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One of our islands is missing: Japan ‘loses’ a bit of land

Missing: A tiny island in northern Japan. Or so authorities fear, prompting plans for a survey to determine if the outcrop has been washed away, ever-so-slightly shrinking the country's territorial waters. The island, known as Esambe Hanakita Kojima was only officially surveyed and registered by Japan's coastguard in 1987, who couldn't even say exactly how big it was. Until recently, it rose 1.4-metre (four-and-a-half feet) above sea level, and was visible from the very northern tip of Japan's northern Hokkaido island.…

US warship sails near disputed South China Sea islands: US official

WASHINGTON: A US Navy destroyer sailed near islands claimed by China in the South China Sea on Sunday, a US official told Reuters, potentially angering Beijing at a time of tense relations between the two countries. Beijing and Washington are locked in a trade war that has seen them impose increasingly severe rounds of tariffs on each other’s imports. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the destroyer Decatur traveled within 12 nautical miles of Gaven and Johnson Reefs in the Spratly Islands. The…

Climate negotiator warns world ‘out of time’ to save islands

BANGKOK: Island nations like Fiji and the Maldives are almost at the "point of no return" because of rising sea levels, a leading climate negotiator warned Friday. As well as losing land and infrastructure to encroaching oceans as the planet heats up, many islands are also facing extreme flooding and damage from tropical storms, warned Amjad Abdulla, head negotiator for the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS). With experts from across the planet locked in key talks in Bangkok aimed at breathing life into the Paris…

Egypt court sentences activist to two years over Red Sea islands protest

CAIRO: A court in Alexandria has sentenced leading rights activist Mahienour el-Massry to two years in prison on charges of illegally protesting against the Egyptian government’s decision to transfer two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia, judicial sources said on Saturday. The court tried four other people in absentia and handed them four-year sentences on the same charges, the sources said. El-Massry was detained in Egypt’s second largest city along with activist Moatasim Medhat at a court hearing in November, ahead of…

China says ‘no such thing’ as man-made islands in South China Sea

BEIJING: There was "no such thing" as man-made islands in the disputed South China Sea, China's Defence Ministry said on Thursday, and reiterated that any building work was mainly for civilian purposes. China, which claims most of the resource-rich region, has carried out land reclamation and construction on several islands in the Spratly archipelago, parts of which are also claimed by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam. The building has included airports, harbors and other facilities, involving in…

Top Egypt court rejects islands transfer to Saudi Arabia

CAIRO: Egypt's top administrative court upheld on Monday a ruling voiding a government agreement to hand over two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia in deal that sparked rare protests. The government of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi had appealed against a lower court ruling in June that found the controversial border demarcation agreement was illegal. In its ruling, the High Administrative Court said it was its "unanimous" decision that the two islands -- Tiran and Sanafir -- were sovereign Egyptian territories. The…

Indonesian islands pay price for global smartphone rush

SUNGAI LIAT, INDONESIA: Deep beneath the murky ocean, Paci breathes through a thin plastic tube as he dredges the seabed for tin, a vital component inside smartphones and tablets that's brought riches and ruin to his island home. One-third of the world's tin comes from the Indonesian islands of Bangka and Belitung, where thousands risk serious injury and death in the mines. Demand for the metal ore has soared in recent years, driven by a voracious consumer appetite for the latest electronics gadgets. In Bangka, the…