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Top Asian News 3:14 a.m. GMT

Associated Press

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — As a young boy growing up on Bikini Atoll, Alson Kelen spent idyllic days playing on the beach and fishing. His grandfather built canoes and his father tended the land. With fewer than 150 people on the remote Pacific island it was a close community, he says, with few signs of the former U.S. nuclear testing program other than the concrete bunkers he was told to avoid and the sunken ships in the lagoon. But in 1978, when Kelen was 10, officials evacuated everybody. It turned out they'd been premature in declaring the Marshall Islands atoll safe again for humans.

TOKYO (AP) — Just days before Japan's national election campaign kicks off, all eyes are on Tokyo's populist governor, a political go-getter and a gambler. Will she jump into the race and try to unseat Prime Minister Shinzo Abe? Yuriko Koike has repeatedly denied she will run, but she has surprised before. She remained coy about her national ambitions in an interview with The Associated Press on Friday, saying her next step was in God's hands. Koike upstaged Abe last week as he was preparing a carefully scripted plan to call the Oct. 22 snap election, announcing ahead of his news conference that she would personally head a new party, the Party of Hope, which she had been backseat-driving.

BANGKOK (AP) — They couldn't award it to Kim Jong Un or Donald Trump. That much was certain. But the granting of the Nobel Peace Prize to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons opened itself to a clear interpretation across Asia: When it comes to the nuclear-saturated war of words on the Korean Peninsula, attention must be paid and treaties must be signed. And it must be done in a preventative way, at top speed, before something happens that can't be undone. Looming in the background of the award announcement Friday was the sometimes scalding, sometimes tepid, never silent geopolitical scuffle this year between the young leader of the third-generation Pyongyang regime and the always voluble president of the United States.

OSLO, Norway (AP) — The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, a forceful show of support for a grassroots effort that seeks to pressure the world's nuclear powers to give up the weapons that could destroy the planet. The choice of the little-known coalition of disarmament activists put the Nobel committee again at the forefront of geopolitics at a time when fears are rising over North Korea's nuclear and missile program and the invective it has drawn from U.S. President Donald Trump. The committee cited the tiny, Geneva-based ICAN for its work that led to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons that was reached in July at the United Nations.

The United States has issued a statement saying that "no state possessing nuclear weapons or which depends upon such weapons for its security supports" a U.N. treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons. The statement came after the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded Friday to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. In its statement, the U.S. said "today's announcement does not change the U.S. position on the treaty: the United States does not support and will not sign the treaty." The U.S. said it is "seeing a deterioration in the overall security environment and growing nuclear capabilities of certain states. This treaty will not make the world more peaceful, will not result in the elimination of a single nuclear weapon, and will not enhance any state's security." It said the treaty "risks undermining existing efforts to address global proliferation and security challenges." It promised to work with other nations to improve international security, counter nuclear proliferation and reduce nuclear dangers.

TURANGI, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealanders still don't know who will next lead their country after a final vote count from a general election two weeks ago tightened the close race between liberals and incumbent conservatives. Election officials on Saturday released the final 17 percent of the vote tally, including votes cast by people who were overseas. Negotiations to form the next government will now begin in earnest. The conservative National Party ended with 44 percent of the vote, while the liberal bloc of the Labour Party and the Green Party ended with a combined 43 percent. That left both sides needing to negotiate with the small New Zealand First party, led by maverick lawmaker Winston Peters.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection says it is ready to block U.S. imports of seafood — as well as any other goods — produced by North Korean laborers who work in China. An Associated Press investigation tracked salmon, squid and cod processed by North Koreans working at Chinese factories and shipped to American stores, including Walmart and ALDI. The North Korean workers found in Chinese factories aren't allowed to leave, and receive only a fraction of their pay — most goes straight to the North Korean state. This means that American consumers buying seafood labeled "Caught in the USA, Processed in China" may inadvertently be subsidizing the government of Kim Jong Un as it builds nuclear weapons, and also supporting forced labor.

BEIJING (AP) — Securing North Korea's missile launchers and nuclear, chemical and biological weapons sites would likely be a chief priority for China in the event of a major crisis involving its communist neighbor, analysts say, although Beijing so far is keeping mum on any plans. Despite China's official silence, its People's Liberation Army likely has a "vast array" of contingency plans involving military options, said Dean Cheng, an Asia security expert at the Heritage Foundation think tank in Washington. The PLA and paramilitary People's Armed Police could also be deployed to deal with refugees and possible civil unrest, he said.

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — A top official said Friday that NATO is concerned about an increase in terrorism in Afghanistan since the alliance withdrew its combat troops in 2014. "We cannot underestimate what is happening in Afghanistan because after we withdrew our troops... we saw a new increase of terrorism," the president of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, Paolo Alli, told The Associated Press. Alli said the Taliban also expanded their control of parts of the country after NATO ended its combat mission in 2014. Some alliance troops remained to train and advise Afghan forces under the NATO-led Resolute Support mission. Alli's comments in Bucharest came after Kay Bailey Hutchison, the U.S.

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Cambodia's government on Friday took initial legal steps to dissolve the country's main opposition party, the latest in a series of moves to gain an advantage ahead of next year's general election. Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said the ministry filed a lawsuit with the Supreme Court asking for the Cambodia National Rescue Party to be dissolved on the grounds that it was involved in a plot to topple the government. The court is likely to uphold the complaint, since the country's court system is widely considered to be under the political influence of the government of Prime Minister Hun Sen.


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