, Japan banned nonresident foreigners coming from Britain and South Africa after confirming the new variant in seven people over the last two days — five from Britain who tested positive at airports and two others in Tokyo.Japan is also suspending the exemption of a 14-day quarantine for Japanese nationals and resident foreigners in a short-track program that began in November. The entrants now must carry proof of a negative test 72 hours prior to departure for Japan and self-isolate for two weeks after arrival.Japan is struggling with surging cases since November. It has confirmed a total of 217,312 cases including 3,213 deaths, up 3,700 from the previous 24-hour period. Tokyo alone reported 949 cases, setting a new record, despite calls by experts and government officials for people to spend a "quiet” holiday season.Elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific region: — Health officials in Thailand say two new clusters of coronavirus cases appear to be linked to a major outbreak discovered a week earlier among migrant workers in an industrial province near Bangkok. The new cases were found in 19 members of a motorcycling club who held a holiday gathering on Lanta Island in the southern province of Krabi, and nine others who visited a gambling den in the eastern province of Rayong. They're part of 110 cases reported Saturday, bringing Thailand’s total to 6,020. Sixty of the new cases are linked to migrant workers. The government warned that unless social distancing and other restrictions are observed, a nationwide lockdown might have to be implemented by March.___Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic, https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

The Latest | Beijing residents told to stay put for holidays

BEIJING — China's capital has urged residents not to leave the city during the upcoming Lunar New Year holidays, implementing fresh restrictions after several coronavirus infections last week. Two domestic cases were reported on Friday, a convenience store worker and a Hewlett Packard Enterprise employee. Another two asymptomatic cases were discovered in Beijing earlier in the week. Beijing is conducting testing on a limited scale in the neighborhoods and workplaces where the cases were found. To contain any new outbreaks, the Beijing government canceled big gatherings such as sports events and temple fairs. It says applications will be strictly reviewed for any major events. Venues such as cinemas, libraries and museums have to operate at 75% capacity.It also called on companies not to arrange business trips outside the city and abroad.Lunar New Year is Feb. 12.Separately, officials in the northeastern port city of Dalian said Friday that they had tested over 4.75 million people for the coronavirus after 24 confirmed infections this month.Authorities have shut schools and all public spaces in five neighborhood divisions in Dalian, and only essential workers can leave their compounds.___THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:— A pandemic Christmas: Services move online, people stay home— After early success, S. Korea sleepwalks into virus crisis— Black doctor dies of COVID after racist treatment complaints— Around 1,000 British soldiers were spending Christmas Day trying to clear a huge backlog of truck drivers stranded in southeast England. — South Africa’ s normally joyful and lively Christmas celebrations have been dampened by the spike in new cases and deaths driven by the country’s variant of COVID-19. — U.S. factories have been cranking out goods at a rate that is remarkably close to normal, despite the ongoing spread of the coronavirus.___Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic, https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak___HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:SEOUL, South Korea -- South Korea has reported another 1,132 coronavirus cases as the resurgence worsened over the Christmas week, putting pressure on the government to enforce stricter distancing controls.The figures released by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency on Saturday brought the country’s caseload to 55,902. The country added 1,241 cases on Christmas Day, its largest daily increase. Total fatalities stood at 793 after more than 220 COVID-19 patients died in the past 15 days alone as the surge left hospital capacities and medical staff stretched thin.Around 780 of the new cases were from the greater Seoul area, home to 26 million people. Health workers discovered a large virus cluster in a huge prison with more than 500 inmates and workers. Transmissions in recent weeks have also been tied to hospitals, nursing homes, churches, restaurants and army units.Government officials restored some social distancing restrictions in recent weeks after easing them to the lowest tier in October and are now clamping down on private social gatherings, shutting down ski resorts, restricting hotel occupancy and setting fines for restaurants if they accept large groups.Officials plan to meet Sunday to determine whether to possibly shutter hundreds of thousands of nonessential businesses. They have resisted such action for weeks, saying it could unleash further shock on an already weak economy.___PARIS — French health authorities have confirmed the country’s first case of the virus variant that prompted strict new lockdown measures in Britain and global travel restrictions.A French man living in England arrived in France on Dec. 19 and tested positive for the new variant Friday, the French public health agency said in a statement. He had no symptoms and was isolating in his home in the central city of Tours.Authorities were tracing the person’s contacts and laboratories were analyzing tests from several other people who may have the new variant, the statement said.Some other European countries have also reported cases of the new variant, which British authorities said appears more contagious and was spreading fast. The British announcement Dec. 19 prompted countries around the world to suspend flights from the U.K., and France banned all passengers and cargo from Britain for two days, causing massive traffic problems around the British port of Dover.France reopened the border but now requires anyone entering from Britain to have a test showing they do not have the new variant.A second partial lockdown sharply curbed France’s infections, but they have been again on the rise over the past two weeks. France has among the world’s highest virus death tolls.___DALLAS — Coronavirus hospitalizations in Texas on Friday approached a peak equaling the summer’s surge even as health officials warned that holiday gatherings and travel are likely to further spread the virus and pressure health care services.The state health department reported 10,868 patients hospitalized with confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state on Christmas, less than 30 behind the record high set in July. Intensive care units in several parts of Texas were full or nearly full, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.Texas on Friday reported 200 more death from COVID-19. There were 3,123 newly confirmed cases of the virus and another 973 probable cases, according to the health department.___ATHENS — The first vaccines against the coronavirus have arrived in Greece.The first 9,750 doses arrived overland, crossing from the Bulgarian border in the north Friday evening, with the van carrying them escorted by six police cars, a video taken at the border shows.Vaccinations will begin at five Athens hospitals Sunday, with health personnel and elderly residents of nursing homes. Greece’s president, prime minister and a total of 42 government, military and police officials deemed essential to the functioning of the state, as well as opposition leaders, will also be vaccinated in the first days.Health authorities announced Friday 617 new infections over the past 24 hours, alongside 50 deaths.The numbers are lower than recent trends, but authorities are still vigilant against a possible spread during the holiday season.Five subway stations in central Athens were closed Friday afternoon to keep people from congregating in the capital’s festively decorated central squares and avenues. A nightly curfew at 10 p.m. is still in effect across the country.___ROME — For a fourth straight day, Italy’s daily new caseload of confirmed coronavirus infections has climbed higher.Adding 19,037 COVID-19 cases on Friday, the nation raised its overall tally of confirmed infections in the pandemic to 2,028,354.The figures from the Health Ministry on Christmas Day included 459 deaths registered since Thursday. That brings the number of known pandemic dead in Italy to 71,359.As it has had most recently, the northeast Veneto region reported the highest daily caseload, with just over 5,000 confirmed infections registered on Friday.That’s nearly double the day’s caseload in neighboring Lombardy, the populous region which has suffered the most deaths and has had the most COVID-19 cases since Italy’s first native case emerged in February.___TOKYO -- Japan’s Health Ministry has confirmed the country’s first cases of infection with the new variant of the coronavirus that was identified in Britain.The five people arrived between Dec. 18 and Dec. 21, before Japan stepped up border control on Friday for entrants from Britain. A man in his 60s developed fatigue, but the other four were without symptoms.Health Minister Norihisa Tamura said the five were sent to quarantine straight from the airports.After they tested positive for the virus, further analysis conducted at the National Institute of Infectious Diseases determined they had the British variant that is 70% more transmissible, the ministry said in a statement.Shigeru Omi, head of the government task force, called for tighter border control to prevent new variants.___MOSCOW — Russian authorities have ordered those arriving from the U.K. to quarantine for two weeks.Earlier this week, Russia suspended direct flights from the U.K. after a variant of the coronavirus that is 70% more transmissible has spread across London and parts of England.The order from the Rospotrebnadzor sanitary safety agency posted Friday on the portal of official information obliges all those traveling from the U.K. to remain in isolation for 14 days after their arrival in Russia. The measure is effective starting Saturday.Dozens of countries have barred flights from the U.K. or announced travel restrictions. The United States will require airline passengers from Britain to get a negative COVID-19 test before their flight starting Monday.

Chinese film likely to be removed from cinemas over copycat claims

TAIPEI (The China Post) — The Chinese action film "Yin-Yang Master I" (陰陽師:晴雅集), adapted from Japanese historical fiction "Onmyōji" (陰陽師), is likely to be...

I’m no dictator: Indonesia President

The Jakarta Post/ANN Indonesian President Joko Widodo ensures the public that he does not have the look as a dictator although critics...

Deaths, self-immolation draw scrutiny on China tech giants

HONG KONG (AP) — E-commerce workers who kept China fed during the coronavirus pandemic, making their billionaire bosses even richer, are so unhappy with their pay and treatment that one just set himself on fire in protest.China’s internet industries already were known for long, demanding days. With millions of families confined at home, demand surged and employees delivered tons of vegetables, rice, meat, diapers and other supplies, often aboard scooters that exposed them to sub-freezing winter cold. For white-collar workers in the technology industry, pay is better than in some industries but employees are often expected to work 12 hours a day or more.The human cost caught public attention after the deaths of two employees from e-commerce platform Pinduoduo, known for selling fresh produce at low prices. Their deaths prompted suggestions they were overworked. In an indication of high-level concern, the official Xinhua News Agency called for shorter work hours, describing long hours of overtime at the expense of employees’ health as an “illegal” operation.Renewed concerns over dire working conditions for delivery drivers also came to the forefront when a video circulated on Chinese social media showing what it said was a driver for Ele.me, part of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, setting himself on fire to protest unpaid wages.The controversy is a blow to the image of internet industries that are transforming China’s economy and generating new jobs. They have made some of the founders among the world’s wealthiest entrepreneurs. During the heights of the pandemic, the fortunes of the biggest, including Alibaba founder Jack Ma and Pinduoduo founder Colin Huang, swelled as online consumer spending boomed.In a video widely circulated on Chinese social media, 45-year-old delivery driver Liu Jin poured gasoline and set himself on fire outside a distribution station for Eleme in the eastern city of Taizhou, shouting that he wanted his money. Others snuffed the flames and rushed him to a hospital, where he is being treated for third-degree burns on his body.Details of Liu's complaint could not be verified and Eleme did not immediately respond to a request for comment.Separately, a 43-year-old delivery driver collapsed on the job and died last week while delivering food for Eleme. The company said in a statement that it will give 600,000 yuan ($92,700) to the driver’s family and raised its insurance coverage for drivers to that level. Its statement said Eleme “had not done enough in terms of accidental death insurance, and needs to do more.”The issue was highlighted again after a Pinduoduo employee surnamed Tan committed suicide after taking leave from the firm to return to his hometown, less than two weeks after a 22-year-old employee surnamed Zhang in Urumqi collapsed while walking home from work with colleagues, and later passed away. Pinduoduo, China's third-largest e-commerce firm, released statements saying it was providing assistance and support to the families of the two employees who died. Shanghai authorities also are reviewing working hours, contracts and other conditions at the company.The deaths raised an outcry on social media, with many people suspecting that they were a result of overwork. Chinese social media users blasted the country's technology sector, criticizing not just Pinduoduo for a culture of long hours but pointing out that this was an industry-wide problem, with similar company cultures seen at most of China's large technology companies.They also revived a national debate over the tech sector's so-called “996” working culture, in which employees often work from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. six days a week. Companies sometimes pay huge bonuses to some employees, enticing them to work more overtime. “We must strive to succeed in pursuit of dreams, but the legitimate rights and interests of workers cannot be ignored or even violated,” said state-owned Xinhua News Agency in a post on microblogging site Weibo.The issue has also cast a spotlight on the working conditions of delivery drivers, who are under heavy pressure to get orders to customers quickly and at times make less than 10 yuan ($1.55) per delivery. If they fail to meet deadlines, fines imposed can range from as little as 1 yuan ($0.15) to as much as 500 yuan ($77.30) if a customer lodges a complaint.As part of the gig economy, such delivery workers often do not get the benefits provided to full-time employees, such as social or medical insurance. Since there are many people willing to work under those conditions, it is hard for employees to negotiate better pay and conditions.Last August, the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU) — the only trade union allowed to legally exist in communist-ruled China — said that 6.5 million delivery workers had joined it since 2018. However, the worker rights group China Labor Bulletin, which tracks labor relations in China, says little has been done to improve workers' ability to win better treatment from companies. The union provides only skills training, legal assistance and some medical benefits. “Labor unions need to become more effective, otherwise labor laws cannot be enforced,” said Li Qiang, founder of China Labor Watch, another organization that monitors labor rights.Under China's labor laws, workers and laborers should work no longer than eight hours a day, or more than 44 hours a week on average. Total amount of overtime should not exceed more than 36 hours in a month, and should only be done “after consultation with the trade union and laborers”.However, even though the labor laws exist, they are rarely enforced as employees become mired in a culture of overwork while striving for bonuses or in cases of delivery drivers, to eke out a living.Delivery workers are part of a corporate culture where even white-collar employees in the technology sector work excessively long hours, Li noted. “Employees who do not work overtime cannot survive in technology or white-collar jobs. Everyone is working overtime. If they do not work overtime, they will be terminated,” Li said. Putting workers at an even bigger disadvantage, indemnity clauses are at times written into workers’ contracts in some industries, absolving a company from responsibility for death on the job and other such events, said Li of China Labor Watch. Although such clauses may violate China's labor laws, the legal system in China is opaque and laws can be difficult to enforce.“In Western countries, if an employee dies because of working overtime, then the legal and economic costs will be greater, and they are generally more restrained as the country’s laws will intervene,” said Li. “But in China, there is no bottom line when it comes to working overtime, and companies are generally not held liable in the event of death.”___Associated Press researcher Chen Si in Shanghai contributed to this report.

US bans second Malaysian palm oil giant over forced labor

The U.S. said it will ban all shipments of palm oil from one of the world’s biggest producers after finding indicators of forced labor and other abuses on plantations that feed into the supply chains of some of America’s most famous food and cosmetic companies. The order against Malaysian-owned Sime Darby Plantation Berhad and its local subsidiaries, joint ventures and affiliates followed an intensive months-long investigation by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Trade, said Ana Hinojosa, one of the agency’s executive directors.Hinojosa said the investigation “reasonably indicates” abuses against workers that included physical and sexual violence, restriction of movement, intimidation and threats, debt bondage, withholding of wages and excessive overtime. Some of the problems appeared to be systemic, occurring on numerous plantations, which stretch across wide swaths of the country, she said. “Importers should know that there are reputational, financial and legal risks associated with importing goods made by forced labor into the United States,” Hinojosa said in a telephone press briefing.The order was announced just three months after the federal government slapped the same ban on another Malaysian palm oil giant, FGV Holdings Berhad -- the first palm oil company ever targeted by Customs over concerns about forced labor. The U.S. imported $410 million of crude palm oil from Malaysia in fiscal year 2020, representing a third of the total value shipped in. The bans, triggered by petitions filed by non-profit groups and a law firm, came in the wake of an in-depth investigation by The Associated Press into labor abuses on plantations in Malaysia and neighboring Indonesia, which together produce about 85% of the $65 billion supply of the world's most consumed vegetable oil. Palm oil can be found in roughly half the products on supermarket shelves and in most cosmetic brands. It’s in paints, plywood, pesticides, animal feed, biofuels and even hand sanitizer. The AP interviewed more than 130 current and former workers from two dozen palm oil companies, including Sime Darby, for its investigation. Reporters found everything from rape and child labor to trafficking and outright slavery on plantations in both countries. Earlier this month, 25 Democratic lawmakers from the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee cited AP’s investigation in a letter calling for the government to come down harder on the palm oil industry in Malaysia and Indonesia, asking Customs and Border Protection if it had considered a blanket ban on imports from those countries. “In our view, these odious labor practices and their pervasive impact across supply chains highlight the need for an aggressive and effective enforcement strategy,” the letter said. Sime Darby, which did not immediately comment, has palm oil plantations covering nearly 1.5 million acres, making it one of Malaysia's largest producers. It supplies to some of the biggest names in the business, from Cargill to Nestle, Unilever and L'Óreal, according to the companies’ most recently published supplier and palm oil mill lists. Hinojosa said the agency’s decision to issue the ban should send an “unambiguous” message to the trade community. “Consumers have a right to know where the palm oil is coming from and the conditions under which that palm oil is produced and what products that particular palm oil is going into,” she said.Meanwhile, Duncan Jepson of the anti-trafficking group Liberty Shared, which submitted the petition leading to the Sime Darby ban, filed two additional complaints Wednesday — one to the UK's Home Office, questioning the company’s disclosure about its protection of human rights under the country’s Modern Slavery Act, and the other to the Malaysian stock exchange, regarding the company’s stated commitments to sustainability. Both complaints questioned the accuracy of Sime Darby's disclosures in light of the CPB's findings. Jepson said the U.S. ban also should be a red flag for Asian and Western financial institutions that have helped support the industry, saying ties to forced labor could have serious consequences for banks and lenders.The U.S. government's announcement about Sime Darby marked the 14th time this year Customs has issued an order to detain shipments from an array of sectors following similar investigations into forced labor. They include seafood and cotton, along with human hair pieces believed to have been made by persecuted Uighur Muslims in Chinese labor camps. Under Wednesday’s order, palm oil products or derivatives traceable to Sime Darby will be detained at U.S. ports. Shipments can be exported if the company is unable to prove that the goods were not produced with forced labor.

Thailand finds new coronavirus clusters in south and east

BANGKOK (AP) — Health officials in Thailand said Saturday that two new clusters of coronavirus cases have been found that appear to be linked to a major outbreak discovered a week earlier among migrant workers in an industrial province near Bangkok.The new cases were found in 19 members of a motorcycling club who held a holiday gathering on Lanta island in the southern province of Krabi, and in nine people who were in a gambling den in the eastern province of Rayong, said the Disease Control Department.The first of the motorcyclists to be diagnosed with the virus had come from Samut Sakhon province, where the outbreak among migrant workers occurred.On Saturday morning, 110 new coronavirus cases were reported, bringing Thailand’s total to 6,020. Sixty of the 110 were linked to the Samut Sakhon outbreak.At the beginning of December, Thailand had 4,008 cases. The death toll has remained at 60 since early November. Until recently, almost all new cases had been found among people who were quarantined upon arrival from abroad.Cases linked to the Samut Sakhon outbreak, which was first found at a major seafood market, have now been reported in 33 provinces.The Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration, which coordinates Thailand’s battle against the virus, said Friday that unless social distancing and other restrictions are observed, a nationwide lockdown might have to be implemented by March.Thailand had been considered a success story in controlling the disease by taking early significant measures, including banning the arrival of virtually all foreign tourists. It has recently been seeking to restart its lucrative travel industry, but the discovery of more than 1,300 cases in Samut Sakhon among the migrant workers, mostly from Myanmar, has put the authorities on high alert.Restrictions, including limiting the nighttime hours of public places and temporary closings of schools, have been tightened province by province according to the number of infections.There are 40 active cases in Bangkok, and contact tracing has led to several restaurants and other businesses being closed for decontamination, and the city’s schools being shut down for 12 days.

Suspect in Japan anime studio fire charged with murder

TOKYO (AP) — Japanese prosecutors formally filed murder charges Wednesday against a suspect in a deadly fire at a Kyoto anime studio last year, after it was determined that he has recovered enough from his own severe burns and is mentally fit to stand trial.Police in the southern city of Kyoto did not arrest Shinji Aoba, 42, on murder and arson allegations until late May, 10 months after obtaining a warrant, because they had to wait for him to recover. Authorities also carried out a mental evaluation of Aoba and concluded that he is capable of taking criminal responsibility.The Kyoto District Public Prosecutors Office said prosecutors indicted Aoba on murder, attempted murder, arson and two other charges on Wednesday, when his court-approved custody was to expire. Aoba is accused of storming into a Kyoto Animation studio on July 18 last year and setting it on fire, killing 36 people and injuring more than 30. The attack shocked Japan and drew an outpouring of grief from anime fans around the world.Authorities allege that Aoba was carrying two containers of flammable liquid when he entered the studio’s unlocked front door, dumped the liquid and set it afire with a lighter.Seventy people were working inside the studio at the time of the attack.Many of the victims died of carbon monoxide poisoning after failing to escape to the roof, fire officials said. One of the survivors, an animator, told Japanese media he jumped from a window of the three-story building gasping for air amid scorching heat after seeing a “a black mushroom cloud” rising from downstairs.Aoba sustained severe burns to his face, torso and limbs and was unconscious for weeks. He still cannot walk and was transferred on a stretcher from his hospital room to a detention center, where an investigation was carried out while his health was carefully monitored.Japanese television footage that captured Aoba entering the detention center showed his face scarred, eyebrows lost and fingers disfigured, apparently from the fire. Police have said Aoba told them that he set the fire because he thought Kyoto Animation "stole novels” and that he thought he could kill many people with gasoline.Kyoto Animation’s hits include “Lucky Star” of 2008, “K-On!” in 2011 and “Haruhi Suzumiya” in 2009. Its new feature film, “Violet Evergarden,” about a woman who professionally writes letters for clients, was scheduled to open in April but was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.The fire was Japan’s deadliest since 2001, when a blaze in Tokyo’s Kabukicho entertainment district killed 44 people in the country’s worst-known case of arson in modern times.___Follow Mari Yamaguchi on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/mariyamaguchi