Asia News Wrap: Multiple heat waves expected in India, and more

Here are a few stories from around Asia you may have missed this week.

A man drinks water by the road during a heat wave in Kolkata, India, April 2, 2024. /CFP

A man drinks water by the road during a heat wave in Kolkata, India, April 2, 2024. /CFP

The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) announced that the country will see above normal maximum temperatures over most parts of the country for the next three months. A heat wave for a third year in a row could dent the production of wheat, rapeseed and other crops.

A heat wave curtailed India’s wheat production in 2022, forcing it to ban exports. India is the world’s second largest producer of wheat. Dr Mrutyunjay Mohapatra, director-general of the IMD, told the press on Monday that in the April to June period, various parts of India could record 10 to 20 heat wave days compared with the normal four to eight. Significantly, this is an election year in India and it will be held over the same three month period, starting April 19.

People remember revolutionary martyrs in front of the W30th Road Monument during Qingming Festival in Jinfan Road Community, Shuangta Street, Gusu District, Suzhou, east China’s Jiangsu Province, April 4, 2024. /CFP

People remember revolutionary martyrs in front of the W30th Road Monument during Qingming Festival in Jinfan Road Community, Shuangta Street, Gusu District, Suzhou, east China’s Jiangsu Province, April 4, 2024. /CFP

The Qingming Festival was celebrated in China on Thursday. The holiday is devoted to remembering and honoring the deceased. People sweep and decorate grave sites, burn incense and paper money, and make offerings of food. Funerals are of great importance in China, as the scale of funerals and the size of tombs were once used as standards to evaluate the filial piety of the deceased’s descendants. Given the rapidly aging population and urban land scarcity, which has led to the price of commercial tombs rising, the average funeral in China is about 45 percent of the average annual salary, compared to 10 percent globally. China has issued guidelines to promote lower-cost and space-saving funerals and burials in recent years, encouraging people to embrace eco-burials, such as tree burials, flower bed burials and biodegradable urn burials.

A taxi on the road in Tokyo, Japan. The government partially lifted a ban on ride-sharing services in April due to a shortage of taxi drivers, Tokyo, Japan, March 27, 2024

A taxi on the road in Tokyo, Japan. The government partially lifted a ban on ride-sharing services in April due to a shortage of taxi drivers, Tokyo, Japan, March 27, 2024

Japan has begun the rollout of ride-hailing services provided by private drivers through apps such as Uber and Didi, almost a decade after other countries introduced the services amid fierce opposition from the taxi industry. The government partially lifted a ban on ride-sharing services on April 1 due to a shortage of taxi drivers. The ride-hailing service will be operated by taxi companies in designated periods and regions, including Tokyo and Kyoto.

A missile is launched, as state media reports the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea test-fired a new mid-to long-range solid-fuel hypersonic missile at an undisclosed location in the country on April 2, 2024, in this picture released by the Korean Central News Agency, DPRK, April 2, 2024. /Reuters

A missile is launched, as state media reports the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea test-fired a new mid-to long-range solid-fuel hypersonic missile at an undisclosed location in the country on April 2, 2024, in this picture released by the Korean Central News Agency, DPRK, April 2, 2024. /Reuters

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea on Tuesday successfully test-fired an intermediate-range hypersonic ballistic missile with its top leader guiding the event on the spot, the official Korean Central News Agency reported on Wednesday.

Japanese Health Ministry officials head to search a Kobayashi Pharmaceutical factory in Osaka, Japan, March 30, 2024. /Reuters

Japanese Health Ministry officials head to search a Kobayashi Pharmaceutical factory in Osaka, Japan, March 30, 2024. /Reuters

Japanese dietary supplements at the center of a health scare have now been linked to at least 157 hospitalizations, a Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare official said on Tuesday. The figure reflects an increase from the 114 hospitalization cases that Kobayashi Pharmaceuticals said on March 29 were linked to its products containing red yeast rice, or beni koji. On March 29, Kobayashi said it was investigating five deaths potentially linked to the dietary supplements, which are meant to lower cholesterol.

(Cover: People walk through a mirage on a hot afternoon on Kartavya Path in New Delhi, India, March 18, 2024. /CFP)