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World in brief: May 11, 2022

JAPAN: Tokyo announced today that it will start recognising same-sex partnerships, but the unions will not be considered legal marriages.

Japan does not legally recognise same-sex marriages, and LGBTQ+ people often face discrimination at school, work and at home, causing many to hide their sexual identities.

The city authority said the move will “promote understanding among Tokyo residents about sexual diversity.”

Rights groups had pushed for the passage of an equality act ahead of last summer's Olympics, but Prime Minister Fumio Kishida quashed it.

CHINA: Beijing defended its zero-Covid policy today, calling critical remarks from the head of the World Health Organisation (WHO) “irresponsible.”

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the agency does not think China’s policy “is sustainable, considering the behaviour of the virus now and what we anticipate in the future.”

Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said his government’s approach could “stand the test of history" and that the country is “one of the most successful in epidemic prevention and control.”

PHILIPPINES: Ferdinand Marcos Jr, son of the former dictator, declared victory in this week’s presidential elections today.

Mr Marcos garnered more than 31 million votes in an unofficial vote count from Monday's polls. His vice-presidential running mate, Sara Duterte — the daughter of outgoing president Rodrigo Duterte, also appeared to have won by a landslide.

Socialist groups and survivors of the Marcos dictatorship rejected both candidates, accusing them of whitewashing their fathers’ legacies on the campaign trail.

CUBA: The Ministry of Health has reported the death toll from Friday’s explosion at Havana’s Hotel Saratoga in Havana has risen to 43, including at least one Spanish tourist. Seventeen people remain in hospital.

The hunt for victims has continued  as experts consider the fate of the 19th-century building.

Authorities have said they suspect the cause of the blast was a gas leak from a lorry that was servicing the building.

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