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Sano positions itself as the home of cricket in Japan

Nondescript town is betting big on the sport to transform its fortunes as it grapples with demographic and economic decline

New arena: The abrupt appearance of a cricket ground in the town of Sano is mirage-like. SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Sano is a nondescript town bang in the centre of Honshu, the Japanese archipelago’s largest island. Although only about 80 km from the capital, , the town could be another planet, as sparsely populated and modest as is flashy and thrumming. The abrupt appearance on its outskirts of an international standard cricket ground is therefore mirage-like. But this is no optical illusion. Sano bills itself as the home of cricket in Japan, and is betting on the sport to transform its fortunes as it grapples with demographic and economic decline.

How this unlikely turn of events came to be is a story that includes entrepreneurial city hall officials, baseball stars-turned cricketers and a national government strategy to revitalise regional economies, stirred in with a dollop of serendipity in the form of a half-Japanese, half-Scottish cricket enthusiast called Naoki Alex Miyaji and his passion for Ramen noodles. It’s also a story with a catchy headline, given that Japan recently qualified for the first time ever to play in the Under 19 Cricket World Cup next year.

The Japan Cricket Association (JCA) was an organisation that existed only in disembodied name until Mr. Miyaji, who’d learned to play cricket as a child during summer holidays in the U.K., became its first full-time chief executive in 2008. The JCA office was at first located in Tokyo, but it quickly became apparent that to find and develop a cricketing ground in a city as congested as the Japanese capital would be impossible. Mr. Miyaji cast around for other locations and settled on Sano, a town he knew well, having lived there for a few years. It ticked several boxes, being within 100 km of Tokyo, on a relatively flat ground and, most importantly, had a mayor who happened to be casting about for strategies to revitalise the town.

Among Japan’s numerous demographic challenges, the depopulation of vast tracts ranks high. The result of a declining birth rate combined with large-scale migration to big cities, this trend means hundreds of towns might disappear altogether.

The national government has responded by providing a generous budget to regional bodies to invest in creative ways to stem depopulation. Cities and towns have taken to vying with each other in positioning themselves as centres of arts and crafts, natural beauty or specialty foods to attract tourism and businesses.

Trump, Xi seal trade war truce

U.S. holds off on further tariffs on Chinese goods, grants relief to Huawei

Deal done: President Donald Trump with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Osaka, Japan, on Saturday. APAP

U.S. President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping struck a trade war truce on Saturday, as Washington vowed to hold off on further tariffs, allow American companies to sell equipment to Chinese tech giant Huawei and declared that trade negotiations with China were “back on track”.

The ceasefire that halts damaging trade frictions came in a hotly anticipated meeting between the leaders of the world’s top two economies on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan.

Mr. Trump hailed the meeting as “excellent.” “We are right back on track,” he added.

There was little in the way of concrete details of what was agreed, but Mr. Trump confirmed Washington had committed not to impose any new tariffs on Beijing’s exports and the two sides would continue talks.

Eases stance

“We won’t be adding an additional tremendous amount of $350 billion left which could be taxed or could be tariffed. We’re not doing that, we are going to work with China on where we left off to see if we can make a deal,” Mr. Trump said at a press conference. “We will be continuing to negotiate.”

Mr. Trump also said that U.S. companies could sell equipment to Huawei, indicating a potentially softer position on a key sticking point in the trade war. “We’re talking about equipment where there’s no great national security problem with it,” Mr. Trump told reporters.

It was not clear whether Mr. Trump’s comment marked a material change in the stance toward Huawei, which has essentially been barred on national security grounds from accessing crucial American technology or operating in the U.S. market. A solution to the Huawei issue may have to wait until the closing stages of talks, Mr. Trump said.

He struck a conciliatory tone after his arrival for the summit, despite saying China’s economy was going “down the tubes” before he set out for Osaka.

Muslim youth thrashed in Kanpur

He had refused to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’; search on for attackers

A Muslim youth was allegedly thrashed and insulted in Kanpur by some unidentified persons after he refused to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’, the police said on Saturday.

The incident happened on Friday evening when the youth, identified as Taj Mohammad (20), was returning home in the Barra area after offering prayers at Usmanpur madrasa. He was riding a motorbike and wearing a skull cap.

Mr. Mohammad in his complaint said that four persons on bicycles objected to the way he was riding the bike and asked him to stop. One of them accosted him, “How are you driving?”, while another pointed out to the others that he was a Muslim, said Mr. Mohammad.

The men then asked Mr. Mohammad to park his vehicle on the side of the road.

“They asked me to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’. I said I won’t. They threatened to thrash me if I didn’t,” said the youth, who was allegedly pushed to the ground and beaten up.

His skull cap was also forcibly removed, he said.

The attackers fled the scene after Mr. Mohammad cried for help and some passers-by rushed towards him. A case was registered under Section 153A of the Indian Penal Code (causing enmity between people of different religions).

Footage being scanned

Circle Officer, Babupurva, Manoj Kumar Gupta said the incident took place near the Yadav Market area.

The police are going through CCTV footage and also talking to locals to identify the culprits.

“Strict action will be taken against those whose names come to light,” said Mr. Gupta.

Modi holds a flurry of bilaterals on the last day of G20 summit

Discusses trade, defence and counter-terror

Australian PM Scott Morrison tweeted a selfie with PM Modi on Saturday.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday held bilateral meetings with leaders of Indonesia, Brazil, Turkey, Australia, Singapore and Chile and discussed a host of key issues, including trade, counter-terrorism, defence, maritime security and sports.

Mr. Modi, who was here for the two-day G20 summit, held his first official engagement on the last day of the summit with Indonesian President Joko Widodo.

The two leaders discussed ways to deepen cooperation on the trade and investment, defence and maritime fronts.

Soon after, Mr. Modi met Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro and held wide-ranging discussions on bilateral relationship, especially cooperation in trade and investment, agriculture and biofuels in the context of climate change. He then met Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and held talks on trade and investment, defence and counter-terrorism.

DD wades into war over waves along LoC in Kashmir

Set-top boxes to be distributed free in 10 border districts, where antennas capture Pakistan TV channels

Out of reach: No cable operator can access the tough terrain, especially in Poonch and Rajouri districts. NISSAR AHMED The Hindu

From confrontation between India and Pakistan along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir, it’s a television signal war to grab the attention of locals now.

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has launched a major drive in the border areas to wean locals from channels beamed from across the border.

Over 30,000 free Doordarshan (DD) dish set-top boxes have been earmarked to be distributed in 10 border districts close to the LoC and the International Border (IB), out of the State’s 22 districts. They will provide 100 channels free, including local news channels.

Only dish antennas

Hundreds of residents, especially in the Pir Panjal Valley’s Rajouri and Poonch districts, have only dish antennas or traditional antennas because no cable operator can access the tough terrain.

Given their geographical location, these antennas easily catch TV channels from across the border, including the official channels of Pakistan Television. “We use dish antennas. We easily access channels from across the border. Pakistani serials are very popular with the population closer to the LoC,” N.A. Manhas, a resident of Poonch’s Meandhar, told The Hindu.

‘A better alternative’

Doing away with the one-time fee of around ₹2,000 for these set-top boxes, the State government will make them available free. “There are undesirable channels, not approved by the Ministry, being received and watched in Jammu and Kashmir. Strategically, the move will help us reach out to people with a better alternative,” a senior DD official said.

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