Asia Government


Time for a change? Japan wants international media to put family names first

The Japan Times

Foreign Minister Taro Kono plans to ask overseas media outlets to write the names of Japanese people with the family name first, as is customary in the Japanese language. If realized, the new policy would mark a major shift in the country's long-running practice for handling Japanese names in foreign languages -- which began in the 19th to early 20th centuries amid the growing influence of Western culture. At a news conference Tuesday, Kono said that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's name should be written as "Abe Shinzo," in line with other Asian leaders such as Chinese President Xi Jinping and South Korean President Moon Jae-in. Now is the right time to make the change, given that the Reiwa Era has just begun and several major events -- including next month's Group of 20 summit and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics -- are approaching, Kono said. "I plan to ask international media organizations to do this. Domestic media outlets that have English services should consider it, too," he said, citing a report released in 2000 by the education ministry's National Language Council that said it was desirable to write Japanese names with the family name first in all instances.


North Korea calls Biden 'fool of low IQ' over Kim criticism

FOX News

SEOUL, South Korea – North Korea has labeled Joe Biden a "fool of low IQ" and an "imbecile bereft of elementary quality as a human being" after the Democratic presidential hopeful during a recent speech called North Korean leader Kim Jong Un a tyrant. Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency on Wednesday accused Biden of insulting the country's supreme leadership and committing an "intolerable and serious politically-motivated provocation" against the North. Biden during a campaign launch in Philadelphia on Saturday accused President Donald Trump of cozying up to "dictators and tyrants" like Kim and Russian President Vladimir Putin.


Canny AI: Imagine world leaders singing

#artificialintelligence

Deep Learning is really starting to establish itself as a major new tool in visual effects. Currently the tools are still in their infancy but they are changing the way visual effects can be approached. Instead of a pipeline consisting of modelling, texturing, lighting and rendering, these new approaches are hallucinating or plausibly creating imagery that is based on training data sets. Machine Learning, the superset of Deep Learning and similar approaches have had great success in image classification, image recognition and image synthesis. At fxguide we covered Synthesia in the UK, a company born out of research first published as Face2Face.


Bomb-laden drones of Yemen's Houthi rebels seen threatening Arabian Peninsula

The Japan Times

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - A Yemen rebel drone strike this week on a critical Saudi oil pipeline shows that the otherwise-peaceful sandy reaches of the Arabian Peninsula now are at risk of similar assault, including an under-construction nuclear power plant and Dubai International Airport, among the world's busiest. U.N. investigators said the Houthis' new UAV-X drone, found in recent months during the Saudi-led coalition's war in Yemen, likely has a range of up to 1,500 km (930 miles). That puts the far reaches of both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the two main opponents of the Iranian-allied Houthi rebels in Yemen, within reach of drones difficult to detect and track. Their relatively simple design, coupled with readily available information online, makes targeting even easier, analysts say. "These installations are easily findable, like on Google Earth," said Tim Michetti, an expert on illicit weapons technology with experience in Yemen.


Iran's foreign minister says US sanctions 'unacceptable'

FOX News

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, right, walks to meet Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Abe's official residence in Tokyo Thursday, May 16, 2019. Iran's foreign minister has said his country is committed to an international nuclear deal and criticized escalating U.S. sanctions "unacceptable" as he met with Japanese officials in Tokyo amid rising tensions in the Middle East.(AP Saudi Arabia said drones attacked one of its pipeline.; TOKYO – Iran's foreign minister says his country is committed to an international nuclear deal but that the escalating U.S. sanctions are "unacceptable." The remarks come amid rising tensions in the Mideast, with allegations of sabotage targeting oil tankers near the Persian Gulf, a drone attack by Yemen's Iranian-allied rebels and the dispatch of U.S. warships and bombers to the region.


Tariff war looks to threaten Beijing's global economic ambitions

The Japan Times

BEIJING - China's intensified tariff war with the Trump administration is threatening Beijing's ambition to transform itself into the dominant player in global technology. The United States is a vital customer and source of technology for Chinese makers of electronics, medical equipment and other high-tech exports -- industries that the ruling Communist Party sees as the heart of its economic future. Beijing managed to keep Chinese economic growth steady in the most recent quarter despite a drop in exports to the United States. It did so by boosting government spending and bank lending. But China's technology exporters suffered huge sales drops of up to 40 percent, which ate into profits that pay for technology research.


Will China's embrace of military AI trigger a new arms race?

#artificialintelligence

The rush by China to incorporate artificial intelligence into its military could trigger a new arms race in the region, analysts have warned. China is lagging far behind the United States in developing its AI capability but the gap is likely to narrow as Beijing pursues its plan to speed up development of an "intelligent military", first outlined by President Xi Jinping in 2017 at the 19th National Party Congress, according to a report by the Centre for a New American Security. The country has set up two major research organisations focused on AI and unmanned systems and present trends suggest that the gap with the US will narrow as China is moving quickly to develop its military AI capability, the report said. China's pursuit of artificial intelligence for its People's Liberation Army forces is aimed at leveraging the emerging technology to enhance national power, according to Adam Ni, China researcher from Macquarie University in Sydney. "Simulations and other exercises aided by AI are important to improve the PLA's training and combat readiness, and form a defensive network that makes it risky for adversaries to undertake military operations," Ni said.


From comic to commander-in-chief: A steep learning curve for Ukraine's new leader

The Japan Times

KIEV - Ukraine's election has catapulted Volodymyr Zelenskiy, a 41-year-old stand-up comedian and television star with no political experience, into the nation's top job. As leader of a country dependent on international aid and battling separatists, Zelenskiy will have to deal with Russian President Vladimir Putin, deep economic problems and possibly rebellious elites. Here is a look at the main challenges facing Ukraine's sixth president: Voters expect the new commander-in-chief to end a five-year war with Moscow-backed separatists in the industrial east. The conflict has claimed some 13,000 lives since 2014 and is a huge burden on the economy and society. Despite numerous attempts to staunch the bloodletting, the conflict regularly claims the lives of soldiers and civilians, and a solution is nowhere in sight.


No Permanent Friends or Enemies: Tracking Relationships between Nations from News

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

Understanding the dynamics of international politics is important yet challenging for civilians. In this work, we explore unsupervised neural models to infer relations between nations from news articles. We extend existing models by incorporating shallow linguistics information and propose a new automatic evaluation metric that aligns relationship dynamics with manually annotated key events. As understanding international relations requires carefully analyzing complex relationships, we conduct in-person human evaluations with three groups of participants. Overall, humans prefer the outputs of our model and give insightful feedback that suggests future directions for human-centered models. Furthermore, our model reveals interesting regional differences in news coverage. For instance, with respect to US-China relations, Singaporean media focus more on "strengthening" and "purchasing", while US media focus more on "criticizing" and "denouncing".


G7 pushes North Korea to continue denuclearization talks with U.S.

The Japan Times

DINARD, FRANCE - Foreign ministers of Group of Seven nations on Saturday pushed North Korea to continue denuclearization negotiations with the United States while vowing to maintain pressure on Pyongyang to encourage it to give up its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs. In a communique issued after a two-day meeting in Dinard, western France, the ministers also expressed serious concern about the situation in the East and South China seas -- a veiled criticism of China's militarization of outposts in disputed areas of the South China Sea and its attempts to undermine Japan's control of the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. The Senkakus are administered by Japan, but claimed by China and Taiwa, which call them the Diaoyu and Tiaoyutai, respectively. During the meeting, some G7 members touched on China's expanding global ambitions through its signature Belt and Road Initiative infrastructure project, a Japanese official said. But the communique makes no reference to the initiative in an apparent effort to demonstrate unity among the group.