Asia Minute

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Cities and countries around the Asia Pacific are struggling to deal with the public safety aspects of the coronavirus — as well as its economic impact. While the situation is still developing, some locations are doing better than others.

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There’s a new report out this week about plastic pollution in the Pacific Ocean. The study looked at half a dozen countries that together are responsible for most of the plastic in the world’s oceans—and it came to some surprising conclusions.

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A week from today, President Trump is scheduled to be in Inida. The two-day visit is expected to include discussions on a variety of topics — from trade to China.

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Tomorrow marks one week since the worst mass shooting in the history of Thailand. 30 people were killed and 58 wounded, and many in the nation are still filled with grief and shock.

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The spread of the coronavirus has knocked a number of other international stories out of the news. One of those stories centers on the fires that burned through huge parts of Australia.

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The coronavirus continues to dominate news coverage in China and across Asia. There’s one part of the story that is getting less attention, but it’s growing.

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The Oscar success of the South Korean film “Parasite” has gotten a lot of publicity around the world. An editorial in the South China Morning Post said it “should pave the way for more offerings from different cultural perspectives.” And then there was the reaction from South Korea.

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When it comes to the coronavirus, China remains the country with the vast majority of cases. But health officials in one Southeast Asian nation have just raised their alert level.

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Travel restrictions are increasing around the world on visitors from China. Yesterday, Taiwan imposed a total ban on travelers coming from anywhere in the country. Tomorrow, Hong Kong will begin a mandatory two week quarantine for everyone arriving from mainland China. And next week will see another big change for the country.

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Nearly one in five residents in Hawai’i is 65 or older. That’s the seventh-highest figure in the country, and that part of the population is growing faster here than the national average. Japan is graying even faster, and is moving closer to a major age-related change.

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While the death toll continues to rise from the coronavirus, attention remains focused on efforts to contain it. One situation that’s drawing differing reactions in Asia: what to do about special events.


Health concerns in Asia remain focused on the coronavirus. While medical workers are trying to stop the spread of the virus, it’s also having an effect on regional business.

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A recent study from the University of Hawaiʻi's Economic Research Organization shows rents in Hawaiʻi are more than 50% higher than the national average. In South Korea's capital, housing costs are also high — but rising even faster.

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Today closes out the first month of the new year. And it’s a chance to look at the early impact of some laws that changed with the start of 2020. There is one legal adjustment in Vietnam that has already had a big effect.

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As the new coronavirus remains in the news, there’s a growing focus on the Chinese city where it began. The city is one of the largest in China — and also important to the regional economy of East Asia.

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Honolulu’s airport has joined the list of U.S. entry points screening passengers from Wuhan, China for the coronavirus. There are no direct flights here from Wuhan, but fast-moving developments are influencing a lot more travel to and from the country.

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Reaction is still pouring in from around the world about the death of former basketball star Kobe Bryant. And that includes some special attention from the Asia Pacific.

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It was another fiery weekend in parts of Australia. Scores of brushfires are still burning — especially in the states of New South Wales and Victoria. While the destruction has been vast in recent weeks, the intensity of the flames has declined a bit in recent days. But there are lingering concerns, and not only about the loss of life and property. 

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Celebrations of the Lunar New Year will be subdued in many parts of China this year, because of concerns of a spreading virus. That’s also true within the region, where various countries are having different reactions to the outbreak.

U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Benjamin Parsons

This week, South Korea’s government announced it will be sending a naval unit to the Middle East. That move has been welcomed by the United States and criticized by Iran. But for South Korea, it’s a form of compromise.

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A new virus that started in China has now reached the United States. The Hawaii Department of Health is advising doctors across the state to be alert for patients who may have traveled from the city of Wuhan. While it’s not yet understood exactly how the virus is spread, it’s raising concerns – especially within the Asia Pacific.

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It’s been two years since China turned the commercial world of recycling upside down when it stopped accepting most plastic from overseas. This week, the government announced another sweeping change: phasing out single-use plastics.

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The world's richest person spent several days last week in the world's largest democracy. But the trip of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos didn't turn out quite the way he expected.

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A trade deal signed this week by the United States and China has been the focus of a lot of media coverage. Most stories in the United States emphasize the purchases of U.S. agricultural and other products that China will make. But in the Asia Pacific, there’s a slightly different tone.

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There’s a development this week involving a Japanese cabinet official that’s making national news in that country. It’s not a scandal — it has to do with taking advantage of an employee benefit.

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There are further developments today on a mysterious virus that has hit a major city in China.

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Taiwan’s president was re-elected by a wide margin over the weekend. The election results were not a surprise, but they are significant on a number of levels.

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Hawaii’s tourism figures for 2019 have not yet been released, but they have for Japan. It’s a record number, but it also shows some changes in visitor arrivals.

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The Golden Globes were awarded this week, giving attention to some of the best movies of 2019. A different take on Hollywood’s movie output came from China this week — and it’s a very different interpretation.

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While the conflict between the United States and Iran seems to have cooled in the last couple of days, tensions remain. And that is continuing to affect U.S. allies in the Asia Pacific.