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Japan sees no impact on Olympics from U.S. travel advisory

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Top Japanese officials said on Tuesday they did not expect a U.S. advisory against travel to Japan amid worries about the coronavirus to affect the Tokyo Olympics – less than two months away – and that U.S. support for the Games was unchanged.

The U.S. State Department’s “Do Not Travel” advisory and guidance for Japan on Monday did not mention the Olympics specifically but warned against visiting the country now.

“At present, we can see no particular impact,” Olympic Minister Tamayo Marukawa told a news conference. She noted that the advisory did not ban essential travel and the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee had said planned mitigation practices would allow for safe participation of Team USA athletes.

Top Japanese and Olympic officials have pledged the Games will go ahead as planned on July 23 after being postponed in 2020, even as surveys show a majority of Japanese want the Games cancelled or postponed due to worries over coronavirus.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said Japan was in close contact with the U.S. government.

“There is absolutely no change in the United States’ support for Japan’s decision to hold the Olympics, we believe,” Kato said.

In its new guidance, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said travellers should avoid all travel to Japan.

“Because of the current situation in Japan even fully vaccinated travellers may be at risk for getting and spreading COVID-19 variants,” it said.

Australia has also advised against travel to Japan due to health risks from COVID-19 and disruptions to global travel.

Japan has avoided the large-scale infections suffered by many other nations, but a fourth wave has triggered states of emergency in Tokyo, the western metropolis of Osaka and other localities across the nation.

The government was leaning towards extending the emergency status – set to end on May 31 in most regions, including Tokyo, several sources with knowledge of the decision told Reuters.

Japan’s slow vaccination roll-out has increased concerns.

The country has delivered vaccinations to just under 5% of its population, the slowest among the world’s larger, rich countries, and has recorded 715,940 infections and 12,308 deaths from the virus.

The U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee, which oversees Team USA, said in a statement to Reuters that it has been made aware of the updated State Department advisory on Japan.

“We feel confident that the current mitigation practices in place for athletes and staff by both the USOPC and the Tokyo Organizing Committee, coupled with the testing before travel, on arrival in Japan, and during Games time, will allow for safe participation of Team USA athletes this summer,” the statement said.

Ruling Liberal Democratic Party heavyweight Toshihiro Nikai also said he saw no direct impact on the Olympics from the U.S. travel advisory but added that there were important practical issues that remained to be resolved.

International spectators will not be allowed to enter Japan to attend the Games but a decision has yet to be made on domestic spectators.

(Reporting by Elaine Lies and Sakura Murakami; writing by Linda Sieg; editing by Richard Pullin)

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Hundreds more unmarked graves found at erstwhile Saskatchewan residential school

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An indigenous group in Saskatchewan on Thursday said it had found the unmarked graves of an estimated 751 people at a now-defunct Catholic residential school, just weeks after a similar, smaller discovery rocked the country.

The latest discovery, the biggest to date, is a grim reminder of the years of abuse and discrimination indigenous communities have suffered in Canada even as they continue to fight for justice and better living conditions.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was “terribly saddened” by the discovery at Marieval Indian Residential School about 87 miles (140 km) from the provincial capital Regina. He told indigenous people that “the hurt and the trauma that you feel is Canada’s responsibility to bear.”

It is not clear how many of the remains detected belong to children, Cowessess First Nation Chief Cadmus Delorme told reporters, adding that oral stories mentioned adults being buried at the site.

Delorme later told Reuters some of the graves belong to non-indigenous people who may have belonged to the church. He said the First Nation hopes to find the gravestones that once marked these graves, after which they may involve police.

Delorme said the church that ran the school removed the headstones.

“We didn’t remove the headstones. Removing headstones is a crime in this country. We are treating this like a crime scene,” he said.

The residential school system, which operated between 1831 and 1996, removed about 150,000 indigenous children from their families and brought them to Christian residential schools, mostly Catholic, run on behalf of the federal government.

“Canada will be known as a nation who tried to exterminate the First Nations,” said Bobby Cameron, Chief of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, which represents 74 First Nations in Saskatchewan. “This is just the beginning.”

OLD WOUNDS

Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which published a report that found the residential school system amounted to cultural genocide, has said a cemetery was left on the Marieval site after the school building was demolished.

The local Catholic archdiocese gave Cowessess First Nation C$70,000 ($56,813) in 2019 to help restore the site and identify unmarked graves, said spokesperson Eric Gurash. He said the archdiocese gave Cowessess all its death records for the period Catholic parties were running the school.

In a letter to Delorme on Thursday, Archbishop Don Bolen reiterated an earlier apology for the “failures and sins of Church leaders and staff” and pledged to help identify the remains.

Heather Bear, who went to Marieval as a day student in the 1970s and is also vice-chief of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, recalled a small cemetery at the school but not of the size revealed on Thursday.

“You just didn’t want to be walking around alone in (the school),” she recalled. There was a “sadness that moves. And I think every residential school has that sadness looming.”

The Cowessess First Nation began a ground-penetrating radar search on June 2, after the discovery of 215 unmarked graves at the Kamloops Residential School in British Columbia outraged the country. Radar at Marieval found 751 “hits” as of Wednesday with a 10% margin of error, meaning at least 600 graves on the site.

The Kamloops discovery reopened old wounds in Canada about the lack of information and accountability around the residential school system, which forcibly separated indigenous children from their families and subjected them to malnutrition and physical and sexual abuse.

Pope Francis said in early June that he was pained by the Kamloops revelation and called for respect for the rights and cultures of native peoples. But he stopped short of the direct apology some Canadians had demanded.

Thursday was a difficult day, Delorme told Reuters. But he wants his young children to know “we will get the reconciliation one day with action like today.”

($1 = 1.2321 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by Anna Mehler Paperny in Toronto and Moira Warburton in Vancouver; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Alistair Bell, Grant McCool and Daniel Wallis)

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Teamsters votes to fund and support Amazon workers

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The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, a labor union in the United States and Canada, said on Thursday it has voted to formalize a resolution to support and fund employees of Amazon.com Inc in their unionization efforts.

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by Eva Mathews in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)

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Citigroup names new sales head for Treasury and Trade Solutions unit

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Citigroup Inc has named Steve Elms as the new sales head for the bank’s Treasury and Trade Solutions (TTS) unit effective immediately, according to an internal memo shared by a company spokesperson.

Elms, who will oversee the management of the global sales teams, has been involved with the bank’s TTS division for over 10 years, according to his LinkedIn profile.

TTS is a division of the bank’s Institutional Clients group. The segment offers cash management and trade services and finance to multinational corporations, financial institutions and public sector organizations around the world.

(Reporting by Niket Nishant in Bengaluru and David Henry in New York; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri)

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