Top Asian News 3:59 a.m. GMT

TOKYO (AP) — Japan is anxiously awaiting confirmation that a man freed from Syria is a freelance journalist kidnapped three years ago. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters Wednesday he was relieved by the news and is anxious to get the man's identify confirmed as soon as possible. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga has said the man is most likely Jumpei Yasuda and he is now in Turkey. Yasuda was kidnapped in 2015 by al-Qaida's branch in Syria, known at the time as Nusra Front. A war monitoring group said he was most recently held by a Syrian commander with the Turkistan Islamic Party, which mostly comprises Chinese jihadis in Syria.

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's summits with the presidents of South Korea and the United States have not changed his country's abysmal human rights record, the U.N. independent investigator on human rights in the isolated Asian nation said Tuesday. Speaking at a news conference, Tomas Ojea Quintana said he is "very concerned" that statements following Kim's meetings with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and U.S. President Donald Trump made no mention of human rights in North Korea. He pointed to reports of "systematic, widespread abuses" of human rights and a U.N. commission of inquiry's findings in 2014 that possible crimes against humanity have been committed in North Korea.

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea's liberal president on Tuesday formally confirmed his recent reconciliation deals with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, triggering immediate backlash from conservatives who called him "self-righteous" and "subservient" to the North. Some experts say President Moon Jae-in's move is largely symbolic, but others say it shows his determination to carry out the September deals despite growing skepticism about whether his engagement policy will eventually lead to North Korea's nuclear disarmament. Moon "ratified" the deals on Tuesday afternoon, hours after his Cabinet approved them during a regular meeting, his office said in a statement. The back-to-back endorsements came with no prior parliamentary endorsement.

SUVA, Fiji (AP) — The Duchess of Sussex was rushed through her visit to an indoor market in Fiji's capital Wednesday due to concerns about the large crowd that came to greet her in the relatively confined space. Meghan chatted with one vendor and briefly greeted others at Suva Market, where throngs of people spilled into surrounding streets. She spent only about half of her allocated 15 minutes there as she was whisked through by security personnel in the enclosed and relatively dark market. Meghan had visited Suva Market to meet some of the female vendors who have been involved in the U.N.

ZHUHAI, China (AP) — China on Tuesday opened the world's longest sea-crossing bridge linking Hong Kong to the mainland, a feat of engineering carrying immense economic and political significance. Chinese President Xi Jinping presided over a ceremony in the city of Zhuhai to open the 55-kilometer (34-mile)-long bridge linking it to the semi-autonomous regions of Hong Kong and Macau. Digital fireworks exploded on a screen behind him as leaders of the three cities watched. The $20 billion bridge took almost a decade to build while incurring major delays and cost overruns. It includes an undersea tunnel allowing ships to pass through the Pearl River delta, the heart of China's crucial manufacturing sector.

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — Vietnam's rubber stamp National Assembly elected Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong as the country's president on Tuesday, consolidating his influence as the most powerful man in the Southeast Asian nation. The 74-year-old Trong is the first Vietnamese leader to hold the two positions since founding President Ho Chi Minh in the 1960s. He succeeds President Tran Dai Quang, who died last month after battling a viral illness for more than a year. Raising one hand and placing the other on the constitution, Trong vowed during the swearing-in ceremony to be "absolutely loyal to the nation, people and the constitution." He acknowledged in his acceptance speech that despite impressive achievements in recent years, Vietnam faces many challenges.

NEW DELHI (AP) — At least two people were killed and another 17 injured in a stampede as people crowded an overpass bridge at a railroad station in eastern India on Tuesday, a state official said. The crush occurred with a large number of people travelling during a Hindu festive season and rushing to catch trains at the station in Kolkata, the West Bengal state capital. Mamta Banerje, the top elected official of West Bengal state, in a tweet confirmed the incident, which happened four days after a train killed 60 people on railroad tracks at a religious festival in the northern Indian city of Amritsar.

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Excessive speed was the main cause of the derailment of a train in Taiwan that killed 18 people and injured scores of others, a district court said Tuesday. The train entered a curve in eastern Taiwan on Sunday afternoon at 140 kilometers (87 miles) per hour, almost twice the speed limit for that section of track, the Yilan County district court said in a statement. The train's driver has been placed under investigation on suspicion of negligence leading to death. The driver, Yu Cheng-chung, had disabled the automatic train protection system after sensing "abnormal movements" in acceleration, the court statement said.

BEIJING (AP) — "Both ignorant and malicious" was how the official China Daily newspaper recently described comments by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, offering a stinging insight into the current bitter tone of discourse between the countries. The White House's move to expand Washington's dispute with Beijing beyond trade and technology and into accusations of political meddling has sunk relations between the world's two largest economies to the lowest level since the Cold War. A major speech by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence on Oct. 4 was the clearest, highest-level sign that U.S. strategy was turning from engagement to confrontation.

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — A prominent lawyer and newspaper publisher who is tied to Bangladesh's political opposition was denied bail Tuesday after his arrest on defamation charges, heightening concerns about a crackdown on dissent ahead of national elections. Police arrested Mainul Hosein late Monday in a raid on an opposition leader's home in the capital, said Mahbub Alam, a joint commissioner of the Detective Branch of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police. Hosein is the publisher of the English-language New Nation daily and heads its editorial board. Magistrate Kaisarul Islam gave no explanation for denying Hosein bail at a brief hearing Tuesday. A court in northern Bangladesh issued a warrant for Hosein's arrest Monday, with Alam saying the case was linked to an Oct.