News Headlines - 25 March 2021

Japan gov't, many local bodies halt use of Line app following data breach - The Mainichi

After revelations that personal data of users of the free messaging app Line was accessible to a Chinese affiliate firm sent shockwaves across Japan, the national government and an increasing number of local bodies are halting their usage of the popular app, which has grown to be a de-facto social infrastructure in the country.
In a bid to eliminate risks posed by China over information management, Line Corp. has completely blocked access from China. The firm was also forced to make a policy turnaround to relocate image and other data stored in South Korea to Japan.

Restaurant chain sues Tokyo gov't over COVID opening hour restrictions

A Tokyo-based restaurant chain operator filed a damages suit on Monday against the Tokyo metropolitan government for ordering that business hours be reduced as a public safety measure during the coronavirus pandemic.
Global-Dining Inc. claims the order "is illegal and unconstitutional as it infringes the right to freedom of business" in the first such lawsuit anywhere in Japan... The restaurant operator, listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange's Second Section, is seeking only 104 yen ($1) in damages, saying it is looking to shine light on the impact of government-enforced anti-virus measures that it believes excessively hamper business operations and people's lives.

Tokyo Olympic torch relay starts quietly in Fukushima amid COVID-19 fears

The torch relay for this summer's Tokyo Olympics started Thursday in a quiet atmosphere, going first through towns most affected by a nuclear meltdown a decade ago in Japan's northeastern prefecture of Fukushima, amid public health worries over the coronavirus.
The opening ceremony of the nationwide relay at the J-Village soccer training center was held without spectators as a precaution against the spread of the coronavirus, a year since the Olympics and Paralympics were pushed back for the same reason.
About 10,000 torchbearers will run through 859 municipalities in all of Japan's 47 prefectures, with parts of the four-month journey encompassing famous locations such as Mt. Fuji, while unprecedented measures will be taken to protect the health of participants and spectators.

Australia: Parts of New South Wales declare natural disaster following floods - CNN

The Australian government has declared a natural disaster in large swaths of New South Wales (NSW) as heavy rains batter the state and force thousands to evacuate... The NSW and federal government have signed 16 natural disaster declarations in areas spanning the central and mid-north coast, from Hunter Valley near Sydney to Coff's Harbour, said NSW Emergency Services Minister David Elliott in a news conference on Sunday.

Top Saudi official issued death threat against UN's Khashoggi investigator | The Guardian

A senior Saudi official issued what was perceived to be a death threat against the independent United Nations investigator, Agnès Callamard, after her investigation into the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
In an interview with the Guardian, the outgoing special rapporteur for extrajudicial killings said that a UN colleague alerted her in January 2020 that a senior Saudi official had twice threatened in a meeting with other senior UN officials in Geneva that month to have Callamard “taken care of” if she was not reined in by the UN.
Asked how the comment was perceived by her Geneva-based colleagues, Callamard said: “A death threat. That was how it was understood.”