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Top Asian News 10:47 p.m. GMT

TOKYO (AP) — A Japanese military helicopter crashed in southwestern Japan on Monday, killing one of its two crewmembers and ripping the top floor off a house and setting it on fire, officials said. The other crewmember was missing and one resident of the house was injured slightly. The Boeing AH-64 combat helicopter, belonging to the Ground Self-Defense Force’s Metabaru training camp, crashed in Kanzaki city in Saga prefecture seven minutes after taking off on a test flight after routine maintenance, defense officials said. The Defense Ministry said the copilot suffered heart and lung failure and was later pronounced dead, and the pilot was missing.

MALE, Maldives (AP) — The Maldives government declared a 15-day state of emergency Monday as the political crisis deepened in the Indian Ocean nation amid an increasingly bitter standoff between the president and the Supreme Court. Hours after the emergency was declared, soldiers forced their way into the Supreme Court building, where the judges were believed to be taking shelter, said Ahmed Maloof, an opposition member of Parliament. Soon after that, security forces arrested opposition leader Maumoon Abdul Gayoom on charges that include bribery and attempting to overthrow the government, his lawyer, Maumoon Hameed, said on Twitter. Gayoom was the archipelago nation’s president from 1978 to 2008 and is the half brother of the Maldives’ current president.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is not ruling out the possibility that U.S. officials could meet with North Koreans at the Winter Olympics in South Korea. Vice President Mike Pence is departing Washington on Monday on a six-day Asia swing that will take in the games in Pyeongchang. At a news conference in Peru, Tillerson was asked if Pence or other U.S. officials might meet North Koreans. The top diplomat responded: “I think we’ll just see. We’ll have to see what happens.” The White House has given no hint that’s in the cards. While the Olympics have provided a diplomatic opening between the rival Koreas, it’s not quelled U.S.-North Korea tensions.

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) — North Korea’s head of state is coming to archrival South Korea, but it’s the wrong one — at least if the goal is peace on the volatile Korean Peninsula. Kim Yong Nam is, technically, the North’s titular leader, and the visit by the 90-year-old North Korean fixture to the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics will mark — again, technically — the highest-level trip south from the North in recent memory. But the visit, like Kim’s title, may be entirely ceremonial. The real power in North Korea is third-generation dictator Kim Jong Un, and any serious bid for high-level talks at the games would likely involve someone from the inner circle that surrounds the man who took supreme power after the 2011 death of his father, Kim Jong Il.

GANGNEUNG, South Korea (AP) — North and South Korea face a widening linguistic divide after 70 years of division, and that is a challenge for the rivals’ first-ever joint Olympic team as it prepares for the Pyeongchang Winter Games. The Canadian coach of the joint women’s hockey team said Monday her squad has made a three-page dictionary that translates key hockey terms from English into South Korean and then into North Korean for better communication among the players and herself. “In North Korean, there are no English words so everything is totally different. So we actually made like a dictionary, English to Korean to North Korean.

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) — A 23-member advance team of North Koreans arrived in South Korea on Monday to prepare for the North’s participation in the Pyeongchang Olympics, South Korean officials said. The South’s Unification Ministry, which handles inter-Korean issues, said the North Korean team is mostly made up of technicians. The South’s Yonhap news agency said they came with sound, lighting and other systems. The North Koreans’ participation in the Olympics is part of a series of conciliatory measures the war-separated rivals took for the Pyeongchang Games. South Korea sees the Olympics as an opportunity to revive meaningful communication with North Korea following an extended period of animosity and diplomatic stalemate over the North’s nuclear program.

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The father of the U.S. college student who died after being jailed in North Korea will visit South Korea this week to attend the opening ceremonies of the Olympics as a guest of Vice President Mike Pence. The Washington Post reports that Fred Warmbier’s trip coincides with Pence’s visit to fight North Korea’s propaganda efforts and keep up pressure to halt its nuclear ambitions. Warmbier’s son, Otto, a University of Virginia student from Ohio, was held in North Korean custody for allegedly stealing a propaganda poster. Officials said Otto Warmbier mysteriously suffered brain damage before he was returned to the U.S.

MALE, Maldives (AP) — The Latest on turmoil in the Maldives after the Supreme Court ordered the release of a group of political prisoners (all times local): 3:30 a.m. The United States is strongly criticizing the president of the Maldives for declaring a state of emergency after the Supreme Court ordered the release of imprisoned opposition leaders. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the emergency declared on Monday gives sweeping powers to security forces to arrest and detain suspects. It also bans public gatherings and imposes travel restrictions. Nauert said the U.S. is “is troubled and disappointed” by the developments. She says president Yameen Abdul Gayoom, has “systematically alienated his coalition, jailed or exiled every major opposition political figure” since his election in 2013.

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong was freed Monday after a South Korean appeals court gave him a 2 ½-year suspended jail sentence for corruption in connection with a scandal that toppled the country’s president. The Seoul High Court softened the original ruling against Lee, rejecting most of the bribery charges leveled against Lee by prosecutors who sought a 12-year prison term. While the ruling clears the way for the Samsung vice chairman to resume his role at the helm of the industrial giant founded by his grandfather after a year in prison, he faces a slew of challenges outside prison.

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — A court in Vietnam gave a second life prison sentence Monday to a former executive at Vietnam’s state oil giant accused of corruption and who Germany said was kidnapped from there by Vietnamese agents last year. State-run online newspaper VnExpress said Trinh Xuan Thanh, the former chairman of PetroVietnam’s construction arm, was convicted of embezzling $622,000 from a property project developed by a subsidiary. Seven other defendants in the two-week trial were sentenced from six to 16 years in jail on the same charges. Thanh denied the allegations but testimony by other defendants and witnesses gave sufficient basis to issue the conviction, the paper quoted judges as saying.

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