Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko made their first-ever trip to commemorate a World War II battle. This file photo taken on January 2, 2015 shows Japan's Emperor Akihito (R) waving to well-wishers beside Crown Prince Naruhito during their new year greetings in Tokyo. Emperor Akihito, now 83, said in August that his advancing age and weakening health mean he may no longer be able to carry out his duties as Japan's emperor. Japan's Crown Prince says he is ready to take on the responsibilities of emperor, signaling that he may soon become emperor after he father Emperor Akihito. Naruhito will celebrate his 57th birthday on February 23, 2017 (Source: AFP PHOTO / IMPERIAL HOUSEHOLD AGENCY)Click "play" to listen to Japan's crown prince hints at readiness to take throne and "Download" to keep this file for educational purpose.
Trump's administration has said China should do more to put pressure on North Korea. China is North Korea's sole major ally but it disapproves of its nuclear programme and has backed U.N. sanctions against it. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said in a New Year speech the North was close to test-launching an intercontinental ballistic missile. A fully developed ICBM could threaten the continental United States, which is about 9,000 km (5,500 miles) from North Korea. North Korea was China's fourth biggest supplier of coal last year, with non-lignite imports reaching 22.48 million tonnes, up 14.5 percent compared with 2015.
(Reuters photo)BRUSSELS - Alphabet Inc's Google and subsidiary Jigsaw launched on Thursday a new technology to help news organisations and online platforms identify abusive comments on their websites. As a result, many sites have shut down comments altogether," Jared Cohen, President of Jigsaw, which is part of Alphabet, wrote in a blog post. Perspective examined hundreds of thousands of comments that had been labelled as offensive by human reviewers to learn how to spot potentially abusive language. The technology could in the future be expanded to trying to identify personal attacks or off-topic comments too, Cohen said. Cohen said a significant portion of abusive comments came from people who were "just having a bad day".
Hundreds of kilos of snakehead fish block the bridge at the Aranyaprathet border on Thursday as Cambodian merchants protest against a massive increase in customs duty. (Photos by Sawat Ketngam)SA KAEO - Cambodian merchants dumped hundreds of kilogrammes of fish on the Thai-Cambodian Friendship bridge on Thursday, closing it to traffic, in a protest against a huge increase in import duty by Thai authorities. About 100 fish vendors and workers piled more than 400kg of pla chon (snakehead fish) on the road in the centre of the bridge at about 10.20am and blocked all traffic lanes with almost two dozen carts used to carry fish. Thai officials insisted they would talk with them only after the road was reopened to traffic. The vendors agreed and the bridge re-opened about 12.30pm.
TOKYO - Information and technology company Liquid Inc said Thursday it has launched a payment service using fingerprint authentication in Indonesia. Indonesia is Liquid's third overseas market for fingerprint authentication payments after Sri Lanka and the Philippines. The venture plans to offer the payment service to the Salim group's workforce of around 500,000. Liquid is currently providing such fingerprint payment services to tens of thousands users in some cities in Japan. The company is aiming to expand the business in Indonesia, counting on the economic growth of the most populous country in Southeast Asia.
The Treasury Department, with royal permission, has produced two new coins to commemorate King Rama IX, both in a 20-baht denomination, which will be available to the public next month, said department chief Jakkrit Parapanthakul. The front of one of the coins produced in commemoration of King Rama IX. (Treasury Department photo)One is to mark 100 years of Thai cooperatives, and the other to commemorate Thailand's entry into the Asean Economic Community (AEC). Mr Jakkrit said the design for the coin to be released for the royal funeral of King Rama IX is expected to be finalised in March. He said 39.9 million of the nickel coins will be produced.
An attache at the North Korean Embassy in Kuala Lumpur responds to media personnel from the premises on Thursday. "What others say about our diplomat are all lies and libellous slanders," a North Korean official told a horde of journalists camping outside the country's embassy. "Malaysian authorities said four suspects are North Korean nationals including one who has been arrested," it said. It said North Korea will "never allow any attempt to tarnish (its) image" and will "watch the future attitude of the Malaysian side". Malaysian authorities have said there is no need for any joint investigation of the homicide with North Korea.
(Reuters photo)The Bank of Thailand is tracking short-term capital inflows which are causing the baht currency to strengthen but is not worried at this point, central bank governor Veerathai Santiprabhob said. "Foreign investors see Thailand as a safe haven so capital inflows are short-term and cause the baht to strengthen. Thus we are looking at this quite closely but we are not at the stage of worry," he told reporters at an event in Bangkok. "Our monetary policy aim is to aid the economic recovery of Thailand. It is still an easing monetary policy despite global rises in interest rates because we see the rate increase as gradual."
Dead pigs found trapped in their pens after the fire at a breeding farm in Lao Khwan district overnight. (Photo by Piyarach Chongcharoen)KANCHANABURI -- A fire at a piggery in Lao Khwan district early on Thursday killed more than 2000 breeding sows and young hogs, police said. The fire began at the farm at Moo 8 village in tambon Lao Khwan a few minutes after midnight. Fire trucks from Lao Khwan and municipalities nearby responded. The fire fighters, farm workers and rescuers from a charity foundation found it difficult to put down the fire because the farm building floor was made with plastic chips.
AIA Group Ltd and Manulife Financial Corp are among bidders for Siam Commercial Bank's life insurance operations in what could be the biggest-ever acquisition of a Southeast Asian insurer, people with knowledge of the matter said. A deal could give the life insurance business a valuation of at least $3 billion (105 billion baht), people with knowledge of the matter said in April. Siam Commercial in 2015 bought the remaining shares it didn't already own in SCB Life in a deal valuing the insurer at about 77.8 billion baht. FWD last year also bought a 90% stake in Singapore's Shenton Insurance Pte and agreed to buy Tokyo-based AIG Fuji Life Insurance Co, according to its website. SCB shares fell one baht to 151.50 baht in trade worth 738 million baht at 3.42pm on Thursday.
Hat Noppharat Thara-Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park chief Sarayut Tantien (above) has asked his boss to move him to another job. (Picture from the park Facebook account)The chief of Hat Noppharat Thara-Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park has requested a transfer to another position after a protest by passenger boat operators against the high entry fee levied on foreign tourists. Sarayut Tantien has sent a letter to the National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conversation Department citing health reasons for his desire to move to another post. He claimed more tourists are visiting Noppharat Thara beach and the Phi Phi islands, and the park has increasingly cashed in on entrance fees. "If the problem is about park fees, it would have occurred years ago, not now," he wrote on his Facebook account.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha used Section 44 to sack the governor and entire board the State Railway of Thailand on Thursday and appoint a new team, with a highways deputy chief now acting governor. Wearing his hat of chief of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) said the sweeping change was intended to improve the management and efficiency of the state enterprise and facilitate national reform. The new board chairman is Voravidh Champeeratana, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Its members are - Anont Luangboriboon, deputy director-general of the Highways Department; Chunhachit Sungmai, fiscal and financial adviser of the Comptroller General's Department; Bowon Vongsinudom, vice chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries; Piti Tantakasem, chief wholesale banking officer of TMB bank; Adm Thaweechai Boonya-ananta, chief adviser of the navy; Gp Capt Thanakorn Pheeraphan, a director of the Mass Rapid Transit Authority; Aunchalee Tengpratip, auditor of the Thai Credit Guarantee Corporation; and Amnuay Preemonwong, deputy permanent secretary for finance. Mr Anont was also appointed the acting governor of the SRT.
Cambodian security officers detain a resident from Boeung Kak lakeside during a protest outside the Municipal Court in Phnom Penh on Thursday. (EPA photo)PHNOM PENH - A Cambodian court convicted and sentenced a prominent land rights activist to 2-1/2 years in jail on Thursday for her role in a protest outside Prime Minister Hun Sen's residence in 2013. Tep Vanny was found guilty of assaulting security guards while trying to deliver a petition to Hun Sen asking for assistance in a long-running land dispute. Eyewitness testimony that neither Vanny or other protesters were involved in any clash failed to sway Judge Long Kesphirum. Hun Sen has ruled Cambodia for three decades, and his government denies accusations by critics that it uses the courts to deter dissent.
Lines of monks leading laymen move slowly towards soldiers, forcing them out of Wat Phra Dhammakaya in Khlong Luang district, Pathum Thani, on Thursday morning. (Photo by Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)PATHUM THANI - Hundreds of monks prevented soldiers from entering Wat Phra Dhammakaya to renew the search for Phra Dhammajayo on Thursday morning. They were confronted by monks and laymen, and a brief pushing and shoving followed. About 9am lines of about 300 monks and followers moved towards the soldiers, forcing them to retreat. Authorities entered the temple grounds on Feb 16 to search the 2,300-rai complex in Khlong Luang district for its former abbot Phra Dhammajayo.
Deputy police chief Srivara Ransibrahmanakul on Thursday submitted 16 cases relating to the bombings and arson in Prachuap Khirikhan's Hua Hin district and six southern provinces last August to prosecutors of the military court of the 41st Military Circle in Nakhon Si Thammarat. The 16 cases relate to six attacks in Phangnga, five in Prachuap Khiri Khan, two in Phuket and one each in Krabi, Surat Thani and Nakhon Si Thammarat. The attacks were part of the series of bomb and arson assaults in Trang, Prachuap Khiri Khan's Hua Hin, Phuket, Surat Thani, Phangnga, Krabi and Nakhon Si Thammarat on Aug 10-12, which killed four people and wounded 35. Pol Gen Srivara said the 16 cases filed on Thursday involved 10 suspects, of whom only two had been arrested -- Muhamad Muhi, a suspect in the Patong Beach bombing in Phuket, and Abdulkodir Sale, a suspect in the bombing and arson in Trang. Also today, Pol Gen Srivara submitted a request to the military court for arrest warrants for three other suspects in the bombings at four spots at Phuket's Patong Beach.