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From Beijng to Tokyo, from Seoul to New Delhi, LinkAsia takes viewers into media about Asia – from Asia – offering unfiltered insight into one of the most diverse, fast-paced regions of the globe.

 

The LinkAsia blog features in-depth analysis from expert contributors and LinkAsia producers, as well as transcripts from NHK Japan reports.

 

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Residents on Edge of Evacuation Zone Return Home
In Japan, some residents of one city in the Fukushima evacuation zone are being allowed to return home.  More than 300 people from one district in the northeastern city of Tamura were forced to evacuate following the devastating earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 that destroyed a nuclear reactor. Tamura is about 12 miles from the plant, right on the edge of the radioactive zone. With more on their homecoming, here’s Japan’s public broadcaster NHK.
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Reporter:
People in the neighborhood had to leave their homes right after the accident three years ago. But government officials found that radiation levels were relatively low. So workers could contaminate the area before other parts of the evacuation zone around the plant. But most evacuees from the area say they don’t plan to return home in the near future. Some of them are worried there may still be pockets of high radiation. Hideyuki Tsuboi says his parents will return home. Tsuboi, his wife, and their three young daughters will stay in temporary housing in another part of Tamura.

Hideyuki Tsuboi:
It’s our responsibility as parents to ensure a safe life for children. That’s the main reason we decided not to go back.

Reporter:
Government officials plan to give dosimeters to people moving back to the neighborhood.  More than 80,000 people from the evacuation zone still can’t return home.

The government is in charge of removing radioactive substances from the evacuation zone around the nuclear plant. The area includes  all or parts of 11 cities, towns and villages. But the cleanup effort doesn’t include a zone with high radiation.  As we mentioned earlier, officials on Tuesday lifted the evacuation order for the city of Tamura. Environment minister Nobuteru Ishihara says the government also  finished clean up work in two other towns and a village on schedule.

Nobuteru Ishihara:
We will continue monitoring radiation levels to  confirm that the effect of the decontamination work lasts. We will do our best to rebuild those areas We will also do all we can to speed up decontamination of other areas to complete the work on time.
 
 

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Pakistan May Negotiate a Ceasefire with the Taliban
The Pakistani Taliban wants to extend a ceasefire with the government. The ceasefire was declared to allow negotiators to try to find an end to seven years of horrific violence. Here’s Japan’s public broadcaster, NHK.

Reporter:
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif met with negotiators for the Pakistani Taliban earlier this month in the capital, Islamabad. The government has been in talks with the largest insurgent group since February. One March 1st, the Pakistani Taliban unilaterally announced a month-long ceasefire. Youssef Shah, a negotiator for the Taliban told AFP on Tuesday that the top priority for the next phase of talks is to extend the ceasefire. It’s due to run out next week. Experts remain divided over the real motivation for the Taliban sudden announcement. Just beforehand, the Pakistani military launched massive air strikes against the Taliban stronghold of North Waziristan. Some analysts say the Taliban opted for a ceasefire as a ploy to buy time to prepare counter attacks. Pakistan has long been a terrorist hotbed, but with multi-national combat troops due to withdraw from neighboring Afghanistan by the year’s end, experts say stability in Pakistan is extremely important for the whole region.
 
 

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Japanese Architect Shigeru Ban Wins 2014 Pritzker Prize

Japanese architect Shigeru Ban is being honored for his innovative work..He’s won the Pritzker Architecture Prize, often called the industry’s Nobel Prize. He’s been devoted to humanitarian relief efforts, designing and building temporary structures using easily obtainable materials like paper tubes and sand bags. For more on Shigeru Ban, here’s Japan’s public broadcaster, NHK.

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Reporter:
Jury members announced their decision on Monday. The US prize honors living architect who make a significant contribution to humanity. Ban's works include the Centre Pompidou-Metz in France. He's designed other cultural facilities and residences in countries around the world. But jury members made special note of Ban's creative designs for disaster situations. He used paper and wood, for example, to build a temporary cathedral in Christchurch, New Zealand. The original building was devastated by an earthquake three years ago. In the same year, Ban turned shipping containers into multi-storey housing units for people in northeastern Japan. They had lost their homes in the earthquake and tsunami. Pritzker prize jury members said Ban creates quality architecture to serve society's needs.

 
 

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China's Fishermen Set down Their Nets and Pick up Arms
The long-simmering territorial dispute between China and its neighbors over the South China Sea is about to get hotter. China is giving some of its fishermen military training so they can help defend China's claims to three quarters of the sea. Here’s  Japan’s NHK.
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Reporter:
This is Tanmen, a fishing village on Hainan Island in southern China. Local government officials are spending almost 17-million dollars to improve infrastructure They are making this village a base for China's maritime activities.

Here fishermen who build boats are eligible for local subsidies.
If certain requirements are met, they must fish for at least three months in waters in the South China Sea, south of this line.To encourage them to do that, the government also pays a fuel subsidy.
Fisherman Chen Zebo receives this payment and another financial incentive.

Chen Zebo:
I receive the special daily allowance for fishing in the South China Sea. I receive about 300 dollars a day for my boat.

Reporter:
Some fishermen like Chen also serve in the militia, performing maritime assignment for the local government. They receive military training including how to fire weapons. The maritime militia is set up on certain parts of southern and eastern China’s shores. It's estimated that several million Chinese serve in both the sea and land militias.

Members of the militia from Tanmen served in the war against Vietnam and other conflicts. They carried weapons and gave other non-combat support for the regular army.
Now, just over two hundred belong to the militia in Tanmen. They aren't usually armed, but they are required to radio the Chinese authorities as soon as they sight foreign ships or fishing boats.
President Xi Jinping visited Tamnen last year. He ordered the militia to gather information from the open sea and help with construction on remote islands in the South China Sea.
Chen once fished in the region where China and the Philippines are embroiled in territorial disputes. Philippine authorities detained him for short time. But he still believes it’s his duty to protect this area of the sea.

Chen Zebo:
If anything happens in the sea, I'll notify the Chinese authorities right away. If it weren’t for the fisherman of my village, the South China sea would've been occupied by some other countries."
A government run Chinese institution, that researches the South China Sea says, this militia activities play a important role in upholding China’s sovereignty.

Wu Shicun:
This undertakings are ways to protect China's maritime interests. Fishing and economic activities in the South China Sea are an important means of demonstrating China's presence.

Reporter:
In return for generous government incentives, these fishermen sail to the South China Sea to cast their nets. And while there, their unofficial duty is lookouts for their government. These activities send a clear signal that China is determined to assert itself in the area.
 
 

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Japan's Stem Cell Discovery Under Scrutiny
Earlier this year scientists in Japan published groundbreaking stem cell
research. Their findings were viewed as a game changer- simplifying the
process of regenerating cells, and significantly reducing the time it takes to
do so. Needless to say this offered hope to quickly replace damaged cells or
grow new organs for sick and injured people. But their published findings hit
a snag "there have been reports that other scientists have been unable to
replicate the Japanese team's results" leading to speculation that the
research was flawed. Here's NHK with more.
NHK Stem Cells--
Rioji Noyori:
I would like to first and foremost express my deep regrets that articles published in ‘Nature’ by our scientists are bring into question the credibility of the scientific community.

Reporter:
Masatoshi Takeichi is the director of the RIKEN Center for   Developmental Biology. He oversaw the work of the research team. He too apologized. Takeichi  said he advised the authors to quickly withdraw the papers and  conduct the experiment again.The researchers led by Haruko Obokata claimed to find a way to create a phenomenon called STAP, Stimulus Triggered Acquisition of Pluripotency. They said their approach made cells flexible enough to  develop into any type of tissue. But scientists elsewhere questioned the findings. Investigators from RIKEN are examining 6 aspects of the papers. The look that photos that are appeared to have been tempered with, to show STAP cell's growing. And they looked at photos of placenta that appeared to come from different tests.

The investigators concluded the ways the researcher dealt with data in  these cases was not appropriate. But they said that this did not amount to wrongdoing. The investigators  said they need to look further into  four other aspects. One of the key aspects is photos of tissues allegedly created from STAP cells that determine that the photos came from Obokata’s doctoral thesis. The images showed tissues produced with cells from a different source.
 
 

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