TIME Japan

Typhoon Neoguri Pounds Japan’s Okinawa at Speeds of 108 Miles Per Hour

An image from NASA's Terra satellite shows Typhoon Neoguri in the Pacific Ocean approaching Japan
A Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) image from NASA's Terra satellite shows Typhoon Neoguri in the Pacific Ocean, approaching Japan on its northward journey July 6, 2014. Handout—Reuters

Typhoon Neoguri swept across the southern Japanese islands of Okinawa on Tuesday.

(TOKYO) — A powerful typhoon pounded across the southern Japanese islands of Okinawa on Tuesday, as residents took refuge from destructive winds, towering waves and storm surges.

Airports closed and residents were evacuated from low-lying areas and shorelines as Typhoon Neoguri was passing through Okinawa, packing sustained winds of 175 kilometers (108 miles) per hour and gusts up to 250 kph (154 mph), the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

The storm was due to hit the main Okinawan city of Naha Tuesday evening. The national broadcaster said one woman had suffered a head injury due to the storm and one fisherman was missing after he was swept off a boat in seas near the southern island of Kyushu.

Television footage showed roads in Naha strewn with greenery and some downed trees.

Officials said the storm could be one of the strongest to hit Japan in decades, generating waves up to 14 meters (46 feet) high. But since typhoons track along Japan’s coasts and occasionally veer onshore every summer, the country is relatively well prepared.

“Please take refuge as early as possible,” said Keiji Furuya, chairman of the National Public Safety Commission.

The meteorological agency issued special warnings for violent winds, heavy rain and storm surges. The storm was moving slowly and diminishing in intensity, but its wide area and slow movement could add to the potential damage, weather forecasters said.

Evacuation advisories were issued for some 500,000 people, and about 500 sought refuge in Naha’s city hall, NHK reported.

Government leaders held an emergency meeting Monday, urging urged local governments and residents to take maximum precautions. Authorities in China and Taiwan also warned ships to stay clear of the storm.

Forecasts show the storm tracking toward Kyushu island and then across Japan’s main island of Honshu. It is forecast to lose more of its power over land, but much of the damage from such storms comes from downpours that cause landslides and flooding. Such risks are elevated by the storm’s timing, on the tail end of Japan’s summer rainy season.

The Philippines, which suffered the strongest typhoon to ever hit land when Haiyan struck six months ago, was spared the ferocious winds of Neoguri. The storm did not make land fall and remained about 480 kilometers (300 miles) east of the northernmost province of Batanes, when it roared past on Sunday.

The typhoon did intensify the country’s southwest monsoon, dumping heavy rains on some western Philippine provinces.

TIME China

China’s First Minister-Level Official Visits Taiwan

TAIWAN-CHINA-POLITICS-DIPLOMACY
Chinese official Zhang Zhijun (L), director of the Taiwan Affairs Office, shakes hands with his Taiwanese counterpart Wang Yu-chi, director of Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) at a hotel in Taoyuan on June 25, 2014. Sam Yeh—AFP/Getty Images

China sees the island as part of its territory that eventually must be reunified — by force if necessary — despite a Taiwanese public largely wary of the notion of Chinese rule

(TAIPEI, Taiwan) — China has sent its first ever ministerial-level official to Taiwan for four days of meetings to rebuild ties with the self-ruled island that Beijing claims as its own, after mass protests in Taipei set back relations earlier this year.

Zhang Zhijun, minister of Beijing’s Taiwan Affairs Office, reached the island’s main airport just before noon Wednesday to speak privately with his government counterpart about cutting import tariffs and establishing consular-style offices helpful to investors and tourists.

China and Taiwan have been separately ruled since the Chinese civil war of the 1940s. China sees the island as part of its territory that eventually must be reunified — by force if necessary — despite a Taiwanese public largely wary of the notion of Chinese rule. In 2008, Beijing set aside its military threats to sign agreements binding its economy to that of the investment-hungry island.

But in March, hundreds of student-led protesters forcibly occupied parliament in Taipei to stop ratification of a two-way service trade liberalization pact. The 24-day action dubbed the Sunflower Movement spiraled into the thousands, many of whom demanded an end to Taiwan’s engagement with China, which they still see as an enemy.

“Zhang wants to show to the world, Taiwan and the mainland included, that the two sides are moving closer in spite of the Sunflower Movement earlier this year,” says Lenoard Chu, a China studies professor retired from National Chengchi University in Taipei.

As the official travels around Taiwan through Saturday, he is expected to try to head off any new protests by shunning strong political statements during scheduled chats with students, low-income people and a figure in Taiwan’s anti-China chief opposition party.

 

TIME movies

VIDEO: The Real Burt of Burt’s Bees Gets Mobbed by Fans in Taiwan

A new documentary goes behind the iconic lip balm

+ READ ARTICLE

When filmmaker Jody Shapiro got ready to shoot one particular sequence for his new documentary, he told the crew to watch the opening scene of A Hard Day’s Night, the classic cinematic representation of extreme fan mania.

As is clear in the special preview clip above, available early via TIME, that recommendation wasn’t without reason — except the person being mobbed by fans, shown here at an airport in Taiwan, isn’t a Beatle. It’s Burt Shavitz. If you recognize him, it’s probably from the woodcut of his face that has adorned the packaging of Burt’s Bees products for years.

Shavitz, a Mainer who has led a life that’s nothing if not unusual, is the subject of Burt’s Buzz (in theaters and VOD June 6), a look at the life of the man who started it all. He’s been a photographer, a journalist, an environmentalist, a beekeeper — and, apparently, an icon. In fact, it was hearing about what had happened during Shavitz’s prior business trips to the area and an upcoming trip to Taiwan, where Shavitz was traveling as a spokesperson for the brand, that convinced Shapiro to turn his lens toward his subject. “I’d heard about the screaming girls at the airport and I’d heard about the lines around the block, and I thought that would be a perfect opportunity to go deeper into the story,” Shapiro tells TIME. Even so, his expectations for a celeb-worthy reception were exceeded.

To Shavitz, however, being a celebrity is neither here nor there. He guesses in the film that part of the reason he gets such enthusiastic responses from fans of the product is that it’s unusual for a picture on a tube of face product to be of a real guy. But the moment that was caught on film was just one of many for him, and it’s been going on for years. “All the world’s a stage,” he tells TIME. “I never stopped to think about it. It was immaterial as far as I was concerned.”

As the movie makes clear, what interests him most isn’t being famous — it’s getting home to his dog.

TIME Bizarre

This Man on a Scooter Who Fell into a Manhole Is Having a Worse Day than You

Think you're having a case of the Mondays? Watch this.

+ READ ARTICLE

Some people have all the luck. Other’s accidentally ride their scooters directly into open manholes. Police dashcams have been known to capture some pretty ridiculous moments, this snapshot of a commuter’s unfortunate traffic misadventure on a rural road in Taiwan now joins the ranks.

(h/t: Metro)

TIME Asia

The Occupation of Taiwan’s Parliament Ends Today, but the Struggles Do Not

Student leaders bow to supporters during a news conference at Taiwan's legislative Yuan, the island's parliament, in Taipei on April 7, 2014 Reuters

Students protesting a trade deal with China have agreed to relinquish their occupation of Taiwan’s parliament on Thursday, but tensions remain as legislators struggle to balance boosting a flagging economy with an entrenched distrust of the People’s Republic

No one, not even the student protesters, expected to so thoroughly take over the island’s parliament on March 19. Once they had shattered the glass doors at the entrance and streamed by the hundreds into the voting chamber, only a thin detail of unarmed guards blocked their way. Shannon Chen, 22, didn’t find the lax security all that surprising. “Welcome to Taiwan,” she says with a shrug. In fairness, she says, no protest movement had ever attempted to occupy legislature.

President Ma Ying-jeou enraged the demonstrators three weeks ago when he decided to fast-track a vote on a trade pact with China, bypassing a parliamentary committee that was supposed to vet the terms of the agreement line by line. Demonstrators fear the deal could make Taiwan more susceptible to China’s influence.

“This thing comes from nowhere, and nobody knows what the hell is going on,” says Huang Tze-bin, a 24-year-old doctoral candidate who entered the building by scaling a ladder to a second-floor window.

Now they will hand back control of the building at 6 p.m local time on Thursday, after parliamentary speaker Wang Jin-pyng agreed to shelve debate on the bill — signed in June last year but yet to be ratified by lawmakers — until new legislation is enacted to hammer down oversight of all deals with China.

“It’s time for us to return this movement to broader Taiwan society, where we will continue the struggle,” protest leader Chen Wei-ting told an enthralled crowd.

Few would have expected such a victory.

“It was chaos,” says Shannon Chen, who moonlights as spokesperson for the encampment. The power went out. The air conditioners were shut off. Every two hours, a rumor would spread through the room that the police were returning, sending protesters scrambling toward the doors. At other times, they milled around the chamber, unsure of what to do next. “We thought we would be kicked out the first night,” says Cindy Lee, 27. “I was shocked.”

Taiwan and mainland China have been at loggerheads since 1949, when U.S.-backed nationalist forces, led by Chiang Kai-shek, retreated across the strait from Mao Zedong’s Red Army. These days, the People’s Republic is unlikely to take back Taiwan by force, but officials in Beijing still hanker after greater influence over this “renegade province” through shrewdly vitalizing business ties.

“People worry about whether there will be a reunification that subtly emerges between the two sides,” Liao Da-chi, a professor of political science at Taiwan’s National Sun Yat-sen University, tells TIME. “The issue is a political one and not really economic.”

These fears are evident in the protest art that now adorns the legislature’s walls. Wen Hsin, 21, a fine-arts student, takes a break from carving messages of defiance to point out her favorite art installation, a painting leaning against the main lectern, commemorating the takeover of the parliament three weeks earlier. “I like it because it captures the movement in history,” she says.

Tensions with authorities have dissipated since the initial occupation, largely owing to the protesters’ orderly conduct, for the most part, and an emphasis on constructive negotiations. Occupiers began organizing committees to manage not only supplies, but also medical care, security, media and even arts and crafts. “I’m like everyone’s mother,” says Lee, a media consultant who oversees the dissemination of food, water, toothbrushes, towels and any other supplies hauled into the chamber. “It’s like a summer camp.”

Despite the agreement to relinquish control, the specter of fresh conflict is never far away. No less than seven different versions of the legislative-scrutiny proposals have been put forward by the executive, students and various civil-society groups. “The contents are so different,” says Liao. “There are a lot of different opinions.”

Taiwan has seen better days, and the trade-services pact — opening 64 of Taiwan’s service sectors to China and 80 the other way — was supposed to boost a flagging economy, bringing in some 12,000 jobs, according to President Ma. Some see irrational prejudice against the world’s second largest economy jeopardizing prosperity, others deem it as the thin edge of a wedge.

“We signed several free-trade agreements with New Zealand, nobody took any action to oppose them,” says Liao. “If we put political concerns aside, [the proposed China trade pact] was certainly a benefit to Taiwan more [than the mainland].”

That is not to say sympathy for the protesters was lacking. An estimated half a million gathered in support of the so-called Sunflower Movement on April 1. An open call for lozenges, to treat sore throats from days of shouting and singing inside parliament, was met with a shipment of 100 boxes, says Lee. Distrust of China will continue to be weighed against demands for jobs and social programs, a combination that necessitates conflict. “The government still wants to pass the pact,” says Liao. “There are still a lot of struggles going on.”

TIME Taiwan

Taiwanese Students Carry Out Epic Occupation of Parliament

Protesters, including many students, continue their occupation of Taiwan's main legislature, demonstrating against a new trade pact that would strengthen ties with China

TIME Taiwan

The ‘Battle of Taipei’ Shows Just How Wary of China Young Taiwanese Are

Riot police clash with student protesters outside Taiwan's cabinet offices in Taipei on March 24, 2014. Clashes erupted after Taiwan's President refused to scrap a contentious trade agreement with China and denounced the "illegal" occupation of government buildings by students opposed to its ratification
Riot police clash with student protesters outside Taiwan's cabinet offices in Taipei on March 24, 2014. Clashes erupted after Taiwan's President refused to scrap a contentious trade agreement with China and denounced the "illegal" occupation of government buildings by students opposed to its ratification Lam Yik Fei—Getty Images

Riot police are sent in to evict anti-trade-pact protesters occupying the government headquarters

Correction appended: March 25, 2014

Taipei police used batons and water cannons to clear protesters from Taiwan’s government headquarters Monday morning. A group of several hundred demonstrators had been occupying Cabinet offices Sunday night as part of a student-led movement against a trade pact with China. The mostly student protesters say the deal hands too much influence to China, is undemocratic and will hurt the island. The government insists it is an economic imperative. By early Monday, people were being pulled from the premises. At least 58 were arrested and 137 were injured, reports the Associated Press.

The scenes of violence seem out of place — for the movement, and for modern-day Taiwan. The student-led campaign gained momentum last week, when a group of demonstrators occupied the parliament in Taipei. They are pushing for a further review of the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA), a deal that will open certain service sectors to investment from China, and vice versa. The demonstrators spent much of the past week gathered around the parliament chanting and waving colorful cardboard signs. They are mostly young, and their methods largely peaceful. Their emblem is a sunflower, symbol of hope.

The bloody scene in Taipei harks back to a different, darker era. On Feb. 28, 1947, the nationalist Kuomintang, violently suppressed antigovernment protests, killing over 10,000. Almost four decades of martial law followed. It was not until 1986 that an opposition party, the Democratic Progressive Party, emerged and a democracy slowly took root.

Taiwan’s democracy has deepened and grown since, giving rise to a political culture in which people take seriously their right to vote and protest. To some Chinese, particularly in Hong Kong and Macau, Taiwan is a model. The island’s 2012 presidential poll was closely watched by both Special Administrative Regions. At polling stations in downtown Taipei, I met election tourists who had flown from Hong Kong to see what they called a “preview” of Chinese democracy in action.

China and Taiwan have been at odds since 1949, when retreating nationalist forces fled across the strait. The People’s Republic still sees Taiwan as a renegade province and holds out hope for unification, even by force. (Should that happen, the U.S. would be bound, by a congressional act, to help Taiwan.) Taiwan’s current President, Ma Ying-jeou, swept to power in 2008 promising to deepen ties with China and was re-elected in 2012. His push for economic integration has seen cross-strait trade and tourism rise. It has also made him deeply unpopular among certain segments of the population.

To the young people and opposition-party supporters gathered in Taipei, TiSA is another step toward China, and a step too far. They also worry that this latest round of economic liberalization will hurt small and medium-size businesses on the island. More fundamentally, they see TiSA as a sign of Sinification and worry that President Ma and the governing party, Kuomintang, are to keen to trade away the island’s hard-earned, democratic gains.

President Ma and his government say the trade deal will bolster the economy and keep Taiwan competitive with countries like South Korea. Addressing demonstrators on Sunday, he applauded their passion but questioned the decision to occupy government offices. “Is this the sort of democracy we want?” he asked. “Must the rule of law be sacrificed in such a manner? Do we not take pride in our democracy and our respect for rule of law?”

The battle for Taipei has no doubt caught the attention of officials and ordinary people across the Taiwan Strait. The ruling Chinese Communist Party tightly controls the press and censors discussion of sensitive subjects, including Taiwan, from the country’s widely popular microblogs, so the reaction has been somewhat muted. A few applauded the students. Most posts that made it through the censors were critical: “This isn’t the democracy we want,” was the refrain.

But it is Taiwan’s democracy, for better and for worse. And, as the past week’s events show, young Taiwanese will fight for it.

An earlier version of this article misidentified the site cleared of protesters by the police. It was the government headquarters, not the parliament.

TIME Taiwan

The Taiwanese Parliament Is Being Occupied by Protesters Unhappy With a China-Trade Pact

Students and protesters hold banners and chairs inside Taiwan's legislature in Taipei
Students and protesters hold banners and chairs inside Taiwan's legislature in Taipei Reuters

Demonstrators say the draft deal hands too much economic advantage to China

Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan, or parliament, has been occupied by demonstrators protesting a yet-to-be ratified trade agreement with China.

Several hundred protesters, most of them students, broke a glass door and stormed past police on Tuesday night to enter the legislature, where they have barricaded the doors with chairs. The police have tried entering several times, so far unsuccessfully.

The protesters are demanding the ruling Kuomintang party uphold a promised clause-by-clause review of the trade pact, which was signed in June and, if ratified, would allow service-sector companies in Taiwan and China to set up branches and retail operations in each other’s territory.

The students fear that the trade pact will give China too much economic influence over Taiwan and say it will cost Taiwan tens of thousands of jobs.

[AP]

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