Another twist in alleged Abe cronyism scandal
TOKYO • A former aide to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe yesterday denied a report that he had intervened to help win approval for the premier's friend to set up a new veterinary school, the latest twist in a suspected cronyism scandal.
The Asahi newspaper said the aide had told local authorities in 2015 that a plan by Mr Abe's friend for a veterinary school in a government-designated deregulation zone was a "prime ministerial matter" and they should work hard to realise it.
Mr Abe has denied instructing officials to give preferential treatment to his friend.
Beijing slams auction of seized artefact
BEIJING • China yesterday condemned an auction in Britain today of a rare bronze water vessel seized by a British soldier from Beijing in the 19th century, calling for a boycott.
The vessel was made between 1100 and 771 BC during the Western Zhou Dynasty and has an estimated value of up to £160,000 (S$297,000), said Canterbury Auction Galleries.
It added the vessel was taken by a British soldier during the "capture" of what is now called the Old Summer Palace in 1860.
China's State Administration of Cultural Heritage denounced the auction, calling the vessel an "illegally discharged cultural artefact".
Frenchman charged with rape in Thailand
BANGKOK • A French citizen has been charged with raping a British backpacker on the Thai holiday island of Koh Tao, police said yesterday.
Officials said an 18-year-old backpacker had claimed she was drugged and raped by a French tourist on April 4. The suspect, identified as a 26-year-old French national, was charged with rape on Monday.