NAPSNet Daily Report
tuesday, april 6, 2004

I. United States

II. Japan III. CanKor E-Clipping Service

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I. United States

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1. PRC Hong Kong Democratization

Agence France-Presse ("CHINA ASSERTS CONTROL OVER HONG KONG'S POLITICAL FUTURE," 04/07/04) reported that the PRC tightened its grip on Hong Kong's political future, dealing a blow to pro-democracy campaigners by ruling Beijing must have the final say on any electoral reforms in the former British colony. Members of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) in Beijing passed a resolution Tuesday stating all political reforms in Hong Kong have to be approved by the PRC's central government. The legislation was the first-ever ruling on Hong Kong's electoral process set out under the Basic Law, the territory's mini-constitution that has been enforced since the transfer of sovereignty to the PRC in 1997. According to a legal explanation issued by the NPC, the process to begin debating and drafting electoral amendments to the Basic Law would first have to be approved by Beijing, which also had the right to approve or veto any final amendment. NPC chief Wu Bangguo called the ruling, which dealt with how Hong Kong selects its chief executive and its Legislative Council (Legco), "timely and necessary." "In accordance with the (mainland) constitution and the Basic Law, the right to interpret the Basic Law belongs to the NPC Standing Committee," Wu said. "The legal interpretations made by the NPC Standing Committee on relevant provisions of the Basic Law have the same power as the Basic Law and must be abided by and implemented by all circles." The NPC also insisted it was up to the PRC to decide whether Hong Kong even needed electoral amendments.

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2. US Response to PRC Hong Kong Democracy Ruling

Agence France-Presse ("US CALLS FOR "FULLY OPEN" HONG KONG FOLLOWING LANDMARK CHINA RULING," Washington, 04/06/04) reported that the US called for a "fully autonomous and open" Hong Kong after a landmark ruling in Beijing that the PRC should dictate the pace of democratic reforms in the former British territory. The US State Department, reacting to the PRC ruling, said the Basic Law guaranteed "one country, two systems" and that it was "critical" there be a fully autonomous and open Hong Kong governed by the rule of law. "Our opinion is that Hong Kong's prosperity and stability is important to autonomy," Adam Ereli, the department's deputy spokesman, told reporters. He said the US government would continue to closely watch the situation in Hong Kong. The US, which is to propose a resolution condemning the PRC for alleged human rights abuses at a key UN meeting in Geneva this week, had expressed "serious concern" over the PRC's decision to interpret the Basic Law before full consultations with the Hong Kong people. Recent opinion polls in Hong Kong have shown large majorities in favor of direct elections and greater democracy.

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3. PRC-US Relations

Agence France-Presse ("CHINA SAYS CHENEY VISIT TO CENTER ON TAIWAN," Beijing, 04/06/04) reported that the PRC will focus on Taiwan during US Vice-President Dick Cheney's upcoming visit, with Beijing addressing US arms sales and the US' adherence to the view that Taiwan belongs to the mainland, the foreign ministry said. "At the invitation of Vice President Zeng Qinghong, Vice-President Dick Cheney of the US will pay a working visit to China from April 13 to 15," foreign ministry spokesman Kong Quan told journalists. "The Taiwan issue will undoubtedly be discussed because it is the most sensitive and important issue between the two countries."

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4. ROK-DPRK Relations

Agence France-Presse ("SOUTH KOREA PROPOSES RESUMPTION OF STALLED TALKS WITH NORTH KOREA," Seoul, 04/06/04) reported that the ROK sent a proposal Tuesday to the DPRK calling for the resumption of rapprochment talks stalled over US-ROK military drills, officials said. The proposal for inter-Korean talks from Thursday in the DPRK's border town of Kaesong has been sent through a border holine, the ROK's unification ministry said. "Our side sent a message today proposing the two Koreas resume working-level talks this week in Kaesong," a ministry official told AFP, adding North Korea has yet to respond to the ROK proposal. The ROK and DPRK were to hold the talks on March 23 in Kaesong, mainly to discuss rebuilding cross-border railways and flood prevention measures on a river flowing along the western section of the border. But the DPRK abruptly put off the meeting, citing tensions allegedly caused by the joint military exercise which ended last week. The DPRK warned the exercise was casting a shadow over inter-Korean rapprochement and prospects for a peaceful end to the nuclear stand-off. In a separate proposal, also sent Tuesday, the ROK also proposed holding inter-Korean economic talks on April 20 in the ROK city of Paju, about 20 kilometers (12 miles) north of Seoul to discuss ways of settling bilateral trade transactions.

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5. Japan Ban on DPRK Vessels

Chosun Ilbo (Jung Kwon-hyun, "JAPAN IMPOSING PUNITIVE BAN ON NK VESSELS," Tokyo, 04/06/04) reported that Japan's ruling party coalition, which includes the Liberal Democratic Party and the New Komeito, jointly proposed legislation that would ban ships from certain countries from entering Japanese ports, though the law is said to target DPRK vessels. Two months have passed since the Japanese government passed a revised "foreign currency law" to impose economic sanctions on the DPRK. This new vessel regulation is the second "hidden card" Japan has prepared to urge the DPRK to settle the issue of the North's kidnapping of Japanese nationals. Although this bill does not specify particular countries, Liberal Democratic Party members said that the bill was targeting a DPRK ferry called Mangyeongbong No.92. This vessel makes regular visits to Nigata Port transporting goods and passengers. According to this bill, Japan is allowed to ban certain ships from entering its ports for a set period of time if deemed necessary to secure the security of the nation. Moreover, Japan could impose a fine of 3 million yen or three years in prison against captains of the ships that have violated this regulation.

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6. Japan-DPRK Unofficial Talks

Japan Times ("FUKUDA DISMISSES UNOFFICIAL TALKS WITH NORTH," 04/06/04) reported that Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda played down Monday the significance of unofficial talks between two Liberal Democratic Party members and North Korea last week, saying it will not affect official negotiations over Pyongyang's abductions of Japanese. "Our policy is that (channels) regarding negotiations on this issue will be unified with those of the government," Fukuda said during his daily news conference. "I don't think (the unofficial talks) will have any effect on this." Taku Yamasaki, a former lawmaker and ex-LDP vice president, and Lower House member Katsuei Hirasawa made a surprise visit to China for talks with senior DPRK government officials over the abduction issue. The two LDP members said they believe government-to-government talks between the two countries will be resumed by the end of this month. But Fukuda said Monday the two countries have already agreed to resume official discussions. The date of the talks' resumption, however, has not yet been agreed to.

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7. ROK-Japan on DPRK Nuclear Diplomacy

Yonhap ("SOUTH KOREA, JAPAN FOREIGN MINISTERS DISCUSS NORTH KOREA," Seoul, 04/06/04) reported that ROK Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon conferred by telephone with his Japanese counterpart Yoriko Kawaguchi on Tuesday to discuss the standoff over the DPRK's nuclear program and other issues, officials said. Ban and Kawaguchi agreed that the two countries will discuss ways to convene a working group session of six-party talks at an early date during an upcoming strategy session with the US, Foreign Ministry spokesman Shin Bong-kil said.

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8. Australia on DPRK Nuclear Standoff

The Associated Press ("N KOREA SHOULD RESOLVE NUCLEAR STANDOFF - ENVOY," Sydney, 04/06/04) reported that Australia has told the DPRK that ties between the two nations depend on progress in resolving a 17-month standoff over the DPRK's nuclear weapons programs, the foreign minister said Tuesday. Beijing-based Ambassador Alan Thomas traveled to the DPRK capital of Pyongyang to present his credentials and discuss bilateral relations and the nuclear crisis, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said in a statement. His four-day visit ended Tuesday. Australia, unlike many nations including close ally the US, has diplomatic relations with the DPRK. During meetings with senior DPRK officials, including Foreign Minister Paek Nam Sun and Kim Yong Nam, Thomas "stressed that further development of the bilateral relationship would depend on substantial progress by the DPRK on addressing Australia's concerns about North Korea's nuclear program," Downer said.

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9. Japan on Iraqi Reconstruction

Agence France-Presse ("JAPAN VOICES DEEP CONCERN ABOUT IMPACT OF CLASHES ON IRAQI RECONSTRUCTION," 04/06/04) reported that Japan has voiced deep concern over the recent violence in Iraq, warning it may hamper Japan's reconstruction effort in the war-torn country. "We're extremely concerned about the situation in Iraq," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda told a news conference. "If security further deteriorates and our reconstruction support cannot be maintained, it is going to be a big problem." Japan, a close ally of the US, has deployed some 550 ground troops to Samawa in predominantly Shiite southern Iraq as part of the US-led coalition's humanitarian work, despite strong objections at home. Defence agency chief Shigeru Ishiba told a separate news conference that Japan would "continue to be fully vigilant. But we don't think the situation in Samawa has changed." On Monday, Japan vowed to continue its reconstruction and humanitarian mission in Iraq, despite clashes between the US-led coalition forces and members of the country's Shiite majority.

II. Japan

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1. Japan Iraq Troops Dispatch

Kyodo ("ISHIBA HIGHLIGHTS IRAQ MISSION IN ADDRESS TO SDF MEDICS-TO-BE," Tokorozawa, 03/27/04) reported that Defense Agency Director General Shigeru Ishiba emphasized the significance of medical assistance for Iraq in an address to new graduates of the National Defense Medical College. Nine graduates of the school run by the Defense Agency to train medics for the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) are part of a 550-member contingent being deployed to Iraq for humanitarian and reconstruction assistance, Ishiba said. "No entity but the SDF can operate for peace and Japan's national interest in Iraq where terrorists remain and dangers still exist," Ishiba said at a graduation ceremony for the school in Tokorozawa, Saitama Prefecture, north of Tokyo. Ishiba also repeated a call, which has generated controversy, for officers in uniform to become more deeply involved in making national security policies as professionals on military affairs. "SDF personnel should not get involved in politics, but it is your obligation to democracy that you tender your professional opinions to politicians," he said.

Kyodo ("LOCAL WEEKLY SLAMS SLOW GSDF AID IN SAMAWAH," Samawah, Iraq, 03/28/04) reported that Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF) troops are lagging behind in providing relief and reconstruction assistance in southern Iraq, an influential local weekly said in an editorial. The criticism marks a turnaround from the weekly's earlier positive coverage of the GSDF's operations, apparently reflecting a gradual shift among the public from optimism to impatience. The editorial comes with Japan in the process of completing its dispatch of 550 ground troops to Samawah. The editorial noted that many people are angry at officials of Al-Muthanna Province, of which Samawah is the capital, over their promises that the GSDF deployment would resolve all problems, especially unemployment, like a "magic wand."

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2. Japan Wartime Sex Slave Trial

The Japan Times (Yumi Wijers-Hasegawa, "NHK OFF HOOK FOR SEX-SLAVE TRIAL EDITING," 03/25/04) and Mainichi Daily News ("COURT LETS NHK IGNORE HIROHITO WAR RESPONSIBILITY CLAIMS," 03/24/04) reported that taxpayer-funded national broadcaster NHK in Japan was free to ignore claims of late Emperor Hirohito's responsibility for World War II crimes in an organization's mock trial, the Tokyo District Court ruled. A Japanese TV production company was handed a court order to pay 1 million yen in damages to the Tokyo-based citizens' group for misleading its members about the content of a program on the "comfort women" issue. However, the Tokyo District Court ruled that NHK, which aired the program produced by Documentary Japan Inc., does not have to pay damages to the group, Violence Against Women in War Network Japan (VAWW-NET Japan). The program, shown in January 2001, was about a citizens' tribunal held the year before on Japan's responsibility concerning the ordeal of women forced into sexual slavery for Japanese troops before and during World War II. VAWW-NET Japan co-organized the mock trial: 'the Women's International War Crimes Tribunal on Japan's Military Sexual Slavery.' VAWW-NET Japan sued NHK, NHK Enterprises 21, Inc. and Documentary Japan in July 2001, demanding 20 million yen in damages for breach of trust, alleging the program was totally different from what the NGO's members had earlier agreed to. According to the lawsuit, VAWW-NET Japan agreed to cooperate with NHK and the two companies in October 2000 to produce the program. The group alleged that NHK and the two other parties gave it the impression that the purpose of the program was in line with the wishes of the NGO, which wanted to emphasize the significance of the tribunal. However, the final version of the program failed to show that the mock trial was about the responsibility of the late Emperor Showa and the government over the comfort woman policy, the group said. NHK also failed to keep its promise of showing testimony by former soldiers, while on the other hand it featured an interview with a rightwing scholar who claimed the women were mere prostitutes, the NGO said. They alleged that the changes were due to pressure from rightwing groups. The court only held Documentary Japan liable, saying it "gave wrong expectations about the program to the NGO, when the subcontractor had no authority to determine its contents." The court further said that NHK, as a broadcaster, is guaranteed the freedom to edit its programs. Lawyers representing VAWW-NET Japan said they would appeal the ruling immediately, describing it as unjust. They said it shifts all responsibility to the subcontractor and fails to recognize that NHK erred.

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3. US Bases in Okinawa

The Asahi Shimbun ("ANALYSIS: U.S. FEELS NO LOYALTY TO FUTENMA AGREEMENT," 03/26/04) carried an analytical article on the realignment of the US forces in Japan. Donald Rumsfeld is the man behind US moves to seek a new alternative site for the Marine Corps' Air Station Futenma in Okinawa Prefecture. US officials have grown frustrated by the lack of progress in moving base functions from Futenma in Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture, to an offshore heliport near the Henoko district of Nago. Rumsfeld's visit to Okinawa last November also made him realize the need to transfer the functions of Futenma, located in the city center, before a major accident occurs. Opposition to the US military presence in the southern prefecture remains strong, and Rumsfeld wants to avoid anything that could fuel such animosity. He ordered his subordinates to move the base functions within five years. However, achieving such a goal would require the use of existing facilities. That led to the proposal for using an airstrip on Shimojishima islands or consolidating functions at Kadena Air Base. But Japanese officials are not budging from the agreed plan to move the Futenma heliport functions to the planned offshore heliport. "A number of administrations had to make excruciating efforts and spent enormous amounts of time trying to gain the endorsement of local leaders," a senior Foreign Ministry official said. "It is inconceivable to reconsider that plan at this stage." Although Japan has thus far shown reluctance to changing the plan, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi also may not feel attached to the agreement of Special Action Committee on Okinawa (SACO) in December 1996 since it was reached between the Clinton administration and then Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto. Some Defense Agency officials are looking favorably on the use by the Self-Defense Forces of the 3,000-meter Shimojishima airstrip, which is used for training pilots of commercial jets. Island leaders were once eager to host some SDF functions as a way of bolstering the local economy.

III. CanKor E-Clipping Service

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1. Issue #159

Joining USA, EU and other members of the UN Human Rights Commission concerned with North Korea, Canada says the DPRK must not use security concerns as justification for human rights infringements. When the ROK Defense Ministry released its last white paper in 2000, the designation of "main enemy" in reference to the DPRK threatened to derail budding inter-Korean exchanges. With the new white paper due in May, the Defense Ministry is looking closely at the National Security Council's wording in its recently released description of the Roh administration's security policies. Australia's ambassador to Beijing, Alan Thomas, has been instructed to present his credentials to Pyongyang in a diplomatic move to encourage the DPRK to continue its engagement in the six-party nuclear talks. A different perspective on the DPRK is needed, says Gavan McCormack, professor at Australian National University in Canberra in his new book "Target North Korea". In a radio interview McCormack says opening as many windows to the outside world as possible will lead the people of the DPRK to take appropriate steps to restore their own human rights. Thirteen years ago, with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), China, DPRK, ROK, Mongolia and Russia embarked on an experiment in regionalism and multilateral cooperation. The Tumen River Area Development Programme (TRADP) was established with the purpose of exploring ways to stimulate economic growth in the region. For many participants and observers, the experiment was a failure, as Joey Comeau, former editor and public relations officer for the Tumen Secretariat in Beijing, explains in an article written for CanKor.

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