NAPSNet Daily Report 10 June, 2008
Contents in this Issue:
- I. NAPSNet
- 1. Six Party Talks
- 2. US-DPRK Nuclear Talks
- 3. DPRK on US Military in ROK
- 4. DPRK-Japan Relations
- 5. Japan Afghanistan Dispatch
- 6. Japan Elections
- 7. Japan on CO2 Emissions
- 8. Cross Strait Relations
- 9. Sino-Indian Security Relations
- 10. PRC Oil Prices
- 11. PRC Bird Flu Outbreak
- II. ROK Report
1. Six Party Talks
Yonhap News (“U.S. ENVOY SAYS 6PT SESSION POSSIBLE THIS MONTH “, Washington, 2008/06/09) reported that the top US nuclear envoy said the six-nation Korean denuclearization talks could resume within this month, depending partly on DPRK-Japan talks this week. “I really do believe that everyone is trying to move ahead together,” he later added. “Let’s see if all this positive energy we got, with everyone understanding that we’ve go to move ahead…we can get there.” Hill indicated that the U.S. would be watching the progress in the DPRK-Japan bilateral talks later this week.
2. US-DPRK Nuclear Talks
Chosun Ilbo (“U.S. OFFICIAL TO VISIT N.KOREA OVER NUKE ISSUE”, 2008/06/09) reported that Sung Kim, director of the Korean affairs desk at the U.S. State Department, will visit the DPRK again on Tuesday to discuss with officials the disablement of the nuclear facilities at Yongbyon and the declaration of nuclear programs and stockpiles. During Kim’s stay, U.S. and DPRK officials will likely also focus on the removal of the DPRK from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism. Separate from Kim’s visit, an economic and energy working-group meeting of the six-party nuclear talks will be held at the truce village of Panmunjom on Tuesday.
3. DPRK on US Military in ROK
Agence France-Presse (“NKOREA RAPS POSTPONEMENT OF US TROOP CUTS”, Seoul, 2008/06/09) reported that the DPRK military criticised the cancellation of a cutback in US troops based in the ROK, saying the decision could affect ongoing nuclear disarmament moves. Visiting US Defense Secretary Robert Gates last week backed a troop promise made by President George W. Bush at an April summit with ROK President Lee Myung-Bak. Under a worldwide US troop realignment plan, the two countries agreed in 2004 to cut the number in the ROK from 37,500 to 25,000 by the end of this year. But Bush and Lee agreed to maintain American troops at the current level of 28,500, citing the DPRK’s continuing military threat. The DPRK statement said Seoul and Washington should consider what effect “the daily aggravating military confrontation” would have on six-party talks.
4. DPRK-Japan Relations
Voice of America (“EXPECTATIONS MODEST AS JAPAN, NORTH KOREA RESUME TALKS”, Beijing, 2008/06/07) reported that senior Japanese and DPRK envoys are seeking to end almost a year of diplomatic silence as they meet this weekend in Beijing. Japanese officials expressed only modest expectations. The two sides hope to resume more formal one-on-one meetings connected to Six Party Talks. Japan’s senior delegate to the nuclear process, Akitaka Saiki, said he hopes the bilateral exchange goes well, because it will lay the groundwork for more talks in the future.
Agence France-Presse (“DEFECTOR TO SUE NORTH KOREAN ‘EMBASSY’ IN JAPAN: REPORT “, 2008/06/09) reported that a Korean woman born in Japan but who spent most of her life in the DPRK plans to sue Pyongyang’s de facto embassy here over a programme that repatriated thousands to the DPRK, a report said. One woman who was repatriated as a child in 1963 is suing the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, which represents DPRK citizens in the country and serves as Pyongyang’s de facto embassy in the absence of diplomatic ties, the Yomiuri Shimbun said. She says she suffered poverty and later torture in the DPRK and accuses the group, better known as Chongryon, of lying to her by portraying the DPRK as a “paradise on earth,” the newspaper said.
5. Japan Afghanistan Dispatch
Kyodo News (“JAPAN SENDS RESEARCH TEAM TO AFGHANISTAN FOR SDF MISSION”, Tokyo, 2008/06/09) reported that a team of Japanese government officials left for Afghanistan to explore the possibility of Self-Defense Force troops conducting an assistance mission there, government sources said. The team, comprising officials of the Foreign Ministry and the Defense Ministry and SDF officers, is expected to visit Kabul as well as provincial cities where airlifting of supplies, road repairs and other forms of infrastructure development may be conducted by Japanese troops, according to the sources.
6. Japan Elections
Agence France-Presse (“DEFEAT IN OKINAWA VOTE NEW BLOW TO JAPAN’S FUKUDA “, Tokyo, 2008/06/09) reported that Japan’s unpopular Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda suffered a new blow as his party lost control of Okinawa’s assembly, results showed, emboldening the opposition, which is set to censure him. The southern island held local elections on Sunday, with the opposition hammering away against a new health care plan for the elderly which has raised hackles in one of the world’s greyest countries. Fukuda’s Liberal Democratic Party-led coalition won 22 seats, down from 27 in the prefecture’s previous assembly. The opposition increased its strength from 20 to 26 seats, according to the Election Commission.
7. Japan on CO2 Emissions
Reuters (“JAPAN PUTS OFF INTERIM C02 GOAL”, Tokyo, 2008/06/09) reported that Japan will start a trial system for carbon trade this year. Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda unveiled a climate change policy that set a goal for cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, but stopped short of what environmentalists say is key. The world’s fifth-largest emitter, Japan estimates it can cut greenhouse gas emissions by 14 percent by 2020 from current levels.
8. Cross Strait Relations
Agence France-Presse (“CHINA SEES ‘BRIGHT FUTURE’ IN TIES WITH TAIWAN: FM “, Ljublanja, 2008/06/09) reported that the recent positive changes in relations between the PRC and Taiwan augur for a “bright future” but further efforts are needed, the PRC’s Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said. “I think we have a bright future in the development of cross-straight relations but, at the same time, the two sides need to make further efforts,” he said after talks with EU officials in Slovenia. He noted that recently there had been “positive changes on Taiwan as well as the situation across the Taiwan strait.”
9. Sino-Indian Security Relations
Xinhua (“INDIAN FM CALLS FOR JOINT EFFORT WITH CHINA FOR REGIONAL SECURITY “, Beijing, 2008/06/06) reported that visiting Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Friday urged India and the PRC work together to safeguard peace, security and stability in Asia. Speaking at Peking University, Mukherjee said, “We will need to evolve a security architecture which takes into account the conditions prevailing in Asia.” An “open and inclusive” architecture, which was flexible enough to accommodate the great diversity in Asia, was needed, he said. Mukherjee said security issues could be discussed at some forums, such as the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations)Regional Forum, the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
10. PRC Oil Prices
Wall Street Journal (“LEADERS FUMBLE EFFORTS TO TEMPER OIL PRICES AS GLOBAL DISCONTENT RISES”, 2008/06/09) reported that soaring oil prices are battering businesses and consumers around the world, but political leaders from Washington to Beijing appear unwilling or unable to respond with effective new energy strategies anytime soon. The PRC — whose growing oil thirst is often cited as a major contributor to rising prices — prospects for a radical policy shift are also dim. The country’s leaders worry about inflation galloping at around 8%, and fear that raising fuel prices to control demand could worsen it at a sensitive time. Not only is the country under pressure to finish multibillion-dollar preparations for the Olympics in August, but it must also rebuild housing for five million people left homeless after the May 12 earthquake, described by some of the PRC’s leaders as the worst natural disaster since the PRC was founded in 1949.
Los Angeles Times (“CHINA BRACES FOR LEAP IN GAS PRICES “, Shanghai, 2008/06/09) reported that while consumers in much of the world have been reeling from spiraling fuel costs, the PRC government has kept the retail price of gasoline at about $2.60 a gallon, up just 9% from January 2007. The reason, as most see it, is that the central government doesn’t want to risk doing anything that could upset the populace before the Games, which open Aug. 8. The PRC is already grappling with inflation running at an annual pace of more than 8%, mostly because of higher food costs.
11. PRC Bird Flu Outbreak
The Wall Street Journal (Jonathan Cheng , “BIRD-FLU CONCERNS RESURFACE “, Hong Kong, 2008/06/09) reported that authorities here slaughtered 2,700 birds and banned live poultry imports from mainland PRC for as long as 21 days after a routine inspection Saturday found chickens in one of the city’s poultry markets infected with the dangerous H5N1 bird-flu virus. While there is little immediate threat to humans from the infected birds, the discovery revives concerns that the disease could still be a problem with poultry flocks in southern PRC — although it isn’t yet clear whether the infected birds came from local or PRC farms.
II. ROK Report
12. DPRK Internal Situation
Goodfriends (“‘BRING OUT ALL THE STORED FOOD AND MAINTAIN THEM UNTIL THE END OF THIS MONTH’ “, 2008/06/09) reported that the DPRK government appealed to government officials to utilize whatever means possible to prevent people from dying of hunger because food aid will be delivered by late June. Also, the government told both individuals and organizations to bring our all the food available to maintain the situation until the end of this month and has seriously warned that government officials of areas in which death by hunger occurs will face party-level punishment.
13. ROK-Japan Relations
The Korea Defense Daily (“REINFORCMENT OF INFORMATION COOPERATION SYSTEM BETWEEN NAVY AND JAPAN MARITIME SELF-DEFENSE FORCES”, 2008/05/26) reported that the Navy has held the 70 th ROK-Japan maritime information exchange conference at the Navy Headquarters. Kim Dong-sik, director of Navy Headquarters Intelligence Tactics Support from Korean Navy, and Otani Shoji Naval Self-Defense Forces Command and Communication Intelligence Chief, participated as the head representatives. In the conference, the navies of both countries analyzed the tendency of activity among neighboring nations including the DPRK, evaluated them, and discussed methods to reinforce cooperation for information exchange. The ROK-Japan maritime information exchange conference has been held in each country alternately once a year since information cooperation exchange was first organized in 1970.