NAPSNet Daily Report 15 August, 2003

Recommended Citation

"NAPSNet Daily Report 15 August, 2003", NAPSNet Daily Report, August 15, 2003, https://nautilus.org/napsnet/napsnet-daily-report/napsnet-daily-report-15-august-2003/

 
CONTENTS

I. United States

1. DPRK Aluminum Pipe Importation
2. US on PRC-US Relations
3. US-Japan-ROK DPRK Talks
4. ROK on DPRK Multilateral Talks
5. US Missile Defense Developments
6. Koizumi Yasukuni War Shrine Visit
7. PRC Falun Gong Satellite Accusation
8. Taiwan Report on PRC Direct Links
9. PRC SARS Animals Link
II. Japan 1. Japan Iraq Troop Deployment
2. Hiroshima & Nagasaki 58th Anniversary
3. Overseas A-bomb Survivors
4. Japan’s Logistic Support for the US
5. SDF’s Recruitment
6. Japan Goes Nuclear?
7. LDP Presidential Election

I. United States

1. DPRK Aluminum Pipe Importation

The Washington Post (Job Warrick, “N. KOREA SHOPS STEALTHILY FOR NUCLEAR ARMS GEAR FRONT COMPANIES STEP UP EFFORTS IN EUROPEAN MARKET,” Munich, 08/15/03) carried an analytical piece that reported that the French cargo ship Ville de Virgo was already running a day late when it steamed into Hamburg harbor on April 3, its stadium-size deck stacked 50 feet high with cargo containers bound for Asia. At the dock, harried German customs agents skimmed quickly through a fat manifest that included the usual Asia-bound staples — fertilizer, bulk chemicals, cheeses. A last-minute addition, 214 ultra-strong aluminum pipes purchased by China’s Shenyang Aircraft Corp., was one of the final items cleared before the 40,000-ton ship fired its engines again and headed to Asia. But within hours after the ship departed, the story of the manifest began to unravel. German intelligence officials discovered that the aluminum was destined not for the PRC but for the DPRK. The intended use of the pipes, they concluded, was not aircraft production, but the making of nuclear weapons. On April 12, in a dramatic but little-noticed intervention, French and German authorities tracked the ship to the eastern Mediterranean and seized the pipes. German police arrested the owner of a small export company and uncovered a broader scheme to acquire as many as 2,000 such pipes. That much aluminum in DPRK hands, investigators concluded, could have yielded as many as 3,500 gas centrifuges for enriching uranium. “The intentions were clearly nuclear,” said a Western diplomat familiar with the investigation. “The result could have been several bombs’ worth of weapons-grade uranium in a year.” The voyage and capture of the Ville de Virgo exposed one of the most ambitious attempts yet by North Korea to obtain materials for building nuclear weapons. But the episode also offers a glimpse into the shadowy world of weapons proliferation, in which missile parts and bomb materials circle the globe undetected, secreted away in cargo containers and suitcases, concealed by phony ship manifests and fictitious company names, eluding customs agents and defying international treaties. The story of the Ville de Virgo is a case study in the workings of the gray zone, a combination of weak states, open borders, lack of controls and a ready market of buyers and sellers for weapons of mass destruction. The attempt to import the aluminum tubes is being closely studied by intelligence agencies for possible clues about the design and origins of the DPRK’s uranium enrichment program. On April 4, just one day after the Ville de Virgo left Hamburg, a different cargo ship departed Japan’s Kobe Harbor carrying three devices known as direct-current stabilizers, which also are used in uranium enrichment, according to a Japanese government account of the incident. Just as with the aluminum shipment, the electronic parts were being routed to a third country — in this case, Thailand — where the cargo would be diverted to the DPRK. In mid-May, a month after the aluminum pipes were seized, North Korea nearly succeeded in acquiring 33 tons of sodium cyanide, a chemical used in making the deadly nerve agent tabun, according to Western diplomatic sources. The chemicals were purchased legally from a German manufacturer who believed the buyer was a Singapore company. But in fact, a switch was planned that would have diverted them to Pyongyang, the DPRK capital. Both efforts were thwarted, but intelligence officials have little doubt that others succeeded. “There are countries in the world where you can pay $2,000 to a government minister and he’ll sign anything — and then confirm to you that he signed it,” said Rastislav Kacer, a former Slovak deputy defense minister who helped lead an investigation into a similar attempt by North Korea to buy sophisticated radar equipment. “Documents that are fake can be made to appear very real.” In such an environment, said Kacer, now his country’s ambassador in Washington, “no system is ever 100 percent leak-proof.”

For the full report: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A60042-2003Aug14.html

2. US on PRC-US Relations

The Washington File, “US ‘DELIGHTED’ WITH RELATIONS WITH CHINA DEPUTY SECRETARY OF STATE’S,” 08/13/03) reported that during a Q&A session in Sydney, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage stated that the US has good relations with the PRC, and where there are differences, the Bush administration hopes to be able to work these out privately and quietly. Armitage noted that the PRC’s President Hu Jintao has said the state of US-PRC relations is the best it has ever been. On the US side, he continued, “We are absolutely delighted with the state of our relations with People’s Republic of China and the direction we’re going.” Armitage stressed that the PRC is working with the US on the issue of the DPRK’s nuclear ambitions. He told his Australian audience that US intelligence analysts publicly estimate that the DPRK has “one or two nuclear weapons” at the present time. “There was no question in our mind, and I don’t think in the minds of anyone in the governments in Asia including China and the Republic of Korea now, that the DPRK was intent on reprocessing the spent fuel in the so-called 8,000 rods, and I think there’s very little doubt that there was a highly enriched uranium facility” in the DPRK, he added,. “After all,” Armitage continued, “you don’t have to take the word of the US Government or the Australian Office of National Assessments or anything else, you can just listen to what the DPRK says about their own capabilities and come up with a pretty good picture over time of what they say they have.” Regarding the war on terrorism and al Qaeda, Armitage said the US lives with the threat of al Qaeda daily, as does Australia itself. “It’s part of the daily fabric of our lives and most recently evidenced in Jakarta,” he said. “It is something that we get up in the morning and think about and we go to bed at night and think about it,” he continued. President Bush, he said, has prepared the American public for the long struggle that will be necessary to defeat terrorism. “I think people in my nation are much more comfortable that they’ve got the picture on al Qaeda, and they don’t like what they see, and they’re hunkering down for the long run,” Armitage said.

For the full transcript: http://usinfo.state.gov/xarchives/display.html?p=washfile-english&y=2003&m=August&x=20030813134351euqcorals6.711978e-02&t=usinfo/wf-latest.html

3. US-Japan-ROK DPRK Talks

Agence France-Presse (“JAPAN, SOUTH KOREA WRAP UP TALKS ON NORTH KOREA,” 08/15/03) reported that US Asia envoy James Kelly will renew his tense relationship with DPRK negotiators this month, after he was named to head the US delegation to six-nation nuclear crisis talks in Beijing. The State Department said Kelly, branded by Pyongyang last year as “arrogant” and “high-handed,” would lead the team, as he wrapped up a two-day brainstorming session ahead of the crucial talks with envoys from US allies ROK and Japan. “Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs James Kelly will lead the US delegation,” said Tom Casey, a State Department spokesman. Kelly will head a US interagency group at the talks, also involving the DPRK, the PRC, Russia, the ROK and Japan, Casey said. The veteran diplomat also headed the US side at inconclusive three-way talks on the crisis in Beijing in April. He was also at the head of the table Wednesday and Thursday, welcoming counterparts from the ROK and Japan to the State Department to prepare the way for the next round of Beijing talks between August 27 and 29. Kelly and members of the ROK and Japanese delegations gathered for less than two hours at the State Department Thursday to settle logistics and technical matters, ahead of the Beijing talks, officials said. They held 90 minutes of talks on Wednesday described by a State Department official as “very useful” in honing the joint position that all three nations want to see a verifiable end to the DPRK’s nuclear ambitions. “We have been on the same page for a long time; we are all agreed what the goal is,” he said. No immediate response was available from the other delegations, led for Japan by Mitoji Yabunaka, director general of Asia and Oceania affairs at the foreign ministry, who was joined by ROK Deputy Foreign Minister Lee Soo-Hyuck.

4. ROK on DPRK Multilateral Talks

Agence France-Presse (“ROH URGES NORTH KOREA TO GRAB OPPORTUNITY AT SIX-WAY TALKS,” Seoul, 08/15/03) reported that ROK President Roh Moo-Hyun urged the DPRK to grab the opportunity presented by upcoming six-nation talks to resolve the 10-month crisis over its nuclear weapons program. In a speech to mark the ROK’s liberation from Japanese colonial rule 58 years ago, Roh expressed optimism the August 27-29 talks in Beijing could lead to a breakthrough in the stand-off. “Luckily, we begin to see signs of a solution to the problem caused by the North’s nuclear program,” Roh said. “North Korea should not miss this opportunity.” The ROK leader said if North Korea dropped its nuclear ambitions, the ROK would help the DPRK rebuild its devastated economy. “It must dismantle its nuclear program and open itself up successfully. Nuclear weapons can never become a shield to protect its system. On the contrary, the program will cause further isolation and crisis.” He renewed his call for a peaceful end to the stand-off and called for an early settlement. “The DPRK nuclear issue should be resolved as early as possible. It has to be settled peacefully at all costs,” he said. Roh did not elaborate on what the DPRK would get in return for giving up its nuclear ambitions, but hinted at economic rewards. “We will collaborate with our neighbors in an endeavor to induce the cooperation of international organizations as well as international capital for the North,” he said in a Liberation Day speech.

5. US Missile Defense Developments

Agence France-Presse (“PENTAGON TO REOPEN ALEUTIAN BASE TO SUPPORT MISSILE DEFENSE,” Washington, 08/15/03) reported that the Pentagon has decided to use a mothballed naval base on an island in the western Aleutians to support a powerful 900-million dollar sea-based targeting radar for its missile defense system, officials said. The base at Adak, Alaska was deemed to be the most suitable of six sites considered because it was closest to the anticipated operating area of the new sea-based X-Band radar in the eastern Pacific, said Rick Lehner, a spokesman for the Missile Defense Agency. “Adak is a naval base that was closed in 1996,” he said. “So all the infrastructure is there and nobody is using it.” The radar, which is scheduled to begin operations in 2005, is designed to track the trajectory of incoming long-range missiles. The tracking data is then relayed to ground-based interceptor missiles at Fort Greely, Alaska and Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The Pentagon originally planned to build an X-band radar on land at Shemya island on the westernmost end of the Aleutian chain. But after withdrawing from the 1972 ABM treaty, which barred sea-based missile defenses, the Bush administration opted for a mobile, sea-based radar whose position could be moved depending on the threat. “When it’s out at sea, it gives the command and control system for missile defense a longer period of time to assess the missiles coming toward us,” said Lehner. A self-propelled, semi-submersible oil rig is being modified at shipyards in Brownsville and Corpus Christi, Texas, to carry the 50,000-ton radar, which is about 130 meters (390 feet) long and 83 meters (250 feet) high. The Missile Defense Agency plans to have a limited missile defense system in place by next year with four interceptors at Vandenberg Air Force Base and another six at Fort Greely. Up to 20 interceptor missiles are supposed to be deployed at Fort Greely by the end of 2005.

6. Koizumi Yasukuni War Shrine Visit

The Associated Press (Gary Schaefer, “JAPAN MARKS ANNIVERSARY OF WWII SURRENDER,” Tokyo 08/15/03) reported that Japan’s prime minister marked the 58th anniversary of World War II’s end with apologies and messages of peace, even as prominent lawmakers visited a shrine criticized as glorifying militarism. Asian countries called on Japan to acknowledge its wartime aggression. Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi expressed regret for the destruction inflicted by his country. “During the war, Japan caused tremendous damage and suffering for the people of many countries, particularly Asian nations,” Koizumi said at a Tokyo memorial service for the more than 3 million Japanese who died in the war. “On behalf of the people of Japan, I again express my profound remorse and sincerely mourn the victims.” “Humbly reflecting on the past, I will uphold this nation’s anti-war pledge and will make every effort to develop friendly relations with our neighbors,” he said, promising that future generations would never again take up arms. Koizumi has used virtually identical language in past speeches at the event, which brings together several thousand relatives of the war dead.

7. PRC Falun Gong Satellite Accusation

The Associated Press (Ted Anthony, “CHINA SAYS FALUN GONG TOOK OVER SATELLITE,” Beijing, 08/15/03) reported that the PRC government said Friday that the practitioners of the outlawed Falun Gong spiritual movement commandeered the PRC’s main television satellite twice this week, Sino Satellite, known commonly as SinoSat, was “taken over by illegal TV signals” transmitted by Falun Gong at 9:05 p.m. Tuesday and at 8:23 p.m. Wednesday, the Ministry of Information Industry said. The action prevented PRC audiences from watching programs on China Central Television and China Education Television, among others, the government said. Though the government’s Xinhua News Agency did not detail what was transmitted during the intervention, Falun Gong members in the past have sent programs about their movement and the abuses they say it endures. Falun Gong representatives in the US say that hacking is the only way they can circulate their message within the PRC. “(Falun Gong) practitioners in China have discovered a nonviolent means – one that harms neither people nor equipment – to break through the information blockade and let the people see programs that openly show the human rights violations happening in their own country,” Falun Gong spokesman Erping Zhang said last week in a release posted on the group’s Web site.

8. Taiwan Report on PRC Direct Links

Dow Jones (“TAIWAN ISSUES 1ST DRAFT ON DIRECT CHINA LINKS SINCE ’92,” Taipei, 08/15/03) reported that in its first wide-ranging report on direct links since 1992, the Taiwan government Friday estimated direct shipping with the PRC would result in savings of around NT$820 million per year and halve shipping times. Direct flights to the PRC would save passengers around NT$13.2 billion annually, it said. However, in terms of implementing direct links, the report was conservative, restating the government’s position that direct transportation with China ” cannot be separated from issues of national sovereignty.” The “implementation of ‘direct transportation’ should not be subject to any political preconditions,” it added. The report concludes that “the question is not whether ‘direct transportation’ should or should not be implemented, but rather one of how it should implemented.” The report maintains that a basis of “dignity, equality, and security” is necessary along with “domestic consensus.” The report, issued by Taiwan’s Executive Yuan, or cabinet, was compiled from the work of related agencies. It said direct transportation links between Taiwan and the PRC wouldn’t bring substantial benefits to the economy, adding 0.01-0.04 percentage point to gross domestic product growth in first year after they take affect, and 0.4-1.19 percentage points “in the long term” to GDP growth. “All these numbers show that the benefits are not significant for the economy,” the report said. The report noted a number of positive and negative factors that would result from direct links. Direct air links between Taiwan and the PRC would save NT$810 million per year on cargo transportation costs, it said. Turning to implications for private enterprise, it said direct links would reduce companies’ shipping costs by around 15%-30%. “The benefits of ‘direct transportation’ would be more substantial for air carriers while more limited for sea carriers,” the report said. Direct sea transportation links may make international shipping companies more willing to operate in Taiwan’s ports, reducing the threat posed to it after the completion in 2005 of a new deep-water port in Shanghai, according to the report. Direct air links could help raise Taiwan’s status as a regional hub for air- cargo and air-passenger traffic. Some of the potential negative impact of direct transportation across the Taiwan Strait would be a larger influx of China imports to Taiwan, which could hurt domestic industries, the report said. The industries most likely to be hurt by direct links are agriculture and industry, while the services sector would likely be boosted. The report added that structural unemployment may be worsened and ‘medium to high grade’ workers may move to the PRC to seek opportunities. “Increased Taiwanese business investment in mainland China could exacerbate the lopsidedness of cross-strait capital flows, lure industrial technology and high-tech talent to the mainland, and squeeze out domestic investment,” it said. National defense costs could soar once direct links are implemented, as Taiwan readjusts its armed forces to ensure its safety, the report notes.

9. PRC SARS Animals Link

Agence France-Presse (“INTERNATIONAL EXPERTS IN CHINA TO STUDY SARS’ LINKS TO ANIMALS,” 08/15/03) reported that an international group of experts was in southern PRC to study links between the deadly SARS virus and animals amid fears that the disease could reappear as winter approaches. “Their main mission is to collect information,” Alan Schnur, head of the World Health Organisation’s communicable disease office in Beijing, told AFP. “They want to see what studies have been done and to see what the situation is like at breeding farms and at markets.” Scientists have said viruses carried by wildlife in Guangdong province, where Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome originated last November, are nearly identical to the coronavirus responsible for the disease. But a final conclusion on which animal — or indeed whether it was an animal at all — was responsible for transmitting it to humans, has not been made. The team in Guangdong consists of 14 experts from the WHO, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations and the PRC’s Ministry of Health and Ministry of Science and Agriculture. Schnur said studies in Hong Kong and the PRC had showed the presence of the virus in rodent-like civet cats and other species but “whether it originated with them or whether they picked it up somewhere else, we don’t know that yet.” “This is one objective of the team in Guangdong — to pull together all the strands and see where we need to go from here.”

II. Japan

1. Japan Iraq Troop Deployment

The Asahi Shimbun (“POINT OF VIEW/ YURIKO KOIKE: SDF SHOULD OFFER MEDICAL HELP TO IRAQ FIRST,” 08/06/03) reported a Lower House member of the Liberal Democratic Party Yuriko Koike’s comment on the Japanese participation on the reconstruction of Iraq. Following are the excerpts; “Legislation to provide a legal basis for the dispatch of SDF units to Iraq has been enacted. Diet deliberations on the bill focused on what kind of weapons SDF troops should be allowed to take to Iraq to protect themselves. But the issue depends not on weapons but on how Iraqis will portray SDF activities through word of mouth. After attending a special session of the World Economic Forum (Davos Forum) held at the Dead Sea resort in late June, I entered Baghdad by land from Amman. […] I was able to learn directly how Baghdad citizens view the situation, their needs and the information circulating among them by word of mouth. I heard some Iraqis say that an old man was found hanging in his home the day after he beat a portrait of Saddam with his shoe after the fall of Baghdad. Others said: ‘Airstrikes are the work of US forces … Kuwaitis are setting fires in retaliation … Iraqis specialize in looting and Kurds buy the looted goods.’ […] A worrisome piece of information is also making the rounds: ‘Japanese troops are joining the US and British occupation forces.’ This is an indication that we need to do something to keep SDF troops from becoming targets of attacks by Iraqi guerrillas, like US combat troops. I have an idea: Before sending a 1,000-strong SDF contingent, send a team of staff members from the National Defense Medical College and SDF hospitals to carry out a major humanitarian relief effort. […] The Japanese doctors and nurses should help with the resumption of medical services by bringing in power generators and needed medical equipment. Considering the lack of security in the country, the assistance should be rendered by SDF-related personnel. It is not a job for nongovernmental organizations that needs protection. In Iraq, there are 13 hospitals built with Japanese financial assistance. Many of them have not been properly maintained. The thing to do is to make sure one by one that they become institutions that meet the terrible needs of Iraqi people. Such activities will foster a sense of trust in SDF troops and favorably influence what Iraqis say of the SDF mission by word of mouth. I believe that will help improve the image of Japan not only in Iraq but also in the neighboring Arab countries.”

2. Hiroshima & Nagasaki 58th Anniversary

Agence France-Presse (“APATHY OVERSHADOWS EFFORTS TO REVIVE NAGASAKI A-BOMB MEMORIES,” Nagasaki, 08/07/03) reported that lessons from the atomic bomb tragedy in the southwestern Japanese port city of Nagasaki are fading with time as apathy among young people is thwarting efforts to revive the bitter memories. Nagasaki National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims opened on July 6 just over a month ahead of the anniversary of the August 9, 1945 atomic bombing. “People well remember the name of Hiroshima, but some people don’t even know about the fact that Nagasaki was also atomic-bombed,” said Masato Koga, section chief of the hall built inside the Nagasaki Peace Memorial Park. Visitors can look at pictures of the victims, listen to their voice messages and check references through computers in the two-storey structure located 250 meters away from ground zero. “We are happy a large number of people have been visiting the hall everyday since the opening, but most of them are in their 50s or older,” Koga said. “I don’t have any particular awareness that Nagasaki is an atomic-bombed city,” said Natsumi Kojima, 24, who works at a foodstore in central Nagasaki. “It’s somehow a past story,” said Kojima, who was born and raised in the city. Asked if she wanted to visit the new memorial hall, Kojima replied: “Well, I’ll think about it.” “Those who directly experienced the bombing will be disappearing in 10 years,” said Sumiteru Taniguchi, 74, vice president of Nagasaki A-Bomb Sufferers’ Council. “I just want young people to remember that nuclear weapons will never save human beings. It is an illusion that the nuclear umbrella will protect us,” Taniguchi said firmly. Katsuichi Fukahori, a 74-year-old A-bomb survivor and secretary general of another victims’ group, however, says the passing of the memories cannot be helped. “It is natural that past memories are fading away. Nagasaki is not an exception,” said Fukahori, who was working at a production line for a Mitsubishi arms factory in the city when the bomb dropped. “I will try to do my best to pass my experience down to young people, but I feel there is a limit.”

Kyodo (“BRITISH ANTI NUKE GROUP STAGES PROTEST ON HIROSHIMA DAY,” London, 08/06/03) reported that antinuclear activists staged a lay-down protest outside the home of Britain’s nuclear deterrent force in Scotland on Aug. 6, the 58th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. Around 30 people took part in the symbolic “die in” outside the main gates of the Royal Navy’s Faslane base, which lies on the Firth of Clyde estuary, approximately 50 kilometers northwest of Glasgow. The protest was organized by the Trident Ploughshares group, which has been campaigning since 1998 for Britain to abandon its nuclear-armed Trident submarines. The blockade lasted about 15 minutes before police asked the protesters to move. Seven activists who refused to move were arrested for a “breach of the peace,” a spokesman for the group said. Trident Ploughshares activist David Heller, speaking from the group’s head office, said, “I hope that anyone who has seen the pictures from Hiroshima or met survivors would be moved, and we have been moved to take action and confront these nuclear weapons.” According to Heller, there were no Japanese activists outside the Trident base in Scotland, although some were present at previous demonstrations.

Kyodo (“NAGASAKI MARKS ANNIVERSARY OF A-BOMB,” Nagasaki, 08/10/03) and Mainichi Daily News (“MAYOR CRITICIZES U.S., BRITAIN AT NAGASAKI A-BOMB MEMORIAL,” Nagasaki, 08/09/03) reported that Nagasaki marked the 58th anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on last Saturday, with its mayor voicing concern over the DPRK’s nuclear ambitions while Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi reiterated a pledge to uphold Japan’s nonnuclear policies. Mayor Itcho Ito named the DPRK for the first time in the annual Peace Declaration, saying, “Following nuclear tests by India and Pakistan, the disclosure by North Korea that it too possesses nuclear weapons has served to heighten tension” in the international community. Also expressing concern about the US for indicating it will pursue the development of smaller nuclear weapons, Ito said, “International agreements supporting nuclear disarmament, nuclear nonproliferation and the prohibition of all nuclear weapons testing now appear to be on the verge of collapse.” To counteract these grave concerns, the mayor told the ceremony at Nagasaki Peace Park that Japan must spearhead a global drive to eliminate nuclear arms. Ito also said Japan’s three nonnuclear principles of not producing, possessing or allowing nuclear weapons on its soil must be codified as law, adding the Japanese government should uphold “the principle of an exclusively defensive posture” and work with other countries to build a nuclear-free zone in Northeast Asia. Quoting the words of Mother Theresa, the mayor urged US President George W. Bush and the leaders of other nuclear powers to visit the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum, “So that they may witness with their own eyes the tragic outcome of these instruments of destruction.” Ito alto referred to the recent Iraq war, saying, “It is indeed regrettable that the United States and Britain waged war against Iraq for its alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction, despite a rise in anti-war sentiment on a global scale.”

3. Overseas A-bomb Survivors

The Asahi Shimbun (“FEW A-BOMB VICTIMS LIVING ABROAD GET BENEFITS,” 08/09/03) reported that the Japanese health ministry officials disclosed that less than 4 percent of atomic bomb victims living abroad are receiving health-care allowances from the government. The low rate is due mostly to a restrictive application process that requires individuals to visit Japan to apply, officials said. In December, the Osaka High Court ruled in favor of an atomic bomb survivor living in the ROK who demanded the ministry continue paying his allowance after he left Japan. Following the ruling, the ministry revised its ordinances so victims living abroad can collect benefits. In March, such individuals became entitled to about 34,000 yen a month, the same amount paid to survivors in Japan. The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare estimated there are about 5,000 survivors of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki living overseas. Only 181, or 3.6 percent, were collecting health-care allowances as of June, the ministry reported. Of the rest, 1,099 individuals, most of them living in the ROK, have been approved for allowances after applying in Japan. However, they have not begun receiving their allowances due to stalled negotiations between the ministry and the Red Cross Society of South Korea. The ministry proposed sending the total allowance amount to the Red Cross Society, which would then distribute the benefits to survivors in the ROK. But the society has pushed for a revision of the application system so atomic bomb survivors in the ROK can apply without coming to Japan. Of the more than 3,500 individuals who have not applied to the ministry for allowances, about 2,500 have not even being certified as hibakusha, or atomic bomb victims.

4. Japan’s Logistic Support for the US

Kyodo (“KARZAI UNAWARE JAPAN SUPPORTED U.S. AFGHAN CAMPAIGN,” Kabul, 08/07/03) reported that Afghan President Hamid Karzai was unaware that Japan gave logistical support to the US-led antiterror campaign in Afghanistan, according to Japan’s former Defense Agency chief Gen Nakatani who met the president on Aug. 6. Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Nakatani said Karzai told him he did not know that Japan was involved in refueling coalition vessels in the Indian Ocean. “Japan must make more efforts at publicity,” Nakatani said. He also said Karzai asked Japan to send troops to the International Security Assistance Force operating in Kabul.

5. SDF’s Recruitment

The Japan Times (“‘GO! GO! PEACE!’ THE SDF WANTS YOU,” 08/09/03) reported that the Self-Defense Forces (SDF), chronically shorthanded due to the nation’s shrinking population and a general dislike of physical hardship among the young, have gone pop. A new recruitment poster commissioned by the Defense Agency features the 15-member all-girl pop group Morning Musume (Morning Girls). Rather than openly urging young people to join the all-volunteer military, the poster punctuates a pacifist-sounding message with exclamation points. “Doing one’s best feels good,” it proclaims in Japanese, followed by “GO! GO! PEACE!” in English. Remove the slogans, and the ad looks just like any pop-idol poster without military undertones. The pop stars are not even wearing SDF uniforms. The image is a radical departure for the SDF. A typical recruitment poster used to show good-looking men and women clad in uniforms, their shining eyes set on the horizon. The Defense Agency has used pop idols in the past — but in uniform. Defense Agency officials say the idea behind the Morning Musume poster is to eliminate images associated with the military. Shinichi Udagawa, former head of the Defense Agency’s Bureau of Personnel and Education and now the official in charge of agency contracts, said he would consider the recruitment poster a “big success” if high-school students find it attractive enough to pin up in their bedrooms. The Defense Agency has set the ideal number of uniformed SDF personnel at 258,000, but the actual figure in March 2002 was about 240,000. Among the three SDF branches, the Ground Self-Defense Force has the largest personnel shortage, falling 11 percent shy of its optimum level in fiscal 2002.

6. Japan Goes Nuclear?

The Japan Times (“JAPANESE NUCLEAR ARSENAL LOOKS UNLIKELY,” Washington, 08/10/03) reported a comment by Jeff Thompson, research associate of the Japan Project at The Henry L. Stimson Center, over the speculation that Japan might go nuclear. He states, “The reality is that Japan will not go nuclear anytime soon — even with a nuclear North Korea in the region — because it is simply not in its own national interests to do so. Statements by several high-profile Japanese political figures in 2002 about Japan’s ability to go nuclear drew widespread attention as possible indicators that Japan was actively considering a nuclear option. That is a misreading. Rather than reflecting any heated debate among policymakers in Japan, they represent isolated comments about the capability, or legality — not intention — to respond to future regional security threats. Unfortunately those remarks have been incorrectly linked to the escalating North Korea crisis, recent changes in Japan’s defense policy and Japan’s nuclear technology as evidence of the imminent transformation of Japan toward a nuclear-weapons state. […] While agreeing with the United States to use ‘tough measures’ if North Korea continues to increase threats, Japan remains extremely cautious about supporting any use of military force. Even Defense Agency Director General Shigeru Ishiba, viewed by some as a defense hawk, has clarified that no outcome of the crisis will lead Japan to enter a nuclear arms race in Northeast Asia. […] Ultimately continued protection provided by the US nuclear umbrella and the robust US-Japan alliance relationship should foreclose any serious consideration of Japan’s own nuclear deterrent. To many observers of the East Asia security environment, a nuclear Japan fits in neatly with the continuum of change in Japan’s defense policy over the past decade. The SDF’s missions have expanded in the context of UN peacekeeping, the war against terrorism and, maybe soon, the reconstruction of Iraq. Acquisition of nuclear weapons, however, is not a natural ‘next step’ because such a decision would undermine the key elements of Japan’s policies in the areas of defense, nuclear energy and nonproliferation/arms control — policies that limit nuclear and rocket technologies to peaceful usage, forbid the development of nuclear weapons, and advocate reducing worldwide stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction. […] Perhaps most importantly, gaining political approval in the Japanese Diet to move forward with such an endeavor — requiring widespread public approval — would certainly prove an extraordinary challenge.”

7. LDP Presidential Election

The Asahi Shimbun (“KOIZUMI WILLING TO RISK A VOTE EVEN IF HE LOSES AS BOSS OF LDP,” 08/09/03) reported that Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi suggested he is prepared to dissolve the Lower House and order a snap election, even if he loses the September presidential election of his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) since he would still hold the top post. Koizumi apparently hoisted a warning to the resistance forces within his own party that he is prepared to dissolve the chamber and order an election even if he loses, and he is hoping voters will endorse his leadership. Some in the LDP are concerned that if Koizumi loses the presidential election, he would stay on as prime minister and could team up with part of the opposition to achieve a genuine political realignment. Taku Yamasaki, the LDP secretary-general, predicts a tough race for Koizumi, if voting for the presidency goes into two stages. The first round involves voting by the 356 LDP Diet members and 300 votes cast on behalf of rank-and-file party members of local LDP chapters. If no candidate wins a majority, the second stage will be fought between the two top candidates, in which only Diet members vote. Yamasaki told reporters that a second round of voting would be difficult for Koizumi because he cannot depend too much upon factional alliances.

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