An aerial photo taken over the Gaven Reefs in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea on Oct. 4 (Provided by a source)
China expands construction work in disputed Spratly waters
Beijing appears to have made steady advances in the construction of port and other facilities in disputed waters in the South China Sea, according to photographs obtained by The Asahi Shimbun.
Former Thailand Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, center, leaves parliament in Bangkok on Jan. 22. (AP Photo)
Ousted Thai Prime Minister Yingluck banned from politics, faces criminal charges
BANGKOK--Thai authorities dealt a double blow to ousted Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her powerful family on Jan. 23, banning her from politics for five years and proceeding with criminal charges for negligence that could put her in jail.
Myanmar Buddhist monk Wirathu (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
Myanmar's monk stands by offensive language against U.N. envoy
YANGON, Myanmar—Following a stinging rebuke by the United Nations' human rights chief, Myanmar's ultranationalist Buddhist monk fired back on Jan. 22, saying he didn't regret calling a U.N. special envoy a "whore" and a "bitch" after she criticized a bill opposed to interfaith marriage and religious conversions.
Pope Francis speaks during a celebration of Mass in Tacloban, Philippines, on Jan. 17. (AP Photo)
Pope Francis comforts Philippine typhoon survivors, then cuts short visit due to another storm
TACLOBAN, Philippines--Pope Francis braved an approaching tropical storm on Jan. 17 to travel to the far eastern Philippines to comfort survivors of the deadly Typhoon Haiyan. He was so emotionally undone by their loss that he barely found the words to offer solace, and then had to cut the trip short because of the dangerous weather.
Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, left, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on Jan. 16 (Pool)
Japan and India put economic, diplomatic ties on firmer footing
NEW DELHI--Japan and India reaffirmed their intention to bolster economic cooperation and support each others' bid to become permanent members of the U.N. Security Council.
Myanmar Buddhist monks shout slogans as they march in protest against a resolution adopted by the U.N. General Assembly calling on Myanmar to grant citizenship to the Rohingya Muslim minority on Jan. 16 in Yangon. (AP Photo)
U.S. official warns Myanmar of danger of religious intolerance
YANGON--Visiting human rights officials warned Myanmar on Jan. 16 that using religion to divide the population is like "playing with fire" and new laws proposed by the government could inflame sectarian tensions.
Pope Francis walks past colorful Sri Lankan dancers upon arrival in Colombo, Sri Lanka Jan. 13. (AP Photo)
Pope arrives in Sri Lanka and backs search for wartime truth
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka--Pope Francis brought calls for reconciliation as well as justice as he arrived Jan. 13 in Sri Lanka at the start of a weeklong Asian tour, saying the island nation can't fully heal from a quarter-century of ethnic civil war without pursuing the truth about abuses that were committed.
Indonesian air force and Indonesian navy personnel hold one of the black boxes of the ill-fated AirAsia Flight 8501 that crashed in the Java Sea, at airport in Pangkalan Bun, Indonesia Jan. 12. (AP Photo)
Divers retrieve AirAsia "black box", explosion theory questioned
PANGKALAN BUN, Indonesia/JAKARTA--Indonesian navy divers retrieved the black box flight data recorder from the wreck of an AirAsia passenger jet on Jan. 12, a major step towards unraveling the cause of the crash that killed all 162 people on board.
Thailand's former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra arrives at parliament in Bangkok on Jan. 9. (The Asahi Shimbun)
Ousted Thai premier rejects charges at impeachment hearing
BANGKOK--Thailand's former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra defended her role in a money-losing rice subsidy scheme on Jan. 9 at the start of an impeachment hearing that analysts say is aimed at ensuring the ousted leader stays out of politics for the foreseeable future.
Sri Lanka's incoming president, Maithripala Sirisena, waves to supporters as he leaves the election secretariat in Colombo on Jan. 9. (AP Photo)
Sri Lanka strongman president voted out after decade in power
COLOMBO--Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa lost his bid for a third term on Jan. 9, ending a decade of rule that critics say had become increasingly authoritarian and marred by nepotism and corruption.
Sri Lankan Muslim women leave after casting their votes at a polling station during the presidential elections in Colombo on Jan. 8. (AP Photo)
Sri Lankan president's bid to stay uncertain as election starts
COLOMBO--President Mahinda Rajapaksa's bid for a third term hung in the balance as Sri Lanka went to the polls on Jan. 8, with voters split between the "devil they know" and an upstart who has promised to root out corruption and political decay.
In this undated underwater photo released by Indonesia's National Search And Rescue Agency (BASARNAS) on Jan. 7, the part of the tail wreckage that BASARNAS identified as belonging to the ill-fated AirAsia Flight 8501 is seen in the waters in the Java Sea, Indonesia. (AP Photo/ BASARNAS)
Divers spot tail of AirAsia plane that crashed into Java Sea
PANGKALAN BUN, Indonesia--Divers and an unmanned underwater vehicle on Jan. 7 spotted the tail of the AirAsia plane that crashed into the Java Sea with 162 people on board, an important finding because the jet's black boxes are located in that part of the aircraft, an official said.
The interior of the new terminal building at Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi on Dec. 31, 2014 (Manabu Sasaki)
Hanoi gets new international airport terminal with helping hand from Japan
HANOI--A new modern flight terminal has opened for business at the Noi Bai International Airport, thanks to the support of the Japanese government.
National search and rescue agency personnel carry the body of a victim who was on board ill-fated AirAsia Flight 8501, from a helicopter upon arrival at the airport in Pangkalan Bun, Indonesia, on Jan. 3. (AP Photo)
Indonesia finds two ‘large objects’ on sea floor in search for AirAsia jet
JAKARTA/ PANGKALAN BUN, Indonesia--Ships searching for the wreck of an AirAsia passenger jet that crashed with 162 people on board have pinpointed two "big objects" on the sea floor, the head of Indonesia's search and rescue agency said on Jan. 3.
Indian students participate in a rally to mark the second anniversary of the deadly gang rape of a student on a bus in New Delhi, in Mumbai, India, Dec. 16, 2014. The case sparked public outrage and helped make women’s safety a common topic of conversation in a country where rape is often viewed as a woman’s personal shame to bear. (AP Photo)
Indian police arrest 3 for gang rape of Japanese scholar
PATNA, India--Police arrested three Indians for allegedly gang raping a 22-year-old Japanese research scholar near a Buddhist pilgrimage center in eastern India, police said Jan. 2.
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi talks to journalists during a press conference at the headquarters of her National League for Democracy (NLD) party Dec. 30 in Yangon. (Makoto Igarashi/ The Asahi Shimbun)
Myanmar's Suu Kyi says "too early" to commit to 2015 election
YANGON--Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi called on the government on Dec. 30 to hold a transparent election next year and said her party was waiting for a poll date to be set before deciding whether to run.
Officers of Indonesian Search And Rescue Agency check a map at their command center at Juanda International Airport in Surabaya, Indonesia, on Dec. 30. (AP Photo)
Bodies, debris from missing AirAsia plane pulled from sea off Indonesia
JAKARTA--Indonesian rescuers searching for a missing AirAsia plane carrying 162 people pulled bodies and wreckage from the sea off the coast of Borneo on Dec. 30 as relatives of those on board broke down in tears on hearing the news.
A relative of AirAsia flight QZ8501 passengers weeps as she waits for the latest news on the missing jetliner at Juanda International Airport in Surabaya, Indonesia, on Dec. 28. (AP Photo)
UPDATE: Indonesia says missing AirAsia plane could be at ‘bottom of sea’
JAKARTA--A missing AirAsia jet carrying 162 people could be at the bottom of the sea after it was presumed to have crashed off the Indonesian coast, an official said on Dec. 29, as countries around Asia sent ships and planes to help in the search effort.
Relatives of the passengers onboard AirAsia flight QZ8501 check the plane's manifest at a crisis center set up by local authority at Juanda International Airport in Surabaya, East Java, Indonesia, on Dec. 28.(AP photo)
UPDATE: AirAsia plane with 162 on board missing in Indonesia
JAKARTA--An AirAsia plane with 162 people on board lost contact with ground control on Dec. 28 while flying over the Java Sea after taking off from a provincial city in Indonesia for Singapore. The two countries immediately launched a search and rescue operation but there was no word on the plane's whereabouts more than six hours after it went missing.
Two people give each other comfort on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the deadly Dec. 26, 2004, Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami. They are standing in front of a cenotaph that includes the names of 550 victims of the disaster who died in the area. (Masaru Komiyaji)
PHOTO: Mourners remember those killed decade after Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami
PHANG NGA, Thailand--On the eve of the 10th anniversary of the deadly earthquake and tsunami that devastated the Indian Ocean basin, many mourners wept and hugged as they visited a memorial cenotaph here that includes the names of 550 of those who died that day.

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