**US Slams Vietnam for Jailing Dissidents**
The United States is criticizing Vietnam for jailing three activists for up to three three years for obstructing traffic.
The dissidents were arrested earlier this year while riding in a convoy of motorcycles to visit a former political prisoner.
A court in the southern province of Dong Thap on Tuesday found them guilty of "causing a public disorder."
Bui Thi Minh Hang, the most prominent of the three, received three years in jail. Nguyen Thi Thuy Quynh was jailed for two years, while Nguyen Van Minh got a two-and-a-half year sentence.
The U.S. Embassy in Hanoi says it is "deeply concerned" about the ruling and is alarmed Vietnam is using public disorder laws to silence government critics.
The statement called on Vietnam to immediately and unconditionally release the three activists, along with all other prisoners of conscience.
**Japan's Abe Sent Note to Ceremony Honoring War Criminals**
Japan has confirmed Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sent a personal message to a ceremony honoring hundreds of World War Two-era Japanese war criminals.
The Asahi newspaper reported Wednesday that Prime Minister Abe sent the note to the April ceremony held at Koyasan Okunoin temple in western Japan.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Mr. Abe's note was sent in his capacity as head of Japan's ruling party, and not as prime minister.
Asahi reported that in the note, Mr. Abe expressed grief for the death of the war criminals, who he said "sacrificed their souls to become the foundation of the country."
Organizers have confirmed the note was read at the ceremony, which was attended by former Japanese military officers.
The names of at least 1,180 convicted and suspected war criminals are inscribed on an empty tomb at the Buddhist temple.
There has been no comment from China or South Korea, who regularly protest moves by Japanese officials to honor Japan's war dead.