NAPSNet Daily Report
tuesday, october 21, 2003

I. United States

II. People's Republic of China III. Japan IV. CanKor E-Clipping Service

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I. United States

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1. ROK on DPRK Spent Fuel Rod Reprocessing

BBC Monitoring, "SOUTH KOREA ESTIMATES NORTH HAS REPROCESSED 2,500 SPENT FUEL RODS," Seoul, 10/21/03) reported that the DPRK is believed to have reprocessed some 2,500 nuclear spent fuel rods, or about 30 per cent of 8,000 in its stock to extract plutonium to make atomic bombs, a ROK official said Tuesday (21 October). In July and again in early October, the DPRK claimed that it had completed reprocessing all of its 8,000 rods and diverted weapons-grade plutonium from them to make nuclear bombs. But US and ROK officials expressed doubt about the DPRK's claim, saying that there was no scientific evidence to prove it. "ROK and the US intelligence estimate that the North has reprocessed 2,500 out of its 8,000 spent fuel rods," said the ROK official, speaking on condition of anonymity. The reprocessing, the official said, has been under way on-again and off-again in the past several months. Estimating that the DPRK had reprocessed about 500 rods before two or three months ago, the official said the communist country is believed to have reprocessed 2,000 more in the past two or three months, bringing the total to 2,500. According to the ROK official, the UN International Atomic Energy Agency slightly underestimates the number at 2,000.

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2. DPRK Power Struggle

Agence France-Presse ("NKOREA LEADER BACK IN MEDIA SPOTLIGHT AFTER 40-DAY ABSENCE," Seoul, 10/21/03) reported that DPRK newspapers saved the front page for Kim Jong-Il Tuesday on his return from a 40-day media blackout. The DPRK leader has been out of the media spotlight since September 9 when he reviewed a military parade on the 55th national day of the DPRK. The silence spawned rumours abroad about internal troubles within the DPRK or problems with his health. On Tuesday, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said leading newspapers ran stories and displayed photographs of Kim as he led Korean People's Army generals on a tour of a military-run farm. Kim's prolonged absence from the media -- his second lengthy spell out of the spotlight this year -- prompted speculation about his health and the health of his wife, rumoured to be terminally ill with breast cancer. On Monday, South Korea's Unification Minister Jeong Se-Hyun confirmed that Kim's second wife Ko Yong-Hui, 50, a former prima donna of Pyongyang's premier Mansudae song-and-dance troupe, was sick. "Ko Yong-Hui has a chronic disease. I hear it is very serious illness," he said in testimony to parliament. Jeong denied that Kim's absence could be explained by a power struggle among his sons, battling to succeed him. Kim was annointed to succeed his father in 1994, the first hereditary successor to assume power in a communist country. Now, experts are busily trying to fathom who the next DPRK leader will be. His eldest son from a previous marriage, Kim Jong-Nam, 33, was seen as heir-apparent until he fell from grace when he was deported from Japan for illegal entry in 2001. Now one of Ko's sons, Kim Jong-Chol, reportedly aged 22, is seen in some quarters as the front-runner in a battle for succession that experts say may explain the DPRK leader's absence from the media spotlight. But Jeong, who visited Pyongyang for four days last week for cabinet-level inter-Korean talks, said Kim's mind was concentrated on other matters. "It is too premature to say a power struggle is underway because Ko Yong-Hui's sons are too young to have official titles," he said. "Chairman Kim is said to have yet to think of the issue of power succession, according to words coming from North Korea's inner circles."

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3. PRC on Nuclear DPRK Ramifications

Agence France-Presse ("JAPAN, SKOREA CAN HAVE NUKE ARMS TO MATCH NUKE-ARMED NKOREA: PRC COLONEL," 10/21/03) reported that a nuclear-armed DPRK would enable Japan and the ROK to justify possessing their own nuclear weapons and set off an arms race in the Asia-Pacific region, a PRC military analyst said Tuesday. "It is not difficult to imagine what will happen if DPRK (North Korea) actually acquires nuclear weapons," Senior Colonel Yang Yi, director of the Institute for Strategic Studies at the PRC's National Defence University said in a prepared speech at a defence forum here. "Japan and ROK (South Korea) will be able to justify themselves in developing nuclear weapons," the colonel said. "Given present levels of nuclear science and technology in the two countries, they can easily possess nuclear weapons in a couple of months as long as political decision is made. And a chain reaction will be sure to be activated," he said, warning an escalation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) proliferation would be inevitable if handled improperly. Yang made the speech at a Defence Forum meeting which opened at a Tokyo hotel Tuesday, drawing senior officials in charge of defence policy planning from 20 Asia-Pacific countries and the European Union. The discussion sessions, which are due to wind up around noon (0300 GMT) on Wednesday, are closed to the media and public.

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4. DPRK Second Short-Range Missile Firing?

Agence France-Presse ("NKOREA MAY HAVE FIRED SECOND SHORT-RANGE MISSILE IN SEA OF JAPAN," 10/21/03) reported that the Japanese government is investigating unconfirmed reports that the DPRK test-fired a second short-range missile towards the Sea of Japan (East Sea), a defence agency official said. "We are aware of unconfirmed information of that nature. We are now trying to confirm it," said a spokesman for the Japan Defense Agency, referring to a report of a possible test-firing by Japan Broadcasting Corp (NHK) on its midday bulletin. A foreign ministry official also said diplomats were not yet able to confirm the report. "There is information that North Korea fired a missile this morning," NHK said in its midday bulletin, adding that it appeared to be the same type of missile as Pyongyang test-fired on Monday and presented no threat to Japan. The DPRK on Monday test-fired a surface-to-ship missile as part of its annual military exercise, the ROK's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said.

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5. ROK on DPRK 2nd Missile FIring

Reuters (Kim Yeon-Hee, "SOUTH KOREA SAYS HAS NO PROOF YET OF 2ND NORTH MISSILE," Seoul, 10/21/03) reported that the ROK's military said it had no evidence so far the DPRK had test-fired a missile on Tuesday in what would be the second such attention-grabbing launch while Pacific Rim leaders met to discuss its nuclear ambitions. Japan's NHK television said the DPRK had apparently launched a short-range surface-to-ship missile, following a test-firing on Monday that US officials said they regarded as an attempt to steal the summit show. But the ROK said it had no immediate proof of a second test launch, although there were conflicting signals about the likelihood. "Our system did not spot any missile launch today by North Korea," Kim Hyung-kyu, a spokesman for the Joint Chiefs, told Reuters. "So, according to our analysis, the report is not true." A spokesman for the ROK Defense Ministry said it had not been able to confirm the report. "This is what we can say for now," he said. "But we cannot say the NHK report is not true for sure."

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6. US House DPRK Meeting Hopes

The Associated Press (Ken Guggenheim, "LAWMAKERS HOPE TO MEET NORTH KOREA LEADER," Washington, 10/21/03) reported that US House members hope to meet with DPRK leader Kim Jong Il during a rare visit to Pyongyang next week, the leader of the delegation said Tuesday. The trip led by Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa., comes as President Bush promotes a plan in which the United States and four other nations would give the DPRK written assurances it won't be attacked in exchange for its promise to dismantle its nuclear program. Weldon stressed that the delegation will not negotiate on the administration's behalf, but he hopes it will put a "human face" on US-DPRK relations. He said the bipartisan delegation strongly supports the Bush administration's insistence that the DPRK end its nuclear program. "I'm not there to negotiate. We're there to simply explore ideas," he said. Weldon hopes to visit the nuclear complex at Yongbyon, where spent fuel rods could be used to make nuclear bombs. The group - in North Korea from May 30 to June 1 - was the first US delegation to visit the country since a nuclear standoff began last October. Weldon said DPRK officials he met while on that trip had invited him to return. Weldon then received an invitation last week from the DPRK's deputy U.N. ambassador, Han Song Ryol. Weldon said he has notified Bush administration officials about the trip, but did not seek their approval. He said administration officials have mixed views about his trip.

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7. APEC on US DPRK Statement

Dow Jones (Alex Keto, "APEC REBUFFS US EFFORTS FOR STATEMENT ON NORTH KOREA," Bangkok, 10/21/03) reported that the US did not succeed in getting a statement on the DPRK included in the final Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit (APEC) communique statement, but the summit did focus on terrorism, a key goal for President George W. Bush, according to a senior Bush administration official. On the DPRK, US officials pointed to the nonproliferation statement in the APEC communique and said that would cover the issues the US has with Pyongyang. "The first part of the proliferation (statement) goes toward the North Korea question," White House Spokesman Scot McClellan said. The APEC statement says weapons of mass destruction are "direct and profound challenges to APEC's vision of free, open and prosperous economies," the official said. On the issue of terrorism, the US had more success, and all of the APEC leaders recognized that terrorism presents a threat to their economies, the official said. "What is recognized is that terrorism, itself, can be an obstacle to achievement of the economic goals of APEC, of free trade within the region," the official said. On specific matters related to terrorism, all the nations agreed to impose tighter controls on portable surface to air missiles and to work to wipe out terrorist groups operating in their own nations. The APEC leaders also agreed to set up a credit facility at the Asian Development Bank which will help finance counterterrorism efforts in the region, including a crackdown on funding for terrorism. "We think these are significant developments," a senior official said.

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8. PRC Yellow River Degradation

Agence France-Presse ("URGENT MEASURES NEEDED TO SAVE CHINA'S YELLOW RIVER," 10/21/03) reported that rampant overuse of water coupled with heavy silting and pollution were threatening the vitality of the PRC's historic Yellow River and needed to be addressed urgently to avoid environmental disaster along the waterway, researchers said Tuesday. "Water scarcity is now the number one priority in the Yellow River," David Molden, chief researcher of a recent report on the health of the river, said in a statement. "Given the growing supply and demand imbalance in the basin, it is difficult, if not impossible, to meet water demands from one sector without decreasing supplies to another. Hard choices must be made." Molden's report issued by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) and the Yellow River Conservancy Commission (YRCC), was presented Tuesday at an ongoing seminar on the river in Zhengzhou city, central Henan province. The report also urged better pollution controls along the river as increasing contamination had made 24 percent of river waters unfit for drinking, even after treatment, it said. "Significant institutional, policy and legal reforms to revive the river, based on the application of new knowledge and science are needed," the report said. "This requires a fundamental change in attitude from basin populations, water managers and the PRC people as a whole," it said.

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9. PRC Satellite Launch

Agence France-Presse ("CHINA LAUNCHES FIRST SATELLITES AFTER MANNED SPACE FLIGHT," 10/21/03) reported that the PRC has launched two satellites from the northern Taiyuan Launch Center aboard a Long March 4-B carrier rocket, state press reported. The Sino-Brazilian earth resources satellite and a small communication satellite belonging to the China Academy of Sciences were sent up at 11:16 am (0316 GMT) from the center in northern Shanxi province, Xinhua news agency reported. The launch was the PRC's first since Shenzhou V, the nation's first manned space flight, returned safely to earth last Thursday after a 21-hour flight that orbited the earth 14 times.

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10. US on PRC AIDS Crisis

Agence France-Presse ("US AID CAN HELP CHINA AVOID AIDS CRISIS IF BEIJING COOPERATES: EXPERTS," 10/21/03) reported that US aid could help China avoid a looming AIDS crisis if Beijing accepts the need to act, experts told US officials. "When we are talking about the AIDS crisis in China we are still talking about a silent majority," PRC AIDS educator Wan Yanhai said at a hearing of the Congressional-Executive Committee on the PRC. Wan and others told the committee, which was exploring the effectiveness of US aid to the PRC to combat AIDS, that Washington should support increasing awareness of the disease among PRC. Earlier, in Beijing, US Ambassador Clark Randt warned the PRC's leaders to act faster to avert a looming AIDS crisis as he attended the inauguration of a US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention office there. PRC Vice Health Minister Huang Jiefu welcomed the move, saying more cooperation was needed. "Globalization of diseases and globalization of the threat to public health means globalization of the fight against it," he said. The warning from the US ambassador follows a string of similar statements by foreign health authorities, not least the United Nations, which has warned of a possible AIDS disaster in the PRC. The PRC admits to 840,000 people infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, but some groups suspect that figure is much higher. The United Nations estimated some 10 million PRC would become infected with the virus by 2010 without effective prevention.

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11. ROK Charges Against German DPRK Spy

Agence France-Presse ("GERMAN SCHOLAR FACES ARREST FOR SPY CHARGES IN SOUTH KOREA," 10/21/03) reported that ROK prosecutors sought Tuesday an arrest warrant for Song Doo-Yul, a German scholar of Korean origin accused of spying for the DPRK. Song, 59, is accused of joining the DPRK's ruling communist Workers Party in 1973 and rising to 22nd in the party hierarchy, the Seoul prosecution office said after a month-long investigation of his espionage charges. "It is a grave case. He shows little regret. We apply for an arrest warrant for him because there are fears of his destroying evidence and escaping," a top prosecution investigator told journalists. The Seoul district court will decide whether to issue the arrest warrant on Wednesday, court officials said. The prosecution move came a week after President Roh Moo-Hyun called for "tolerance" towards the Muenster University professor who returned home last month after living in exile for 37 years. Roh said Song was accused of violating Seoul's national security laws enacted during a time of "extreme-confrontation and division" between the two Koreas, which are now moving to reconciliation. Pro-Pyongyang acts, including even unauthorized trips to the DPRK, are banned by ROK laws.

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12. DPRK Defection

The Associated Press (Christopher Bodeen, "JAPANESE WOMAN DEFECTS FROM NORTH KOREA," Beijing, 10/21/03) reported that a Japanese woman who lived in the DPRK has entered a Japanese consulate in the PRC's northeast after smuggling herself out of the Stalinist state, the PRC Foreign Ministry said Tuesday. Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue said Japanese officials informed the PRC of the incident, but didn't say when the woman entered the consulate in the city of Shenyang or give other details about her. There was no word on the woman's identity or her age, or why she had been living in the DPRK.

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13. Inter-Korean Film Festival Reuters (Mark Russel, "NORTH, SOUTH KOREA HAVE RARE CULTURAL EXCHANGE," Seoul, 10/20/03) reported that organizers of this year's just-wrapped Pusan International Film Festival announced that seven DPRK films would be screened at the event. It had taken five years of negotiations between the DPRK and the ROK to get permission to show the films, with talks going down to the wire. The ROK's National Security Law makes it a crime to praise the DPRK or those who instigate anti-state activities, as well as to deal in "documents, arts or other publications" for those purposes. Government officials apparently had serious problems with two of the films on the program and wanted them scuttled, but festival organizers said it was an all-or-nothing deal. A compromise was reached, and it was decided that two controversial films could be screened but only to a restricted audience of foreign guests and journalists. Which meant, in effect, almost no one. Those who attended the screenings were quite enthusiastic. "It's very interesting," said Rhoo Kyounghee, a university student. "I wanted to see more, but they announced the films so late." Outside the doors to the two restricted films -- "My Hometown" and "Snow Melts in Spring" -- two security guards in dark suits stood looking official and menacing enough to scare away any local civilians who might have tried to get in. However, a couple of South Koreans on the restricted list had managed to sneak in anyway. "My Hometown" (1949) preaches of the uprising against the Japanese colonial government (1910-1945), being sure to give all credit to then-DPRK leader Kim Il Sung. The "Great Leader" Kim is praised for freeing Korea from landlords, whom the film calls "even worse than the Japanese." The film is said to be the first DPRK film ever made, and thus the oldest surviving complete Korean film. "Snow Melts in Spring," the story set in Japan of a boy from a pro-DPRK family falling for a girl from a pro-ROK family, is an unusual film, surprising on many levels: It has some nudity and a soundtrack with such tunes as "The Bridge On the River Kwai" and the theme from "Shaft." But why it was restricted by the ROK is somewhat baffling, as the Romeo-and-Juliet story seems relatively innocuous. Perhaps not to be outdone by the ROK, or perhaps just a coincidence, just days before the screenings at Pusan, the DPRK had its first-ever public screening of a ROK film. "Arirang," a 2002 reproduction of the first-ever film made in Korea, played at the Pyongyang International Cinema House on Oct. 2. There's no news of how the audience received it.

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14. Op-Ed: Trying Diplomacy on North Korea

New York Times ("TRYING DIPLOMACY ON NORTH KOREA," 10/21/03) carried an editorial that read President Bush is now taking a wiser and more sophisticated approach to the crisis caused by the DPRK's reckless pursuit of nuclear weapons. In a proposal whose details are still being refined, Washington and four other nations would guarantee not to attack the DPRK in exchange for its commitment to dismantle its nuclear weapons programs. This proposal makes an eventual peaceful, diplomatic solution to this extremely dangerous problem somewhat more likely. Just how likely is impossible to tell because there is no assurance that the DPRK's highly unpredictable leaders will agree to disarm. If the DPRK does spurn this reasonable offer, Washington will find it easier to persuade Asian nations to support more coercive steps, like international economic sanctions. The DPRK's nuclear programs are particularly alarming because the nation has a long history of selling advanced weapons to all who will pay for them, including other rogue states and perhaps terrorists. Yet in the past year, as the DPRK has raced ahead with reprocessing plutonium into bomb fuel, Washington has handicapped its own efforts to achieve a diplomatic solution by refusing to specify what the US would be willing to do if the DPRK firmly committed to giving up its nuclear weapons ambitions in ways outsiders could reliably verify. The White House had insisted that specifying any such quid pro quo would be giving in to DPRK nuclear blackmail. Blackmail is a fair description of the DPRK's behavior. But in a situation in which everyone agrees that military action against the DPRK would have catastrophic consequences for hundreds of thousands of innocent South Koreans and Japanese, Washington's principled stand poorly served US interests. With this proposal, Bush is now making a serious effort to revive negotiations and is personally seeking the support of his fellow leaders at the Asia-Pacific summit meeting in Bangkok. All four of the nations that would join Washington in the proposed security guarantee - the PRC, Japan, Russia and the ROK - are represented there. Washington's new approach deserves strong support from each of them. In offering security guarantees to the DPRK, Mr. Bush wisely overruled hawkish administration officials who preferred moving directly toward coercive economic and military steps. This initiative comes less than a week after the administration's skilled diplomacy won unanimous backing for a United Nations Security Council resolution on Iraq that broadly endorsed Washington's policies there. Diplomacy is an important tool for advancing America's national security. It is good to see it coming back into fashion in the Bush White House.

II. People's Republic of China

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1. PRC's Successful Shenzhou V Launch

China Daily (Xin Dingding, "GLOBAL SPOTLIGHT FOCUSED ON SHENZHOU V," 10/16/03, P2) reported that the launch of Shenzhou V, PRC's first manned spaceship, has captured worldwide interest. A number of countries and organizations extended their congratulations to PRC for yesterday's successful launch, including Russia, Japan, the European Space Agency (ESA) and Pakistan. British foreign secretary Jack Straw and US Secretary of State Colin Powell both called Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing to offer congratulations. Chief Executive of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Tung Chee-hwa, on behalf of all Hong Kong residents, also congratulated the motherland on the successful launch. The launch has been widely covered by media in many countries, including the United States, Germany, South Korea, Japan, Indonesia, Cambodia, Viet Nam and Brazil. Many reports hailed the launch as a milestone event with historic significance. The mission is also being applauded by the Chinese people. "The launch has the same significance as when PRC developed the atom bomb in the 1960s," said Zhang Hongzheng, a researcher with the State Meteorologic Observatory. "Developing atom bombs in China back then was proven to be a prudent decision, and I believe the launch of Shenzhou V will also be seen that way," he said in the report.

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2. PRC's Commentary on Shenzhou V

China Daily (Yan Xizao, "NO THREAT FROM SPACE PROGRAM," 10/18-19/03, P4) carried a commentary saying that as the Chinese rejoice over the safe return of Yang Liwei from the country's first manned space flight, one can sense a lingering ambivalence behind many of the words of congratulation. While some see the voyage bringing the country one step closer to becoming a "great power," a few commentators claim the military potentials of PRC's space program would turn the country into a true bully. However, our newly-gained space capabilities are evidence of the nation's unprecedented strength, both technologically and economically. No matter how far our spacecraft can reach, it cannot escape the heavy drag of poverty and regional imbalances. Our identity as a developing country will not change, at least in the near future. Even if the country does attain the position as a world power some day, PRC has little chance of becoming a bully, said the article. The Chinese space authorities have announced their goal of building a space station after Shenzhou V's debut flight, accompanied by a call for international collaboration in the peaceful exploration of outer space. The non-aggressive nature of the Chinese should not be hard to understand given the country's defensive military strategies through the centuries. Chinese long-standing position on international affairs derive from the nation's historical appreciation of harmony. It might help to remember that gunpowder, a Chinese invention that had existed largely for the appreciation of the beauty of fireworks, had not become a means to kill on this territory until numerous Chinese lives were lost in the gunfire of Western invaders, the article commented.

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3. US-DPRK Relations

China Daily ("DPRK POISED TO SHOWCASE NUKES," Seoul, 10/17/03, P11) reported that DPRK said on October 16 it will display a nuclear deterrent at "an appropriate time" to end debate over its nuclear status if the US delays a solution to the impasse over Pyongyang's atomic ambitions. In comments published in English by the official KCNA news agency, a foreign ministry spokesman also criticized calls for a fresh round of six-way nuclear talks, saying such discussions were meaningless unless US dropped its hostility toward DPRK. "When an appropriate time comes, the DPRK will take a measure to open its nuclear deterrent to the public as a physical force and then there will be no need to have any more argument," the ministry spokesman said, noting some people doubted the North had nuclear capability. The statement appeared to address comments last week by US Secretary of State Colin Powell that US had drafted new ideas on security assurances to offer DPRK.

People's Daily (Yan Feng and Tan Weibing, "US SEEKS FORMAL PACT WITH DPRK," 10/13/03, P3) reported that US Secretary of State Colin Powell said on October 10 he is trying to satisfy DPRK security concerns through a formal, written agreement in which that country's neighbors would participate. With negotiations over DPRK's weapons programs at a stalemate, Powell said in an interview with a small group of reporters that his aides have been looking for historical precedents that could be applied to the situation. Powell hopes the US and DPRK's neighbors can eliminate that concern through an agreement that falls short of being a full-blown treaty. Powell will have a chance to exchange ideas with other participants in the six-party format when he travels to Thailand next week for an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation foreign ministers conference. Powell has said repeatedly for almost a year that the United States has no plans to attack DPRK, but Pyongyang continues to hold out for a bilateral non-aggression treaty, said the report.

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4. PRC-Japan Relations

People's Daily ("IMPORTANT POLITICAL FOUNDATION OF PRC-JAPAN RELATIONS," 10/13/03, P4) reported that Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue said on October 12 in Beijing that the correct understanding and handling of history should form the political foundation of Sino-Japanese relations. Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi Junichiro said he would again visit Yasukuni Shrine, the temple that honored Class-A war criminals of World War II, when he attended the 10+3 meeting in Bali, Indonesia. Koizumi also claimed his act had been accepted by PRC and thus formed no barrier for Sino-Japanese friendship. Zhang said such remarks were hard to understand when the relationship was undergoing an important development period. She hoped the Japanese understand the sensitivity of the Yasukuni Shrine issue, observe the principles set forth in the three important political documents including the Sino-Japanese Joint Statement, and adhere to "taking history as a mirror and looking forward to the future". She also hoped that Japan do nothing to hurt the feelings of the Chinese people, and help push forward the healthy and steady growth of Sino-Japanese ties, said the report.

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5. PRC's Role in APEC

China Daily (Wang Zhenghua, "MINISTRY PLEDGES POSITIVE APEC ROLE," 10/17/03, P1) reported that PRC will positively participate in the upcoming 11th Asian Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) Economic Leaders Informal Meeting in line with the principle of benefiting regional security and stability, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue said on October 16. When asked to comment on the US-backed anti-terrorism plan which is supposed to be discussed at the meetings, Zhang said that the US plan includes some "positive factors." Discussions on political security, no matter what they are based on, should be conducive to the maintenance of regional stability and security, the spokeswoman said, adding PRC will also participate in discussions abiding by such a principle. Zhang stressed that the leaders of APEC members would exchange ideas on regional security issues such as anti-terrorism, but this would not change the nature of APEC as a regional vehicle for promoting open trade and practical economic and technical co-operation, she said.

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6. DPRK-ROK Relations

China Daily ("12TH INTER-KOREAN MINISTERIAL MEETING BEGINS," 10/17/03, P12) reported with a photo showing that ROK's Unification Minister Jeong Se-hyun (right) shakes hands with his DPRK counterpart Kim Ryung-sung upon the former's arrival at a hotel in Pyongyang on October 16. The two sides began four days of talks in Pyongyang yesterday - the 12th since an inter-Korean summit in 2000. The two are expected to focus on the North's nuclear weapons issue, said the report.

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7. ROK's Domestic Politics

China Daily ("ROK PRESIDENT PUTS JOB ON THE LINE," Seoul, 10/14/03, P12) reported that ROK's President Roh Moo-hyun on October 13 proposed holding a December referendum on his rule and vowed to step down if the confidence vote went against him. Deepening a self-inflicted political crisis that has stunned foes and friends alike, Roh told parliament he had lost confidence in his ability to carry out his duties because of political infighting and media hostility. Following up on impromptu comments on Friday and Saturday in which he vowed to put his job on the line, Roh said he favoured a date around December 15 for a referendum to seek a renewed mandate for his presidency amid a political funding scandal. It was not immediately clear whether his timetable was feasible, and legal scholars were divided about whether Roh's plan was constitutional. There were several interpretations of what had prompted Roh to take drastic domestic political action now. Roh's decision got a cool response from the main political parties, who accused him of trying to shift blame to parliament for his aide's involvement in a big funding scandal.

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8. PRC FM Talks with US, Russian Counterpart

China Daily ("FOREIGN MINISTERS STRESS KEY ISSUES," 10/13/03, P12) reported that PRC's Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing exchanged views at the weekend with his US and Russian counterparts over the telephone about bilateral ties, the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula and the Iraqi issue. In his conversation with US Secretary of State Colin Powell yesterday morning, Li expressed his hope that the US will consistently keep its promises and handle accordingly various issues relating to Taiwan, and safeguard the healthy momentum of bilateral ties. Powell agreed with Li and said the growing momentum of US-PRC relations is satisfying and Bush is committed to improving ties with PRC. Li also exchanged views with Powell on the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula. Both of them hope the momentum from the Beijing six-party talks will continue. On Saturday evening, Li and his Russian counterpart Igor Ivanov agreed to make joint efforts to ensure positive outcomes will be attained from President Hu's meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the APEC forum. Ivanov gave high praise to the Beijing talks and expressed his support for continuous progress.

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9. US-Japan Relations

People's Daily ("KOIZUMI, BUSH TALK ABOUT IRAQ, DPRK, ECONOMY," 10/19/03, P3) reported that Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and US President George W. Bush talked on October 17 about reconstruction of Iraq, the nuclear issue of the DPRK and stronger yen. "We had meaningful talks over Iraq and DPRK issues," Kyodo News quoted Koizumi as saying following the meeting at the State Guesthouse over dinner. Koizumi briefed Bush on Japan's financial contribution to the reconstruction in Iraq for which Bush expressed appreciation. Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda unveiled on October 15 a plan that Japan would provide 1.5 billion US dollars in grants in 2004 for Iraqi reconstruction. Bush, who is campaigning for international financial aid and troops to ease US burden in Iraq, hailed the decision after the announcement. Japan has been a staunch supporter in US effort to pressure the DPRK to abandon its nuclear weapons programs. It is also seeking US support in solving the DPRK's abduction of Japanese in the late1970s and the early 1980s. Bush offered to help in the meeting, according to Kyodo. Koizumi described the talks as "very frank, meaningful and interesting...fantastic," while Bush portrayed his Japanese counterpart as a "good friend and very strong leader," Kyodo said. Both leaders agreed on the need for a strong dollar but remained apart over how to deal with exchange rates.

III. Japan

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1. Japan General Election

The Japan Times ("DPJ GAINS GROUND ON LDP AHEAD OF NOVEMBER ELECTION," 10/12/03) reported that nearly 38 percent of Japanese voters support the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), although the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) was gaining in a Kyodo News poll released Saturday, less than a month before a general election on Nov. 9. Support for the LDP stood at 37.9 percent, down 1.3 points from September, while 59.6 percent backed the Cabinet, off 7.2 points, in the phone survey of 1,023 randomly selected people conducted on Oct. 10 and 11. But support for the DPJ, which merged with the smaller opposition Liberal Party late last month, was at 17.7 percent, up 3.6 points. The disapproval rate for the Cabinet stood at 29.7 percent, up 5.4 points. Respondents cited dissatisfaction with the government's economic policies as the main reason, accounting for 43.4 percent of the responses. Asked what kind of government they would like after the House of Representatives election, 26.6 percent of the respondents said they hope the current coalition of the LDP, New Komeito and the New Conservative Party will continue. Another 19.3 percent said they want a government of opposition parties centering on the DPJ, 15.5 percent want an alliance of the LDP and the DPJ, and 10.2 percent want to see the LDP ruling alone.

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2. Japan Antiwar Diplomat

The Japan Times (Kanako Takahara, "EX-ENVOY SPILLS BEANS ON SLUSH FUND, IRAQ WAR," 10/09/03) reported that the Japanese Foreign Ministry funnels 2 billion yen a year into a discretionary fund handled by the Cabinet Secretariat, it was alleged. The allegations were made by a former ambassador to Lebanon who claims he was "effectively fired" for opposing Japan's support for the US-led war on Iraq. "(This flow of funds) is taken for granted in the ministry," Naoto Amaki told a news conference at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan. Amaki, who resigned from the ministry in August, said he heard the story more than 20 years ago from a ministry official in charge of accounting who oversaw the channeling of funds when he was working in a neighboring division. In a book titled "So Long, Ministry of Foreign Affairs," which hit stores on Oct. 8, Amaki criticized Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and the ministry for supporting what he described as US President George W. Bush's "murderous policy" on Iraq. Foreign Ministry spokesman Hatsuhisa Takashima rejected Amaki's allegations, saying the ministry concluded that they were false following an internal investigation in the wake of an embezzlement scandal in 2001. Takashima added, however, that the ministry would investigate other allegations made in the book and take action if necessary. "We are also checking to see whether Mr. Amaki has violated the National Public Service Law by revealing diplomatic secrets," Takashima told a regular news conference.

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3. Japan-ASEAN Free Trade Area

Kyodo ("JAPAN, ASEAN TO INITIATE FREE-TRADE AREA TALKS IN 2005," Nusa Dua, Indonesia, 10/09/03) reported that leaders of Japan and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) agreed to begin formal negotiations in early 2005 to establish a regional free-trade area by 2012. Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and leaders of ASEAN member nations signed a framework for their comprehensive economic partnership after a gathering held on the Indonesian resort island of Bali. After a year of consultations on the liberalization of trade in goods, services and investment -- especially the rules of origin -- the economic partnership, including elements of a free-trade agreement, should be completed as soon as possible by 2012 for Japan and six of the 10 ASEAN members. The leaders reaffirmed the economic levels and sensitive sectors of each country, including allowing an additional five years' time for the newer ASEAN members to implement the partnership. On trade liberalization, both sides had earlier confirmed that the partnership should be consistent with the rules and disciplines of the World Trade Organization and would exclude no particular sector, including agriculture, which is politically sensitive in Japan. The facilitation measures would include customs procedures, standards and conformance, and non-tariff measures. Cooperation would be promoted in such fields as financial services, information technology, tourism and energy, according to their earlier agreement.

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4. Japan Wartime Compensation

Kyodo ("U.S. COURT REJECTS APPEALS BY WAR SLAVE LABORERS," Washington, 10/08/03) reported that the US Supreme Court turned down appeals from four people demanding compensation from Japanese companies for being forced to work as slave laborers during World War II. The Supreme Court action covered four separate lawsuits filed by US, Chinese, Korean and Filipino nationals against Mitsui & Co., Nippon Steel Corp., Kajima Corp. and Ishihara Sangyo Kaisha Ltd. A Supreme Court spokesman said the court, without any comment, rejected the appeals and upheld an earlier appeals court ruling that treaties signed by the US barred the plaintiffs from bringing the lawsuits. The top court's denial of the appeals effectively puts an end to other similar lawsuits filed against Japanese companies under a 1999 California state law that gave former prisoners of war the right to file lawsuits over their suffering. Under the law, the statute of limitations was extended until 2010, allowing both foreign and American plaintiffs to file damages suits against Japanese and German companies as long as they operated in California. Japan has rejected compensation demands from former POWs, arguing that all war claims were settled by the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty. The US federal government has supported this position.

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5. Japanese Imperial Army's Chemical Weapons

The Japan Times ("REDRESS UNLIKELY FOR RESIDENTS POISONED BY WWII ARMS," 10/10/03) reported that a senior Environment Ministry official indicated it is unlikely that Ibaraki Prefecture residents who fell ill after drinking well water apparently contaminated by chemical weapons abandoned at the end of World War II would receive any redress. Vice Environment Minister Shigeru Sumitani told a news conference that the wells in the town of Kamisu were likely tainted by arsenic from weapons left behind by the Imperial Japanese Army. But the case is tied to issues of postwar compensation, so the government cannot make an exception, he said. In June, the government began paying the medical costs of sickened residents under a hastily created aid program. The assistance covers the victims' previous and future medical expenses.

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6. Russian Oil Pipeline

Kyodo ("JAPAN WANTS OIL DECISION BY DECEMBER," Moscow, 10/10/03) reported that Japan hopes the Russian government will decide by December whether it will choose the PRC or Japan as the primary buyer of Siberian oil, according to Assistant Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Shotaro Yachi. That is when Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov is scheduled to visit Japan. Yachi, in Moscow for talks on long-term overall ties between the two countries, said he raised the pipeline issue in separate meetings with Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Losyukov and other high-ranking officials. The decision involves building an overland oil pipeline across Siberia for oil shipments. Japan wants a pipeline that links Siberian oil fields to the nearest Russian port to Japan, while the Chinese want the pipeline to go to the PRC. The RF had indicated it was leaning toward the Chinese position, but recent Russian media reports said the government will put off the route decision until next August.

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7. Japan Nuclear Power Reactor

Mainichi Daily News ("HOKKAIDO NUCLEAR REACTOR SWITCHED OFF OVER SAFETY FEARS," Sapporo, 10/11/03) reported that Hokkaido Electric Power Co. (HEPCO) shut down the No. 1 reactor at its Tomari nuclear power station Saturday, over fears that it had developed the same type of cracks as those that earlier shut down another reactor. HEPCO Officials said it was highly possible that the same cracks had developed in the No. 1 reactor as those that prompted them to shut down the plant's No. 2 reactor last month. Coolant leaks were discovered in the No. 2 reactor in September. Officials said there was a high possibility the leaks had resulted from deteriorated pipes that had been damaged by thermal fatigue after continued temperature changes. Inspections of the No. 1 reactor are expected to take over half a month, and the time until the reactor is once again up and running could be extended if any abnormalities are discovered.

IV. CanKor E-Clipping Service

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1. Issue #138

The United States is preparing a negotiating offer, to be presented for consideration by the DPRK at the next round of six party talks. According to US Secretary of State Colin Powell, it will address North Korean security concerns. A German businessman is standing trial in Stuttgart, charged of breaking weapons embargoes and entering into a deal to provide aluminum tubes to the DPRK for use in its nuclear program. The case has taken a dramatic turn, as it may involve a high-ranking North Korean diplomat, a former representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna. The credibility of the DPRK's claim to have turned nuclear fuel rods into weapons-grade plutonium continues to be questioned, despite recent threats by North Korea to prove its claim. However, the debate has now reverted to the issue of the quality and credibility of Western intelligence regarding North Korea's weapons program. October 15 marks the first anniversary of the return home by Japanese abducted and brought to live in the DPRK. Leaving family for what was originally planned as a two-week visit, the five returnees are caught in the middle of a political tug-of-war. At the other end of the political spectrum, changes are evident among ethnic Koreans living in Japan. Curricula in pro- North Korean schools are being altered to remove elements of North Korean mythology about its history and leaders, as parents seek to give their children a more realistic basis in Japanese society without denying their heritage. This week's FOCUS highlights how emotion continues to plague the troubled relationship between DPRK and Japan.

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Center for American Studies,
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International Peace Research Institute (PRIME),
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Monash Asia Institute,
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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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