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Two musicians jailed for anti-government songs

HANOI — Two musicians in Vietnam whose topical songs are popular among overseas Vietnamese were sentence to prison this week, prompting criticism from the United States and international rights groups.

Vo Minh Tri and Tran Vu Anh Binh were imprisoned for four and six years, respectively, on charges of spreading propaganda against the state, said Mr. Tri’s lawyer, Tran Vu Hai.

They faced possible sentences of up to 20 years.

In a half-day trial, a court in Ho Chi Minh City accused the musicians of posting songs on a website operated by an overseas Vietnamese opposition group, Patriotic Youth, according to Mr. Hai. Communist Vietnam does not tolerate challenges to its one-party rule.

Mr. Tri, 34, known as Viet Khang, has composed songs criticizing the government for not taking a more aggressive position against China in the potentially resource-rich South China Sea, where Vietnam, China and other Asian nations have competing territorial claims. A video of his song “Where is My Vietnam?” has been viewed more than 700,000 times on YouTube.

Mr. Binh, 37, is credited with writing the music for “Courage in the Dark Prison,” a song that encourages nonviolent protest and expresses support for imprisoned blogger Nguyen Van Hai.


Ex-governor leads geriatric political party

TOKYO — Firebrand Japanese conservative Shintaro Ishihara, who resigned as governor of Tokyo, has become the leader of a small right-leaning party whose lawmakers have an average age of 73.5.

Mr. Ishihara, a champion of nationalist views whose plan to buy disputed islands reignited a smoldering row with China last month, was named by the Sunrise Party of Japan as its new leader earlier this week.

The party, formed in 2010 by defectors from the once-dominant Liberal Democratic Party, has a total of just five seats in both houses of parliament.

It will rename itself in early November with Mr. Ishihara, the oldest of the group at 80, as its new leader.

At a party meeting Tuesday, Mr. Ishihara said he would forge new alliances with other small parties to try to loosen the stranglehold of the Liberal Democratic Party and its governing rival, the Democratic Party of Japan.

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