Japan wants to double military spending by 2027
Today's headlines: US and Beijing vessels involved in incident on South China Seas; Request for release of jailed Vietnamese dissident Tran Huynh Duy Thuc rejected; Pakistani Taliban end ceasefire with government; Iranian general: 300 dead so far in anti-government protests; Russian soldiers kill evangelical deacon and his son in Ukraine.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida wants to raise national military spending to 2% of GDP by 2027: a doubling of the current amount, while possible changes to the pacifist Constitution have been discussed in the country for years. The Chinese threat and the geopolitical effects of the war in Ukraine underpin Tokyo's new military policy.
The Southern Command of the Chinese Armed Forces said it had turned away a US Navy cruiser sailing near the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea - Beijing claims almost 90% of the region. Washington responded that its naval unit was engaged in legitimate free navigation operations in international waters.
A fresh appeal for the release of Tran Huynh Duy Thuc was rejected by the authorities. The political dissident has been in prison since 2009 for writing articles criticising the national government system, controlled by the one-party Communist party. The sentence against him expires in 2025.
The Pakistani Taliban (Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan) announced their withdrawal from the ceasefire agreement with the government. Mediated by the Afghan Taliban authorities, the understanding lasted several months. The leadership of the fundamentalist group urged its fighters to resume attacks against the authorities in Islamabad.
As many as 300 people have died so far in clashes during protests over the killing by the police of the Kurdish youth Mahsa Amini. This was stated by General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, head of the Iranian Aerospace Forces. The count would also include security agents and civilians not involved in the demonstrations.
The lifeless bodies of 52-year-old evangelical deacon Anatolij Prokopučkov and his 19-year-old son Aleksandr were found in the woods of Novaja Kakhovka, Ukrainian Kherson region. The Russian occupants killed them while they were carrying out work in the garage of their house. The motive for the brutal murder is unknown; the deacon's car is missing. He leaves behind his wife and five other children.
Several deputies of the Russian Duma reacted publicly against the proposal by Nurlanbek Šakiev, Speaker of the Kyrgyz Parliament, to change the names of four areas in the capital Biškek. They want to replace those named after personalities and events from the Soviet period, and many Kyrgyz consider the Russians' to be 'undue interference'.