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Japanese Prime Ministers Angers China, South Korea With Visit To Controversial WWII Shrine; Turkish Prime Minister Fires Half His Cabinet; UPS Fails To Deliver Packages by Christmas

Aired December 26, 2013 - 08:00:00   ET


KRISTIE LU STOUT, HOST: I'm Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong. And welcome to News Stream where news and technology meet.

Now Japan's prime minister stokes tensions by visiting a controversial war shrine.

Outrage at UPS as the company fails to deliver some packages in time for Christmas.

And long after his death, a pioneer of the computing age gets a royal pardon. We'll explain why.

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has reignited long simmering tensions in the region with his visit to a controversial war shrine. Now to its neighbors, the Yasakuni shrine is an unwelcome reminder of Japan's militaristic past and the country's brutal role in the Second World War. And reactions from China and South Korea were swift.

Now China strongly condemned the visit. And South Korea urged Japan to stop beautifying its invasion.

But Mr. Abe defended his trip saying he only had good intentions.


SHINZO ABE, PRIME MINISTER OF JAPAN (through translator): There is criticism based on a misunderstanding that visiting Yasakuni is an act that honors war criminals. But my intention was to report what I have done for the last year to those who sacrificed their lives for their country.

I also wanted to show my commitment to bringing about a peaceful world where people will never again have to suffer in wars. I have no intention of hurting the feelings of the people of China or South Korea.


LU STOUT: Now as I mentioned, the shrine is hugely controversial. It honors Japan's war dead, enshrining the names of 2.5 million people, among them are 14 convicted war criminals.

Now for many in the region, it is a symbol of Japan's imperial military past. Visiting the Yasakuni shrine has been a sensitive political and diplomatic decision for Japan's past leaders.

Shina Abe himself did not visit the shrine in his previous tenure as prime minister from 2006 to 2007. But he defended his recent visit saying he went to pray for the war dead, not to honor war criminals.

And this was the last serving Japanese prime minister to visit the shrine before Abe, Junichiro Koizumi. He paid annual visits during his time in office between 2001 and 2006, but he was widely condemned by -- for it by China and South Korea.

Now in contrast, another recent prime minister refused to visit the shrine and saw relations with neighboring countries improve.

Now here is Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda with former Chinese President Hu Jintao.

Now China's reaction to Prime Minister Abe's visit, it came quickly. Its foreign ministry spokesperson had strong words for Mr. Abe.


QIN GANG, CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESPERSON (through translator): Abe's visit to Yasakuni shrine has undermined the basis of China-Japan relations and created new obstacles for the further improvement of bilateral relations. The Japanese side will have to be responsible for all the consequences from this visit.


LU STOUT: China's reaction there. The U.S. also weighed expressing disappointment at Mr. Abe's visit, which it believes will exacerbate existing tensions in the region over territorial disputes.

Now Karl Penhaul has been following events closely in the South Korean capital Seoul. He joins us now live.

And Karl, after the visit, immediate outrage from Beijing and also Seoul. What did South Korea say?

KARL PENHAUL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, it's fair to say, Kristie, that the South Korean government has also been angered by this visit as well by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. At the South Korean culture ministry said that this visit was beyond deplorable and is stirring its anger.

Let's listen to what the culture minister had to say.


YOO JIN-RYONG, SOUTH KOREAN CULTURE, SPORES AND TOURISM MINISTER (through translator): The Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made a visit to the Yasakuni shrine, which beautifies the historical colonization and invasive war as well as enshrines the war dead. We cannot withhold regret and anger over the visit. It is an act that is fundamentally damaging ties between South Korea and Japan as well as stability and cooperation in northeast Asia.


PENHAUL: Really, what is at the core of all these reactions is that South Korea doesn't believe that Japanese governments in the years following World War II have been sufficiently repentant about war crimes committed during World War II and of course during its occupation of the Korean Peninsula in the first part of the 20th Century, Kristie.

LU STOUT: You know, we know that this visit, it hits a raw nerve, it really raises tension across the region. But what is the greater impact of this Yasakuni visit, the geopolitical impact? I mean, Karl, how will it affect issues that require regional cooperation in East Asia like resolving territorial disputes at sea, or even dealing with North Korea?

PENHAUL: Well, of course Prime Minister Abe knew what he was doing. It was quite predictable that this was going to stir outrage I think to the point that it wasn't even a calculated risk. He knew quite clearly it was going to provoke this kind of response.

So on the one hand of course you wouldn't expect this to soothe relations between South Korea and Japan. Remember that Prime Minister Abe has not met President Park for the year that he has been in office so far. And so that is likely not to leak to any kind of good dialogue over little islands in dispute between the two countries.

But of course when it comes to North Korea, that is a different matter entirely. I think all regional neighbors see a great deal of common interest here. And so although there might be fighting and bickering over other issues, if there is a significant development or a provocation by the North Koreans I think then we'll see South Korea and Japan forming a unified front there, Kristie.

LU STOUT: All right, Karl Penhaul. As always, we appreciate your reporting. Karl Penhaul joining us live from the South Korean capital of Seoul.

Now Thailand's election commission is urging the government to postpone February elections after a police officer was killed and more than 100 people were injured in protest clashes. Now police fired tear gas and rubber bullets and demonstrators tried to stop political parties from registering for the upcoming election.

Now the commission says it cannot organize fair and free elections because of the current circumstances.

Now, the fallout from an anti-corruption drive is rattling Turkish politics. Nor protesters took to the streets on Wednesday demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Meanwhile, the prime minister has replaced almost half of his cabinet. Now the move follows the resignation of three ministers whose sons were detained in an anti-graft roundup. One of those ministers has joined the call for Mr. Erdogan to step down.

Now let's get more on the situation live from Istanbul. Journalist Andrew Finkel is there. He joins us now. And Andrew, three ministers have resigned, one of them actually calling for Prime Minister Erdogan himself to step down. Just how damaging is this for the Turkish leader?

ANDREW FINKEL, JOURNALIST: Well, I think it's very damaging, indeed. Mr. Erdogan has had a major cabinet reshuffle. It was announced late last night. I think in the sense he's trying to sort of drown the fact that he's had to dismiss three of his ministers for being involved in a corruption claim.

But one of those ministers, the minister for the environment and for urban affairs, a man called Erdogan Bayraktar is a very close political associate of the prime minister. He's been with him since the 80s. He was with him during -- when Mr. Erdogan was mayor of Istanbul. He's overseen this strategy, this boom -- construction boom in Instanbul.

So, for him to go and say, well, look I was just doing the prime minister's bidding and if I resign he should resign as well, well this is quite a damaging allegation.

LU STOUT: Now, Erdogan, he's also facing opposition on the streets as we see these familiar scenes planted again of street protests. But Andrew, who are these protesters taking part? And how is Erdogan dealing with them?

FINKEL: Well, there's been a tradition, or a recent tradition of street protests in Turkey at all began last summer when a group of environmentalists tried to protect a park , the scene behind me.

There were -- we had a summer of demonstrations, which the prime minister dealt with fairly successfully, at least successful in terms of controlling public opinion. He claimed that these demonstrators might have been innocent, but had a sort of -- were being manipulated by -- with a secret agenda to overthrow him.

Now, so there's a habit of being out on the streets.

But I think the real threat the prime minister faces is not so much the people on the street, but it's the people in his own camp are beginning to at least show signs that they may have lost confidence in his ability to contain this corruption investigation, Kristie.

LU STOUT: Very interesting to hear the biggest threat that Erdogan faces is not on the streets, but within his own party.

Andrew Finkel joining us live from Istanbul, thank you.

Now, three rescue ships are on their way to help a Russian vessel trapped in ice near Antarctica. But maritime authorities say that they won't reach the liner before Friday.

Now the ship is stranded in the Australian search and rescue region, about 1,500 nautical miles south of Tasmania. It has been there since Wednesday when a British sea rescue center picked up a distress signal from the Russian vessel.

Now 74 people are on board, including the crew and a combination of tourists and scientists.

Authorities say no one is in immediate danger.

You're watching News Stream. And still to come, UPS looses its race against time. Why thousands of Americans are still waiting for their Christmas gifts.

And a reprieve for a famed code breaker: we'll tell you Alan Turing's story 60 years after his suicide.


LU STOUT: A glittering end to Boxing Day here in Hong Kong. You are back watching News Stream.

And while many people will be out shopping for Boxing Day bargains, some are still waiting for their Christmas orders to arrive. As Nick Valencia reports, thousands of UPS customers were left with an empty spot under their Christmas tree this year.


NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): UPS trucks are back out in full force this morning trying to deliver packages that were supposed to be delivered by Christmas morning.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I waited around for hours and hours for it to show up and it never did.

VALENCIA: Thousands of gifts not delivered on time, waiting in UPS warehouses to be shipped. UPS says they've already delivered an estimated 132 million packages in the last week alone, blaming the backlog on an unprecedented surge in online sales and bad weather. UPS released a statement saying in part, "The volume of air packages in our system exceeded the capacity of our network, immediately preceding Christmas. Some shipments were delayed." But many are still unhappy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are still blaming it on ice storm, which was 2-1/2 weeks ago. It's terribly disappointing because we ordered these things on December 1st.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We got to the frontline after waiting for about an hour and said it hasn't been processed yet.

VALENCIA: Disappointed customers stormed online customer support, tweeting got same message, still waiting for a response from this morning, along with my granddaughter's Christmas gift. Busy during December? Who would have thought it? #bunchofclowns.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How are you doing today?

VALENCIA: UPS isn't the only delivery company experiencing delays, people lined up at this FedEx Shipment Center in Oregon on Christmas day.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They left me a note and thank God they're open so I can go to my parents and give my mom her gift.

VALENCIA: Meanwhile, UPS says they expect the vast majority of packages to be delivered today.

(on camera): Online companies, who rely heavily on UPS's services, are trying to make amends with customers., for instance, says they will be refunding some shipping charges and are also giving out gift cards to make up for the botched shipments.

Nick Valencia, CNN, Atlanta.


LU STOUT: So, bad weather partly to blame for this shipment delay there in the U.S.

Let's get an update on conditions. Mari Ramos joins us from the world weather center with that -- Mari.

MARI RAMOS, CNN WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: I think we're going to be OK today as far as weather is concerned for this day after Christmas across the U.S. And actually tomorrow not looking too bad either.

There are some snow showers across the northeastern corner of the country, perhaps maybe a few sprinkles across parts of Florida. But everybody pretty much is quiet weather wise.

Above average temperatures across the western U.S. -- look at L.A. already at 12 degrees, and very cold conditions, so that's still a concern across much of the country.

And I'm happy to see Atlanta above freezing. So, that's a little bit of good news there.

Beijing, you're below freezing. Air quality has been a concern over the last few days across much of East Asia, not just in Beijing.

I want to show you some pictures that we -- that are Christmas Day. And you can see how terrible -- this from yesterday -- I think we have a video there -- of how poor the air quality was. Visibility reduced significantly, in many cases, off the charts when it comes to the bad air conditions, a situation that is repeated over and over and over across the region. At night, it does improve somewhat. And we're seeing just in the last few hours moderate air quality in places like Beijing.

But this delays, not just flights, but also railways and of course on the roads. Not to mention the health concerns for the millions of people living in this part of the world.

As far as weather across this area, if you come back over to the weather map, we have one system that moved across the Korean peninsula now bringing some snow showers into the higher elevations of Japan. And rain, unfortunately for you there in Tokyo.

The front stretches all the way back over here just north of Shanghai. Nothing significant happening, though, as far as weather is concerned.

And, yes, that is a cherry blossom you are seeing in Berlin. Temperatures have been well above the average not just across central parts of Europe, but even as we head back over here. Moscow -- I was telling you earlier about that record high temperature that they had for Christmas Day. It was about 3 degrees. That's the warmest its been local media says in over 100 years. We went back and looked 22 years. It's the warmest December they've had since 2011. So that's pretty significant.

It's 7 in Berlin, 10 in Warsaw, 5 in Munich. So everybody is getting rain when it comes to this big weather system that is affecting much of Central Europe. Everybody is getting rain except for the highest elevations.

You guys here across Austria through Switzerland, northern Italy, parts of France, you guys are getting some very heavy snowfall.

And you can see it right over here on the radar, stretching across this area. Big delays expected across that region there.

And then, of course, we have to talk about our next big weather system coming along. This one moves across the central Mediterranean very, very slowly. And then the next one comes in. Yes, Kristie, back again for the UK and Ireland, winds that could be as high as 100 kilometers per hour by tomorrow and very heavy rain at times. So they just got out from one, had a one day break and now here comes the next one.

So, plan ahead I just have to say -- big delays expected also.

LU STOUT: Yeah, plan ahead with another big storm, another one moving in. Mari Ramos there, thank you.

Now it has been a year of many firsts for the new head of the Catholic Church. And now Pope Francis has delivered his first Christmas address to an audience of tens of thousands at the Vatican. Erin McLaughlin has this report from Rome.


ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There's a new Christmas message from Pope Francis. And the focus is on the poor and the forgotten.

JOHN ALLEN, CNN SENIOR VATICAN ANALYST: This is a pope who wants the Catholic Church to be a change agent, a force for good in the world.

MCLAUGHLIN: In St. Peter's Square on Christmas Day, the energy was palpable. Young and old, religious and atheists gathered to hear what Pope Francis had to say.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's amazing. It's an amazing feeling. Yes, even if I'm not a Catholic or religious.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I heard him mention peace many times. You could tell from the response around us, people are hopeful about him.

MCLAUGHLIN: This is not your normal Christmas at the Vatican. For the first time in history, two popes exchanged holiday greetings. And a record number of people requested to attend this pope's first Christmas Eve mass at the Vatican. After the final blessing, Francis greeted children from five different continents.

ALLEN: This is a pope who loves everyone and kids in a special way. That was a classic Francis moment.


LU STOUT: You're watching News Stream. And still ahead on the program, Alan Turing's work is said to have said millions of lives and shorten World War II, but he was -- if you could believe it -- castrated and branded a criminal. We'll bring you his legacy when we return.


LU STOUT: Welcome back.

Now, George Fuwele's father broke his arm in a car accident in 1981. He had no means to get treatment and the injury got infected and eventually spread to his brain. And now his son is taking action to help improve health care in Cameroon, bringing medical services and surgery to people who need it the most. And he is one of our top 10 CNN Heroes. This is his story.


GEORGE BWELLE, DOCTOR: For a country like mine, people like to dream, to dance, to enjoy their life. But with poverty, they cannot enjoy their life. To go to the village is a pleasure. If I can help two or three people, that would be great. I saw my father ill for 23 years. Before he passed away, he asked me, you see how people suffer to see a doctor? Please, if you graduate to be a doctor, help people.

My name is George Bwelle. I bring free surgery and health services to people of rural area.

They're beating the drums to say thanks to come. They can live 60 kilometers around and they come on foot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): So are you also here for the operation?

BWELLE: We are starting by doing consultation.

We will do the exams to see the possibilities for this mass.

And in afternoon, we have a list of patients that we are going to operate.

We need our generator because in the village there is no light. We start doing operations till Sunday morning. And we are doing around 40 surgical operations for free.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I have no money. That's why they brought me here. This will change my future in my family.

BWELLE: We leave our address to all the patients that if there's any problem they can come back to us.

I help people and they are happy.I'm bringing back to give them opportunity to restart.


LU STOUT: And as we close out the year, we'd like to thank all of our 2013 CNN Heroes and invite you to nominate someone you admire as a CNN Hero for 2014. Now nominations are open right now. Just go to CNN

Now, from breakthroughs in early computing to cracking one of history's most sophisticated codes, Alan Turing is both a war hero and a founding father of modern technology. And this week, nearly 60 years after his death, he was given a royal pardon for a conviction that drove him to suicide. His supposed crime? Homosexuality.

Now Paul Mason takes a look at the legacy of a man whose life was cut short in an age of intolerance.


PAUL MASON, ITN REPORTER (voice-over): Alan Turing led the team that cracked Enigma, the coding machine at the heart of the Nazi war effort. Turing, who had designed a computer on paper as early as 1936, built and programmed a vast calculator at the ultra-secret Bletchley Park H.Q.Its achievement was measured in lives.

SUE BLACK, FOUNDER AND CEO, SAVVIFY: It's been said that 11 million people a year were dying during the Second World War, so the work that was done there shortened the war by two years, so that's 22 million lives that were saved.

CONLEY: After the war, he worked on the first computers. While engineers were still struggling to make electronics work, Turing began developing artificial intelligence. And in secret, he was still working for GCHQ.

But Turing was gay, and though a gay life existed underground in the '50s, it was illegal. Convicted of gross indecency, he avoided prison by agreeing to so-called chemical castration. He committed suicide in 1954, eating a cyanide-poisoned apple.

PETER TATCHELL, HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGNER: It was a crime for him and 50,000 other gay and bisexual men, but, sadly, they are not getting a pardon. He is. The law should not be selective.

CONLEY (on camera): Turing was hounded to his death for doing something millions of people now do legally and openly. In the process, Britain lost a war hero and one of its greatest minds.

(voice-over): The man who made computing possible is finally and officially no longer a criminal.


LU STOUT: At last.

Now here is some perspective on just how ahead of his time Alan Turing was. He sketched out plans for an early computer nearly 40 years before Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniack rolled out the Apple I in 1976.

And that is News Stream. I'll have a check of the hour's top stories in just a moment.