A new negative record in Japan, only 770,000 newborns in 2022
The other news of the day: A train disaster kills hundreds in Odisha. “A certain place in the city inevitably evoked memories and sadness in me,” writes the Bishop of Hong Kong about the cancelled anniversary of Tiananmen. At the Shangri-La Dialogue defence meeting, Indonesia presents its plan for peace in Ukraine. Kazakhstan recovers a part of the wealth transferred abroad by the Nazarbayev family.
Almost 300 people have died and about 1,000 were injured in what appears to be India’s worst train accident in recent history. The Bengaluru-Howrah Express high-speed train hit a freight train at Bahanaga Station, Balasore district, Odisha. Many passengers were trapped in the train’s overturned carriages.
Only 770,747 babies were born in Japan last year, the lowest figure since 1899, when nationwide records began. The fertility rate reached an all-time low, dropping to 1.2565, far below the rate of 2.07 considered necessary to keep a stable population. Halting the decline in the country's birth rate is one Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s priority, and his government, despite high debt levels, plans to spend 3.5 trillion yen (US$ 25 billion) a year on childcare and parental support measures.
During his recent trip to Beijing, Bishop Stephen Chow Sau Yan of Hong Kong prayed for the dead in Tiananmen Square. Without openly naming the site of the massacre 34 years ago, he hinted at it in an article published on the anniversary of the crackdown in the diocesan weekly Sunday Examiner. “A certain place in the city inevitably evoked memories and sadness in me. What I could do at that point was to offer my prayers for all whose lives were sadly terminated,” he writes. Under China’s national security law, unlike past years, what happened on 4 June 1989 can no longer be commemorated.
INDONESIA – RUSSIA – UKRAINE
Indonesia's Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto has proposed a peace plan for Ukraine, calling for a demilitarised zone and a UN referendum in what he called “disputed territories”. He made the proposal before defence officials from around the world gathered for the Shangri-La Dialogue defence meeting in Singapore. The initiative follows last year's visits to Moscow and Kyiv by Indonesian President Joko Widodo, as G20 president.
IRAN – SAUDI ARABIA – UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
The foreign ministers of Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were in Cape Town (South Africa) for the BRICS summit, which brings together Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, countries that are trying to expand their influence. Last year, Iran applied for observer state. Saudi Arabia is discussing joining the BRICS lender bank, the New Development Bank, seen as a counterweight to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
Kazakhstan's Anti-Corruption Agency has announced that it has recovered US$ 14 million, illegally transferred to the United Arab Emirates by Kayrat Satybalda, the nephew of former President Nazarbayev. Investigations against Satybalda and associates are ongoing.
RUSSIA – CHINA
Russia has a severe shortage of IT specialists, after many fled abroad in the wake of the war in Ukraine. To cope with the situation, Russian companies are hiring replacements from China. For Bulat Rakhimberdiev, head of electric vehicle company KAMA, the level of education and availability of specialists in China "is already far ahead of Russia”.