Pacific News Minute

Surian Soosay / Flickr
Surian Soosay / Flickr

On Sunday, 120-thousand Japanese gathered outside the Diet to protest what they denounced as war legislation.  On Monday, the defense ministry submitted a proposed budget that asks for a fourth consecutive annual increase...details, from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

Leigh Blackall / Flickr
Leigh Blackall / Flickr

The government of Australia relocated to a remote island in the Torres Strait this week, as Prime Minster Tony Abbott made good on his promise to spend a week every year in an indigenous community to learn more about the issues faced by Aboriginals and Torres Straits Islanders...more from Neal Conan, in the Pacific News Minute.

Prime Minister Abbott made an important gesture to Australia's indigenous peoples, when he laid a wreath at the grave of Eddie Koiki Mabo, whom he called a "warrior".

Wikipedia Commons
Wikipedia Commons

Over the weekend, India hosted a summit meeting with representatives from 14 Pacific Island Nations. As we hear from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute, Fiji's Prime Minister asked India to take the side of small island states at the UN Conference on climate change coming up at the end of this year in Paris.

mroach / Flickr
mroach / Flickr

Until an agreement yesterday, North and South Korea stood on the brink of war for the last several days. As usual, each accused the other of precipitating the crisis.  As a deadline approached at 5 PM Saturday, high level negotiators from both countries gathered at Panmunjom and after marathon talks, found a way to back down.  As we hear from Neal Conan in today's Pacific News Minute… this was just the latest in a long series of confrontations.

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade / Flickr
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade / Flickr

Across the Pacific, many island nations struggle with issues of sovereignty.  Just this week we reported on the arrest of dozens in Fiji who allegedly planned to set up a breakaway state.  Now the leader of the provincial government on one of the Solomon Islands says he plans to establish a sovereign nation, but not an independent one.  An explanation, from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

waterboardingdotorg / Flickr
waterboardingdotorg / Flickr

As Australia's government prepares to issue new, multi-billion dollar contracts for private companies to run its refugee detention centers, the parliament in Canberra heard charges of abuse at the camps, including, most recently, allegations of torture including waterboarding.  More from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

Wikipedia Commons
Wikipedia Commons

As many as 60 people are under arrest in Fiji on charges of sedition, amid allegations of military training aimed at the establishment of a breakaway Christian state. More from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

While the details of the charges remain murky, the reaction of the authorities is anything but.  Fiji's Prime minister, Frank Bainimarama declared "There will be no so-called independent states established in Fiji.” Put simply he added, "any insurrection will be crushed."

Moyan Brenn / Flickr
Moyan Brenn / Flickr

If you're planning to visit Pyongyang this weekend, remember to set your watch back an extra thirty minutes. In an effort to expunge a vestige of Japanese Colonization, North Korea has created its own time zone, as of Saturday, which marks 70 years since Japan's occupation of Korea ended at the end of the Second World War. More from Neal Conan in the latest Pacific News Minute.

Wikipedia
Wikipedia

Last week, the Bikini Council approved resolutions, asking the U.S. Government for help to relocate, yet again. The population of the famous atoll was evacuated ahead of nuclear weapons tests in the 1940s, their home remains radioactive and their island of exile has been inundated by high waves at least five times in the last four years. More from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

JasonParis / Flickr
JasonParis / Flickr

Last week, as people from across the Cook Islands gathered in Rarotonga to celebrate fifty years of free association with New Zealand. Prime Minister Henry Puna continued to raise the possibility of more independence, and a seat at the United Nations. As we hear from Neal Conan in our latest Pacific News Minute, the bid is on hold, at least for now.

Day Donaldson / Flickr
Day Donaldson / Flickr

There were commemorations earlier today in Hiroshima, to mark seventy years after the atomic bomb devastated the city and killed an estimated 150 thousand people, almost all of them civilians. More ceremonies follow Sunday, in Nagasaki, but amid the solemnity of those events, many across the region are waiting to hear what Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will say to mark Japan's surrender. More from Neal Conan in today's Pacific News Minute.

Naval Surface Warriors / Flickr
Naval Surface Warriors / Flickr

As the United States continues its strategic shift to the Asia-Pacific, important regional allies continue their shift toward the U.S.  We reported last month on Japanese purchases of U.S. Warplanes...now, as we hear from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute, Australia has confirmed an upgrade to its latest American weapons deal.

PROAMISOM Public Information / Flickr
PROAMISOM Public Information / Flickr

Talks are underway in Brisbane, Australia between the United States and 17 Pacific Island Nations on a new South Pacific Tuna Treaty.  The old treaty expired and an interim agreement is set to run out at the end of this year.  As we hear from Neal Conan today’s Pacific News Minute, a deal is critical for American Samoa.

Official U.S. Navy Page / Flickr
Official U.S. Navy Page / Flickr

Next month, the Chinese and Russian Navies will hold their largest ever joint exercise in waters close to Japan.  More from Neal Conan, in today’s latest Pacific News Minute.

This will be the fourth consecutive year for joint exercises in the Pacific.  16 vessels took part last year, 20 are scheduled to participate this year including, for the first time carrier based aircraft.  The major tactical drill is a joint amphibious assault in Russia's Primorsky territory about 250 miles from Japan.

Roger W / Flickr
Roger W / Flickr

The treasury department has issued sanctions against a shipping company based in Singapore for allegedly assisting North Korean weapons traffic, which is banned by both the United States and the United Nations.  As we hear from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute, the charges date back to an infamous incident two years ago.

John Ragai / Flickr
John Ragai / Flickr

As of today, Malaysia's leading business and investment newspapers are off the stands. The government suspended publication for three months, charging that reports into a widening scandal involving the Prime Minister could lead to political mayhem and economic instability.  More from Neal Conan, in today’s Pacific News Minute.

brewbooks / Flickr
brewbooks / Flickr

Over the past few weeks, the political situation in the French Pacific territory of New Caledonia has been in flux as one of the larger anti-independence parties broke up and its deputies joined other parties in the local assembly or decided to sit as independents.  As we hear from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute, the switches leave the congress in confusion as it prepares to organize a referendum on independence.

mashleymorgan / Flickr
mashleymorgan / Flickr

Last week Japan's parliament, the Diet, prompted considerable controversy when the lower house approved legislation that reinterprets the country's pacifist constitution to widen the circumstances under which the country could go to war.  With less notice, Japan also purchased five V-22 Ospreys...military aircraft that have been controversial for any number of reasons.  Details from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

Brian Glass / Flickr
Brian Glass / Flickr

This past weekend, a summit of Polynesian leaders issued a declaration on the threat of climate change and agreed on a set of demands to be presented to the United Nations Conference on Climate Change to be held in Paris at the end of the year.  More from Neal Conan, in today’s Pacific News Minute.

Official U.S. Navy Page / Flickr
Official U.S. Navy Page / Flickr

This summer, as we mark the 70th Anniversary of the events that led up to the end of the Second World War, the Government of Japan under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wants to loosen restrictions imposed in the Post War constitution on Military Operations and as we hear from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute on foreign military sales.

Wikipedia Commons
Wikipedia Commons

A moment of transition for the United States Navy this week, as the frigate USS Kaufman returned from her final patrol.  That ends almost forty years of service for a class of small, tough warships that did everything from escorting aircraft carrier battle groups in the Pacific to battling pirates off Somalia and drug runners in the Caribbean.  In today’s Pacific News Minute, Neal Conan remembers two weeks aboard the frigate USS Rentz during what was known as the Tanker War.

Cyr0z / Flickr
Cyr0z / Flickr

Environmental activists hope that the 30th anniversary of the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior can help prompt a revival of anti- nuclear activism across the Pacific.  On July 10, 1985, the Greenpeace ship was mined by French secret agents in Auckland Harbor, New Zealand as it was on its way to protest French nuclear tests at Moraroa Atoll.  A photographer was killed in the explosion.  More on the legacy of the Rainbow Warrior from Neal Conan, in our latest Pacific News Minute.

Wikipedia Commons
Wikipedia Commons

Foreign ministers from the Pacific Islands Forum nations gather in Sydney Australia this week. The meeting's primary focus is disaster management.  A timely subject as Cyclone Nangka threatens the Northern Marianas and after Cyclone Pam devastated Vanuatu earlier this year.  But politics will also come up, amid concerns over basic rights in two Pacific Island democracies.  More from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

Mikhail Kamarov / Flickr
Mikhail Kamarov / Flickr

Russia's Pacific Fleet has steadily dwindled since the collapse of the Soviet Union, but that's about to change with the deployment of a new ballistic missile submarine that's been dubbed Putin's Red October. More from Neal Conan, in today’s Pacific News Minute.

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade / Flickr
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade / Flickr

President Anote Tong reminded the United Nations General Assembly in New York last week that whatever action the world decides to take on climate change will come too late for his country. The President of Kiribati delivered the keynote address to one of a series of meetings to prepare for the Conference on Climate change in Paris this fall.  Neal Conan has more in today’s Pacific News Minute.

Malaysia Stylo / Flickr
Malaysia Stylo / Flickr

The Wall Street Journal reports today that more than 900 Million Dollars was wired to the personal account of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak. The money allegedly came from banks, government agencies and companies connected to a debt ridden sovereign investment company.  Prime Minister Najib dismissed the charge as "political sabotage", but, as we hear from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute, this is just the latest development in a widening scandal.

Bob Hall / Flickr
Bob Hall / Flickr

As of tomorrow, tiny Norfolk Island loses the political autonomy it's enjoyed since 1979. Despite a referendum that appealed to Australia to allow the islanders some say in their political future, self-government will be replaced by a local council. Details from Neal Conan, in the latest Pacific News Minute.

AK Rockefeller / Flickr
AK Rockefeller / Flickr

In Honiara, the capital of the Solomon Islands, last week, a summit meeting of the Melanesian Spearhead Group ended with an apparent victory for Indonesia, while the United Liberation Movement for West Papua fell short. Details from Neal Conan in our latest Pacific News Minute.

Wikipedia
Wikipedia

Yesterday, the State Department released its annual report on human rights abuses that listed some of the usual suspects: Iran, China, Russia, North Korea, Syria, and Cuba. Some American allies like: Egypt, Kuwait, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia are also on the list. And for the first time, non-state actors including The Islamic State, Boko Haram and Al Qaeda. One country that will not get into the headlines is the tiny island nation of Nauru. More on the human rights situation there, from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

The U.S. Army / Flickr
The U.S. Army / Flickr

There are always concerns and complaints when the military stages live fire exercises here in Hawaii.  Now the Defense Department is holding Hawaii's experience up as a model for skeptical officials in the Northern Marianas. Details from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

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