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On Aug. 15, the 65th anniversary of the end of World War II, Japan's new Prime Minister, Naoto Kan, declined to visit a religious shrine that honors Japan's war dead, including 14 Class A war criminals such as General Hideki Tojo, who is largely considered responsible for the attack on Pearl Harbor. Kan's move marks a softer, more repentant approach to Japanese foreign policy--a contrast to the nationalism espoused by the Liberal Democratic Party, which sent at least one representative to the shrine each year until it fell out of power last summer. The snub--which came one day after a group of far-right European leaders visited the shrine on Aug. 14--followed on the heels of Kan's apology to South Korea for Japan's occupation and colonization from 1910 to 1945.
6 | Gulf of Mexico
BACK IN BUSINESS
The fall shrimping season began Aug. 16, even as concerns about Gulf seafood remained. While tests have deemed catches from the open waters safe, Louisiana's seafood industry is by no means secure. Researchers from the University of Georgia and the University of South Florida have questioned the optimistic conclusions of the federal government, which announced earlier this month that most of the oil from the April 20 spill was gone.
7 | Taiwan
Trade Deal Approved
Taiwan's parliament finalized a landmark trade deal with China on Aug. 17, sidestepping 60 years of enmity between the mainland and the island Beijing still views as a renegade province. The pact further binds the two countries' economies, cutting tariffs on some 800 products and creating about 260,000 jobs. Despite improved relations, though, Taiwanese critics of the deal fear being swallowed by their far bigger neighbor.
8 | France
Cracking Down on Gypsies
The French government has dismantled 51 illegal camps and plans to deport 700 members of the Roma Gypsy minority following July clashes between police and Gypsies. While critics have accused President Nicolas Sarkozy of appeasing the anti-immigrant far right and contributing to xenophobia, the measures are widely popular across the nation.
9 | Chicago
Blagojevich Guilty on Single Count
After 14 days of deliberation in a federal trial that sought to convict former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich of corruption for attempting to sell President Obama's vacated Senate seat, jurors convicted him on just one of 24 counts. With a mistrial declared on the 23 other charges, he will likely be retried.
10 | Afghanistan
Private Security Contractors Banned
Afghan President Hamid Karzai signed an Aug. 17 decree requiring all private security contractors in Afghanistan to disband by year's end. With parliamentary elections scheduled for next month, Karzai has become increasingly critical of the foreign companies, which are viewed by many Afghans as abusive and overbearing. But most contractors protect Western-backed embassies and convoys, and U.S. officials are worried that the loss of roughly 30,000 armed guards will hinder aid and development work.
Guarding Afghanistan: A Breakdown