NAPSNet Daily Report 19 April, 2010
Contents in this Issue:
- I. Napsnet
- 1. Sino-DPRK Relations
- 2. DPRK Internal Situation
- 3. DPRK Defectors
- 4. Sinking of ROK Naval Vessel
- 5. DPRK on ROK Naval Ship Sinking
- 6. ROK Response to Naval Ship Sinking
- 7. ROK Defense
- 8. ROK Energy Security
- 9. ROK-Japan Relations
- 10. USFJ Base Relocation
- 11. Japanese Voting Rights
- 12. Japanese Climate Change
- 13. Japanese Demographics
- 14. Sino-Japanese Relations
- 15. PRC Earthquake Response
- 16. PRC Internet Control
- II. PRC Report
1. Sino-DPRK Relations
Asahi Shimbun (Kenji Minemura, “KIM LIKELY TO VISIT BEIJING SOON”, Beijing, 2010/04/19) reportted that a close aide to Kim Jong Il has traveled to the PRC to prepare the ground for a visit by the DPRK leader as early as the end of April, sources said over the weekend. The aide, who is in charge of Kim’s personal security, was part of a delegation which flew into Beijing on April 8. According to PRC-DPRK sources, the aide discussed the timing of Kim’s visit and his itinerary with officials of the Communist Party of China.
2. DPRK Internal Situation
Chosun Ilbo (“N.KOREA ‘SPENT MILLIONS’ ON FIREWORKS”, Seoul, 2010/04/19) reported that spent more than US$5.4 million on fireworks displays along the banks of the Taedong River in Pyongyang on Wednesday to celebrate former leader Kim Il-sung’s 98th birthday the following day. A DPRK source on Friday said the DPRK had imported about 60 tons of fireworks from the PRC for the display and invited foreign engineers for technical assistance. “They must have spent more than W6 billion for the fireworks and their display, transportation, and labor,” the source said.
3. DPRK Defectors
Korea Times (Kang Hyun-kyung, “PYONGYANG DETAINS NORTH KOREAN DEFECTOR”, Seoul, 2010/04/18) reported that a DPRK defector working for the Seoul based Free North Korea Radio (FNKR) as a correspondent was abducted by the DPRK’s security agents on February 19 near the PRC-DPRK border. Kim Seung-min, director of the FNKR, said he knew something was wrong when the 50-year-old correspondent stationed in Dandong, China, and identified as a Lee, didn’t answer his phone. Kim said Lee was scheduled to meet with his wife and son, who live in the DPRK, near the border area at that time and was caught by the agents who were waiting for him. “He was trapped. North Korean security was aware of his scheduled reunion with his family,” Kim said. “I was told that North Korea is going to announce shortly that they detained Lee with the false allegation that he illegally crossed the border to spy on the communist nation.”
4. Sinking of ROK Naval Vessel
Chosun Ilbo (“CONDITION OF CHEONAN BOW CONFIRMS EXTERNAL EXPLOSION”, Seoul, 2010/04/19) reported that the ROK military is convinced that an external explosion was the cause of the sinking of the Navy corvette Cheonan after finding the ship’s bow ripped jaggedly apart. “According to Navy Ship Salvage Unit and civilian divers, the bow was also ripped off jaggedly just like the stern,” a military spokesman said. “The sheath of mazes of cables and hoses on the inside wall of the ripped-off hull is in good condition, so there is a slim chance that an underwater weapon such as a torpedo had penetrated the hull and exploded.” “The bow is generally less sturdy than the stern,” the officer said. “The hull lies on the seabed sideways and could be torn in the process of righting it or pulling it to the surface. It could cave in when you try to pull it up because the center of gravity is at the top.”
Chosun Ilbo (“MILITARY INCREASINGLY CONVINCED OF N.KOREAN SUB ATTACK”, Seoul, 2010/04/19) reported that military officials and experts believe that if a DPRK torpedo was involved in the sinking of the ROK Navy corvette Cheonan, it was probably launched from a 325-ton Shark-class submarine. ROK military intelligence are reportedly focusing on the fact that one or two Shark-class submarines from a submarine base in Cape Bipagot, South Hwanghae Province are unaccounted for during the time of the Cheonan’s sinking.
5. DPRK on ROK Naval Ship Sinking
New York Times (Choe Sang-hun, “NORTH KOREA DENIES SINKING NAVY SHIP”, Seoul, 2010/04/17) reported that the DPRK on Saturday denied involvement in the sinking of the ROK warship Cheonan. “They are using the media to attribute it to us,” K.C.N.A. quoted a military official as saying. “This is all a plot against” the DPRK, he added.
6. ROK Response to Naval Ship Sinking
Associated Press (Hyung-jin Kim, “SKOREA’S LEE VOWS TO FIND CAUSE OF SHIP SINKING”, Seoul, 2010/04/19) reported that ROK President Lee Myung-bak pledged Monday to take strong action against whoever was responsible for the explosion that sank an ROK warship last month. “I promise you that as the president I will uncover all details of the cause of the Cheonan’s sinking to the end,” Lee said in a nationally televised, 10-minute speech. He said he would “resolutely and unwaveringly cope with the results” of the investigation, and would make the ROK’s military stronger to prevent similar events.
Joongang Ilbo (“CHEONAN CASE COULD BE BROUGHT TO UN: MINISTER”, Seoul, 2010/04/19) reported that ROK Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan said Sunday that bringing the matter to the United Nations Security Council is an option if Pyongyang was found responsible for the sinking of the Cheonan. “Although I am speaking about a hypothetical situation, the first thing that we can think about is taking the matter to the United Nations Security Council, if the North was proven to be behind the incident,” Yu said. Noting that the UN Security Council has authority to review matters related to a war, Yu said a discussion is possible.
Korea Times (Lee Tae-hoon, “CONSERVATIVE LEADERS CALL FOR MILITARY RETALIATION”, Seoul, 2010/04/16) reported that leaders of two conservative political parties expressed the need Friday for military retaliation against the DPRK if it turns out that Pyongyang was responsible for the sinking of the Cheonan. “Many say South Korea will not be able to take military action, but I believe we should seriously consider it,” Chung Mong-joon, chairman of the governing Grand National Party (GNP), said. Lee Hoi-chang, chairman of the minor opposition Liberty Forward Party, went as far as to say that the ROK should immediately destroy any DPRK warship threatening or attempting to cross the Northern Limit Line (NLL). Meanwhile, Chung Sye-kyun, chairman of the main opposition Democratic Party, called for an objective investigation into the cause of the sinking. “The government and military need to gain the trust of the people by conducting an absolutely fair and transparent probe,” Chung said.
7. ROK Defense
Dong-A Ilbo (“NAVY TO REVAMP OP FOR YELLOW SEA”, Seoul, 2010/04/19) reported that the ROK military will draw up a new operational plan for the Yellow Sea after its existing one was leaked in the wake of the sinking of a naval vessel late last month. A military official said yesterday that the Navy cannot conduct missions with the existing plan because it and other military secrets have been leaked to the DPRK since the sinking. “We have re-designated the operational zone of naval patrol ships to cope with the North’s coastal artillery since last year’s (inter-Korean) naval clash,” the official said. “In particular, we find it inevitable to review the operation of monitoring assets, including thermal observation devices installed on Baengnyeong Island,” he said.
8. ROK Energy Security
Joongang Ilbo (“SELF-SUFFICIENCY RATE IS UP FOR COAL, MINERALS”, Seoul, 2010/04/19) reported that the ROK procured more of its own coal and mineral raw materials last year. According to the Ministry of Knowledge Economy, 25.1 percent of domestic consumption of six “strategic minerals” – soft coal, uranium, iron ore, copper, zinc and nickel – was obtained from mines at least partly owned by ROK or local companies last year. That was an increase of 2 percentage points from 2008. It was also the first time Korea had produced any of its own uranium, after the state-run Korea Electric Power Corp. acquired a 17-percent stake in Denison Mines Corp., an intermediate uranium producer based in Canada, for $314 million.
9. ROK-Japan Relations
Yomiuri Shimbun (“JOINT SURVEY SHOWS JAPAN-ROK GAPS”, Tokyo, 2010/04/18) reported that fifty-seven percent of Japanese respondents to a recent joint Japan-ROK survey believe Tokyo-Seoul relations are “good” and 29 percent think ties are “bad,” while only 24 percent of ROK respondents think the ties are “good” and 73 percent think they are “bad.” The telephone survey was jointly conducted by The Yomiuri Shimbun and the Seoul-based Hankook Ilbo on April 9-11. When the Japanese pollees were asked whether they regarded the ROK as trustworthy, 45 percent replied “Yes” and 41 percent “No.” In the ROK, 80 percent said they considered Japan “not trustworthy,” far larger than 18 percent who said Japan is trustworthy. Eighty percent of the ROK pollees said they thought Japan’s colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula, which lasted until 1945, continued to hamper improvement of Japanese-ROK relations, while the corresponding figure in Japan was 68 percent.
10. USFJ Base Relocation
Asahi Shimbun (“15,000 RALLY AGAINST BASE TRANSFER”, Tukonoshima, 2010/04/19) reported that about 15,000 people rallied Sunday to protest a plan to transfer elements of a U.S. military base from Okinawa Prefecture to this Tukonoshima Island, organizers said. “I’m convinced that the (central) government can no longer propose a plan to build a base on Tokunoshima,” said Akira Okubo, mayor of the town of Isen. “We don’t need sweet economic deals (for the island).”
Yomiuri Shimbun (“OBAMA AIRS FUTENMA DOUBTS TO PM”, Tokyo, 2010/04/19) reported that U.S. President Barack Obama has expressed doubt over Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama’s pledge to resolve the dispute over the U.S. Marine Corp’s Futenma Air Station in Okinawa Prefecture by the end of May, asking him, “Can you follow through?” according to diplomatic sources. Obama made the remark at an unofficial meeting with Hatoyama in Washington last Monday evening, during which Hatoyama asked for the U.S. president’s cooperation in settling the Futenma base relocation issue by the end of May.
Yomiuri Shimbun (“KEATING ‘LEERY’ OF FUTENMA SEPARATION PLAN”, Tokyo, 2010/04/16) reported that former U.S. Pacific Command head Admiral Timothy Keating said that he would be “very leery” of a plan that calls for the separation of the air and ground elements of the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station. “They [the marines] are a very powerful deterrent to countries…[that] may have military intentions that run contrary to ours,” he said. “[What] I would want to impress upon you is that they’re trained, they’re ready, they’re prepared, and they’re well equipped, and being forward-deployed, they are much closer to potential scenes of action.” “It is essential for training those marines, to the extent that they must be trained so as to respond in very short order to [a] wide variety of missions, that they be located as closely as possible.” “I would be very leery of a plan that would separate [the two elements],” Keating said. “There would be a fair amount of time spent ferrying back and forth, not to mention the increased fuel costs attendant to that move.”
Kyodo (“HATOYAMA TAKES TOKUNOSHIMA RALLY AGAINST FUTENMA AS ‘POPULAR WILL’ “, Seoul, 2010/04/19) reported that Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama acknowledged Monday that a weekend rally by residents of Tokunoshima Island in Kagoshima Prefecture was an ”expression of popular will” against the idea of moving a unit from a major U.S. Marine base in Okinawa Prefecture to the island. ”There was such great energy,” Hatoyama told reporters in the morning. ”I should understand it as signifying an expression of popular will that so many Tokunoshima people gathered.”
11. Japanese Voting Rights
Asahi Shimbun (“ISHIHARA BLASTS FOREIGN SUFFRAGE BILL”, Tokyo, 2010/04/19) reported that Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara has slammed government moves to grant limited voting rights to permanent foreign residents, accusing the legislators behind it of having foreign ancestry. “Perhaps they want to show loyalty to their ancestors, but they are pushing legislation that could affect Japan’s fate,” Ishihara told a gathering Saturday in Tokyo. At a separate gathering in Tokyo on Saturday, top officials of several political parties voiced opposition to the proposed legislation.
12. Japanese Climate Change
Asahi Shimbun (“JAPAN CLEARS ’08 EMISSIONS TARGET”, Tokyo, 2010/04/17) repored that according to the Environment Ministry, Japan’s total emissions during fiscal 2008, the first year of the five-year commitment period under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol to cut emissions by 6 percent from fiscal 1990 levels, was roughly 1.282 billion tons, up 1.6 percent from 1990. At the same time, officials said Japan calculated a reduction of 3.5 percent through the absorption of gases by forests. The government also will factor in a 1.6-percent cut from 1990 levels, or one year’s worth of the five years of emissions credits it purchased overseas. By including credits bought independently by the electric power industry, equal to a 5-percent reduction, the final tally translates into an overall reduction of 8.5 percent, meaning Japan was able to clear its 6-percent target. Meanwhile, total emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and chlorofluorocarbon substitutes fell 6.4 percent year on year, reflecting an overall slowdown in production amid the economic downturn, Environment Minister Sakihito Ozawa said.
13. Japanese Demographics
Asahi Shimbun (“POPULATION DROPS BY RECORD 183,000”, Tokyo, 2010/04/19) reported that Japan’s population as of October 1, 2009, fell by a record 183,000 from a year ago, marking the second straight year of decline, according to government estimates. The drop is the largest since comparable statistics became available in 1950, the internal affairs ministry said. The estimated national population as of last Oct. 1 was 127.51 million.
14. Sino-Japanese Relations
Agence France-Presse (“JAPAN ‘BOOSTING INTELLIGENCE ON CHINESE MILITARY'”, Tokyo, 2010/04/18) reported that Japan is boosting its intelligence resources devoted to the PRC’s military, which it considers the top national security concern, Nikkei reported Sunday. The defence ministry-affiliated National Institute for Defence Studies (NIDS) has established a task force of six researchers to examine the PRC’s national security strategy, the daily said. It will study the strategic thinking guiding the People’s Liberation Army, the purpose of its recent military buildup and its relationship with the Chinese Communist Party, the daily said. The team will be expanded into a fuller unit in two or three years, Nikkei added.
15. PRC Earthquake Response
Asahi Shimbun (Kenji Minemura and Tetsu Kobayashi , “BEIJING MOVES TO THWART UNREST”, Beijing and Jieghuzhen, 2010/04/17) reported that in the aftermath of the earthquake that hit the PRC’s western province of Qinghai on Wednesday, the PRC government is moving to head off social turmoil in the region, a flashpoint of ethnic and poverty problems. Top PRC leaders moved quickly to visit the mountainous area. Footage of leaders offering sympathy to victims and exhorting rescue workers is being aired repeatedly across the PRC. The Communist Party’s Central Publicity Department has issued an internal notice banning PRC media from reporting criticism of delays in rescue work, according to Chinese sources.
New York Times (Andrew Jacobs, “CHINESE PREMIER VISITS TIBETAN QUAKE SURVIVORS”, Jeigu, 2010/04/16) reported that PRC Prime Minister Wen Jiabao spent Friday in the Tibetan high country, comforting survivors of this week’s earthquake. “No matter whether you are Tibetans or Hans, you are all in one family,” Mr. Wen said during a visit to an orphanage in Yushu Prefecture.
Los Angeles Times (Barbara Demick, “CHINA’S HU JINTAO VISITS TIBETAN REGION HIT BY EARTHQUAKE”, Beijing, 2010/04/19) reported that PRC President Hu Jintao flew Sunday to the site of last week’s earthquake on the Tibetan plateau. In a letter released Saturday by his office in Dharmsala, India, the Dalai Lama noted that he was born in Qinghai province, where the quake hit. “To fulfill the wishes of many of the people there, I am eager to go there myself to offer them comfort,” he said. He also in the letter complimented the PRC government for its handling of earthquake relief, in particular pointing to an unusually long visit by Premier Wen Jiabao on Thursday and Friday.
16. PRC Internet Control
New York Times (Jonathan Ansfield, “CHINA STARTS NEW BUREAU TO CURB WEB”, Beijing, 2010/04/16) reported that the PRC has formed a new bureau expected to help to police social networking sites and other user-driven forums on the Internet. People informed of the expansion say the authorities are retooling their media apparatus to deepen their leverage over the Web, and regulators are jostling for the growing power and privilege at stake. The new agency, officially called the Internet news coordination bureau, is part of this effort to better monitor the communications of PRC Web users, who total nearly 400 million by official estimates.
II. PRC Report
17. PRC Earthquake Relief
Xinhua News (“QUAKE RELIEF IN ACTION: PANCHEN LAMA DONATES TO QUAKE RELIEF IN NW CHINA”, 2010/04/16) reported that the 11th Panchen Lama, Bainqen Erdini Qoigyijabu, has donated 100,000 yuan to help quake relief in the northwestern province of Qinghai. He also asked Tibetan monks at the Zhaxi Lhunbo Lamasery, the seat of successive Panchen Lamas in Tibet’s Xigaze, to pray for the quake victims.
18. Sino-Brazilian Relations
Xinhua News (“CHINA TO BUILD $5 BILLION STEEL PLANT IN BRAZIL”, 2010/04/16) reported that Brazil and China Thursday signed several deals on the sidelines of a BRIC summit in Brasilia, including a huge investment pact to build a five-billion-dollar Chinese steel factory in Brazil. The agreements were finalized during a meeting between Chinese President Hu Jintao and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva before a summit between Brazil, Russia, India and China, the four so-call BRIC major emerging economies.