The inauguration of U.S. President Joe Biden has been selected by senior editors of Kyodo News and its member or subscriber newspapers and broadcasters as the top international news story of 2021.
(1) Biden inaugurated as 46th president of the United States
Democrat Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States on Jan. 20, taking office together with Kamala Harris, the country's first female, black and Asian American vice president. Declaring that democracy has prevailed, Biden signed 17 documents to roll back former President Donald Trump's controversial policies, including a document to rejoin the Paris climate accord.
(2) U.S. troops withdraw from Afghanistan, Taliban regain control
The United States completed the withdrawal of its troops from Afghanistan on Aug. 30, bringing an end to two decades of war triggered by the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks on American soil. The Taliban had taken control of the capital Kabul on Aug. 15, with President Ashraf Ghani fleeing the country prior to the complete withdrawal. Tensions grew toward the end as an Islamic State suicide bombing near the airport killed many Afghans and 13 U.S. service members.
(3) Two-way star Shohei Ohtani wins first MVP in unanimous vote
Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani became the first Japanese in 20 years to be named Most Valuable Player in the majors when he claimed the American League honor in a unanimous vote. Ohtani, who accomplished the rare feat of starring as both a hitter and a pitcher the entire 2021 season, and Ichiro Suzuki are the only Japanese players to have received a Major League Baseball MVP award.
(4) Global COVID-19 deaths surpass 5 million
The cumulative worldwide total of deaths caused by the novel coronavirus exceeded 5 million on Nov. 1, with cases topping 250 million on Nov. 8, according to data from Johns Hopkins University of the United States. With vaccinations progressing in developed countries, infections dropped sharply from late August but began to rise again in mid-October. There have been calls to improve the distribution of vaccines to Africa and other areas where the rollout has been delayed.
(5) Myanmar's military stages coup
Myanmar's military seized power in a coup on Feb. 1 and declared a one-year state of emergency, claiming there was widespread fraud in the previous year's general election. Aung San Suu Kyi and other government leaders were detained, with Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing taking control of the country. According to human rights groups, more than 1,300 people have been killed in demonstrations since the takeover. On Dec. 6, a special military court sentenced Suu Kyi to four years imprisonment for incitement, later reducing the term to two years, but she still faces over 10 other charges.
(6) Hong Kong's Apple Daily folds under pressure after 26 years
Hong Kong's pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily folded under pressure from Chinese and Hong Kong authorities after publishing its final print edition on June 24, ending its 26-year run. Established in 1995 -- two years before Hong Kong's handover to Chinese rule -- the publication was considered the city's only democracy-leaning newspaper and had a circulation of 500,000 copies at one point.
(7) Trump supporters storm Capitol to defy election results
The U.S. Congress was thrown into turmoil on Jan. 6 in the process of certifying Democrat Joe Biden's presidential win, as supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol to defy the election results. Counting of the electoral votes was halted for hours due to the chaos, which left a police officer and four others dead. Trump had made a call during a rally in Washington earlier in the day to "walk down to the Capitol" to demand lawmakers reject the election outcome.
(8) China's Communist Party issues pivotal resolution, Xi to seek third term
China's ruling Communist Party on Nov. 11 adopted a pivotal resolution at the sixth plenary session of the 19th Central Committee, with expectations solidifying that President Xi Jinping will serve a controversial third term as leader. The first such declaration in 40 years, it outlined major achievements and historical experiences of the party during its 100-year history, highly evaluating Xi's policies on Taiwan and Hong Kong.
(9) Matsuyama wins Masters, becomes Japan's 1st men's major champion
Hideki Matsuyama won the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on April 11 to become the first player from Japan to claim a men's major championship. The Masters triumph fulfilled Matsuyama's long-held goal of winning one of the four annual majors, 10 years after he debuted at the tournament as a 19-year-old amateur.
(10) G-7 refers to Taiwan situation in statement, adds fuel to U.S.-China tensions
Leaders of the Group of Seven industrialized nations wrapped up their three-day talks on June 13 with a call for peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. The reference to Taiwan in the leaders' statement added fuel to tensions between the United States and China, which regards the self-ruled, democratic island as a renegade province to be reunited with the mainland, by force, if necessary.