NAPSNet Daily Report
wednesday april 16, 2003

I. United States

II. Republic of Korea III. Japan

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I. United States

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1. DPRK-PRC-US Nuclear Talks

LA Times (Barbara Demick, "US REFOCUSES ATTENTION ON NORTH KOREA; TALKS PLANNED," Seoul, 04/16/03), the New York Times (David E. Sanger, "NORTH KOREANS AND US PLAN TALKS IN BEIJING NEXT WEEK," Washington, 04/16/03), the Washington Post (Karen DeYoung, "US, NORTH KOREA TO BEGIN TALKS CHINA WILL SERVE AS HOST OF EFFORT TO END STALEMATE," 04/16/03), BBC News ("BREAKTHROUGH ON NORTH KOREAN TALKS," 04/16/03) and Agence France-Presse ("US, CHINA, NORTH KOREA TO MEET ON NUCLEAR CRISIS NEXT WEEK IN BEIJING," 04/16/03) reported that high-ranking diplomats from the US, the PRC and the DPRK are to meet next week in Beijing for talks on a simmering nuclear crisis, a senior US official and diplomatic sources said. The meeting -- which will be the first direct high-level talks between the US and the DPRK since the crisis erupted in October -- appears to be a compromise between the US demand for multilateral discussions on the crisis and the DPRK's insistence on a one-on-one dialogue with the US. "We have succeeded in our efforts to establish a multilateral framework," the US official told AFP on condition of anonymity. However, the talks will be notable for the absence of Japan and the ROK, the sources said. The sources said that the DPRK has insisted that the three-way format was the only option it would accept. "This is an initial beginning of dialogue, we wanted them (the Japanese and ROKs) there but the DPRK was insistent that it only be the three," the senior US official said. The official said that an agreement on the three-way meeting had been brokered by the PRC in a "counter-proposal" to US suggestions for a larger group of participants presented to the DPRK. In the proposal, the PRC also agreed to take an active role in the talks, the sources said. US acceptance of the DPRK requirement seemed to signal a major concession but Secretary of State Colin Powell said earlier Tuesday that "ultimately" the concerns of all of the DPRK's neighbors would be addressed. "The one thing that is absolutely clear is that, at whatever level it starts and with whatever attendance it has to ultimately encompass the views and thoughts of all the neighbors in the region," Powell told reporters. In addition, the US "reserved the right" to add other participants to the talks as they continued, including Russia. Also US officials assured both the ROK and Japan that they would be consulted on a daily basis.

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2. Japan on DPRK-PRC-US Talks

The Japan Times (Kanako Takahara, "TOKYO WELCOMES PROPOSED DIALOGUE, HOPES TO BE INCLUDED IN FUTURE TALKS," 04/16/03) reported that Japan on Wednesday welcomed proposed trilateral talks between the DPRK, the US and the PRC over the DPRK's nuclear weapons development but called for its own inclusion in the future. The trilateral talks are reportedly scheduled for April 23 in Beijing. Japan has sought multilateral talks that would include Japan and the ROK. Japan accepted the latest development as the US said the two countries would be invited to participate in a future "full scale" dialogue, a senior Foreign Ministry official said. Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi welcomed the talks even if Japan is not taking part in them. "It's a good thing that a momentum for dialogue has emerged," Koizumi said Wednesday evening. "I welcome it because it's a result of behind-the-scenes negotiations by relevant countries." "The key task is to change the current situation," said a Foreign Ministry official in charge of Asian affairs. "We welcome any factor to alter it." On Friday, Japan, the ROK and the US will hold a meeting in Washington to adjust policies, Senior Vice Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said.

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3. US PRC Espionage Case

BBC News ("US COURT REFUSES CHINA 'SPY' BAIL," 04/16/03) reported that a woman who worked for the FBI and is accused of being a PRC spy has been refused bail by a US court. A judge in Los Angeles said Katrina Leung posed a potential risk to national security and had substantial financial assets overseas which increased the risk of her jumping bail. Leung, a 49-year-old Chinese-American businesswoman, is accused of stealing classified documents from an FBI agent with whom she had a long-term relationship. Correspondents say that the scandal could prove a great embarrassment to the FBI and the Republican party, with whom Leung - a Los Angeles socialite - had close links. The businesswoman denies the charges, arguing that the FBI knew about all the documents she passed on. Assistant US Attorney Rebecca Lonergan said during the bail hearing on Tuesday that Leung and her husband had access to "huge amounts of money" - reportedly around $1m in 16 bank accounts and $2m in property. Prosecutors said in court documents that Leung claimed to have more than 2,100 contacts with senior PRC officials. But Leung's lawyer, Janet Levine, dismissed suspicions that her client would flee, arguing that after 20 years as an agent for the FBI "the best she could hope for (in China) is life in prison and more likely she would be killed". Levine said that Leung was a "loyal American" who had been exploited by her employers. "There was no indication she passed anything on without the complicity and knowledge of the FBI," Levine said. "That was the strategy decision of the FBI - to give her documents, to have her pass them on."

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4. ROK on UN DPRK Human Rights Vote

Agence France-Presse ("SOUTH KOREA SHUNS SENSITIVE UN VOTE ON NORTH'S HUMAN RIGHTS," 04/16/03) reported that the ROK's government announced it would abstain from a sensitive UN vote against the DPRK's human rights violations, sparking angry protest from the opposition and rights activists. The 53-member United Nations Human Rights Commission is to vote on a US-backed European Union resolution condemning the DPRK for the first time in Geneva later Wednesday. "We decided to abstain from the UN voting on North Korea today," Foreign Ministry spokesman Kim Sun-Heung told AFP. The spokesman said the abstention was part of the ROK's efforts to avoid angering the DPRK, which might derail efforts to end a stand-off over its nuclear ambitions. "At a time of seeking to urgently address the nuclear issue, we have concerns that it may be undesirable to publicly provoke North Korea," Kim said. "The UN resolution could not help ease the situation if North Korea overreacts to it. Pyongyang could take it as an insult on its sovereignty." But the ROK opposition Grand National Party, which controls the parliament, and human rights activists blasted the government's decision. "The abstention is such an unjust decision, a wrong step to show the government itself gives up its identity as a human rights advocate," GNP said in a statement.

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5. Japan DPRK Abductees

CNN News ("ABDUCTEES PLEA FOR JAPAN REUNION," Tokyo, 04/16/03) reported that a Japanese woman who returned home six months ago after decades of living in the DPRK urged Japan to resolve its dispute with Pyongyang so she could reunite with her US husband and two daughters. Hitomi Soga, one of the five Japanese who were allowed to come home after being kidnapped by DPRK spies in the late 1970s, was glad to be back but said she cannot enjoy life until she is reunited with her family. "Who will bring together my separated family, and when would that be?" she said in a brief statement to reporters. "Please give me back the true happiness of life as soon as possible." Soga's case is extremely complicated because her husband is an American, Charles Robert Jenkins. He is accused of deserting his US Army unit in 1965 to defect to the DPRK and faces possible extradition to the US if he returns to Tokyo. It is unclear whether the DPRK would let Jenkins go, partly because he is a potent symbol in its propaganda war with the US. Jenkins has written letters to Soga urging her to return home. Soga, frustrated by the standoff, urged the Japanese government to do more. "'Wait a little longer,' the Japanese government keeps telling me," she said. "But I need to see an outcome."

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6. US Senator on DPRK-US Direct Talks

The Washington File ("TEXT: SENATOR FEINSTEIN CALLS FOR DIRECT TALKS WITH NORTH KOREA," Washington, 04/16/03) reported that while the US has flexed its diplomatic and military muscle in Iraq over the past six months, too little has been done with regard to the DPRK, according to Senator Dianne Feinstein (Democrat of California). "North Korea, an isolated dictatorship, with a collapsed economy, controlled by its military, and in possession of nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them, represents a clear and present danger," Feinstein said in remarks on the Senate floor April 10. "North Korea is the 'black hole' of Northeast Asia."

Feinstein, a member of the Select Committee on Intelligence, noted that the DPRK economy is on the brink of collapse. The regime "may well find in the production of fissile material a new cash crop, ready for export," she said. "A failure to stop North Korea's nuclear program is sending a terrible message to other rogue states and to our friends and allies as well," Feinstein continued. Feinstein warned that a nuclear DPRK might push Japan and the ROK to increase their military capabilities and trigger a "region-wide cycle of escalation." Direct negotiations with the DPRK, Feinstein said, provide the only tolerable solution. In return for DPRK termination of their nuclear weapons program, she suggested, the international community could offer the DPRK "several relatively modest nonnuclear energy sector initiatives." These initiatives, Feinstein said, "would provide for a stable energy sector for North Korea in the near and intermediate term."

For the text of Feinstein's full statement:

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7. Japan US POW Compensation

The Wasington File, "TEXT: BILL CALLS ON JAPAN TO COMPENSATE US POWS," Washington, 04/16/03) reported that Representative Dana Rohrabacher (Republican of California) introduced a bill to the House of Representatives April 9 calling on Japan to pay members of the U.S. Armed Forces held as prisoners of war during World War II for "mistreatment or failure to pay wages in connection with labor performed in Japan." H.R. 1703 was referred to the House International Relations and House Judiciary Committees for action. According to the Treaty of Peace with Japan, signed in 1951, Japan agreed that if it entered into a war claims settlement agreement with any other country that provided terms "more beneficial" than those terms extended to the parties to the Treaty, those more favorable terms would be extended to each of the parties to the Treaty, including the US. Since the peace treaty was signed, H.R. 1703 noted, Japan has entered into more generous war claims settlement agreements with other countries "with respect to claims by nationals of those countries against Japanese nationals, allowing such claims to be pursued without limitation, restriction, or waiver or any type." Former U.S. Prisoners of War (POWs) from the war with Japan are therefore entitled to additional compensation from the Japanese government, the proposed bill says. Rohrabacher is a member of the House International Relations Committee.

For the full text of the bill:

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8. SARS Origin Breakthrough

BBC News ("BREAKTHROUGH IN SARS BATTLE," 04/16/03) reported that the mystery virus which has claimed the lives of more than 150 people worldwide is a new form of the common cold, scientists have confirmed. The World Health Organization said tests prove severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is a mutant form of the corona virus, the cause of the common cold. Officials at WHO hailed the discovery, saying it will allow scientists to concentrate on developing treatments and a potential cure for the deadly disease. SARS has affected over 3,000 people in more than 20 countries around the world. These latest tests were carried out by scientists at Erasmus University in Rotterdam, Netherlands. They are one of 13 laboratories from 10 countries working with the WHO to combat the virus. The scientists infected monkeys with the strain of the corona virus suspected of causing SARS. They found that the animals developed the same symptoms of the disease as humans. The test was a crucial step in verifying the cause of the disease. Although experts have thought that a new strain of the corona virus was the main cause of SARS, it has remained unclear whether infection with a second type of virus, the human metapneumovirus, makes the illness worse. Their tests were made possible by studies published last week, which suggested SARS was a new virus. Scientists from eight countries, including Germany and the US, found it was not consistent with any other known virus. They also carried out genetic tests on the virus, which found it was "only distantly related" to known corona viruses. David Heymann, executive director of WHO communicable diseases programs, hailed scientists' efforts to identify the virus. "The pace of SARS research has been astounding," he said. "Because of an extraordinary collaboration among laboratories from countries around the world, we now know with certainty what causes SARS."

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9. SARS PRC Under-estimation

The New York Times (Erik Eckholm, "EXPERTS SAY CHINA HAS GREATLY UNDERESTIMATED VIRUS CASES," Beijing, 04/16/03) and Reuters (Jonathan Ansfield, "WHO SAYS CHINA FAILS TO REPORT ALL SARS CASES," Beijing, 04/16/03) reported that PRC authorities have significantly understated the prevalence of severe acute respiratory syndrome in Beijing, international medical investigators said today. Cases are possibly now in the range of 100 to 200 rather than the 37 that were officially reported on Monday, they said. "My guess is that we are in the 100 to 200 range now," said Alan Schnur, an infectious disease expert from the World Health Organization's Beijing office who led the expert team on the outbreak, known as SARS. "We are not talking about a wild, out-of-control outbreak," Schnur said, noting that the city has a population in excess of 13 million. "But the systems for surveillance, investigating and reporting SARS cases are not good enough," he added, hampering effective control and creating uncertainty about the future course of the disease, which is fatal in about 4 percent of patients. A major problem with the Beijing data, the team discovered, is that, contrary to repeated assertions last week by senior national and city officials, the city's case reports have not included patients in hospitals run by the military, which serve both military families and civilians but do not answer to civilian health agencies. That revelation, which emerged from the team's visits on Tuesday to two major military hospitals, vindicated Dr. Jiang Yanyong, 71, a military surgeon who in an unusual protest letter said officials were not counting at least 60 SARS patients in military hospitals. He later told reporters that the number of overlooked patients surpassed 100. "We came to the conclusion that it was very credible," Henk Bekedam, resident representative of the W.H.O., said of Dr. Jiang's letter. Yet the experts said they are still prohibited from revealing the actual figures from military hospitals without special permission from the Defense Ministry. A second source of undercounting, the experts said, is that many cases have been labeled in local hospitals or district offices as "suspect" when the patients clearly had SARS. Beyond patients with confirmed or suspected SARS, Beijing's hospitals are holding more than 1,000 people in temporary quarantine for observation, the team was told.

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10. Japan Role in Post-War Iraq

Agence France-Presse ("JAPAN EYES DISPATCH OF STAFF TO INTERIM IRAQ ADMINISTRATION," Tokyo, 04/16/03) reported that Japan is considering sending bureaucrats to Iraq to join the planned US-led interim administration in the country, a foreign ministry official said. "We are considering sending government officials to Iraq to take part in procedures in establishing Iraq's interim administration," a foreign ministry official said. "But we are yet to be on the stage to announce further details such as the number of personnel or timing of their departure," the official said. Kyodo News said Tokyo now planned to send four or five bureaucrats from the Foreign Ministry, the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry and the Health, Labour and Welfare Ministry. Private-sector personnel may also take part in the mission to join the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA), a unit of the US Defence Department, Kyodo said, quoting government sources. The Japanese officials to be sent are expected to work in ORHA's departments dealing with humanitarian aid, reconstruction and civil administration, but not security, the sources said.

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11. Japan Energy Shortage

The LA Times ("17TH REACTOR SHUT DOWN, RAISING POWER CONCERNS FROM TIMES WIRE REPORTS," 04/16/03) reported that Tokyo's main power company shut down the last of its 17 nuclear reactors for safety checks, meaning the nation's capital may soon face its first blackouts in nearly two decades. Senior government officials voiced concern over the closures by Tokyo Electric Power Co. Japan gets about 30% of its energy from reactors, but the industry has been plagued by accidents. The safety review was ordered after the firm admitted covering up structural problems and obstructing inspections a decade ago.

II. Republic of Korea

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1. Summit after Nuclear Solution

Joongang Ilbo (Kang Min-seok, "ROH SETS TALKS PRIORITIES," Seoul, 04/16/03) reported that ROK president Roh Moo-hyun said Tuesday that a dialogue between DPRK and US is more immediately necessary than an inter-Korean summit with the DPRK leader, Kim Jong-il. Roh said, "The Korean leaders should meet after the North Korean nuclear issue is resolved, in order to eliminate legal barriers to inter-Korean cooperation and alleviate military confrontation." In an interview with the Munhwa Ilbo, an evening newspaper, Roh struck a reassuring note, saying, "At the end of the day, North Korea will give up its nukes and missiles." "Our role is to cooperate so that the North Korean system does not collapse in the event of an opening," he said. "Neighboring nations will guarantee security for North Korea and provide economic assistance so that the North will participate as a member of the international community." Roh also met with former US President George H. W. Bush Tuesday at the Blue House and entertained him at dinner. He repeated his two principles, that DPRK should not possess nuclear weapons and the issue must be solved peacefully.

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2. Talks with DPRK Near at Hand

Joongang Ilbo (Kim Young-sae, "NORTH TALKS EXPECTED IN 'DAYS'," Seoul, 04/16/03) reported that three days after DPRK offered a hint of softening its insistence on direct bilateral dialogue with US, ROK and US officials were optimistic that talks could get under way soon. US officials suggested that the wait is likely to be no more than "days" before there would be a better idea among the countries involved on what the format of the talks should be ? or even before some form of talks can begin. Testifying before the National Assembly committee on foreign affairs and unification, Foreign Minister Yoon Young-kwan said Tuesday that discussions involving DPRK should begin soon. US, he said, has adopted "a considerably flexible position" with regard to the format for discussions. In Washington, the deputy US State Department spokesman, Philip Reeker, said, "We'll just have to see where we go in the next few days." He reiterated an earlier response by the State Department to the comment out of DPRK by saying, "We are following up through appropriate diplomatic channels." In Seoul, the executive director of the Korean Energy Development Organization, Charles Kartman, was reported by Reuters saying that the first meeting was expected to take place quite soon ? within two weeks at the most.

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3. ROK Fertilizer Aids to DPRK

Joongang Ilbo ("FERTILIZER WILL BE SENT - IF NORTH ASKS FOR IT," Seoul, 04/16/03) reported that ROK plans to send 200,000 tons of fertilizer to DPRK as soon as possible. The aid project will cost 66 billion won ($55 million), including shipping expenses. "To send the fertilizer to the North in time for spring planting, we are consulting with other ministries," a Unification Ministry official said Tuesday. "Since the aid package is a humanitarian project, we will send it free of charge as soon as possible." The unification minister on Monday told a National Assembly committee that he believed in continuing fertilizer aid. "With about 300,000 tons of fertilizer, North Korea can increase food production by up to 600,000 tons," Jeong Se-hyun, the minister, said. "I believe it is good to provide about 200,000 tons of fertilizer this year ? similar to what we do in a normal year ? if the North requests it."

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4. ROK NGOs Giving Hands in Iraq

The Koreaherald (Kim Ji-ho," KOREAN NGOS CONTRIBUTING IN IRAQ," Seoul, 04/16/03) reported that ROK medical doctors and volunteers from various nongovernmental organizations are embarking on relief operations in Iraq, with the first groups scheduled to leave this weekend. Korea Food for the Hungry International (KFHI), a 40,000-member Christian organization, announced Tuesday that it will send 15 relief workers to either Baghdad or the southern Iraqi city of Basra on Saturday. The first squad will include seven medical staffers from Handong University's Sunlin Hospital and several members from other hospitals and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). They will join missionaries and other NGOs staying in Jordan or Kuwait before entering Iraq. Other Korean NGOs are also moving fast to extend a helping hand to the needy in Iraq. World Vision Korea said it will focus its relief operation on Iraqi children, carrying out such projects as psychological treatment for kids reeling from war-related disaster, as well as joining UN World Food Program operations. Good Neighbors, another local relief group, plans to dispatch a three-member pre-inspection team around April 24 and send approximately six medical staffers and aid workers to Baghdad.

III. Japan

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1. Japan's Role in Iraq Reconstruction

The Japan Times ("KAN VOICES CONCERN OVER AIDING IRAQ VIA U.S. BODY," 04/14/03) reported that Naoto Kan, president of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), expressed reserve Sunday about sending Japanese officials to the US Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA) to assist in the reconstruction of post-conflict Iraq. "The ORHA is a unit of the US Department of Defense," the leader of the nation's largest opposition party told a television program. "Conceptually, it appears to be impossible for Japanese government officials to be part of the body." Kan expressed concerns over Japan participating in the reconstruction of Iraq outside the framework of the UN. Ichiro Ozawa, leader of the opposition Liberal Party, said on the same program he also thinks the UN should play the central role in rebuilding Iraq.

Kyodo ("JAPAN'S POSTWAR AID UNDECIDED: SHIOKAWA," Washington, 04/14/03) reported that it is still too early to discuss the share of costs that Japan will shoulder for the post-conflict reconstruction of Iraq, Japanese Finance Minister Masajuro Shiokawa said Saturday. "We will wait until a decision is made on an international framework (for reconstruction efforts)," Shiokawa told a news conference. "I cannot comment on whether a supplementary budget would be necessary (for such funding)."

The Japan Times ("CONCERN MOUNTS OVER IRAQ MONEY CLAIMS," 04/14/03) reported that Japan is getting increasingly worried about whether it will be able to collect some $5 billion in claims against Iraq now that the government of President Saddam Hussein has effectively collapsed. Japan's claims against Iraq resulted from active plant and infrastructure construction by Japanese businesses in the 1970s and 1980s. Some firms were involved in building part of Hussein's presidential palaces, industry sources said. Of the $5 billion, about $3.6 billion is said to be related to trade insurance, with the creditor -- the independent administrative institute Nippon Export and Investment Insurance -- helping fix the amount. Japan also hopes to recover about $7.5 billion in losses incurred at the time of the 1991 Persian Gulf War, government sources said. The $7.5 billion in losses comprises assets lost by businesses and individuals during the war. Japan is trying to recover the losses by applying to the UN Compensation Committee, which was created to process claims and pay compensation for losses and damages suffered as a direct result of Iraq's unlawful invasion and occupation of Kuwait. Of the losses, only about $33 million has been paid back after assessment, the government sources said.

The Japan Times ("U.N. ROLE VITAL: POLL," 04/14/03) reported that almost 80 percent of Japanese think the UN should be the core of the reconstruction and postwar interim government of Iraq, according to a recent Kyodo News poll. Compared with the 78.6 percent who said the UN should lead the interim government and rebuilding operations in Iraq, only 16.7 percent thought the US should play the central role. On aid to reconstruction efforts, 29.3 percent said Japan should actively contribute, and 60.2 percent thought it should contribute to some extent. Only 6.4 percent said it is OK for Japan to make a small contribution, and 2 percent thought Japan does not have to contribute at all. On the deployment of Self-Defense Forces (SDF) to support the reconstruction of Iraq, 55.8 percent said they support such a dispatch. Support was down from 67.1 percent in the March survey. Meanwhile, those who oppose SDF deployment rose to 37.6 percent from 27 percent. Over half the pollees viewed as positive the ouster of Hussein's government by the US-led forces -- 12.5 percent greatly praised the result and 42.7 percent did so to some extent. On the other hand, 29.1 percent fell short of evaluating it positively, while 12.9 percent did not see it as positive. Respondents who positively evaluated the Japan's support of the US military action rose by 8 percentage points from the March poll to 49.7 percent. That figure exceeded the 42.9 percent who did not see such support as positive. More than 60 percent of the poll's respondents think Japan's foreign policy should place priority on the UN. This was almost double the 30.4 percent who said Japan's alliance with the US should come first. Meanwhile, support for Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's Cabinet rose slightly to 46.3 percent. That is 3 percentage points higher than in the previous poll, which was held immediately after the start of the US-led invasion of Iraq. Kyodo News conducted the two-day random telephone survey on 1,412 households with eligible voters and received 1,008 valid responses.

Kyodo ("LDP'S NONAKA OPPOSED TO SENDING SDF TO POSTWAR IRAQ," Tokyo, 04/14/03) reported that Hiromu Nonaka, former secretary general of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), expressed his opposition Monday to sending Japanese troops to Iraq to help in the country's postwar rehabilitation. "Even if it's called reconstruction, it's still part of an occupation policy...There are various ways to support (Iraq), and involvement by personnel in occupation policies should be strictly avoided," Nonaka said.

Kyodo ("U.N.-CENTERED IRAQI RECONSTRUCTION DIFFICULT: SHIOKAWA," Tokyo, 04/15/03) reported that Japanese Finance Minister Masajuro Shiokawa said Tuesday it may be difficult for the UN to play a central role in reconstructing Iraq, though Japan wants it involved in the process. "Observing the current situation of the UN Security Council, I believe the reconstruction plan will not take shape if (relevant nations) stick to a UN-centered reconstruction," Shiokawa said at a news conference. His comment apparently referred to a rift between the US and Britain on one side and other members on the other over the start of the military action in Iraq. Shiokawa said it is no problem that the reconstruction process will proceed without significant UN involvement until an interim government is established in Iraq. But once the interim government is launched, the UN should play a vital role in Iraq's reconstruction, he said.

Kyodo ("JAPAN EYES PRIVATE-SECTOR PARTICIPATION IN RECONSTRUCTING IRAQ," Washington, 04/15/03) reported that Japan appealed to the US on Tuesday for Japanese companies to participate in postwar reconstruction projects in Iraq. At a bilateral subcabinet-level meeting in Washington, Japan told the US that Japanese companies which had built power plants and other facilities in Iraq can help repair them if they were damaged during the war, a Japanese official told reporters.

Kyodo ("KOIZUMI TO VISIT EUROPE FROM APRIL 26 FOR IRAQ TALKS," Tokyo, 04/16/03) reported that Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi will visit five European countries from April 26 and hopes to discuss issues including postwar Iraq with their leaders, Japanese government officials said Wednesday. The premier plans to visit Britain, Spain, France, Germany and Greece and urge the leaders to seek unity of the international community in efforts to help rehabilitate and reconstruct Iraq, they said. He will return to Japan on May 3. Koizumi said there will be no change in Japan's policy to seek cooperation with member states of the European Union (EU). Alongside the Iraq issue, Koizumi also hopes to discuss the DPRK nuclear issue with the European leaders, as multilateral talks involving the DPRK, the US and PRC are expected to be held later this month in Beijing, the officials said. The premier will also ask for cooperation of the EU in Japan's efforts to settle North Korean abductions of Japanese people, they said. In Greece, which currently holds the EU presidency, Koizumi is expected to attend a regular EU summit meeting on May 2 as an observer and hold bilateral meetings with some of the leaders, they said.

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2. Japan Military Emergency Legislation

The Mainichi Shimbun ("MILITARY EMERGENCY BILLS: DPJ'S ALTERNATIVE FOCUSED," 04/10/03) reported that dabate on three bills regarding military emergency restarted on April 9. The ruling coalition considers all the crucial points of the bills have been already presented in the former Diet session, and wants the bills to be passed through the House of Representatives during this mouth. Meanwhile, the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) will begin its internal debate this week to spell out the alternative. But it is surely difficult for them to reach an agreement, given the conflict between a leftwing group which has opposed to the bills and a conservative group which wants to promote them. The ruling coalition has managed to restart as soon as possible the deliberation of the bills, through which it wants to show the confusion among the DPJ to the general public. President of the DPJ Naoto Kan said at a new conference on April 8, "I am responsible for presenting respectable alternative. I won't escape (from this issue)." Led by Seiji Maehara, the minister of security affairs of "the Next Cabinet," the deliberation of the alternative is now under way. It seems that terrorist attack and huge disaster will be included in the definition of "the emergency situation." Under the alternative, it is also likely that the national and local governments are made responsible for; 1) the preservation of life, body and property of the nationals, 2) the prevention of violation of citizens' basic human rights, and 3) ensuring democratic control even in the emergency. Meanwhile, Katsuya Okada, the secretary-general of the DPJ, has sought to prolong full-fledged debate, saying, "It is of no use to debate the military emergency bills without the public protection bill (designed by the government)." The DPJ, however, is going to form the alternative on its own during April so as to hide their clumsiness to the general public. On the other hand, Hidenao Nakagawa, the chairman of the Diet Affairs Committee of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), said, "We will proceed steadily if the DPJ is not willing to present their opinion."

The Mainichi Shimbun ("SHII CALLS FOR SOLIDARITY TO STOP MILITARY EMERGENCY BILLS," 04/10/03) reported that the Chairman of the Japanese Communist Party (JCP) Kazuo Shii urged opposition parties to unite to prevent the military emergency bills from being passed. Shii said, "I have seen opposition parties uniting to oppose war against Iraq without the UN authorization. Military emergency bills are designed to mobilize Japanese citizens to help the US wage war. Opposition parties can cooperate to maim the war instrument."

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3. Japan's Domestic Economy

Kyodo ("NIKKEI ENDS AT NEW 20-YEAR LOW ON EARNINGS JITTERS," Tokyo, 04/14/03) reported that Tokyo stocks closed lower for the fifth straight session Monday, driving down the key Nikkei index to a new 20-year closing low as worries over corporate pension funds selling and US corporate earnings erased early gains. The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average fell 64.39 points, or 0.82%, to close at 7,752.10, its lowest closing since the Nov. 17, 1982 close of 7,740.10, and hit a new 20-year closing low for the second straight session. The broader Tokyo Stock Price Index (TOPIX) of all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) lost 6.64 points, or 0.85%, to 775.61. ''There are multiple reasons for stocks' falls,'' said Yutaka Miura, manager of the equity information division at Shinko Securities Co. ''Adding to worries connected with corporate pension funds selling and the release of US corporate earnings, such factors as receding hopes for government measures and geopolitical concerns are keeping investors away from Japanese stocks,'' he said. Brokers said geopolitical concerns including North Korea-related issues and the spread of a mysterious pneumonia known as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) are expected to cast a shadow over the Japanese economy even after the Iraq war ends.

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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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