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Japanese Prime Minister To Step Down For 2nd Time Due To Intestinal Disease



Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to step down from his post as the nation’s leader owing to the same health issue which forced him to relinquish his role as prime minister during his first stint as leader beginning 2006, he indicated Friday.

The Japanese premier, who became the nation’s longest-serving leader with the most consecutive days in office at 2,799 on Aug. 24 when he revisited a Tokyo hospital for the second time in a week, was quoted on Friday as saying that he needed treatment for chronic ulcerative colitis, an intestinal disease.  Abe was also quoted with regard to his health and his decision to resign that it had become hard to make “sound judgments due to illness.”

Scheduled to give a press conference on the matter later in the day, Abe is believed to have already announced his resignation at a Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) meeting earlier in the day. The Japanese leader has been quoted as saying that his resignation is meant to have a limited impact on the ruling party and he will continue in his role until a successor is chosen. This is to avoid a political vacuum at a time when the nation is grappling with curbing the spread of COVID-19 especially in the country’s large urban areas, such as Tokyo, Osaka and Kanagawa.  On the matter of potential successors, local media reports have said that ex-Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida has expressed his eagerness to replace Abe as prime minister.

Abe on Friday also informed the leader of the LDP’s junior coalition partner Komeito, Natsuo Yamaguchi, of his decision to step down.  Yamaguchi was quoted as saying he was surprised at the news of Abe’s plans to resign as it came completely out of the blue.  He said Komeito executives plan to hold an emergency meeting to discuss the unexpected news on Friday.

Rumors about the Japanese premier’s deteriorating health have been swirling and amplified by his two trips to a Tokyo hospital within a week. Abe’s first admission to hospital on Aug. 17 for what was described at the time by as a “health checkup” that lasted more than seven hours stoked concerns about his health.  On Aug. 24, Abe revisited the Keio University Hospital in Tokyo again to receive the results of the checkup and undergo more tests, with the second visit lasting four hours.  This is the second time Abe will step down from the top post due to health issues stemming from intestinal disease.

Abe, 65, during his first tenure as prime minister, which started in late September 2006, abruptly stepped down from his post in September 2007 due to chronic ulcerative colitis. After a landslide victory in the lower house in 2012, he returned to serve as the nation’s premier and his seven-year tenure has made him Japan’s longest-ever serving leader.  Abe, prior to his current health condition, was set to spend one more year at the helm.  Abe’s presidentship of the main ruling LDP was set to run out in September 2021.

Prior to the rumors mounting in public and political spheres, a weekly magazine reported that Abe vomited blood at his office on July 6, sparking initial concerns about the premier’s ill health.

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Suicide Bombers Blow up Church in Indonesia



An explosion shook a Roman Catholic cathedral compound in the eastern Indonesian city of Makassar on Sunday morning, shattering the calm of Palm Sunday, a holy day for Christians.

The blast took place around 10:20 a.m. at the gate to the Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral compound, said Inspector General Raden Prabowo Argo Yuwono, the Indonesian National Police spokesman.

No churchgoers were killed, but at least 14 people were being treated for injuries at Makassar hospitals, Mr. Argo said.

Local police had previously said the bomber had acted alone.

Authorities were looking into which radical networks the bombers came from and whether the attack was linked to recent arrests of suspected militants, national police spokesman Argo Yuwono said.

In January, a counter-terrorism unit raided a militant hideout in Makassar and killed two men suspected by police of involvement in twin bombings at a Philippine church in 2019 that killed more than 20 people.

Father Wilhemus Tulak, a priest at the church, told Indonesian media that a suspected bomber tried to enter the church grounds on a motorbike, but had been stopped by a security guard.

Police did not say who might be responsible for the attack and there was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Police blamed the Islamic State-inspired Jamaah Ansharut Daulah group for suicide attacks in 2018 on churches and a police post in the city of Surabaya that killed over 30 people.

Boy Rafli Amar, the head of the country’s National Counterterrorism Agency, described Sunday’s attack as an act of terrorism.

Makassar Mayor Danny Pomanto said the blast could have caused far more casualties if it had taken place at the church’s main gate instead of a side entrance.

Makassar, Sulawesi’s biggest city, reflects the religious makeup of Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority country with a substantial Christian minority and followers of other religions.

“Whatever the motive is, this act isn’t justified by any religion because it harms not just one person but others, too,” Yaqut Cholil Qoumas, Indonesia’s religious affairs minister, said in a statement.

Gomar Gultom, head of the Indonesian Council of Churches, described the attack as a “cruel incident” as Christians were celebrating Palm Sunday, and urged people to remain calm and trust the authorities.

Indonesia’s deadliest Islamist militant attack took place on the tourist island of Bali in 2002, when bombers killed 202 people, most of them foreign tourists.

In subsequent years, security forces in Indonesia scored some major successes in tackling militancy, but more recently there has been a resurgence of militant violence.

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India Celebrates National Science Day



On February 28th, India celebrates the annual National Science Day commemorating Indian physicist C V Raman’s discovery in 1928 of the Raman effect, the scattering of photons or light particles by matter.

India has registered notable advances in the missile, space technology, medicine, IT and many other fields with this former British colony now emerging as a leading country in the comity of nations.

This is a moment to celebrate the progress that India has made in science and technology research, thanks to its science policies.

Science and technology has assumed great significance and the theme for the current year is : Future of STI-Impacts on Education, Skill and Work”.

The event is now organized with seminars, conferences, public debates and discussions in schools, colleges, universities and other academic, scientific, technical, medical and research institutions all over the country.

Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, a top scientist who had served as the 11th President of India in his book “India 2020” had strongly advocated for an Action Plan to develop India into a knowledge superpower and developed nation.

He had worked on high positions in DRDO, ISRO and was popularly known as the Missile Man of India for his work on the development of ballistic missile and launch vehicle technology as also India’s Pokhran-II nuclear tests in 1998.

India is on the right tract of science and technology highway and it must now go with quick and sure steps.

Key to Advancement The Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been underscoring the role of scientific knowledge, technology and innovations through bold initiatives for overall speed development so that India emerges as a safe and super strong nation.

Some positive signals are emerging with leading advanced educational and other institutions already in place coupled with lot of promise, scope and talent .

India has made tangible strides it has still to move forward for transformation of society to attain the status of super power with a mission of working for peace, progress and spiritual enlightenment for humanity.

The report published by the National Science Foundation of the U.S. in December 2019, India was the third largest publisher of peer-reviewed science and engineering journal articles and conference papers, with 135,788 articles in 2018.

This milestone was achieved through an average yearly growth rate of 10.73% from 2008, which was greater than China’s 7.81%.

However, China and the United States had about thrice and twice the number, respectively, of India’s publications.

According to Stanford ranking, hope for Indian science The not-so-good news is that publications from India are not impactful.

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7.1-magnitude Earthquake Jolts Japan



Japan has been hit by a 7.1-magnitude earthquake, which struck at 11:07 p.m. local time (9.07 a.m. ET), was located 73.9 kms northeast of Namie, a coastal town about two hours from Fukushima.

Japan’s Meteorological Agency said at least 50 people were injured and the quake knocked multiple power plants offline. No tsunami warning was issued for Saturday’s earthquake.

Some 830,000 households in the Kanto region, which includes greater Tokyo, and about 90,000 households in Tohoku region, were without power following Saturday’s quake, Japan’s chief cabinet secretary, Katsunobu Kato, said.

Japan’s Meteorological Agency says it considers Saturday’s earthquake off the east coast to be an aftershock of the deadly 9.0-magnitude earthquake that struck the same area almost 10 years ago.

Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said although the damage is still being assessed, no major casualties have been reported.

However, he asked residents in the affected area to stay indoors and be prepared for aftershocks.

The March 11, 2011, earthquake caused the country’s worst nuclear disaster when three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant melted down, releasing radioactive materials into the air and forcing more than 100,000 people to be evacuated.

More than 20,000 people died or went missing in the quake and tsunami, while hundreds of thousands more lost their homes.

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