NAPSNet Daily Report
thursday, april 3, 2003

I. United States

II. Japan III. CanKor E-Clipping

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I. United States

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1. Japan Air Missile Defense System

The Japan Times ("KOIZUMI OPEN TO UPGRADE OF AIR-DEFENSE MISSILE SYSTEM," 04/03/03) reported that Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi indicated Thursday his government and the ruling bloc should discuss upgrading the nation's air-defense missile system, including possible deployment of an advanced version of the Patriot system. "I expect lawmakers close to defense policy and (officials of) the Defense Agency to thoroughly discuss" how to deal with the intensifying threat of DPRK missiles, Koizumi told reporters at his official residence. But he offered no timetable on when he wants the government to make a decision on the Patriot PAC-3 system developed by the US. The PAC-3 is the latest generation of the Patriot missile, which is designed to destroy ballistic missiles and hostile aircraft. It is an updated version of the PAC-2 system currently used by the Air Self-Defense Force. Koizumi said he hopes defense experts step up discussions about whether introducing the PAC-3 system is realistic in light of Japan's security policy focused on self-defense.

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2. UN DPRK Debate

BBC News ("UN TO DEBATE NORTH KOREA," 04/03/03) The United Nations Security Council is to debate the DPRK nuclear crisis for the first time next week. It announced the April 9, 2003 date on Wednesday after weeks of lobbying by the US and resistance by the PRC. Members of the 15-strong body hammered out the decision at a four-hour closed session in New York. "We have decided we would have consultations, but I don't know what will be accomplished," the Chinese Ambassador to the UN, Wang Yingfan, said after the meeting. For the US, Ambassador John Negroponte confirmed that "consultations" would be held in a week's time. "You'll just have to wait to see the outcome," he told reporters. The US and its regional allies are concerned at the security implications of Pyongyang's recent re-launch of its nuclear program. The PRC has been calling on the US to hold direct talks with the DPRK.

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3. ROK on DPRK Nuclear Situation

The Associated Press (Jae-Suk Yoo, "SOUTH KOREA URGES NORTH KOREA TO STAY IN TALKS," Seoul, 04/03/03) reported that the ROK's president on Thursday urged North Korea to take part in talks amid fears it may pull out of a Cabinet-level meeting next week aimed at reducing tensions. ROK officials have said they hope to use the talks, scheduled for next Monday to Thursday, to try to persuade the DPRK to give up its nuclear ambitions in return for aid and better ties with the outside world. The DPRK called off two lower-level meetings with the ROK last week. The ROK fears it may also cancel the Cabinet-level talks, Unification Ministry spokesman Kim Jung-ro said. "Mutual efforts are important. The DPRK must sincerely talk with the ROK with an open attitude," President Roh Moo-hyun was quoted as saying by his chief spokeswoman. The president's comments came shortly after diplomats in New York said the U.N. Security Council would meet next Wednesday to discuss the crisis over the DPRK's suspected nuclear weapons program. The PRC expressed hope that the talks will lead to a political solution. But a senior ROK Foreign Ministry official in Seoul downplayed expectations of a breakthrough. "The members are just meeting to exchange their thoughts on how to go about resolving this issue," said Chun Young-woo, the ministry's director of disarmament and nuclear energy. If a solution is not found, the council could eventually discuss imposing sanctions against the DPRK.

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4. DPRK on ROK Involvement in US-led War on Iraq

The Associated Press (Jae-Suk Yoo, "NORTH KOREA CHIDES SOUTH KOREA IRAQ DEPLOYMENT," Seoul, 04/03/03) reported that the DPRK has condemned the ROK's decision to send non-combat troops to help the U.S.-led war in Iraq as a "criminal act" that will heighten tension on the Korean Peninsula, a news agency said. "The dispatch is a criminal act that further imperils the situation on the Korean Peninsula," the ROK's Yonhap news agency quoted the DPRK's Central Television Broadcast as saying late Wednesday. The broadcast came hours after the ROK parliament Wednesday authorized the deployment of 600 South Korean military engineers and 100 medics in the Gulf. "It is like supporting and cooperating with a U.S. imperialist war against North Korea," the broadcast said, referring to the DPRK's claims that the US is plotting to invade the communist state after Iraq because of the DPRK's suspected nuclear weapons programs. The broadcast praised anti-Iraq-war protests in the ROK as "righteous and patriotic," Yonhap said.

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5. ROK US-Led War in Iraq Troops

The New York Times (Howard W. French, "SOUTH KOREA AGREES TO SEND TROOPS TO IRAQ," Seoul, 04/03/03) reported that ending several days of bitter stalemate, the ROK's Parliament today approved a plan to send 700 soldiers to Iraq to take part in the reconstruction effort there. The parliamentary approval, which was blocked last week, was won only after a remarkable speech by South Korea's new president, Roh Moo Hyun, in which he pleaded with members of his own Millennium Democratic Party, saying that "realism" required his country to support the US. "I decided to dispatch troops, despite ongoing antiwar protests, because of the fate of our country and the people," Roh told the National Assembly. "In order to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue peacefully, it is important to maintain strong cooperation with the US." Political analysts here described Roh's decision to push for the troop deployment, despite his own antiwar views and public opposition to the war, as part of a shrewd but risky bid to preserve the alliance with the US.

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6. SARS Virus

The Washington Post (Rob Stein, "WHO TELLS TRAVELERS TO AVOID HONG KONG, CHINA UN GROUP TAKES UNPRECEDENTED STEP TO STEM EPIDEMIC," 04/03/03) reported that the World Health Organization yesterday took the unprecedented step of warning travelers to stay away from Hong Kong and China's Guangdong province because an epidemic of a dangerous new lung infection is still spreading mysteriously there. It was the first time in its 55-year history that the Geneva-based United Nations body has cautioned people not to travel to a specific location because of a disease. WHO, which previously had issued travel advisories only because of war or other conflicts, was hesitant to take the step because it was expected to have serious economic consequences, especially for the financial center of Hong Kong. Officials said they felt compelled to take the drastic measure because the epidemic remains out of control and is being transmitted in ways that have surprised and stymied scientists. In addition, there is no vaccine to protect people and no sure way to treat victims of the illness, which can be fatal.

The Washington Post (John Pomfret, "CHINA'S SLOW REACTION TO FAST-MOVING ILLNESS FEARING LOSS OF CONTROL, BEIJING STONEWALLED," Beijing, 04/03/03) reported that in the southern province of Guangdong, the health department received a "top secret" document from a government health committee on January 27 that contained disturbing information about a new pneumonia-like illness spreading in the region, according to medical specialists and provincial health officials. Instead of declaring a health emergency, they said, the health department did nothing. For three days, the document sat unopened because there was no one with sufficient security clearance to open it, according to health department sources with direct knowledge of the case. When authorized officials finally read the document, a bulletin was sent to hospitals across the province. But few health care workers were alerted because most were on vacation for the Chinese New Year, they recalled. In the meantime, the illness, known as severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, was infecting hundreds of patients, moving throughout the PRC and spreading to Hong Kong and 16 other countries. PRC officials waited more than three months to acknowledge the extent of the illness, which has now affected at least 2,223 people worldwide and killed 78. Only today did the PRC government agree to allow World Health Organization researchers to travel to Guangdong and investigate the illness, more than two months after the secret document was issued and four months after they first received word of the troubling new disease.

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7. PRC on SARS Virus

The Associated Press (Christopher Bodeen, "CHINA'S HEALTH MINISTER: THE COUNTRY IS SAFE," Beijing, 04/03/03) reported that the PRC's health minister insisted Thursday that the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome was "under effective control" and asked people who had canceled travel to reconsider - despite the 46 deaths in his country from the illness. PRC Health Minister Zhang Wenkang's exhortation directly contradicted a World Health Organization advisory suggesting that travelers avoid the southern province of Guangdong, where SARS is believed to have originated. At a packed news conference, Zhang escalated the PRC's two-day-old attempt at damage control after more than a week of growing criticism about how his government has handled the SARS outbreak. "I say to you here, as Minister of Public Health, that the epidemic of atypical pneumonia has been put under effective control in regions of China," Zhang said. Asked if his motivations were economic, Zhang said they were not. "I'm not an agent for an airline trying to sell plane tickets to travel in China," he said. But he implored businesspeople and groups who have canceled trips here to rethink matters.

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8. DPRK PRC Defections

The Associated Press ("270 NORTH KOREANS DEFECTED TO SOUTH KOREA IN PAST THREE MONTHS," Seoul, 04/03/03) reported that a total of 270 DPRK asylum seekers have defected to the ROK from January to March this year, a 26 percent increase from the same period last year, the ROK's Unification Ministry said Thursday. The ministry expects the number to rise this year because thousands of DPRK refugees are believed to be living in hiding in the PRC, seeking a chance to come to the ROK. In the first three months of last year, 214 DPRK defectors traveled to the ROK, a ministry official said. Most of the defectors came to the ROK via the PRC. Last year, 1,141 DPRK citizens defected to the ROK, up from 583 in 2001, 312 in 2000 and 148 in 1999.

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9. US Japan Base Explosions

BBC News ("EXPLOSIONS AT US BASE IN JAPAN," 04/03/03) reported that there have been two explosions outside a US airbase in the Japanese city of Yokohama. Police say the blasts occurred around the main gate of the Atsugi base in the Kanagawa area of the city. Militants opposed to the war in Iraq are suspected of planting the devices, officials say. There were no reports of casualties or damage. Police said they found two steel pipes at a school near the military base which might have been used to fire projectiles. Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has been a vocal supporter of US military action in Japan, although polls show more than 60% of Japanese oppose the war.

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10. PRC US Human Rights Abuse

BBC News ("CHINA CRITICISES US 'RIGHTS ABUSES,'" 04/03/03) The PRC Government has published a report attacking the US for its human rights practices both at home and abroad, according to the official Xinhua news agency. The report accuses the US of criticising other countries while turning a blind eye to its own human rights violations, such as its current attack on Iraq. The PRC report comes just days after the US state department published its own annual assessment of the human rights situation in 196 countries around the world. That report included criticism of the PRC, particularly its treatment of the Falun Gong spiritual movement. PRC foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said the US should think more about its own problems and stop intervening in other countries' domestic affairs, according to Xinhua. 'Violations' The report, published by the PRC's State Council, points to problem areas in the US such as violent crime, poverty and sexual abuse. According to the official People's Daily newspaper, the report says the US war against Iraq openly violates the purpose and principle of the United Nations Charter. The publication -the Human Rights Record of the US in 2002 - also says rights in the US have been challenged since the 11 September 2001 attacks. It says US law enforcement agencies now have greater powers to monitor their own citizens. There have also been restrictions on press freedom since September 11, 2001 and a rise in racial discrimination, particularly against Muslims and Arabs, it claims.

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11. DMZ Intimidation

The Associated Press (Daniel Cooney, "SOLDIERS IN KOREAS' DMZ USE INTIMIDATION," Panmunjom, Korea, 04/03/03) reported that a DPRK soldier reaches for his sidearm as if to pull it from its holster, but doesn't. He then flicks a finger across his neck in a throat-slashing gesture at ROK soldiers. Such attempts to intimidate are regular these days for DPRK soldiers who face off against ROK and a small number of U.S. soldiers in the demilitarized zone that divides the Korean Peninsula, according to U.S. Army Lt. Col. Matthew Margotta. ROK troops also posture. Just feet from the DPRK soldiers in Panmunjom, a military village that straddles the border, the ROK's soldiers stand in taekwondo poses, ready to fight - legs apart, arms bent and fists clenched. They wear aviator sunglasses with reflective lenses to "try to intimidate the North Koreans," said U.S. Specialist Jonathan Butts. Though such antagonistic behavior has not been uncommon as relations have ebbed and spiked on the Korean Peninsula ever since the 1950-53 Korean War, it is indicative of current tension.

II. Japan

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1. Japan Offensive Military System

The Japan Times ("STRENGTHENING MILITARY IS WORTH DISCUSSING: ABE," 03/31/03) reported that the prospect of boosting Japan's military capabilities is worth discussing, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe said Sunday. Referring to a proposal put forth by the Defense Agency chief Shigeru Ishiba, Abe said on a Fuji TV interview show: "It would be natural for us to debate the scope of defense Japan should have based on our defense-oriented policy, given advancing weapons technology, tactics and strategy." He added, however, that such discussions would not result in a change to Japan's exclusively defense-oriented policy. In the Fuji TV program, Ishiba said the government has no intention of changing Japan's defense-oriented policy. "We will keep intact the policy of leaving necessary strikes (to counter foreign attacks) to the United States," Ishiba said.

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2. Japan Foreign Ministry Reform

The Japan Times ("FOREIGN MINISTRY UNVEILS REFORM PLAN," 03/28/03) reported that the Japanese Foreign Ministry on March 27 unveiled a final reorganization report under which its consular department will be upgraded to a bureau. The status of the Consular and Migration Affairs Department will be upgraded in order to bolster efforts to secure the safety of a growing number Japanese nationals living or traveling overseas. The Treaties Bureau will be renamed the International Law Bureau, while new bodies such as a peace-building adjustment committee and a task force on global issues will be created, according to the report.

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3. Japan-Indonesia ODA Lawsuit

The Japan Times ("SUMATRA PLAINTIFFS REACH 8,400 IN SUIT OVER ODA-FUNDED DAM," 03/29/03) reported that some 4,500 residents of Sumatra Island in Indonesia joined 3,900 of their compatriots in a lawsuit over the disruption to their lives caused by a hydroelectric project funded with Japanese foreign aid. The suit was initially filed in September with the Tokyo District Court. The plaintiffs are seeking 42 billion yen in compensation, or 5 million yen each, from Japan, arguing that some 20,000 residents were forcibly resettled to areas without proper living amenities or job opportunities when the hydroelectric dam, funded with official development assistance, was completed in 1996. They said the Kotopanjang Dam, located in the middle of the island on the border between Riau and West Sumatra provinces, damaged their lives, culture and the environment, and is causing elephants, tigers and other rare animals to face starvation. The defendants in the suit are the Japanese government; its foreign assistance body, the Japan International Cooperation Agency; the Japan Bank for International Cooperation; and Tokyo Electric Power Services Co., an affiliate of Tokyo Electric Power Co. The lawyers and supporters of the plaintiffs said they expect the lawsuit, the first of its kind, to be an opportunity for the nation to rethink its approach to ODA, which they believe benefits only Japanese consulting firms and construction companies involved in ODA-funded development projects, while residents of recipient countries have been left in many cases without any improvement in their living conditions. A senior Foreign Ministry official said Japan has supported talks between Indonesian authorities and the residents to satisfy their needs, which include safe drinking water and job opportunities. The talks are progressing, he said.

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4. Japan Nuclear Power Reactor

The Japan Times ("HIRANUMA WANTS REACTORS RESTARTED," 03/29/03) reported that Japanese industry minister Takeo Hiranuma indicated he wants nuclear reactors that have suspended operations for safety tests to be restarted to avoid power shortages in the summer. Hiranuma, head of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, said, "Winning the understanding of local residents will be a basic premise" for restarting the reactors, which were shut down following a cover-up scandal over safety-check reports. Fourteen of the 17 reactors in Niigata and Fukushima prefectures operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) have been suspended for inspections following the discovery last August that the company had covered up reactor defects, including fractures in the facilities' shrouds. The remaining reactors are scheduled to be shut down by mid-April for safety checks. The 17 reactors, which generate a combined 17 million kw, provide 40 percent of the electricity needs for the Tokyo area.

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5. IMF on Japanese Economy

Kyodo ("IMF SEES URGENT NEED FOR REFORM OF BANKS, FIRMS," Washington, 03/28/03) reported that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said that restructuring of the Japanese banking and corporate sectors is "urgently needed," as the global financial system remains vulnerable to possible adverse effects of the war in Iraq. "Japan's banking system has deteriorated in an environment of continued deflation and limited corporate restructuring, despite recent efforts by banks to raise capital," the IMF said in its Global Financial Stability Report. The IMF indirectly urged Japan to prompt nonviable banks and companies to go out of business and help viable banks and companies to improve their competitiveness. Aggressive liquidity support by the Bank of Japan and a possible injection of public funds in the worst case would most likely mitigate any financial system crisis in the near term, it said. The IMF also said Japanese life insurance companies have been under "intense pressure," due mainly to the negative spread between guaranteed yields to policyholders and low returns on investment, including declining stock prices.

III. CanKor E-Clipping

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1. Issue #120

"Iraq now, North Korea next?" That was the question on numerous placards at an anti-war demonstration in downtown Seoul on Saturday 29 March. Returning from his second visit in as many months, United Nations special envoy to the DPRK, Canadian Maurice Strong told of air raid drills that disrupt daily life routines in Pyongyang. "The Iraq war has really deepened their concern that they are next on the list," he says. "They look at it very seriously, as evidence that the US is actually following this policy of pre-emptive strike." Almost daily commentaries in recent weeks back that statement. The DPRK Workers' Party newspaper Rodong Sinmun said Friday 28 March "it is becoming certain that, in case the US imperialists' invasion of Iraq is successful, they will wage a new war of aggression on the Korean Peninsula." The war in Iraq is also used to justify "military first" policies, including the latest military spending increase, approved unanimously by the Supreme People's Assembly on Wednesday 26 March. This Special Edition of CanKor focuses on recent military movements and exercises, missile tests and satellite launches, arms build-ups and mid-air challenges that seem to justify North Korea's perception of an imminent military confrontation. But that conclusion is far from certain, as every country involved insists it has no intention of starting a war.

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