News Headlines - 11 May 2021

Taiwan holds out hope of 11th-hour invitation to World Health Assembly with support of the West | South China Morning Post

Taiwan has not yet received a long sought-after invitation from the World Health Organization despite a growing international chorus calling for the self-ruled island to attend the World Health Assembly this month.
The island has received worldwide praise for its success in containing Covid-19 over the past year, but as the Monday night registration deadline loomed, there was no news from the WHO Secretariat about an invitation to join the event on May 24-June 1, Taiwanese officials said.
Taiwanese deputy foreign minister Tien Chung-kwang acknowledged on Monday that the island’s government was yet to receive the invitation, but said Taiwan would not give up.

City apologizes for prioritizing company chief, wife for vaccines : The Asahi Shimbun

The city government here apologized on May 11 for attempting to let a prominent businessman and his wife jump the line for COVID-19 vaccinations.
Nishio Vice Mayor Yoshihide Kondo said at a news conference that he tried to “do a favor” for Hirokazu Sugiura, the 70-year-old founder and chairman of pharmacy giant Sugi Holdings Co., and his wife because “the city has received assistance (from the company) in many forms.”
Takaou Yanase, manager of the city government’s health and welfare department, which manages a division in charge of the vaccination program, said a secretary at Sugi Holdings, operator of the Sugi Pharmacy drugstores, had repeatedly demanded that the city give the couple priority in receiving the shots.

Olympics: Japanese government adviser sparks ire with tweet laughing off calls for cancellation - CNN

A tweet by a top Japanese government adviser downplaying the pandemic and laughing off calls for the Olympics to be canceled is drawing public ire a few days after Japan extended a state of emergency in Tokyo and three other areas until the end of May.
Kaetsu University professor Yoichi Takahashi likened the number of coronavirus cases in Japan to "a ripple," adding: "so you're telling me people want to cancel the Olympics for this? lol lol."

Southern Japan Islands to Get UNESCO World Heritage Status - JIJI PRESS

A UNESCO advisory panel has recommended the registration of Amami Oshima and other southwestern islands in Japan as natural assets on the UNESCO World Heritage list, Japan's Environment Ministry said Monday.
The recommendation was made by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the ministry said. The UNESCO World Heritage Committee is expected to formalize the registration at its online meeting on July 16-31.
The areas seen for the World Heritage designation--Amami Oshima and the island of Tokunoshima in Kagoshima Prefecture, northern parts of the southernmost prefecture of Okinawa, an island prefecture, and Iriomote Island in Okinawa--are as large as 42,698 hectares. About 100 animal species on the IUCN's Red List, including the Amami rabbit and the Okinawa rail, inhabit the southwestern Japan islands.
In February 2017, the Japanese government recommended the islands to UNESCO, aiming for their World Heritage listing in summer 2018. But the IUCN proposed in May 2018 the deferral of the registration, noting that the country had failed to comprehensively designate areas in order to protect rare species of wild fauna and flora.
The government reviewed the areas and resubmitted its proposal in February 2019, seeking the registration of the islands in summer 2020.

Leonardo da Vinci’s Drawing of a Bear Poised to Break Auction Record –

A study of a bear by Leonardo da Vinci is poised to break the artist’s auction record for a single drawing. The work, titled Head of a Bear, will be offered in the Exceptional Sale at Christie’s in London on July 8, with an estimate of $11.2 million to $16.9 million.
Measuring approximately 8 square inches, the drawing is part of a series of small-scale studies of animals that the famous polymath executed around 1480. Da Vinci produced Head of a Bear on paper using a silverpoint, depicting the carnivore with a gentle gaze. The work is one of only eight known da Vinci drawings still in private hands, not counting those owned by the British Royal Collection and the Devonshire Collections at Chatsworth.