NAPSNet Daily Report
tuesday, september 9, 2003

I. United States


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I. United States

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1. DPRK 55th Year Anniversary Celebration

Reuters (Martin Nesirky, "N.KOREA HOLDS BIRTHDAY PARADE, BUT NO MISSILES," Seoul, 09/09/03) reported that DPRK leader Kim Jong-il took the salute Tuesday at a national day parade as the DPRK repeated threats to build up its nuclear deterrent. Thousands of soldiers marched through Pyongyang's Kim Il-sung Square, but diplomats said there was no military hardware on display despite speculation that North Korea might showcase a new missile. The chief of the DPRK army's General Staff said in a speech at the parade that Pyongyang would defend its sovereignty at all costs. "The DPRK will continue to increase its nuclear deterrent force as a means for just self-defense in order to defend the sovereignty of the country as the US has not yet shown its will to drop its hostile policy," General Kim Yong-chun said in a televised speech at the parade. The DPRK has said on several occasions since six-country talks in Beijing last month on their nuclear ambitions that it had no other choice but to enhance its atomic capabilities. Defense analysts and ROK media had said the DPRK might wheel out a new missile at the parade as a gesture of defiance toward Washington. But the two-hour event in Pyongyang was less dramatic than defense analysts and ROK media had predicted -- a sign the DPRK may have heeded warnings not to raise tensions while the six-way negotiations are in mid-flow. "No new missiles, only soldiers, no (military) hardware," said a Western diplomat in Pyongyang who asked not to be identified. "It was a pretty normal, run-of-the-mill parade."

Agence France-Presse ("NORTH KOREA BRANDISHES NUCLEAR THREAT AT 55TH BIRTHDAY PARADE," Seoul, 09/09/03) reported that the DPRK's top leaders vowed to push ahead with nuclear weapons development in a defiant gesture at a massive parade celebrating the 55th anniversary of the DPRK. Up to one million people, including strongman Kim Jong-Il, gathered Tuesday in Pyongyang's Kim Il-Sung Square as the DPRK's army chief took a swipe at the US and extolled the nation's nuclear weapons drive. Kim Yong-Chun, chief of the general staff of the Korean People's Army, said in a speech at the start of the parade that North Korea would build up its nuclear arsenal, according to the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), monitored here. The US believes the DPRK has up to two nuclear weapons and could build half a dozen more from spent nuclear fuel within months. "The DPRK (North Korea) will continue to increase its nuclear deterrent force as a means for just self-defence in order to defend the sovereignty of the country as the US has not yet shown its will to drop its hostile policy toward the DPRK despite the DPRK's good faith and magnanimity," Kim was quoted as saying. The parade was lower key than some commentators had predicted.

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2. ROK US Fighter Jet Accident

Reuters ("US FIGHTER JET CRASHES IN SOUTH KOREA," Seoul, 09/08/03) reported that a US fighter jet crashed Tuesday on a training flight in South Korea, and the condition of the lone pilot was not immediately known, the US Air Force said. The F16 belonging to the 35th Fighter Squadron was on a routine mission in southern South Korea, the Air Force said in a news release. Sgt. Robert Wollenberg, a spokesman at Kunsan Air Base, said it was not clear whether the pilot had ejected before the crash. The ROK's Yonhap news agency, however, said the pilot ejected but that his condition was unknown. It said the plane plunged into the sea off the western coast near Kunsan, about 90 miles south of Seoul. The cause of the crash was under investigation. The pilot's name was not released. It was the fourth reported crash of US military planes this year in South Korea, where the US keeps about 37,000 troops.

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3. US President Bush Japan Visit

Reuters ("REPORTS: BUSH TO VISIT JAPAN ON OCT. 17," Tokyo, 09/09/03/) reported that US President Bush will visit Japan on Oct. 17 to hold talks with Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, one of Washington's staunchest Asian allies, Japanese media said Tuesday. Talks between the Japanese leader and Bush, who last visited Japan in February last year, will likely focus on the crisis over the DPRK's nuclear arms program and rebuilding Iraq, Kyodo news agency said. Japanese and US officials were unable to confirm the reports, which said Bush would travel to Tokyo ahead of a meeting of Asia-Pacific leaders on October 20-21 in Bangkok. Koizumi, who has made strengthening US-Japan security ties a key policy plank, must win a new term as head of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party on Sept. 20 to ensure he retains the premiership. Pundits and domestic media say he looks likely to do so.

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4. US Senators on PRC Currency

The Associated Press (Mary Dalrymple, "SENATORS THREATEN CHINA WITH TARIFFS," Washington, 09/09/03) reported that a group of Republican and Democratic senators said Tuesday they will push for tariffs on imports from the PRC if the PRC government does not take steps toward letting its currency float freely on world markets. "It's a shot across the bow," said Sen. Jim Bunning (news, bio, voting record), R-Ky. PRC goods would face a 27.5 percent US tariff and the PRC would lose its special trading status under the senators' bill, designed to prod the PRC into changing its currency practices. The lawmakers argue that the PRC unfairly undervalues its currency, making goods produced in the PRC less expensive and making foreign imports too costly for PRC consumers. The PRC yuan has been fixed at about 8.28 to the dollar since 1994. It is allowed to fluctuate, but only in tiny increments and in trading closely regulated by official agents. Lawmakers and some economists say the fixed rate may be 15 percent to 40 percent less than the currency's value. Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., said the fixed currency gives the PRC an unfair trade advantage and draws manufacturing jobs away from the US. "The PRC are using currency manipulation as a lethal loophole for America's manufacturing jobs," he said. "It is tantamount to imposing a tariff on American products because of their manipulation of their currency." US manufacturing has lost nearly 16 percent of its work force, or 2.7 million jobs, in a record 37 straight months. Another 44,000 jobs were lost last month. The PRC maintains that a stable yuan benefits both nations and makes good financial sense.

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5. US Former President Carter on PRC Democracy

Reuters (John Ruwitch, "JIMMY CARTER NUDGES CHINA TOWARD MORE DEMOCRACY," Beijing, 09/09/03) reported that former president Jimmy Carter applauded the PRC Tuesday for direct elections at the village level and said deepening democracy would not endanger stability or threaten the rule of law. The Nobel Peace laureate said democracy was essential for full freedom of speech, assembly, unrestricted worship, unimpeded access to the Internet and representative trade unions. "There is no doubt that further political changes could be made, if desired, without any real threat to stability or the rule of law," he told about 100 students and faculty members at Beijing University. "The goals of accountability, transparency and the maintenance of a stable and orderly society can best be reached when the people are given the right and responsibility of choosing their own leaders directly... Democracy is not a scary thing," he said. The PRC began direct elections in villages in the early 1980s after introducing the "household responsibility system" that broke up collective farms and launched market reforms. Some areas of the PRC have experimented with direct elections at the township level, but skeptics say the ruling party is reluctant to endorse them on a nationwide scale for fear of losing its monopoly on power. Carter's speech was well received by the students. "I thought what he had to say was very sincere and pertinent. He didn't say things like 'the US model is better than the PRC', or 'you should learn from us'," said public administration student Deng Xuan.

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6. PRC on DPRK Arms Expert Custody

Reuters ("CHINA DENIES N.KOREAN ARMS EXPERT IN CUSTODY," Beijing, 09/08/03) reported that the PRC denied Tuesday an assertion by an anti-DPRK activist that a DPRK biological weapons expert had been taken into custody while trying to seek political asylum in southern Guangzhou. "There is no such thing," a Foreign Ministry spokesman said by telephone. He declined further comment. Norbert Vollertsen, a German doctor-turned-activist, said Ri Chae Woo, a DPRK biological weapons expert, was detained Friday while trying to slip into the Australian consulate in Guangzhou. If true, Vollertsen's assertion would put the PRC in a dilemma -- whether to repatriate Ri to the DPRK, where he would likely face execution, or allow him to travel to the ROK or the US, where he could testify against the DPRK's suspected biological and chemical weapons program. The Australian consulate had no comment.

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7. DPRK-Japan Relations

The New York Times (James Brooke, "NORTH KOREA BIRTHDAY PARTY IN JAPAN ILLUSTRATES STRAINS," Tokyo, 09/08/03) reported that huge oil portraits of Kim Jong Il and his father Kim Il Sung beamed down tonight from a stage here that was festooned with artificial flowers. Triumphant music wafted over banquet tables brimming with Korean delicacies and over bar tables brimming with beer and wine. At the imposing building that serves as the DPRK's de facto embassy here, no corners were cut to celebrate the 55th birthday of the DPRK. The only missing elements were government representatives from the host nation, Japan. For 50 years, the group sponsoring this event, the General Association of Korean Residents of Japan, has loyally supported the DPRK, providing millions of dollars in aid and sending representatives to serve in the Supreme People's Assembly. But in the past year, the group has split along generational and ideological lines as Japan's mood has turned strongly - and sometimes violently - against it. In the past, power brokers from the governing Liberal Democratic Party would sweep into founding day banquets. But tonight, not even congressional representatives from the Communist Party of Japan dared be seen at a DPRK event. Anger over the DPRK's nuclear bomb program, its missile program and its past practice of kidnapping Japanese has set Japanese public opinion sharply against the DPRK and against its supporters here. On the government level, Japan plans to spend $1.2 billion next year to start building a missile defense system against the DPRK. The Tokyo city government, riding the wave of anti-DPRK feeling, has moved to seize three buildings belonging to the residents association over nonpayment of back taxes. The group has argued it is tax exempt because a Tokyo governor said in 1972 that it should be treated as North Korea's de facto representative in Japan. "There has been a lot of pressure by Japan on us," said Ho Jong Man, a dignified man in a well-cut business suit who looked every inch an ambassador but carried the title of acting chairman of the association. With around 150,000 members, it is the largest group of DPRK supporters outside the country. Though a smaller group is allied to the ROK, most of the 625,000 Korean residents of Japan are not formally tied to either group.

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8. Japan Demography

Reuters ("JAPAN SOON TO HAVE 20,000 PEOPLE OVER AGE 100," Tokyo, 09/09/03) reported that in a fresh sign of the rapid aging of Japan's population, the number of people aged 100 or older is expected to reach a record high of 20,561 by the end of September, the Health Ministry said Tuesday. Women will account for 84 percent of the number of Japanese centenarians, which is expected to top the 20,000 mark for the first time since the government began compiling the data in 1963, the ministry said in a report. Japan is home to the world's oldest woman and man. Kamato Hongo, a woman from Japan's southern island of Kyushu and the world's oldest person, turns 116 next Tuesday. Yukichi Chuganji, 114, who is also from Kyushu, is the world's oldest man. Japan has the world's highest life expectancy, at 78.07 years for men and 84.93 for women. According to some estimates, Japan will have roughly one person over 65 for every two of working age by 2025, a higher dependency ratio than any other major industrialized nation. The rapid aging of society and a tumbling birthrate have raised concerns that pension obligations may become unmanageable.

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Shanghai, People's Republic of China

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