NAPSNet Daily Report
day, month 2003

I. United States

II. Republic of Korea III. People's Republic of China IV. Japan

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I. United States

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1. DPRK Nuclear War Warning

The New York Times (Keith Bradsher, "NORTH KOREA SAYS A US ATTACK COULD LEAD TO A NUCLEAR WAR," Seoul, 3/03/03) reported that DPRK leader Kim Jong Il, has warned that nuclear war could break out if the US attacks his country's nuclear program. The remarks were his first public pronouncement since the DPRK restarted a nuclear reactor last Wednesday. The statements by Kim, which were read by an announcer for DPRK radio and monitored by the BBC, were consistent with statements in DPRK newspapers over the weekend, as the DPRK has increased its criticisms of US policies in response to growing worries in Washington that North Korea may soon begin production of nuclear weapons. "Should a war break out on the Korean Peninsula due to the US imperialists, it will escalate into a nuclear war," Kim said, according to the announcer. "Then, not only the Korean people in the North and South but the people in Asia and many countries around the world will suffer from a frightful nuclear catastrophe." However, Kim also repeated previous DPRK denials that the country's nuclear program had a military purpose. "Our nuclear activities are thoroughly for peaceful purposes and do not pose threats to anybody," he said.

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2. DPRK on "Missile Rights"

The Associated Press (Soo-Jeong Lee, "NORTH KOREA SAYS MISSILE DEVELOPMENT IS A SOVEREIGN RIGHT," Seoul, 3/03/03) and CNN News ("NORTH KOREA: MISSILES A 'RIGHT,'" Seoul, 3/03/03) reported that the DPRK has accused the US and Japan of using an alleged threat posed by DPRK missiles as pretense to launch an attack. In a statement made on the DPRK's KCNA, the DPRK also said it had the right to develop and deploy ballistic missiles as a form of self-defense. "The development and deployment of missiles is a sovereign right and is aimed at strengthening self-defense capabilities," the KCNA said. The DPRK last week launched an anti-ship missile into the sea off its east coast. The test firing was the first since North Korea's self imposed moratorium on missile launches began in 1998. KCNA said the US and Japan "are trying to make an excuse for staging a pre-emptive attack." Monday's accusation followed the DPRK's starkest warning since its nuclear standoff with the US began in October.

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3. ROK-US War Games

BBC News ("US-SOUTH KOREAN WAR GAMES DUE," 3/03/03) reported that the US and the ROK are due to begin large-scale joint military exercises on Tuesday. The move is likely to lead to fresh protests from the DPRK, which has already condemned the two countries for going ahead with the exercises despite increasing tensions in the region. US officials have insisted that the drills, codenamed Foal Eagle, are a planned annual event, unrelated to the stand-off between the US and the DPRK over the DPRK's nuclear ambitions. The US military announced in February that the Foal Eagle military drill would still take place. Due to run until 2 April, the exercises are designed to improve the ROK's defense capabilities against "external aggression," the US military said. The exercises will focus on a mock battle and are aimed at training US forces despatched to Korea in case of emergency. A total of 5,000 US soldiers from the US and the Pacific region are expected to participate in the drills, boosting the number of troops in the region for the duration of the exercise. There are already about 37,000 US soldiers stationed in the ROK.

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4. PRC Domestic Politics

BBC News ("CHINA TO APPROVE NEW LEADERS," 3/03/03) reported that the PRC is gearing up to install a new president and premier as the final step in a leadership shake-up that started last year. A meeting of the country's legislature, the National People's Congress (NPC), is due to approve Hu Jintao as the PRC's new president. Hu, 60, takes over from Jiang Zemin, who ceded him the job of Communist Party chief late last year. But iang, 76, is tipped to retain considerable influence having engineered the ascent of several key protégés to senior positions. In another important move, technocrat Wen Jiabao is set to take over from Zhu Rongji as premier. The handover of power was orchestrated by senior Communist Party leaders at a key congress last November. The changes will be formalised at the annual meeting of the NPC, a rubber-stamp parliament, which opens on Wednesday. Key meetings Delegates approve reshuffle Approve government reports and restructuring plan Appoint cabinet ministers, Supreme Court head and chief state prosecutor

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5. ROK Domestic Economics

The New York Times (Don Kirk, "DEBT-RIDDEN SOUTH KOREA SIGNALS ECONOMIC CONSERVATISM," Seoul, 3/03/03) reported that the ROK's new economic team, facing a slowdown in the economy often attributed to rising oil prices, signaled a conservative policy today in hopes of staving off the dangers posed by an alarming increase in household debts. The newly installed finance minister, Kim Jin Pyo, beginning his first full week in the post, ruled out any prospect for making it easier for consumers to borrow more money as a stimulus to the economy, saying "risks from the household sector remain high." With 11.2 percent of credit card bills reported overdue at the end of January, Kim said he and other economic officials were "worried about the side effects" of any measures that might artificially aid the economy. The rate of overdue bills on credit cards, which have caught on as a national fad over the past two or three years, was up from 8.8 percent at the end of December.

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6. PRC Military Spending

The Associated Press (Elaine Kurtenbach, "CHINA TO INCREASE MILITARY SPENDING," Beijing, 3/03/03) reported that with nuclear escalation brewing on one flank and the fight against terrorism simmering on another, the PRC appears set for another double-digit increase in defense spending in a budget due to be announced this week. For 13 consecutive years, Beijing has lavished double-digit increases on the 2.5-million strong People's Liberation Army. Reported defense spending grew 17.6 percent to $20 billion last year, and a similar increase seems likely this year. Foreign analysts say the true figure is far higher. "The increases in the military budget will be a continuing trend for this year or even the next decade," said You Ji, an expert on the PRC military at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia.

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7. Japan Abduction Families

The Associated Press ("JAPAN ABDUCTEES' FAMILIES EYE US HELP," Tokyo, 3/03/03) reported that relatives and supporters of Japanese abducted by the DPRK left for Washington on Monday to try to persuade senior US officials to help them deal with the reclusive communist state. The four family members, accompanied by three lawmakers, two support group members and a government official, plan to meet with senior US government officials during their five-day visit in Washington, group spokesman Tsutomu Nishioka said. The visit comes less than a week after the group met US Ambassador Howard Baker. The group is concerned their cause may be eclipsed by the standoff over the DPRK's suspected nuclear weapons program. DPRK leader Kim Jong Il admitted last September his military had kidnapped about a dozen Japanese citizens in the 1970s and 1980s to train spies in Japanese language and culture. The DPRK said eight of them had since died, but allowed the five survivors to return to Japan in October. Japan is trying to pressure the DPRK to allow the families of the five to join them in Japan. Japan is also pressing the DPRK for more information on the eight the DPRK says died and on dozens more Japan believes were abducted.

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8. Cuba on Japan-DPRK Assistance

The Associated Press ("CUBAN LEADER OFFERS JAPAN HELP WITH NORTH KOREA BUT SAYS ROLE IS LIMITED," Tokyo, 3/03/03) reported that Cuban leader Fidel Castro told Japan on Sunday he would help mediate with the DPRK over its suspected nuclear weapons program, but said his country's capacity to resolve the growing crisis is limited. Castro told Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi that Cuba is willing to do what it can to help, but that its influence is constrained because of limited direct contact with its communist ally in recent years, a Foreign Ministry official said on condition of anonymity. He urged Japan to work with regional allies the PRC, Russia and the ROK, saying that a concerted effort would likely lead to a resolution, the official said. The US was noticeably omitted from his advice.

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9. Japan Missile Vulnerability

The Japan Times (Junko Takahashi, "JAPAN 'HELPLESS' AGAINST MISSILES," 3/03/03) reported that Japan has no effective means of protecting its citizens in the event of a ballistic missile attack by the DPRK, Defense Agency chief Shigeru Ishiba said Monday. "All we could do is minimize the damage if a missile is fired against Japan," Ishiba told the House of Representatives Budget Committee when asked by an opposition lawmaker how Japan would respond to a ballistic missile attack. If Pyongyang test-launches a ballistic missile over Japan, as it did in 1998 with the Taepodong launch, the government would immediately relay pertinent information about it to the public, Ishiba said. Officials have said earlier that the government will publicize information when it confirms signs of the DPRK preparing missile launches, such as fueling its missiles, and use diplomatic means to dissuade the DPRK from firing them. But once launched, a DPRK missile can reach Japanese territory in about 10 minutes, according to officials. "We have to make a decision about what to do in an extremely limited time," Ishiba said. If a missile delivers a payload to Japan, all the government would be able to do is dispatch the Self-Defense Forces to rescue those who are injured, as in the case of sending SDF personnel for disaster relief, he said. Ishiba said Japan would have to depend on its chief ally, the US, for retaliatory attacks against a missile launch. Japan has been studying a missile defense system jointly with the US aimed at forming a shield against ballistic missile attacks. Ishiba has repeatedly proposed that the system be moved to the development phase, stressing that Japan has no means of defending itself from such attacks.

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10. Japan Nuclear Workers Sentenced

BBC News ("JAPAN NUCLEAR SIX SENTENCED," 3/03/03) reported that a Japanese court has given suspended prison sentences to six employees of a uranium processing plant responsible for the world's worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl, which killed two people. In 1999, workers at the Tokaimura plant, 120 kilometres (75 miles) north-east of Tokyo, poured too much uranium into a precipitation tank, causing a major leak of radiation. More than 600 people were exposed to radiation and about 320,000 people were told to shelter indoors for over a day. Two of the workers who caused the disaster later died in hospital from multiple organ failure caused by exposure to radiation. The six, all employees of JCO Co Ltd, which operated the plant, were arrested in October 2000 on charges of professional negligence and violating nuclear safety laws. Jail terms Kenzo Koshijima, head of the Tokaimura facility, received the heaviest sentence. He was fined more than 4,000 dollars and given a three-year jail sentence, suspended for five years. The others, including an injured survivor of the accident, were given suspended prison terms of up to three years. The world's worst nuclear accident was the April 1986 explosion and fire at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the Ukraine. The blast contaminated vast areas of Belarus, Ukraine and Russia, and sent a radioactive cloud across Europe.

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11. PRC Dissident Released

BBC News ("CHINA FREES DISSIDENT," 3/03/03) reported that a US-based PRC dissident detained in south-west PRC for eight months has been released and sent to the US, human rights activists say. Zhang Qi was held in the city of Chengdu after allegedly being kidnapped by PRC police inside Vietnam along with veteran US-based dissident Wang Bingzhang and another activist. Her release comes a day after Wang lost an appeal in a PRC court against a life jail sentence imposed for espionage and terrorism. Zhang was freed from Chengdu on Saturday, and has now arrived in New York City, the US-based Free China Movement said. Wang was found guilty of providing intelligence to Taiwan between 1982 and 1990 and obtaining "secret military material illegally" in exchange for money. Kidnapped by agents Human rights groups say that Zhang and Wang, along with French-based dissident Wu Yue, who has already been released, were abducted by PRC agents at a hotel inside Vietnam, where they were trying to meet PRC labour leaders.

II. Republic of Korea

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1. Huge Crowd in Pro-US Rally

Chosun Ilbo (Ahn Seok-bae, "ANTI-KIM RALLY DRAWS HUGE CROWD," Seoul, 03/03/03) reported that citizens of various backgrounds, religions, and social groups held an "Anti-nuclear, Anti-Kim, March 1 National Rally" in front of City Hall. Participants from 110 civil groups, social groups, and churches said that recent anti-US rallies did not reflect the opinions the majority of Koreans. The event began with an opening declaration speech by Cho Woo, head monk of Tongdosa Temple. Millions of blue balloons, symbolizing peace, were released, and both US and ROK flags were waved. Bong Du-wan, chairman of the Catholic National church and master of ceremonies, Lee Sang-hoon, chairman of the Korean Veterans Association, Park Hong, former president of Sogang University and former Prime Minister Kang Young-hoon made continuous speeches at the meeting. Norbert Pollerchen, a German activist for human rights in DPRK, said, "Until now we supported North Korea with medical supplies and food, but they have not changed. The Korean government should not adhere to the 'Sunshine Policy,' but pressure the North to give up its nuclear development."

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2. KEDO Status

Chosun Ilbo (Kim In-ku, "US SIGNALS DEATH OF KEDO PROJECT," Seoul, 03/03/03) reported that because no solution for the DPRK nuclear crisis is in sight, the project to build two light water reactors in DPRK as compensation for DPRK freezing its nuclear development plans may be stopped. The reactors are being built in DPRK's Kumho district in South Hamkyung province. John Bolton, the US under secretary of state for disarmament affairs, said in a recent interview with a Japanese newspaper that "North Korea's plan to go nuclear cannot be tolerated." At present, ROK is against scrapping the project, while Japan is taking a cautious stance. The executive board of the consortium formed to build the reactors, the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (known by the acronym KEDO), met last month to discuss the project. The body, which includes US, ROK and Japan, decided to delay its purchase of some parts needed for the construction. However, an official at the planning department said Sunday that decisions on delaying or stopping the project have not been made.

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3. Land Route Kumgang Tour Blocked

Chosun Ilbo (Kim Hee-sup, "ROADBLOCKS FOR KUMGANG LAND ROUTE," Seoul, 03/03/03) reported that Hyundai Asan, the operator of the Mount Geumgang tours to DPRK, said Sunday that overland trips to the resort may be canceled for an unspecified amount of time because DPRK is carrying out railroad work near the road that the buses use. A representative of the company said that this month's schedule of excursions to the resort had not been confirmed. The land route to the resort opened last month, and Hyundai Asan began running buses over it on February 21. Subsequent tours ran on February 23, 25 and 27. The railroad construction that makes the roads evidently unusable came as a surprise, observers said. About 30,000 people have made reservations to take the land route to the resort, and the trips are booked through May, the company said.

III. People's Republic of China

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1. PRC's Attitude towards Korean Peninsula Crisis

China Daily (Shao Zongwei, "KOREAN PENINSULA SITUATION REQUIRES 'RESTRAINT'," 02/28/03, P1) reported that Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan on February 27 called for "restraint and calm" to avoid further complicating the situation on the Korean Peninsula. "The most important thing now for the parties concerned is to remain calm and practice restraint, refraining from taking any action that will further escalate the situation," said Kong at a regular briefing. Dialogues between the US and the DPRK are the key to resolving the issue, he said, adding that the UN Security Council should adopt a cautious attitude and should not take actions that will complicate the matter. According to the report, Kong declined to say whether PRC plans to send a special envoy to the DPRK soon, but stressed that PRC has been playing an "active and constructive" role in resolving the stand-off. As for the US defense system, PRC has been advocating a new security system which features trust, reciprocity, equality and co-operation, said Kong in the report.

China Daily (Shao Zongwei, "FM REFUTES REPORTS OF DPRK MISSILE TEST," 02/26/03, P1) reported that Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan on February 25 refuted allegations that the reported missile fired in a test on February 24 by the DPRK came from PRC, saying that "the accusation is absolutely groundless and irresponsible" at a regular briefing. He said that PRC has taken "very strict" export-control measures on weapons of mass destruction (WMD), stressing that "China is a responsible country in this regard". PRC issued a regulation on the export-control of dual-use biological agents and related equipment and technologies and subjected lists last October, Kong said. "Peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula is of critical importance," said Kong, commenting on the current tension on the peninsula. "The peninsula should be free from nuclear weapons and efforts should be made to guarantee its non-nuclearization," he noted. Stressing the importance of direct talks between the US and the DPRK, Kong said that US proposal to resolve the issue multilaterally can only be done with consensus from all sides.

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2. PRC-Russian Ties on DPRK Issue

China Daily (Hu Qihua, "HOPES FOR PEACE STILL EXIST," 02/28/03, P1) reported that PRC and Russia have reaffirmed their pledge to seek political solutions to the DPRK nuclear issue. It reported that the visiting Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov met Chinese President Jiang Zemin, Vice-President Hu Jintao and Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan in Beijing on February 27. A joint press communique released the same day says an equal and constructive dialogue between the US and the DPRK will be of great significance to the normalization of relations between the two sides. Both sides are ready to actively push for a political solution to the DPRK nuclear issue "in the bilateral and multilateral arenas" so that peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region can be maintained, according to the communique. At the meeting, Tang and Ivanov called on all relevant parties to make necessary efforts to seek a peaceful and just resolution of the issue. On bilateral relations, leaders of both sides vowed to make intensive efforts to fully implement the Sino-Russian Good-Neighborly Treaty of Friendship and Co-operation for the healthy and steady development of such relations in the new century. Jiang said both countries should enhance co-operation in all fields, especially in the field of energy. Ivanov spoke highly of bilateral co-operation in all fields, stressing the consolidation of such co-operation under current circumstances. Russia's good-neighborly policy towards PRC is a strategic and historic choice that will be continued, he said.

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3. PRC's Commentary on US-DPRK Relations

China Daily (Hu Xuan, "BALL IN US COURT OVER DPRK ISSUE," 02/27/03, P4) carried an analyzing article saying that due to the huge gap in military strength between the US and the DPRK, the attitude of the stronger side - namely, the US - plays a decisive role in the current nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula. The article said that the trading of criticism and conflicting stances between DPRK and US has pushed the situation near to crisis point and brought the world to the brink of an abyss of uncertainty. A Korean Peninsula free of nuclear weapons is crucial to the security and stability of Northeast Asia as well as the world, however, US's rebuff of DPRK's repeated calls for direct talks contributes little to a peaceful solution of the issue, it commented. As the world's only remaining superpower, the US undoubtedly has more leverage in dealing with the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula. DPRK needs a guarantee for its national security and the crux of the issue is whether or not the US will give such a guarantee, it noted. The article at last commented that unless US changes its attitude towards DPRK and resumes direct talks, the situation on the Korean Peninsula will remain tense.

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4. ROK Attitude towards DPRK Issue and ROK-US Relations

China Daily ("ROK LEADER URGES ONE-ON-ONE TALKS," Seoul, 02/25/03, P12) reported that the ROK President Kim Dae-jung called on US on February 24 to hold one-on-one talks with DPRK to resolve the nuclear issue as the US sought PRC's backing for a multilateral approach. "More than anything, dialogue between the DPRK and the United States is the important key to a solution," Kim said in a speech to the country on his last day in office. After his talks in Beijing, US Secretary of State Colin Powell arrived in ROK on February 24 to attend the inauguration of President-elect Roh Moo-hyun and hold talks with the new leader on the DPRK's suspected nuclear ambitions. Powell is scheduled to hold talks with Roh and address a news conference today before returning to Washington, said the report.

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5. DPRK's Response to US-ROK Military Maneuver

People's Daily (Zhao Jiaming, "DPRK ATTACKS US-ROK MILITARY DRILLS," Pyongyang, 02/27/03, P3) reported that the DPRK's official Rodong Sinmun newspaper that DPRK Foreign Ministry spokesman said on February 25 that the upcoming US-ROK's war exercises is a part of the policy to throttle DPRK with force, and DPRK will defend itself with all means. The spokesman noted that the annual drills were designed to create a crisis atmosphere in the Korean Peninsula, therefore, DPRK's military side and people should made preparations to defense themselves with all means. US must be wholly responsible for all possible results derived from its own actions, he added in the report.

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6. PRC-ROK Ties

China Daily (Guo Nei, "SINO-ROK TIES REINFORCED," 02/25/03, P2) reported that Kim Dae-jung, out-going president of the ROK, met with visiting Chinese Vice-Premier Qian Qichen in the presidential office, Cheong Wa Dae, on February 24, agreeing the two countries should continue efforts to improve bilateral ties in the new century. Qian conveyed greetings from Chinese President Jiang Zemin to his Korean counterpart, speaking highly of Kim's years of efforts to the development of friendship between the two countries. PRC has always attached great importance to relations with the ROK and appreciated the reconciliation policy adopted by President Kim Dae-jung, which improves the situation in the Korean Peninsula, Qian said. He reiterated PRC's insistence on a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula and stressed that the issue should be settled peacefully through dialogue. Meanwhile, Kim Dae-jung said he was satisfied with the progress made in bilateral ties in various areas and believed that incoming President Roh Moo-hyun will continue to promote friendship between the two countries, according to the report.

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7. DPRK-US Relations

China Daily ("DPRK WARNS OF 'HORRIFYING' NUCLEAR DISASTERS," Seoul, 03/03/03, P12) reported that the DPRK on March 2 accused US intelligence of staging a secret drill for a surprise attack on its nuclear facility and warned that an attack would trigger "horrifying nuclear disasters." Rodong Sinmun, the DPRK's ruling Workers Party newspaper, argued the US was pushing ahead with "actual military actions that came in accordance with the second Korean war scenario of aggression." The report said that tensions along the world's last remaining Cold War frontier escalated last week after US's announcement that the DPRK had restarted a five-megawatt reactor capable of producing weapons-grade plutonium. Rodong said its armed forces were ready to "mercilessly wipe out" a war of aggression. US Joint Chief of Staff Chairman Richard Myers reportedly said the US maintains and updates all military options - including preemptive nuclear attacks - against the DPRK. Yonhap news agency, however, said the same day that the ROK government dismissed talk of a US plan to attack the North as "not true." In a speech on March 1, new ROK President Roh Moo-Hyun warned of "horrible consequences" unless the nuclear stand-off was resolved peacefully, said the report.

People's Daily (Zhao Jiaming, "DPRK INSISTS ON DIRECT TALK WITH US," Pyongyang, 03/02/03, P3) reported that the spokesman of DPRK's Foreign Ministry said on February 28 that US should hold dialogue with DPRK to resolve the nuclear crisis. He noted that it will be the most rational way to resolve the issue through direct talk, since DPRK and US are the two main roles concerned in this issue, said the report.

People's Daily ("DPRK ACCUSES US OF ENCROACHING ON AIRSPACE," Beijing, 02/28/03, P3) reported that the US military committed encroachment on the airspace of the DPRK on February 24, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on February 25. Supported by a KC-135 tanker aircraft, a RC-135 reconnaissance plane of the US military, which flew from an overseas base, encroached upon the airspace above the territorial waters, which is an obvious aggression of DPRK's sovereignty and violation of the intentional law, and "we warn of adopting firm self-defense," said the official news agency.

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8. US-Russian Relations

People's Daily (Dong Longjiang, "RUSSIA AGAIN REFUSED US'S REQUIREMENT," Moscow, 02/27/03, P3) reported that Russian Ministry of Resources spokesman on February 25 said that Russia refused again the requirement of ceasing nuclear cooperation with Iran when meeting with visiting US Under secretary of State John Bolton. Russia said the project that aids Iran building nuclear station is under stern supervision of IAEA.

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9. PRC-US Relations

China Daily (Hu Mengwei, "LEADERS DISCUSS DPRK, IRAQ ISSUES WITH POWELL," 02/25/03, P1) reported that during his meeting with Chinese counterpart Tang Jiaxuan, visiting US Secretary of State Colin Powell said dialogue between the US and DPRK was necessary, but the involvement of the international community and the role of multilateral mechanisms were indispensable. The report said that Powell, who is on his second stop of a diplomatic tour to Japan, PRC and ROK, also met separately with senior Chinese leaders on February 24 including President Jiang Zemin and Vice-President Hu Jintao. Hu and Tang said PRC maintains that the Korean Peninsula should be free of nuclear weapons, stressing peace and stability should be safeguarded. Tang indicated that PRC hopes to see the US and DPRK hold talks on an equal footing as soon as possible. At a press conference held in Beijing, Powell said the US and PRC "share the goal of the diplomatic and peaceful resolution" to the DPRK nuclear issue, said the report.

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10. Across-Straits Relations

China Daily (Xing Zhigang, "TAIPEI'S REFUSAL OF ONE-CHINA PRINCIPLE SABOTAGES TALKS," 02/27/03, P1) reported that Beijing on February 26 ruled out the possibility of resuming semi-official talks across the Taiwan Straits due to Taipei's refusal to accept the one-China principle. Zhang Mingqing, spokesman with Taiwan Affairs office of the State Council, said no contact has been planned so far this year between top envoys from the mainland's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) and the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) on the island. Zhang stressed the mainland has the utmost sincerity and kindness in restarting cross-Straits dialogue on the basis of the one-China principle and the 1992 consensus. "The contact and negotiations between ARATS and SEF can be jump-started at once as long as the Taiwan authorities explicitly embrace the one-China principle and the 1992 consensus," Zhang said in the report.

IV. Japan

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1. Japan on War against Iraq

The Japan Times ("PUBLIC-PRIVATE FORUM BACKS U.S. IRAQ STANCE," 02/21/03) reported that members of the Japan Forum on International Relations (JFIR), a public-private proposal group, issued an appeal supporting the US stance on the Iraqi crisis. The appeal is signed by 39 JFIR members, including Kazuo Aichi, former director general of the Defense Agency; Koji Kakizawa, a former foreign minister; Kenichi Ito, JFIR president; and Takashi Imai, JFIR chairman and honorary chairman of the Japan Business Federation. The appeal calls on Japan to strengthen the Japan-US alliance and give clear-cut support to the US position. It also urges close cooperation between Japan and the US in the North Korea crisis.

The Japan Times ("TOKYO TAKING FLAK FOR APPARENT BACKING OF U.S. ATTACK ON IRAQ," 02/22/03) reported that the Japanese government has been deflecting a growing amount of criticism, even from within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), since it came out in clear support of adopting a new resolution against Iraq at the UN Security Council. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda, however, told a news conference that Japan's speech at the Security Council did not indicate support of an US-led military offensive against Iraq. "Adopting a new resolution means that the international community will speak in one voice," said a visibly irritated Fukuda when asked about criticism that has arisen within the LDP. "We are not saying we support a military strike." Fukuda, however, skirted the point that a new resolution would be designed to give UN authorization for the use of force against Iraq. Meanwhile, Shizuka Kamei, a former LDP policy chief, lashed out against the speech given by Ambassador to the UN Koichi Haraguchi, saying it gave premature support for the US position. "Telling other countries to support the US stance is a backdoor strategy. (Japan) should advise the US to exhaust all other options before resorting to the use of force," Kamei, one of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's most vocal critics within the LDP, reportedly said at a meeting of his party faction. Other veteran LDP politicians, including Mitsuo Horiuchi, chairman of the party's Executive Council, also expressed concern over the speech. "Do we need to publicly say such a thing at this stage?" Horiuchi asked, adding that diplomatic efforts should be furthered before Japan states its position.

The Japan Times ("KAWAGUCHI BACKS NEW IRAQ PROPOSAL," 02/26/03) reported that Japanese foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi expressed support last Tuesday for a resolution submitted to the UN Security Council by the US and Britain that seeks the green light for military strikes against Iraq, stressing the need for the international community to apply diplomatic pressure on Iraq. "It is part of the last diplomatic effort to pressure (Iraq) amid a serious situation," Kawaguchi told reporters. "(The government) supports the resolution from the standpoint of putting diplomatic pressure through the coordination of the international community." She noted that Japan will closely watch whether Iraq is willing to cooperate and pro-actively provide evidence to UN inspectors.

The Japan Times ("TOKYO TO SEND ENVOY TO IRAQ IN ZERO-HOUR DIPLOMACY BID," 02/27/03) reported that Japan will send its senior vice foreign minister as a special envoy to Iraq as part of a last-ditch diplomatic effort to get Iraq to give up its weapons of mass destruction program, government leaders said last Wednesday. "We plan to urge Iraq to cooperate with the United Nations inspectors so that it can avoid a war," Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said. Toshimitsu Motegi will leave for Baghdad over the weekend, government officials said, adding that he will also travel to Jordan. Japan has until now been cautious about sending an envoy to Baghdad out of concerns that the occasion may be used by Iraq to claim it is complying with UN inspections. However, the government apparently decided to step up its diplomatic activities now that it has voiced clear support for a new draft resolution presented on Feb. 24 to the UN Security Council by the US, Britain and Spain. The government will also send former foreign ministers as special envoys to neighboring countries of Iraq to exchange opinions on the situation and urge them to call on Saddam Hussein to comply with the UN resolutions, Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi said. Masahiko Komura will be dispatched to Saudi Arabia and Egypt while Taro Nakayama will visit Turkey and Syria, which is currently a nonpermanent member of the UN Security Council. Also, Tatsuo Arima, a former special assistant to the foreign minister, will be dispatched to Israel, including the Palestinian-controlled area, and Egypt to discuss the Middle East peace process. In a meeting with visiting Belgium Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt later in the day, Koizumi said Japan is trying to step up diplomatic efforts to urge Iraq to comply with UN resolutions to avert a military conflict. Belgium is siding with France and Germany in calling for more inspections.

The Japan Times ("JAPAN WON'T PAY FOR IRAQ WAR: LDP EXEC," 02/27/03) reported that a top executive of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) on last Wednesday ruled out the possibility of Japan shouldering the financial cost of a possible US-led war against Iraq as it did in the 1991 Persian Gulf War. The executive also said the US understands Japan's stance and will not ask for financial assistance. "We haven't received any request (for financial help) and neither will we," said the LDP lawmaker, who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity. He did not elaborate on the reasons. But unlike at the time of the Gulf War, the Japanese government is now saddled with huge debts amid the deep-seated economic slump, and public polls have shown a majority of the public is opposed to a war without UN authorization. The LDP executive also said Japan is willing to offer aid to postwar reconstruction efforts of Iraq should a war occur. But he quickly added that Japan is now making efforts to avoid war, and that nothing concrete on postwar aid has been decided.

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2. Koizumi on Peace Rally

The Japan Times ("KOIZUMI ATTACKS GLOBAL ANTIWAR RALLIES," 02/18/03) reported that Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi condemned rallies staged worldwide against a threatened US-led attack on Iraq, saying they could send the wrong message to Iraq. "We have to be careful not to send the wrong message that Iraq is in the right," Koizumi said when asked by reporters what he felt about the protests. "The ball is in Iraq's court," Koizumi said. "We have to send the message that they must cooperate with the international community." Meanwhile, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda said the protesters are marching as if a military attack has already been decided. "A peaceful solution is the best way to go, but whether that will be possible depends on whether Iraq decides (to give up its weapons)."

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3. Japan on Missile Defense

The Japan Times ("LINKS TO ACADEMIA NEEDED ON MISSILE SHIELD PLAN: ISHIBA," 02/19/03) reported that the Japanese government should work more closely with university-based research institutes on the missile shield project it is pursuing with the US, Defense Agency chief Shigeru Ishiba said before the House of Representatives Budget Committee. He criticized the atmosphere at universities and other research organizations, which he characterized as aloof toward the defense community. "It looks as if they believe that they should not interact with what the Defense Agency is doing, or that there should be no interaction between the academic and the defense circles," Ishiba said. The defense chief's remarks came after a New Komeito lawmaker suggested that the government's next basic plan on science and technology include defense research and development involving the state, industry and academia. Ishiba also suggested that a giant structure floating at sea could be used by US Navy planes off the carrier USS Kitty Hawk as an alternative night landing practice site instead of the Atsugi Naval Air Facility in Kanagawa Prefecture.

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4. Illegal Remittance for Building Nuclear Arsenal

The Japan Times ("FUNDS SENT BY IRANIANS TIED TO DEALS FOR WEAPONS," 02/22/03) reported that two Iranian men remitted money to several countries from Japan between 2000 and 2002 that may have been spent on the development of nuclear weapons and missiles, according to police. The Metropolitan Police Department said it has confirmed through several investigative organizations abroad that the men remitted money to five bank accounts in five countries in the Middle East, Asia and Europe. The accounts are in individuals' names and those of trading firms linked to people with ties to terrorist organizations, according to police. Using these accounts, the Iranians remitted several million yen between 2000 and fall 2002. The money was "highly likely" to have been used for nuclear and missile development programs, police said. They said another bank account in Europe is suspected of having been used for money laundering. The two men were arrested in November on suspicion of remitting money abroad in the names of other people.

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5. Japan Nuclear Power Industry

The Japan Times ("AGENCY CALLS FOR REPAIR OF REACTOR CRACKS," 02/27/03) reported that cracked pipes in nuclear reactors owned by three Japanese power utilities must be repaired or replaced before the reactors are put back into operation, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said. The agency, which is supervised by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, issued a report saying that the present method of examining reactors for fractures needs to be improved so the precise depth of the cracks can be gauged. Fractures were found in pipes at five reactors belonging to Tokyo Electric Power Co., one belonging to Tohoku Electric Power Co. and three run by Chubu Electric Power Co., according to agency officials. At the same time, however, the agency drew up a policy basically allowing reactors to be restarted without repairing minor fractures, provided the cracks can be measured precisely and safety can be guaranteed for five years even if the fissures widen, the officials said.

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Produced by the Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainable Development in partnership with:

Ilmin Internationl Relations Institute
BK21 The Education and Research Corps for East Asian Studies
Department of Political Science, Korea University, Seoul, Republic of Korea

Center for American Studies,
Fudan University, Shanghai, People's Republic of China

International Peace Research Institute (PRIME),
Meiji Gakuin University, Tokyo, Japan

Monash Asia Institute,
Monash University, Clayton, Australia

Brandon Yu:
Berkeley, California, United States

Timothy L. Savage:
Berkeley, California, United States

Kim Young-soo:
Seoul, Republic of Korea

Hibiki Yamaguchi:
Tokyo, Japan

Saiko Iwata:
Tokyo, Japan

Hiroya Takagi:
Tokyo, Japan

Peter Razvin:
Moscow, Russian Federation

Wu Chunsi:
Shanghai, People's Republic of China

Dingli Shen:
Shanghai, People's Republic of China

John McKay:
Clayton, Australia

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