Asia - The Irrawaddy
Japan OKs New Aid Policy Seeking to Gain More Global Clout 

Japan’s Cabinet adopts new guidelines for international aid that for the first time clearly state that it will allow provisions for foreign armed forces.

Amid ‘Challenging’ Times, Thailand and US Start Scaled Down Drills

The United States says its relationship with longtime ally Thailand was going through a “challenging” period as the two sides began a major military exercise.

China Seizes Toilet Paper Bearing Image of Hong Kong Leader

Authorities in China seize about 8,000 rolls of toilet paper and another 20,000 packages of tissues containing unflattering images of Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing chief executive.

HIV-Positive Migrants Denied Care at Thai Public Hospitals

Hospitals across Thailand are denying insurance and care to migrant laborers despite an insurance scheme launched more than a year ago.

Philippine, Indonesian Leaders to Discuss Territorial Spats

The Philippines will raise its concerns over China’s land reclamation in disputed reefs and discuss Manila’s new peace deal with Muslim rebels during a state visit.

Police Rescue Hundreds of Child Workers in Southern India

Police have rescued hundreds of children working in hazardous industries in a southern Indian city despite laws that ban child labor, an official said Thursday.

US Lawmakers Begin Push for More Sanctions on North Korea

US lawmakers introduce legislation to broaden sanctions against North Korea by imposing stiffer punishments on international companies that do business with Pyongyang.

Sri Lanka Backs China Port City Deal After Threat to Cancel

Sri Lanka will allow a US$1.5 billion “port city” deal with China to go ahead, apparently dropping its earlier threats to cancel the project.

Death Toll From TransAsia Plane Crash in Taiwan Rises to 31

The death toll from a TransAsia Airways plane that crashed in Taiwan rises to 31 and could climb higher with 12 people still missing.

China Tightens Rules on Internet Use, Online Comments

Users of blogs and chat rooms will be required to register their names with operators and promise to avoid challenging the Communist political system.

India Eyes US Aircraft Carrier Technology as Arms Ties Deepen

India wants to use state-of-the-art US technology to boost the potency of a planned aircraft carrier, a move aiming to counter China’s regional military influence.

Sri Lanka Slow to Release Prisoners, Return Land: Tamil Leaders

Tamil leaders say that the government is not moving fast enough to free prisoners detained without trial and return private land seized by the military.

Hardline Indian Hindus Become Modi’s Enemies From Within

Hardline elements in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party are dragging on the government’s economic reform agenda as they push a strident brand of Hindu nationalism.

Casino City Macau in Flux as China Squeezes High Rollers

The Asian gambling capital of Macau’s winning streak is cooling after a decade of red hot growth, with a high-profile corruption crackdown deterring high-rollers.

UN Official: North Korean Human Rights, Cult of Kim Can’t Coexist

A December UN resolution is putting increasing pressure on the international community to back its tough words on North Korea’s human rights situation with action.

Thai PM Tightens Security After Mall Bombs Rattle Bangkok

Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha orders security to be tightened in Bangkok after two small bombs rattled a luxury shopping mall.

In Red Heartlands, Thai Army Keeps a Lid on Dissent

Since seizing power and declaring martial law, Thailand’s military has snuffed out dissent in the rural stronghold of deposed Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

Pro-Democracy Protesters Back in Hong Kong, No Violence

Thousands of pro-democracy protesters return to the streets of Hong Kong in the first large-scale rally since demonstrations rocked the global financial hub last year.

Okinawa Islanders face off with Tokyo over bases

Perennial anger over Okinawa’s hosting of US troops has flared to a new level after the election of an anti-base governor late last year.

Thai Junta Blocks Discussion of Media Censorship

Thailand’s junta has forced a German foundation to cancel a prominent forum on media restrictions imposed since the military toppled an elected government last May.