TVB defends use of simplified Chinese subtitles


Television Broadcast Limited (TVB) on Tuesday defended its arrangement of only providing simplified Chinese subtitles in its Mandarin news programme.

The move has drawn strong criticism from internet users, who alleged it was another sign of “mainlandisation” of the territory.

Simplified Chinese is used on the mainland, but Hong Kong and Taiwan still use traditional characters.

In a statement, TVB said the arrangement provides more choices and attends to the needs of different viewers. The broadcaster said Cantonese news programmes shown on the Jade channel and its interactive news channel will continue to have subtitles in traditional Chinese.

The Mandarin news programme was moved from the English-language Pearl channel to a prime-time slot on channel J5 which was launched on Monday.

Government to ban partially hydrogenated oils in 2018

TAIPEI — Taiwan’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Monday issued advance notice that it will ban partially hydrogenated oils — the primary dietary source of hazardous trans fats — in food products starting in 2018.


Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan passed an amendment to the Act Governing Food Safety and Sanitation in November 2015 to ban artificial trans fats from processed foods, with violators facing fines of up to NT$3 million (US$90,340).

Under the revised law, food manufacturers will have a three-year grace period to eliminate the cooking fat from their products.

According to standard administrative procedures, the FDA was required to give advance notice of the ban in early 2016 before a full ban is confirmed.

Trans fats are formed when vegetable oil goes through a process called hydrogenation, which makes the oil more stable and solid at room temperature and increases the shelf-life of the fat, the FDA’s Food Safety Division Director Pan Chih-kuan said.

Foreign studies have found, however, that excessive consumption of trans fats increases the chances of suffering from cardiovascular diseases and is a major cause of hazard to human health.

In September 2015, Taiwan’s FDA issued a notice on standards for edible hydrogenated oils, and on Monday it announced a similar notice that it will ban partially hydrogenated oils.

The two sets of regulations, which do not require legislative approval, are both scheduled to take effect on July 1, 2018 after a three-year grace period.

Under the new rules, the use of partially hydrogenated oils will be banned from use in making processed food.

The move follows a measure taken on June 17, 2015 by the U.S. FDA requiring food makers to stop using the trans-fat producing oils over the next three years.

The Health Promotion Administration of the Ministry of Health and Welfare has said that an intake of between 4 to 5 grams of trans fat per day increases the possibility of coronary heart disease.

Obama Administration: HHS: Immigrants with HIV, STDs welcome

The administration has decided to let immigrants with three sexually transmitted diseases known for causing sores or lesions on genitalia to enter the United States, an expansion of a previous decision to let in those with HIV.

The Department of Health and Human Services this month opened the borders to those with the STDs, deeming the communicable diseases not a big threat to the United States.

A report from the Center for Immigration Studies said that HHS does not believe that the costs to taxpayers to handle the immigrants with STDs will be significant.

Now, said the Center, the list of inadmissible communicable diseases only includes syphilis, gonorrhea, tuberculosis, and leprosy.

“So what about the costs associated with the new rule change on the three remaining STDs? Don’t worry, Obama’s HHS secretary ran the numbers and explained in the Federal Register that, ‘The results are not economically significant, i.e. more than $100 million of costs and benefits in a single year.’ In other words, the cost of welcoming in aliens with these STDs will be below $100 million every year,” said the CIS report.

The website Law 360 first revealed the rules change. “Under the change, the STIs granuloma inguinale, chancroid and lymphogranuloma venereum would no longer be considered a ‘communicable disease of public health significance,'” said the website. Quoting HHS, it added, “The three bacterial infections are transmitted through sexual contact, have never been common in the United States and over the past two decades are observed to be increasingly rare throughout the world.”

The administration had already pulled HIV off the list of diseases that bar immigrants from coming to the U.S.

“Despite the declaration that HIV was no longer a communicable disease of public health significance, the CDC estimates that approximately 50,000 people in the United States are newly infected with HIV each year and that over 1.2 million persons in the country are HIV positive. The United States has the highest prevalence of HIV infection of any developed country,” said CIS in a report released at midnight.

The HHS rule change is set to take place in less than 60 days. HHS said that there are other diseases that demand their focus.

Opposition DPJ, Innovation Party to merge before upper house election



The main opposition Democratic Party of Japan and the smaller opposition Japan Innovation Party plan to merge in March as part of efforts to better challenge Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling coalition in a House of Councillors election this summer, lawmakers of the two parties said Tuesday.

DPJ executives met and approved a plan to integrate the Innovation Party into the DPJ. DPJ leader Katsuya Okada said he aims to hold a convention in March to launch a new party, according to DPJ lawmakers.

Okada proposed the party have a new name, though veteran DPJ lawmakers have insisted on maintaining the DPJ’s name, the lawmakers said.

In a meeting of Innovation Party executives the same day, leader Yorihisa Matsuno suggested joining the DPJ to create a new party and said he aims to launch it in March.

“I would like to ask you to establish a new party with a new name,” Matsuno told the meeting, part of which was open to the media. “My proposal to create a new party, 100 or so members in size, is finally about to be realized.”

The two parties will discuss the merger issue when they each hold intraparty talks possibly on Wednesday. If both endorse the plan, Okada and Matsuno are expected to hold a meeting later this week and give the plan the official go-ahead.

The two parties plan to discuss the issue of the new party’s name in a panel they will set up to prepare for the planned merger.

The public, however, does not appear to have high expectations for such a new party. In a Kyodo News opinion poll conducted last weekend, 65.9 percent of respondents said the DPJ and the Innovation Party do not need to merge, while 20.9 percent backed the integration.

Sadakazu Tanigaki, secretary general of Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party, criticized the planned merger between parties with different policies, calling it an unprincipled coalition simply for the sake of an election.

“Unless (the new party) has an identity outlining what it aims for, we have no choice but to say (the entity) is immature as a political party,” Tanigaki told reporters.

In a related move, the two parties and three other opposition parties agreed Tuesday to launch talks on forging a united front in a broader attempt to challenge the LDP and its coalition partner, the Komeito party.

In a meeting of secretaries general of the five parties, they affirmed coordination in fielding unified candidates in single-member electoral districts in the upper house election likely to be held in July, according to opposition lawmakers.

The DPJ, the Innovation Party, the Japanese Communist Party, the Social Democratic Party and the People’s Life Party agreed to make scrapping new security laws that expand the scope of operations of Japanese troops abroad a major campaign issue for the election, the lawmakers said.

The five parties will also consider possible cooperation in the next House of Representatives election amid speculation that Abe may dissolve the lower house for a snap general election to coincide with the upper house election.

At present, the LDP and Komeito control a majority of seats in the upper house and a two-thirds majority in the lower house.

Half of the 242 upper house seats come up for election every three years. Of the 121 seats up for grabs, 73 will be filled by winners in single- and multiple-member electoral districts while the remaining 48 are chosen under the nationwide party-list proportional representation system.

On Monday, JCP leader Kazuo Shii said his party plans to withdraw “a considerable number of its candidates” from the race for the single-member electoral districts on condition that unified candidates call for scrapping the new security laws.

The JCP and other critics argue the laws enabling Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense—or coming to the aid of the United States and other friendly nations under armed attack even if Japan itself is not attacked—would violate the Constitution.

Abe and other proponents say the legislation boosts Japan’s deterrence capability amid an increasingly tense security environment in the Asia-Pacific region such as China’s military buildup and rising territorial ambitions, as well as North Korea’s missile and nuclear weapons development.

In the Kyodo poll, 38.1 percent said the security laws should be scrapped and 47.0 percent said they should not.