World

The top overseas news stories of 2016

The Japan Times newsroom selected these world news stories as the most important of 2016.

1. The rise of Donald Trump: On Nov. 8, Republican Party candidate Donald Trump wins the U.S. presidential election. The 70-year-old was seen as a long shot at the start of his candidacy, but he built support among voters who felt they were being ignored by Washington politicians and among anti-immigrant fringe groups.


United Kingdom Independence Party leader Nigel Farage celebrates the result of the Brexit vote in London. REUTERS
United Kingdom Independence Party leader Nigel Farage celebrates the result of the Brexit vote in London. | REUTERS

2. Brexit: In a stunning referendum, the United Kingdom votes to leave the European Union amid rising anger over immigration and a surge in right-wing populism.


Brett Morian hugs a woman at a candlelight vigil in Orlando, Florida, following a mass shooting at the Pulse gay nightclub.
Brett Morian hugs a woman at a candlelight vigil in Orlando, Florida, following a mass shooting at the Pulse gay nightclub. | AP

3. Inspired by IS: Bombings in Brussels leave 32 dead, a mass shooting at a Florida nightclub kills 49, and 86 die when a truck plows into crowds celebrating Bastille Day in Nice, France. In December, 12 die as a similar truck attack hits Berlin. Investigators in all four incidents conclude the suspects are taking their cues from the Islamic State group.


Protesters carry an effigy of South Korean President Park Geun-hye in Seoul.
Protesters carry an effigy of South Korean President Park Geun-hye in Seoul. | AP

4. The fall of Park Geun-hye: Weeks of massive protests in South Korea over President Park Geun-hye’s alleged ties to an influence-peddling scandal lead to her impeachment by lawmakers in the National Assembly in November.


North Korean leader Kim Jong Un watches a ballistic rocket launch at an unknown location in an undated photo released in March.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un watches a ballistic rocket launch at an unknown location in an undated photo released in March. | REUTERS

5. Nukes in the north: North Korea kicked off a year of provocations in February with a long-range rocket launch, followed by two nuclear tests — including its most powerful to date — and a spate of more than 20 missile tests.


Five-year-old Omran Daqneesh sits in an ambulance after he was rescued following an airstrike on his home in Aleppo, Syria.
Five-year-old Omran Daqneesh sits in an ambulance after he was rescued following an airstrike on his home in Aleppo, Syria. | REUTERS

6. The Syrian civil war: A complex power struggle continues in Syria that involves the government of President Bashar Assad, the Free Syrian Army, the Islamic State group, Russia, Iran and the United States. Much of the focus is on the devastated city of Aleppo.


A TV broadcasts black-and-white footage of Fidel Castro at a memorial on the outskirts of Havana.
A TV broadcasts black-and-white footage of Fidel Castro at a memorial on the outskirts of Havana. | AP

7. Fidel Castro dies: To some he was a champion and to others he was a tyrant. Before longtime former Cuban leader Fidel Castro died on Nov. 25 at 90 years old, though, he was able to witness a historic visit in March by U.S. President Barack Obama.


Jennilyn Olayres grieves beside the body of her partner, Michael Siaron, who was shot by an unidentified gunman in Manila and left with a cardboard sign reading,
Jennilyn Olayres grieves beside the body of her partner, Michael Siaron, who was shot by an unidentified gunman in Manila and left with a cardboard sign reading, ‘I’m a pusher.’ | AFP-JIJI

8. Rodrigo Duterte’s brutal war on drugs: After being elected president of the Philippines in June, Rodrigo Duterte set out on a radical war on drugs that appeared to encourage extrajudicial killings of drug dealers and users. More than 6,000 people have been killed as a result.


One-year-old Jose Wesley Campos, diagnosed with microcephaly linked to the Zika virus, cries at a rehabilitation center in Recife, Brazil.
One-year-old Jose Wesley Campos, diagnosed with microcephaly linked to the Zika virus, cries at a rehabilitation center in Recife, Brazil. | AP

9. Zika hits South America: The Zika virus, which is spread by mosquitoes, is found to be the cause of birth defects appearing in Brazilian newborns. The virus can be carried in adults with minimal signs of symptoms, and it spread as far as Singapore and Florida in 2016.


Supporters of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan rally in central Istanbul
Supporters of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan rally in central Istanbul’s Taksim Square on July 16 following a coup attempt. | AP

10. Trouble in Turkey: The December assassination of the Russian ambassador in an art gallery is only the latest violent incident in Turkey that began with a failed coup d’etat on July 15 and 16 and saw an intense crackdown on the opponents of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.