Deal struck with U.S. on plans for Okinawa

Japan and the United States said Friday that they have agreed on plans for returning land to Japan near Kadena Air Base, on the southern island of Okinawa, that is used by U.S. troops, in an effort to balance local concerns with support for the countries’ military alliance.

A joint statement characterized the plan as a realignment and consolidation of U.S. forces.

The United States has had a presence on Okinawa since World War II . Tensions over land use, crimes committed by military personnel and disruptions caused by military flights have been building over the years.

The plans, announced by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. Ambassador John Roos, call for returning more than 1,400 acres of land near Kadena and include separate timetables and arrangements for relocating the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station in the Okinawan city of Ginowan beginning in fiscal 2022.

— Associated Press

Pope seeks actionon child sexual abuse

Pope Francis wants the Catholic Church to “act decisively” to root out sexual abuse of children by priests and ensure that the perpetrators are punished, the Vatican said Friday.

Francis, in a meeting with the Holy See’s doctrinal chief, Archbishop Gerhard Mueller, had declared that combating sexual abuse was important “for the Church and its credibility,” a statement said. It said the pope wants Catholic bishops around the world to promote and implement “directives in this matter.”

Francis inherited a church mired in problems and a major scandal over the abuse of children by priests. It was believed to be the first time he had taken up the issue of sex abuse with a senior member of his staff since his election March 13.

A victims group, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), said the statement did not go far enough.

“We can’t confuse words with actions,” the group said.

— Reuters

China culls market birds as flu toll reaches 6: Chinese authorities slaughtered more than 20,000 birds at a poultry market in Shanghai as the death toll from a new strain of bird flu mounted to six. City officials said that the Huhuai market for live birds had been shut down after authorities detected the H7N9 virus from pigeon samples taken there and that other markets would close starting Saturday. Meanwhile, eastern Jiangsu province confirmed two new H7N9 cases, bringing the national total to 16.

Burmese Muslims, Buddhists clash in Indonesia: Religious and ethnic tensions running high in Burma boiled over outside the country’s borders when Buddhist fishermen and Muslim asylum seekers from Burma brawled with knives and rocks at an Indonesian immigration detention center, leaving eight Buddhists dead and 15 Muslim Rohingya migrants injured. The melee broke out in North Sumatra province, where more than 100 Rohingya migrants and 11 Burmese Buddhists accused of illegal fishing were being housed together, police said.

U.S. detains former head of
Guinea-Bissau navy:
A former navy chief of the small West African nation of Guinea-Bissau who is suspected of being a kingpin in the international cocaine trade has been brought to the United States and is being held in New York along with four other men after their arrest at sea by federal drug agents, a U.S. law enforcement official said. The Treasury Department designated Rear Adm. Jose Americo Bubo Na Tchuto as a drug kingpin in 2010.

— From news services