MONTH IN BRIEF
Japan poised to release radioactive water into ocean
The head of the United Nation’s nuclear watchdog has declared that Japan’s plans to deal with the massive buildup of waste water since the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011 are safe. After being initially treated to remove the most harmful pollutants, the wastewater will gradually be released into the ocean over many years in highly diluted quantities. But neighbouring countries have voiced concern about the potential harm to the environment and people’s health,h with China’s customs officials announcing that they would maintain a ban on food imports from 10 Japanese prefectures, including Fukushima, and strengthen inspections to monitor for ‘radioactive substances’.
France rolls out red carpet for Modi
India’s Prime Minister was the guest of honour at France’s Bastille Day parade during a two-day visit in which he was also granted the Legion of Honour, France’s highest award. Deals worth approximately $9.75m to buy 26 additional French-made Rafale fighter jets and three scorpene-class submarines were also given initial approval by India’s Defence Ministry, deepening defence ties between the two countries, which are both seeking allies in the Indo-Pacific region.
Appointment causes unrest
The appointment of the UK Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Israel as chair of the review into civil unrest between Muslims and Hindus in Leicester last year has caused ‘deep concern’ to the Muslim Council of Britain. Lord Ian Austin caused controversy in 2021 when he posted a tweet showing a fake new flavour for Ben and Jerry’s ice cream for people in Gaza, named ‘Hamas Terror Misu’, after the company announced it would stop selling its products in Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.
The foreign minister of the Marshall Islands has called for further compensation over the legacy of US nuclear testing to enable the renewal of a strategic agreement governing bilateral relations. Marshall Islanders are still plagued by the health and environmental effects of 67 nuclear bomb tests from 1946 to 1958, which included Castle Bravo at Bikini Atoll in 1954 – the largest US bomb ever detonated. Jack Ading told a US congressional hearing a memorandum of understanding covering terms to extend his country’s Compact of Free Association (Cofa) with Washington was non-binding and appealed to Congress to direct the Biden administration to continue negotiations.
Tata Group, India’s largest conglomerate, is close to completing a deal to acquire an Apple Inc. supplier’s factory, marking the first time a local company would move into the assembly of iPhones, according to people familiar with the matter. A takeover of the Wistron factory in southern Karnataka state, potentially valued at more than US$600 million, would cap about a year of negotiations, said the people, who asked not to be named as the matter is private.
Singapore’s corruption probe
In what is reputed to be among the least corrupt countries in the world, Singapore’s transport minister S Iswaran and Ong Beng Seng, a billionaire hotel tycoon, have been arrested in a rare top-level corruption investigation. To discourage corruption Cabinet ministers are paid salaries comparable to top earners in the private sector. Ong, a Malaysian who is a Singapore resident, is credited with helping bring the Formula One Grand Prix to Singapore in 2008. Details of the investigation have not been disclosed.
Forward steps for car giant
Hyundai Motor Group has obtained patents for walking vehicles in the United States, taking the next step in making the South Korean auto giant’s futuristic four-legged cars a reality. According to the US Patent and Trademark Office, two patent applications for walking vehicles were published under the names of both Hyundai and Kia, about 19 months after the two companies filed for the patents on Dec. 31, 2021. The patents protect the technologies of Hyundai’s concept car, Elevate, an electric vehicle that can transition between driving on flat surfaces with wheels and walking over unstable terrains with robotic legs.
Elephant calf rescued from well
An elephant calf which became separated from its mother has been rescued after falling into an 8ft, water-filled drainage well in Thailand. Mother and calf were stranded overnight at the Chatrium Golf Resort in Chanthaburi province before their cries were heard by locals the following morning. With its worried mother standing close by, rescuers were able to dig an opening wide enough for the baby elephant to climb out and, after two hours, it was reunited with its mother unharmed.