NAPSNet Daily Report
thursday, april 8, 2004

I. United States

II. Japan

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I. United States

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1. DPRK on US Military Threat

Korean Central News Agency ("MINISTER SAYS N KOREA TO RECIPROCATE IF US INCREASES 'MILITARY THREAT,'" Pyongyang, 04/08/04) reported that if the US persistently increases its military threat to the DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea), wasting time with its hypocritical talk about "dialogue", this will only compel the latter to bolster its nuclear deterrent force both in quality and quantity, warned Kim Il-chol, minister of the Peoples' Armed Forces, addressing a national meeting held on 8 April to celebrate the 11th anniversary of leader Kim Jong-il's election as chairman of the National Defence Commission of the DPRK. He noted: The US imperialists are hatching plots to stifle the DPRK by force of arms behind the scene of the six-way talks, while getting more frantic in their moves to isolate and strangle it. If the US imperialists ignite a war of aggression despite the repeated warnings of the DPRK, the army and people of the DPRK under the commandership of the great brilliant commander of songun (military-first) will mobilize all their military potentials built up for years and completely destroy the enemy stronghold with merciless strikes and thus achieve a decisive victory in the confrontation with the US. He called on all the KPA (Korean People's Army) servicepersons to be fully combat-ready to wipe out the enemy at a single blow no matter when and where he may come in attack on the DPRK.

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2. Iraq Japanese Hostages

The Associated Press (Joseph Coleman, "KIDNAPPINGS CHALLENGE JAPAN MILITARY," Tokyo, 04/08/04) reported that the kidnapping of three Japanese civilians in Iraq posed the greatest challenge yet to Japan's first foray to a combat zone since World War II. Television footage released Thursday of three terrified and blindfolded captives being held by screaming militants triggered a national vigil and threatened to sap the already weak support for the mission. The captors threatened to burn the two Japanese men and one woman to death in three days unless Japan pulled out troops sent to southern Iraq on a humanitarian mission. The government was quick to voice its commitment to the Iraqi mission. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda on Thursday called the abductions "unforgivable" but said they did not justify a Japanese withdrawal. "The people of Iraq don't want Japan to leave. There's no reason for them to go," said Tetsuzo Fuyushiba, secretary-general of the Komeito party, which is a member of the ruling coalition. Still, it was clear that Japanese leaders were deeply worried that such incidents could heighten pressure on the government to reverse course. The abductions came just after the 530 Japanese ground troops were confined to their barracks in the southern Iraqi city of Samawah as violence involving Shiite militias was rapidly escalating. Mortars were fired near the base on Wednesday, but there were no injuries. Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi repeated a government warning for civilians to stay out of Iraq.

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3. US-ROK-Japan DPRK Working Groups

Kyodo ("JAPAN, S KOREA, US BEGIN TALKS ON N KOREA WORKING GROUP," Tokyo, 04/08/04) reported that senior officials from Japan, the ROK and the US began unofficial talks in San Francisco on Wednesday, April 7th, aimed at setting up a working group for the six-party talks on the DPRK's nuclear ambitions. The two-day gathering is being attended by Mitoji Yabunaka, director of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau of Japan's Foreign Ministry, South Korean Deputy Foreign Minister Lee Soo-hyuck and US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs James Kelly. The three countries will study the DPRK's proposal for freezing its nuclear activities in exchange for compensation measures, in light of Pyongyang's apparently positive stance towards the working group and the third round of six-party talks, the sources said. Japan is also expected to renew its call to the ROK and the US to cooperate in Japan's efforts to hold bilateral talks with the DPRK as soon as possible on the issue of the DPRK's abductions of Japanese nationals, the sources said.

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4. DPRK-Japan Relations

Jiji ("N. KOREA HOPES TO SETTLE NUKE, ABDUCTION ISSUES DURING KOIZUMI'S TERM," 04/08/04) reported that the DPRK has expressed its hopes to resolve all outstanding issues with Japan, including the nuclear standoff and the abductions, during the remaining two and a half years of Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's term in office, a former heavyweight Japanese lawmaker said Wednesday. The DPRK has also indicated readiness to allow the family members of five former Japanese abduction victims to go to Japan to be reunited with the former abductees, according to Taku Yamasaki, former vice president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and a close associate of Koizumi. Yamasaki was briefing Koizumi on his recent secret meeting with senior DPRK officials in the PRC. At the unofficial meeting, the DPRK officials said that the DPRK hopes to settle issues over its nuclear development program and abductions of Japanese citizens in the next two and a half years while Koizumi is in office, noting that the Pyongyang Declaration is an agreement between Koizumi and DPRK leader Kim Jong Il, according to Yamasaki.

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5. Japan-DPRK Trade Relations

Asahi Shimbun ("NORTH CAN OFFSET EFFECTS OF PORT BAN," Tokyo, 04/08/04) reported that since Japan is no longer its top trading partner, the DPRK is unlikely to be rattled by proposed legislation to ban port calls, say analysts in Tokyo. This is because it is already doing roaring trade with the PRC and ROK, statistics show. A bill submitted Tuesday does not identify a specific country, but it is clearly aimed at DPRK vessels such as the Man Gyong Bong-92. The rare link carries food, goods and people between the two countries, which have no diplomatic ties. But trade statistics show that even if port calls by the ferry are banned, the move would not prove effective-given the growing trade between the North and its neighbors. According to data compiled by Radio Press, a media organization that monitors DPRK affairs, trade between the DPRK and the PRC was only $370 million in 1999. The DPRK-PRC trade had tripled to $1.02 billion by 2003. he DPRK imported more from China, particularly crude oil, grain, canned goods and other food items, while the DPRK's exports to the PRC rose in areas such as zinc and steel. The DPRK's trade with the ROK is also up sharply. In 2003, DPRK trade with the ROK amounted to $720 million. In contrast, Finance Ministry statistics show that Japan-DPRK trade fell 32 percent in 2003 from the previous year.

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6. DPRK Human Rights

Reuters (Stephanie Nebehay, "EU, U.S. EXPRESS CONCERN AT GRAVE ABUSES IN N. KOREA," Geneva, 04/08/04) reported that the European Union (EU), backed by countries including the US, expressed concern on Thursday at reports of grave and systematic abuses in the DPRK, including "infanticide in prison and labor camps." The EU, in a resolution presented to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights on behalf of 37 countries, also called for appointing a special UN investigator for the first time to go to the DPRK. It was the second year in a row that the EU had brought a resolution on the DPRK at the annual six-week session, which will vote on a raft of texts late next week. Last year, the UN forum issued its first ever condemnation of abuses there. "It is a stronger resolution than last year. There are credible reports, unfortunately, of infanticide in camps," an EU diplomat told Reuters in Geneva. "We are asking the government to allow media and NGOs (non-governmental organizations) to disprove these reports. If the authorities have a story to tell we are willing to listen." There was no immediate comment from the DPRK's observer delegation at the talks.

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7. DPRK Missing in Action Recovery Team Deployment

The Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command ("POW/MIA RECOVERY TEAMS DEPLOY TO NORTH KOREA," 04/05/04) released the following press release: Ttwo teams of specialists from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command located in Hawaii deployed today to North Korea to recover remains believed to be those of American soldiers missing in action from the Korean War. This mission will mark the first time JPAC has ever supplied its teams via the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). Traditionally equipment has been flown in. One joint team will operate near the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea hoping to recover remains believed to be those of U.S. Army soldiers from the 7th Infantry Division who fought against Chinese forces in November-December 1950. Approximately 1,100 Americans are unaccounted for from battles of the Chosin Campaign. A second team will conduct recovery operations in Unsan County, about 60 miles north of Pyongyang. This area was the site of battles between communist forces and the U.S. Army's 1st Cavalry and 25th Infantry Divisions in November 1950. This is the 32nd Joint Recovery Operation in North Korea. Of the 88,000 U.S. servicemembers missing in action from all conflicts, more than 8,100 are from the Korean War. The U.S. Government, the Department of Defense and the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command remain committed to scientific excellence and the fullest possible accounting of all Americans still missing or unaccounted for in defense of this great country. JPAC will continue to fulfill our nation's promise to bring home those who gave their lives on foreign soil.

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8. PRC Energy Shortages

New York Times (Chris Buckley, "CHINA, AS SUMMER NEARS, BRACES FOR POWER SHORTAGES," Beijing, 04/07/04) reported that the PRC's galloping economic growth will continue to be dogged by widespread electricity shortages this year, a PRC energy official has said. The deputy chairman of the State Electricity Regulatory Commission, Song Mi, told a meeting of electricity industry officials that the country faced a shortfall of 20 million kilowatts this year - twice last year's shortfall. "This year the imbalance between demand and supply will remain sizable," Song said. He warned that electricity shortages would be most acute in eastern and southern PRC, where double-digit economic growth has pushed industrial and domestic demand to new heights. The projected shortfall is roughly equivalent to the low end of that experienced by California during its energy crisis in 2000. Businesses in the coastal provinces powering the PRC's economic boom, especially Jiangsu and Zhejiang, are experiencing rotating electricity shutdowns, and are bracing for worse disruptions as summer nears, when a growing number of air-conditioners will put added strain on demand. "Our factory is doing O.K. now, but things will get worse as the weather heats up," said Chen Pintang, general manager of the Shixing Electronic Components Factory in Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang in eastern China. "We've been told that electricity will still be very tight this year, and that's going to damage business," he said in a telephone interview. His factory already shuts production every Friday and Sunday, Chen said, and production at other times is interrupted by unpredictable dips in power.

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9. PRC Democratization

New York Times (Joseph Kahn, "A DEMOCRATIC CHINA? NOT SO FAST, BEIJING LEADERS SAY," Beijing, 04/08/04) carried an analytic piece that reported when asked why the PRC, with its surging economy and rising power, has not yet begun to democratize, its leaders recite a standard line. The country is too big, too poor, too uneducated and too unstable to give political power to the people, they say. The explanation is often delivered in a plaintive tone: The PRC really would like to become a more liberal country, if only it did not have unique problems requiring the Communist Party to maintain its absolute monopoly on power for just a while longer. Hong Kong, a former British colony that came under Chinese control in 1997, is a tidy, small place by Chinese standards. Its six million people are extensively educated, multilingual and heavily Westernized. It has a low crime rate, a nimble economy and a remarkably accommodating population that has proven pragmatic and subdued under both British and Chinese rule. At $24,750 in per capita annual income, its people are about 25 times wealthier than their mainland compatriots and the 15th most affluent population in the world, according to a World Bank tally. It is also by far the richest place in which citizens do not have the right to elect their own leaders, with Kuwait, its nearest competitor, ranking 34th. So why then did the PRC decide this week to revoke Hong Kong's leeway to chart a course toward local democracy, which many there felt was guaranteed in a series of laws that govern its special status under Chinese rule? Some analysts say it is the PRC's leadership that lacks the requisite conditions, or perhaps the confidence, to allow its people a greater say in their own affairs. "The problem for China is not legal. It is not whether Hong Kong society is capable of handling democracy," said Shi Yinhong, a political expert at People's University in Beijing. "The problem is that if Hong Kong holds direct elections now, it will probably elect people who are not loyal to Beijing." "Frankly speaking," Mr. Shi said, "that is something Chinese leaders are not ready to accept." The PRC once viewed Hong Kong as a golden goose that would share capitalist expertise while demonstrating the motherland's rising power by returning to the fold. When Deng Xiaoping negotiated the terms of its return to Chinese rule with Britain in the 1980's, the promise of allowing the territory to democratize in the first decade of the 21st century seemed safely distant and risk free. Now, after last year's mass street demonstration against a national security bill the PRC wanted to impose and follow-up protests demanding greater local control, Hong Kong has joined Taiwan as a political crisis preoccupying the top leadership. For the PRC, democracy is like the law and human rights. As it seeks to create a world-class economy and increasingly demands equal treatment with the United States in world affairs, it has embraced democracy, legal reform and human rights as desirable and even inevitable. It amended its Constitution in March to explicitly guarantee human rights protections for the first time. But its promises, so far, are good only to the extent that these ideals work to enhance Communist rule, not to undermine it. "The party sees these things as tools," said a prominent Beijing lawyer who has frequently clashed with authorities in court. "If the tool works, use it. If the tool does not work, find another way."

II. Japan

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1. Japan Anti-Terror Measures

The Japan Times ("TERROR INFORMATION NEEDS TO BE INTEGRATED, ISHIBA SAYS," 03/29/04) reported that Japan must integrate its information-gathering operations so it can prevent terrorist attacks, Defense Agency chief Shigeru Ishiba said. "Each government office's capability has improved and much information comes in. But they do not deal with it in a uniform manner," Ishiba said on a Fuji TV talk show. "We must establish a system of sorting out valuable information, analyzing it and sending accurate information to the prime minister," he also said.

The Japan Times (Nao Shimoyachi, "GSDF INAUGURATES UNDERCOVER ANTITERRORIST SQUAD," 03/30/04) reported that a special operations unit debuted in the Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF) in response to growing fears of terrorism and guerrilla attacks on Japan. Headquartered in Narashino, Chiba Prefecture, the 300-member unit, consisting mainly of elite airborne troops and those who completed the strenuous ranger training course, will be tasked with intelligence-gathering and tracking suspected terrorists. The unit will also help police hunt and capture guerrillas, the Defense Agency said. Unlike special forces in other countries, including the Delta Force of the US Army, which operates outside the US, Japan's counterterrorist unit will mainly work within Japanese territory and in a defensive capacity, it said. Japan has been preparing to respond to the threat of terrorism since the 1995 sarin attack on the Tokyo subway system by Aum Shinrikyo and a suspected infiltration attempt by the DPRK ships in 1999. It has increased coastal security with mobile radar systems. Since November 2002, GSDF troops have participated in simulation exercises with police nationwide to prepare for urban guerrilla-style warfare. The Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) has a special operations force, Special Boarding Unit, created in March 2001 in response to the North Korean infiltration attempt two years earlier. There is an overlap of roles between the MSDF and the Japan Coast Guard, which also has a special counterterrorism unit, the Special Security Team, established in 1996.

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2. Japan Constitutional Revision

The Asahi Shimbun ("LDP TEAM PUSHES COLLECTIVE DEFENSE," 03/27/04) reported that Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) members discussing constitutional revisions planed to include a provision that clearly allows Japan to exercise its right of collective self-defense. Majority opinion within a project team under the LDP Research Commission on the Constitution was that the second paragraph of Article 9 should be replaced by wording that clearly recognizes the existence of the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) and the right of the nation to exercise its right of collective self-defense. The second paragraph of Article 9 states that "land, sea and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized." LDP Upper House member Yoichi Masuzoe said it is only natural for Japan to be allowed to exercise its right of self-defense both individually and collectively. "The interpretation by the Cabinet Legislation Bureau that 'while Japan possesses the right of collective self-defense, it cannot exercise it' is unacceptable," he said. Leading members of the LDP commission indicated that the main points decided upon would be included in a draft on constitutional revisions to be compiled before this summer's Upper House election. But the consensus was that the first paragraph of Article 9 should be left alone. It states "the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes."

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3. Japan Defense Program Outline Revision

The Japan Times ("DEFENSE PANEL EYED," 03/30/04) reported that the Japanese government will set up an advisory panel to the prime minister in early April to draw up recommendations for the planned revision of the National Defense Program Outline, which sets basic defense polices, the top government spokesman said. "Measures are now required to cope with new situations, such as the proliferation of weapon of mass destruction and ballistic missiles, and international terrorism," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda said during his daily news briefing. The 1976 program outline was last amended in 1995 to cope with new threats in the post-Cold War era, including increasing regional disputes and terrorist attacks. In December, however, the government decided to revise the outline again by the end of this year, as the Cabinet formally decided to introduce the US-made missile defense system in view of the ballistic missile threat from the DPRK. At the same time, an in-house panel of the Defense Agency revealed an interim report for the revision of the outline, calling for drastic cuts in the number of Self-Defense Forces (SDF) tanks, destroyers and aircraft.

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4. Japan-US SOFA Revision

The Japan Times ("JAPAN, U.S. AGREE ON TROOP CRIME SUSPECTS," 03/29/04) reported that Japan and the US have agreed in principle to allow US officials to be present as part of the investigators' side when Japanese police question US military personnel suspected of a crime, diplomatic sources said. The agreement was reached during two days of official talks by senior working-level officials at the Pentagon as part of efforts to review the implementation of the Japan-US Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), which governs the management and operation of US troops in Japan. Japan and the US finally agreed to allow US officials on the pretext they will be present as part of the "investigators' side" and not the "suspect's side." But the agreement could lead to controversial arguments within Japan's judicial circles as it allows such a third-party presence only for US soldiers, and may force the government to clarify its reason for allowing the double standard.

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5. US Missile Defense in the Sea of Japan

The Asahi Shimbun (Tsutomu Watanabe, "U.S. MISSILE SYSTEM TO SHIELD COAST," Washington, 03/29/04) reported that the US Defense Department plans to deploy surface-to-air missiles in waters off Japan by the end of next year. The move aims to deter the DPRK from developing ballistic missiles targeting the country, a Pentagon source said. The interceptor missile system, known as the standard missile 3 (SM3) system, will likely be mounted on an Aegis-equipped destroyer scheduled to be dispatched to the Sea of Japan by the end of September. According to the Pentagon source, the Defense Department plans to equip 10 Aegis missile-launch detecting destroyers with the SM3s by the end of 2005. The Japanese government, meanwhile, has informed the US of its own plan to deploy Patriot missile systems on the ground and SM3 systems on its own Aegis destroyer, the source said. He also said that the ROK plans to put Patriot systems into place.

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6. Japan Anti-WMD Smuggling Drills

The Asahi Shimbun ("JAPAN POSTPONES SEA DRILLS ON STOPPING WMD SMUGGLING," 03/30/04) reported that Japan postponed a plan to host multinational sea drills in May based on a US-led initiative to prevent the smuggling of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), government sources said. The postponement was decided by the prime minister's office out of concerns the drills around Japan could incense the DPRK and adversely affect bilateral negotiations to settle the abduction issue, according to the sources. The joint drills were originally planned to strengthen the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) in the Western Pacific region, with the participation of the US, Australia and Asian nations. The PSI was proposed by US President George W. Bush in May 2003 to counter the growing challenge posed by WMD, their delivery systems and related materials and technologies. According to plans approved by the related ministries and agencies last fall, the drills were to have involved stopping and searching transport vessels suspected of carrying WMD materials in the open seas near Japan and in the Western Pacific. Four similar exercises have been held in the PSI framework, including one off northeastern Australia last September. The others took place in the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean. The PSI currently has 14 core members -- the US, Japan, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Australia, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Canada, Norway and Singapore. These members apparently are eager to impress the US. The Japanese government is "trying to convince Asian nations of the PSI's significance," a senior Foreign Ministry official said. But Japanese officials were greeted mainly with reservations when they discussed the issue with their counterparts in other Asian nations in February, according to the sources. Topics of concern included "the real goal" of the US, possible damage during ship inspections, and compensation for such damages, the sources said.

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7. Racism Against Foreigners

The Asahi Shimbun ("TATTLETALE WEB PAGE REVISED" 04/03/04) reported that the Immigration Bureau changed its website in response to charges by human rights groups, such as Amnesty International, that the site provokes racial discrimination. The Immigration Bureau website's purpose is to solicit tips on illegal aliens. The human rights groups were angered by the web site's pull down menu where tippers could indicate their motives for making the tip. The pull down options included such motives as "nuisance to neighbors" and "insecurity," motives that human rights groups pointed out were unrelated to illegal acts. "The site provokes insecurity, resentment and hatred toward foreign residents in general," an Amnesty official said. The government reported that the pull down menu was replaced with a blank field where site users can describe their motive.

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8. Japan Constitutional Revision

The Asahi Shimbun (Taro Karasaki, "NAKASONE: TO STRENGTHEN U.S. TIES, JAPAN SHOULD REVISE ARTICLE 9 AND ACT AS A GO-BETWEEN FOR EUROPE AND WASHINGTON," 03/29/04) held an interview with former Japanese prime minister Yasuhiro Nakasone. Asked about possible impacts of the revision of the Constitution on Japan-US relations, Nakasone answered, "To further strengthen Japan-US ties, revision of the Constitution, particularly Article 9, is necessary. Put simply, it is absolutely essential for Japan to become a 'normal' nation state. However, with Article 9, Japan is not a normal state, but has the characteristics of a protectorate of the United States. Revisions are needed to allow collective self-defense." Presenting his evaluation on Koizumi administration's foreign policy, Nakasone said, "I think Koizumi's foreign and security policies are relatively effective, and I evaluate them positively. [...] I think as an Asian leader, Koizumi should serve as a coordinator between the United States, which will chair the summit (in June), and European countries on the Iraq issue." He also made a comment on Japan-US ties in the mid- and long-term, saying, "The ground rule is that Japan will not hold nuclear arms. Having said that, Japan will have to rely on the US nuclear umbrella for its defense. This structure will continue as long as Washington intends to maintain the joint security agreement. However, aside from this, Japan should consider working on developing 'self-initiated' defense capabilities. 'Self-initiated' defense capabilities would be development of rockets (missiles) and other new weaponry. [...] Japan should also take heed of the Iraq war and review its troop structure and weaponry. Tokyo should study closely what the United States is doing and make sure that it doesn't fall behind. That would include the missile defense initiative."

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9. Japan Anti-Terror Measures

The Japan Times ("ANTITERRORISM MEASURES WIN DIET OK," 04/01/04) reported that the Japan's Diet passed a bill to revise the Police Law to better fight international terrorism, marking the first major reorganization of the National Police Agency in a decade. The revision, passed by the House of Councilors in a plenary session, provides for a greater role by the agency in the event of terror attacks and creates new departments in the agency. The change will place prefectural police forces across the country under the agency's direct control if there is a possibility of a terrorist attack, government officials said.

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10. Japan Iraq Troops Dispatch

Kyodo ("U.S. TRADED IRAN OIL DEAL FOR SDF IN IRAQ: DEMOCRAT," Washington, 04/01/04) reported that a US representative said that the administration of President George W. Bush allowed Japan to invest in a major oil field project in Iran in exchange for its dispatch of Self-Defense Forces (SDF) troops to Iraq. "An administration desperate for re-election will take 550 soldiers from Japan, which provide the veneer of international support and credibility for our relations in Iraq, which is the preoccupation of the electorate, and give the green light to $2.8 billion going from Japan to Iran," said Brad Sherman, a California Democrat. Sherman called Iran "the nation who is most likely to be the culprit if a nuclear weapon is smuggled into the United States." In the hearing, John Bolton, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, said Sherman's statement was "absolutely not true."

Kyodo ("GSDF DRILLS TO SIMULATE REPELLING ATTACKS IN IRAQ," Kofu, 04/02/04) reported that a facility modeled on the Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF) camp in the southern Iraqi city of Samawah will be built at the GSDF's training site in Yamanashi Prefecture to practice fending off attacks. The envisioned drills will be held at the facility in the GSDF's Kitafuji training ground. The drill is aimed at testing the effectiveness of security in Samawah. No live shells or training ammunition will be used, prefectural officials said. Construction is expected to begin soon and will last about two months. The Defense Facilities Administration Agency has said that details of the training exercises cannot be disclosed for security reasons. Kazumasa Kitta, head of the prefectural government's office in charge of affairs concerning the Kitafuji training ground, said they cannot oppose the drill if it can only be conducted in Kitafuji and is for the benefit of SDF troops. But locals have said the government has failed to give them a sufficient explanation. Four citizens' groups visited the Yamanashi Prefectural Government, demanding a halt to the planned construction of the training site. In a letter to Yamanashi Gov. Takahiko Yamamoto, the groups said sending SDF troops to Iraq means taking part in the "unjustifiable" war in Iraq. They said Yamanashi citizens could become terrorist targets.

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11. Japan-PRC Slave Labor Trial

The Japan Times ("GOVERNMENT APPEALS RULING ON SLAVE-LABOR COMPENSATION," 04/01/04) reported that the Japanese government appealed a landmark ruling that ordered it and a harbor transport company to jointly pay 88 million yen in compensation to Chinese who served as slave-laborers in Japan during World War II. The government appealed to the Tokyo High Court against the ruling by the Niigata District Court, which declared that the state's argument that laws at the time exempted it from compensation demands were inappropriate from the standpoint of justice and fairness. It was the first time for a Japanese court to order the government to pay compensation for wartime slave labor. The Niigata-based company, Rinko Corp., has already appealed the ruling to the Tokyo High Court.

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12. US Bases in Japan

Kyodo ("KITTY HAWK SUCCESSOR TO BE NUCLEAR-POWERED," Washington, 04/02/04) reported that the commander of the US Pacific Command in Hawaii indicated that the conventionally powered USS Kitty Hawk will be replaced by an advanced nuclear-powered aircraft carrier around 2008. The 80,800-ton Kitty Hawk, the navy's oldest active aircraft carrier, is deployed to the Yokosuka Naval Base in Kanagawa Prefecture as the successor to the USS Independence since July 1998. "We would hope to replace her with one of our most capable aircraft carriers," Adm. Thomas Fargo told the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee. "Of course, Japan has been a great host to the 7th Fleet over many, many years, and their support has been absolutely critical to our security in East Asia and the Western Pacific," he added. Separately, in a written statement submitted to the House committee, Fargo urged Japan to promptly implement a 1996 bilateral accord on the relocation of the US Marine Corps Futenma Air Station in Okinawa. "We continue to emphasize to the government of Japan that a complete replacement facility as identified in the SACO final report -- not just the offshore portion -- is required before Futenma can be fully returned," he said.

The Japan Times ("LOCALS SAID CONCERNED," 04/02/04) reported that citizens of Yokosuka voiced concern and opposition after hearing media reports that the US may deploy a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier at the naval base in the city around 2008. "That would be extremely dangerous, since an accident (concerning such a vessel) in this heavily populated region, not far from Tokyo, could affect millions of people," reckoned Masahiko Goto, leader of a local antinuclear group. The group, established in 1998, has already submitted two petitions, with a total of 100,000 signatures, to Yokosuka Mayor Hideo Sawada. Goto said Sawada holds the key to the issue because under Japanese law, mayors have jurisdiction over ports. Sawada said in a statement that he expects the central government to contact the city in advance if the US proposed to replace the Kitty Hawk, adding that he has confirmed through the Foreign Ministry that the US has made no decision as yet. In a separate news conference, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda said the government has never discussed the matter with the US.

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