NAPSNet Daily Report
April 15, 2003

I. United States

II. Republic of Korea

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I. United States

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1. ROK on DPRK Nuclear Resolution Talks

The Agence France-Presse ("SOUTH KOREA WANTS TALKS SOON TO RESOLVE NUCLEAR CRISIS," 04/15/03) reported that the ROK called for talks with the DPRK "as soon as possible" to resolve the nuclear crisis as President Roh Moo-Hyun set himself the goal of averting the collapse of the bankrupt Stalinist state. A senior ROK official said the ROK was unwilling to speculate on how long it would take before talks materialized following the DPRK's announcement last week that it was prepared to take part in multilateral negotiations. "Our position is that the most important thing is to hold the talks as soon as possible," said Shim Yoon-Joe, director general of the North American bureau at the Foreign Ministry here. "I am not in a position to comment about when talks would take place." Earlier, another foreign ministry official said discussions on the format for talks were underway, but cautioned that it was premature to discuss timing and who would take part. "At this point, those kind of details are out of context. We are just starting to discuss how to develop North Korea's cooperation to ease the path to talks," he said. Unification Minister Jeong Se-hyun said Monday the ROK was in contact with the US and the PRC to discuss the format for the talks He said the ROK was advocating a so-called "four plus two" format involving the DPRK, the ROK, plus the PRC, Russia, Japan and the US. Reports that the PRC and and the DPRK wanted to exclude Russia and Japan from the talks were unconfirmed here. "We can't rule that out entirely but it does seem implausible at this stage," said a foreign ministry spokesman.

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2. Post-Iraq War DPRK

Agence France-Presse ("NORTH KOREA NUCLEAR CLOUD YET TO DISPERSE: US ANALYSTS," 04/25/03) reported that the DPRK carefully indicated a shift in its position earlier Monday, following a positive response to an earlier sign of movement from Bush who has piled fierce diplomatic pressure on Asian powers to back his approach. US officials said Monday they took the DPRK's statement as a change of policy, but talk of a breakthrough may be premature, as there is yet no sign that the DPRK will renounce its twin nuclear production lines. Equally, there is little indication either that the US is ready to offer the kind of vast economic incentives that could force Kim's hand. "The root of the problem is that the DPRKs do not want to give up their nukes," said Robert Dujarric, an Asia scholar at the Hudson Institute think-tank. "I think they have made a strategic decision that nuclear weapons are an essential part of their arsenal." The CIA expressed new concerns last week on a separate uranium enriching project discovered by the US last year which sparked the nuclear crisis. "North Korea's goal appears to be a plant that could produce enough weapons-grade uranium for two or more nuclear weapons per year when fully operational," the agency said in a report to Congress. William Drennan of the US Instutite for Peace argues that US policymakers must now concentrate on limiting the damage.

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3. US on DPRK Multilateral Talks

The Associated Press ("POWELL OPTIMISTIC ON NORTH KOREA TALKS," Washington, 04/15/03) reported that US Secretary of State Colin Powell, citing conciliatory statements by the DPRK, said Tuesday "a lot of pieces have come together" in his quest for multilateral discussions on the DPRK's nuclear weapons program. The DPRK signaled willingness over the weekend to accept the US approach after months of insisting on one-on-one talks with Washington. Powell told a news conference that the quick US military success in Iraq may have influenced the DPRK's thinking on opening diplomatic discussions. While saying he was not prepared to make any announcements, Powell said he was following up the DPRK statement through diplomatic channels. Powell said it was "absolutely clear" that discussions with the North must encompass "the views and thoughts of all the neighbors in the region." At a minimum, Powell has wanted future talks to include the two Koreas, Japan, the PRC and Russia as well as the US. Until now, the DPRKs had ruled out any talks except one-on-one meetings with the US.

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4. US on Post-Iraq DPRK

Agence France-Presse ("AMERICANS SAY WAR IN IRAQ IS WON, NORTH KOREA NEXT THREAT," Washington, 04/15/03) reported that most Americans consider the US-led war in Iraq a success even without capturing Saddam Hussein, and that the next serious threat to the US is the DPRK. US President George W. Bush's approval rating has jumped 14 points since the start of the Iraqi war to 73 percent, and 79 percent of respondents approve of the way he has been handling Iraq, said a New York Times/CBS News poll. Seventy-eight percent approved of the military action taken against Iraq, with 51 percent believing the war has been won even if Saddam remains at large and 60 percent even if the US fails to find weapons of mass destruction. However, 51 percent said the US should not attack another country unless it comes under attack first, compared to 38 percent who believe it should attack if there it comes under threat. And 48 percent said the US should stay out of other country's affairs, against 28 percent who said it should end dictatorships where it can. Two out of three Americans believe there is a country that poses a threat to the US: 39 percent believe it is the DPRK, six percent say it is the PRC and five percent said it was Syria. Fifty-six percent believe the US is heading in the right direction, up 20 points since February. On the economic front, 54 percent were confident of Bush's ability to make the right decisions about the economy, but only 46 percent approved of the way Bush is handling the economy so far, against 41 percent who do not. The 898 adults surveyed by telephone from Friday through Sunday were evenly divided, 42-42 percent, on which party, Republican or Democrat, would do a better job in managing the US economy. The poll's margin of error was plus or minus three percentage points.

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5. WHO on PRC SARS Crisis

Agence France-Presse ("WHO EXPERTS DENIED ACCESS TO BEIJING MILITARY HOSPITALS TREATING SARS CASES," 04/15/03) reported that the World Health Organization (WHO) is being denied access to Beijing military hospitals where unconfirmed reports have said a large number of patients with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) are being treated. "While Beijing authorities appear to have contained transmission in some hospitals, they have not yet granted WHO experts permission to visit military hospitals, which have been the focus of numerous rumours," the WHO said on its website. "WHO staff in Beijing have expressed particular concern about the official response to rumours and the apparent absence of rigorous contact tracing." A WHO team of experts met PRC officials again Tuesday as part of a week-long effort to understand how health officials were coping with the epidemic, WHO information officer Jim Radamaekers told AFP. "I don't know if they are being allowed to go to military hospitals today," he said. It was also unclear if the team had been granted specimens, as requested, from PRC SARS patients that could be taken out of the PRCfor independent laboratory tests, he said. On Tuesday, the WHO said the PRC health ministry reported 14 new cases of SARS but no new deaths, bringing the cumulative total to 1,432 and 64 fatalities. There were three new cases in Beijing, bringing the total to 34 with four dead. Unconfirmed reports have said that the numbers infected and dead are much larger. In an indication of the confusion that reigns in the PRC over SARS, the ministry of health figures for the PRC capital differ from those given by the Beijing health bureau, which has 37 cases as of April 14. In this week's edition, Time magazine quotes a nurse at Beijing's Youan Hospital, one of four hospitals set aside to deal with SARS cases, as saying that there are "at least 100 SARS patients here, if not several hundred". The hospital however denied this.

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6. Japan DPRK Abductees

Reuters (Elaine Lies, "ABDUCTEES ADJUST TO JAPAN BUT YEARN FOR CHILDREN," Tokyo, 04/15/03) reported that half a year after returning from a quarter century forced stay in the DPRK, five abducted Japanese are working, voting and driving -- but remain haunted by the children they left behind. Chances of a quick reunion grew slim when bilateral talks between Japan and DPRK stalled after their return last year and as regional tensions rose after US officials said DPRK had admitted to a secret nuclear arms program. "All I think about is our children. I hope for a reunion as soon as possible," Kaoru Hasuike, kidnapped in 1978 while on a date with the girlfriend he later married in North Korea, was quoted as saying by the Nihon Keizai newspaper. The five abductees have seven children between them. All are in their teens and early twenties, with many apparently ignorant of their Japanese heritage. Hitomi Soga's two daughters remain behind with her husband, a former US soldier who could face US charges for his alleged defection should he leave the DPRK. "I have two families -- my parents and my sister and me, and my husband and children. Who shattered these two families?" said the still-shy Soga, a particular favorite of Japanese media who has been treated for lung cancer since her return. "Who will bring my families together again? And when will this be?" she asked at a recent news conference. "Please give back to me the happy days where I can rejoice with my family."

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7. Japan Energy Shortage

Agence France-Presse ("POWER SHORTAGE LOOMING LARGE IN JAPAN AS NUCLEAR REACTORS SHUT DOWN," 04/15/03) reported that an acute electricity shortage is looming large in Japan as power giant Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) completed the shutdown of all 17 of its nuclear reactors for emergency inspections. TEPCO, the world's largest private power utility, stopped operations around 12:00 am Tuesday at its last running nuclear reactor in Fukushima, 200 kilometres (125 miles) northeast of Tokyo. TEPCO has been forced to shut down all its nuclear reactors for emergency inspections after admitting to falsifying safety records at nuclear plants since the late 1980s. With the first halt to all its nuclear reactors since 1976, TEPCO has lost 17.38 megawatts, or about 30 percent, of its power generating capacity. "We are seriously facing the fact that an unprecedented situation occurred due to a series of scandals," TEPCO President Tsunehisa Katsumata said in a statement. "Our company will pursue inspections and carry out measures to prevent such a scandal from being repeated so that we can regain people's trust," the president said. The scandal has angered residents near the reactors, most of whom are opposed to the immediate re-starting of the nuclear plants. The approval of local communities is a pre-requisite of resuming operations. "We have not set any specific timetable for the resumption of the nuclear reactors here," said Sekiya Hiroyuki, an official of Kashiwazaki city, TEPCO's largest power plant host, which houses seven reactors. "It is still uncertain when residents can accept TEPCO's request for the resumption as people living near the reactors are still concerned about a future accident," Hiroyuki said.

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8. PRC Domestic Politics

Asia Pulse ("BEIJING VOWS TO DEVELOP CHINA'S MOST EFFICIENT GOVERNMENT," 04/15/03) reported that Beijing is making every effort to make its government the most efficient in the country, said Liu Qi, secretary of the Beijing Municipal Committee of the Communist Party of China. While meeting Kenneth E. Behering, chairman of US-based Wheelchair Foundation, Liu said Beijing is giving top priority to improving investment environment and lowering the cost for investors, and the government's role is evolving from that of an administrator to that of a service provider to enterprises. He noted that Beijing is working on an urban planning book which has been published on the Internet as a reference for PRC and foreign enterprises. The city has set up a fast-track "green passage" for investors, who will enjoy free services during the procedural process, and Beijing's customs clearance has been cut from 39 hours to 9 hours. Beijing's per capita GDP is expected to reach US$6,000 in five years, double that of 2001, according to Liu. In the first quarter of this year, the city registered an economic growth rate of 12.7 per cent, and fiscal revenue rose by 25.7 per cent over the same period last year.

II. Republic of Korea

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1. Multilateral Approaches on DPRK Issue

Chosun Ilbo (Kwon Kyung-bok, "BUSH UPBEAT ABOUT MULTILATERAL TALKS," Seoul, 04/15/03) reported that US President George W. Bush said Sunday that US is making progress in dealing with DPRK's nuclear crisis and has made it clear that the best way to handle the problem is in a multilateral framework. Speaking at a press conference, Bush said multilateral talks would yield successful results and would be good news to East Asian nations that are concerned about DPRK and its nuclear development. Bush said that US, along with ROK, PRC and Japan, hopes that the peninsula will be free of nuclear weapons. He said that US is optimistic that the nuclear crisis can be resolved via diplomatic channels and that it is trying to stop the spread of mass destruction weapons. Minister of Unification Jeong Se-hyun said Monday at the Assembly's Unification, Foreign Affairs and Trade Committee that ROK government thinks six nations should participate in the forum - ROK and DPRK, US, Japan, PRC and Russia. Foreign Minister Yoon Young-kwan invited US Ambassador Thomas Hubbard to the ministry to explain US's position on advancing the multilateral talks and to hear from him the Bush administration's position on the matter.

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2. Preparation of ROK President's Visit to US

Joongang Ilbo (Kim Sung-tak, "BLUE HOUSE AT WORK ON ROH US VISIT," Seoul, 04/15/03) reported that the Blue House has begun aggressive preparatory work for presidential diplomacy in Washington. During his visit to US in May, President Roh Moo-hyun will seek a peaceful resolution of DPRK nuclear ambitions and try to encourage a favorable view of ROK's economy. Roh's schedule this week is full of meetings with influential Americans. He will dine Tuesday with the former U.S. President George Bush, who is in Seoul at the invitation of the Federation of Korean Industries. Wednesday, Roh will meet four members of the US House of Representatives. He will lunch the next day with seven US senators. The congressmen are in Seoul for a US-ROK Inter-parliamentary Exchange meeting. ROK's ambassador to US, Han Sung-joo, will go to US to prepare for Roh's visit, which is scheduled for May 11 to 17. Ra Jong-yil, national-security adviser, will visit Washington late this month to coordinate the agenda and timetable for the presidential meetings. Ra is expected to have preliminary consultations to draft a joint message to be announced by the leaders of ROK and US regarding the DPRK nuclear issues.

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3. ROK Skip to Human Right Vote

Chosun Ilbo (Kwon Dae-yeol, "SEOUL TO SKIP HUMAN RIGHTS VOTE," Seoul, 04/15/03) reported that foreign Minister Yoon Young-kwan will be absent Wednesday when the United Nations Commission on Human Rights votes on a resolution to censure DPRK for its human rights violations. Yoon's decision indicates that ROK will abstain from the vote. Yoon explained at the National Assembly's Unification, Foreign Affairs and Trade Committee that the situation on the Korean peninsula and the strategic implications of such a resolution must be considered. The resolution was submitted by the European Union on April 10. This is the first time a resolution on the DPRK human rights issue will be put to vote.

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4. Dispatch toward Iraq

Chosun Ilbo (Shin Jeong-rok, "ROH CALLS FOR SOONER DISPATCH," Seoul, 04/15/03) reported that president Roh Moo-hyun said Tuesday that the dispatch of noncombat troops to Iraq should be expedited now that the war is ending and troops there will be mostly engaged in humanitarian and rebuilding projects. The first set of troops will leave this week, and the rest of the 673 chosen to go are scheduled to be Iraq-bound by May 14. In a state meeting with ministers related to foreign affairs, Roh acknowledged the numerous demonstrations against the dispatch plan, but said there would now be no objections to the provision of reconstruction and humanitarian support. He also asked the relevant agencies to exert their utmost efforts in supporting the Iraqi people.

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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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