NAPSNet Daily Report 20 April, 2004

Recommended Citation

"NAPSNet Daily Report 20 April, 2004", NAPSNet Daily Report, April 20, 2004, https://nautilus.org/napsnet/napsnet-daily-report/napsnet-daily-report-20-april-2004/

 
CONTENTS

I. United States

1. PRC-DPRK Diplomacy
2. US on DPRK Nuclear Negotiations
3. DPRK Working Group
4. KEDO-DPRK Discussions
5. ROK-DPRK Relations
6. DPRK-ROK Economic Talks
7. DPRK Economic Development
8. DPRK-ROK DMZ Electricity
9. PRC on Cheney Censorship
10. PRC Coal Energy
11. Iraq Japanese Hostages
12. OpEd: New York Times on Asia Missile Defense
II. Japan 1. Japan Constitutional Revision
2. Japan Hostage Crisis in Iraq
3. Japan Iraq Troops Dispatch
III. CanKor E-Clipping Service 1. Issue #161

I. United States

1. PRC-DPRK Diplomacy

Donga Ilbo (Young-Sik Kim, “KIM JONG-IL: ‘PERSUADE THE US TO ABANDON ITS ADVERSARIAL POLICY AGAINST NORTH KOREA,'” 04/20/04) reported that DPRK leader Kim Jong-il, on the second day of his visit to Beijing on April 20, met with PRC leaders such as Zhang Zemin, the head of PRC Central Military Committee, and discussed measures to reduce the security uncertainties over the DPRK. Kim has focused on the idea that in order to solve the DPRK’s nuclear problem, a safety guarantee for the DPRK social system is an essential prerequisite. It has been known that Kim requested PRC leaders to persuade the US to give up its adversarial policies against the DPRK. After introducing international political conditions such as the US’s war in Iraq and the embodiment of peace in Mid-east Asia, the head of military committee, Zhang promised Kim that he would exert every effort to solve the the DPRK’s nuclear problem. At the meeting table with the PRC premier Won Zabao, Kim exchanged his opinions about opening the DPRK’s market to foreign investment in the future, and measures to strengthen economic cooperation with the DPRK. Reporters believe that Premier Won may have suggested efforts to supply energy and food to the DPRK. It has been disclosed that Kim visited the agricultural model town, Han Chun-huh, near Beijing, and made an inspection of the modernization of PRC farm towns there. In advance, Kim invited the president of the PRC, Hu Zintao to officially visit the DPRK in near future, and Hu showed a positive attitude toward this request.

The Associated Press (Stephanie Hoo, “REPORT: CHINA URGES SOFTER N. KOREA,” Beijing, 04/20/04) reported that the PRC is urging DPRK leader Kim Jong Il to ease off his hard-line stance toward the US. A day after talks with President Hu Jintao, Kim was said to have met Tuesday with former President Jiang Zemin, who remains head of the Communist Party commission that runs the PRC’s military. The PRC government has refused to publicly confirm Kim’s visit. However, Kim was seen leaving a Beijing restaurant, and US officials say the PRC has told the US that it is meeting with Kim. During his meeting with Jiang, “Kim was believed to have expressed a strong doubt that North Korea would ever get security guarantees from the US even if it gives up its nuclear programs,” an unidentified source in Beijing reported. “Jiang was believed to have told Kim that the possibility of the US invading North Korea was very slim, thus indirectly giving him strong advice for North Korea to change its hard-line stance against the US,” the newspaper said.

2. US on DPRK Nuclear Negotiations

The Los Angeles Times (Barbara Demick, “N. KOREAN NUCLEAR ISSUE SIMMERS ON A BACK BURNER; NEGOTIATIONS SLOW AMID UNCERTAINTY BEFORE US ELECTIONS. PYONGYANG MAY EXPLOIT THE DELAY,” Seoul, 04/20/04) reported that one might say that this year’s DPRK nuclear crisis has been postponed — to be rescheduled at a date more convenient for the political calendar. Dealing with the DPRK’s headlong pursuit of nuclear weapons, once described as the biggest security threat to the US, has been downgraded to a droning diplomatic process with little sense of urgency — at least until after the US presidential election. “It is like they are just going through the motions,” said Charles L. Pritchard, once a lead US negotiator with DPRK and now a harsh critic of the Bush administration’s handling of the DPRK. In Pritchard’s view, this flurry of activity creates an illusion that the DPRK nuclear program is under control when it is not. The Bush administration “can say with a straight face that we have engaged the international community. We have a multilateral approach. But they are not headed to legitimate resolution of the problem,” Pritchard said. “They have merely obtained their interim goal, which is to keep Korea off the front pages.” Even Vice President Dick Cheney, one of the key architects of the administration’s North Korea policy, complained during his recent Asia trip that the process was moving too slowly. “Time is not necessarily on our side,” Cheney told students at Shanghai’s Fudan University on Thursday. But some participants in the six-party talks blame the Bush administration for dragging its feet. One frequently voiced complaint is that Assistant Secretary of State James A. Kelly, the lead negotiator in the two previous rounds, has had little latitude for negotiating and has been merely reading scripts prepared in Washington.

3. DPRK Working Group

Agence France-Presse (“PLANS STALL FOR WORKING GROUP TALKS ON N.KOREA’S NUCLEAR DRIVE,” Seoul, 04/20/04) reported that efforts to convene a working group to prepare the way for six-nation talks on the DPRK’s nuclear drive have stalled, a senior ROK official was quoted as saying Tuesday. Agreement to set up the working group to ease differences ahead of full-fledged talks was one of the few concrete achievements to emerge from the second round of six-way talks held in Beijing in February. “The (ROK) government has been seeking to have the working group meet twice ahead of the third six-nation talks,” the unidentified official was quoted as saying. “But judging from the current situation, we might have to go directly to the six-nation talks without working group talks.” The official said the ROK hoped that the hitch would not delay the next round of six-way talks.

4. KEDO-DPRK Discussions

Yonhap (“KOREAN ENERGY CONSORTIUM, NORTH OFFICIALS DISCUSS NUCLEAR POWER PLANT WORKERS,” Seoul, 04/20/04) reported that the DPRK and a US-led consortium responsible for building nuclear power plants in the DPRK have discussed the issue of observance of DPRK law, ROK officials said Tuesday (20 April). Officials from the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO) had working-level meetings with DPRK officials Monday and Tuesday in the Kumho area on the DPRK’s northeastern coast on the issue. “We have discussed what specific provisions of the DPRK law workers dispatched to the area should abide by,” one official said. “Consular protection for the workers will continue… (ellipsis as received) We are simply trying to make it clear what part of DPRK law our workers should respect,” the official said. “We will be able to know what the DPRK side wants after the KEDO officials return,” the official said.

5. ROK-DPRK Relations

Yonhap (“Monitoring SOUTH KOREA ADVISED TO SEND SPECIAL ENVOY TO NORTH,” 04/20/04) reported that the ROK should consider dispatching a special envoy to the DPRK to induce a peaceful resolution of the DPRK’s nuclear weapons program, a presidential advisory body said Tuesday. In a report, the Advisory Council on Democratic and Peaceful Unification also called on the incoming legislature to form a bipartisan committee to address divisions over how to end the 18-month standoff over the DPRK’s nuclear ambitions. The advisory body urged the ROK government to build a consensus that no party to the six-nation talks on the nuclear issue should do anything that could exacerbate the situation, to keep alive the momentum of the discussions. It also noted that Seoul’s mediating role is needed until the US presidential election later this year.

6. DPRK-ROK Economic Talks

Yonhap (“TWO KOREAS TO DISCUSS SETTLEMENT OF TRADE TRANSACTIONS,” Seoul, 04/20/04) reported that working-level officials of the ROK and DPRK are to restart economic talks Tuesday after more than a month of suspension following the unprecedented impeachment of ROK President Roh Moo-hyun, ROK officials said Tuesday. A three-member DPRK delegation was to arrive in the ROK border town of Paju by crossing the heavily fortified border separating the ROK and DPRK. During the 20-22 April talks, the working-level officials are likely to discuss technical details for settling trade transactions between the ROK and DPRK, whose two-way trade totaled 724m US dollars last year, up 12.9 per cent from 2002. The talks were originally scheduled to be held last month in Paju, but the North made a last-minute request that the venue be switched to the DPRK border town of Kaesong, citing political instability in the ROK following the presidential impeachment.

7. DPRK Economic Development

Chosun Ilbo “KIM JONG-IL SEEKS HIS OWN SILICON VALLEY,” 4/20/2004) reported that DPRK leader Kim Jong Il is planning to build a high-tech industrial complex like Silicon Valley at Mt. Geumgang, Hyundai Asan president Kim Yoon-kyu said Tuesday. “What Kim Jong Il wants is to construct Mt. Geumgang Valley, which is similar to that of the Silicon Valley. The ROK-DPRK Economic Cooperation Agreement signed in August of 2000 also contains this plan,” Kim said during his speech at the 1st Teheran Valley Forum hosted by the Korea Industrial Technology Foundation. Kim added that the ROK and DPRK must make haste with technological exchange. Kim said Hyundai is promoting the construction of high-tech training schools and technology development centers in Gyeseong. He said, “North Korea has placed business promotion in our hands, and because the people in Gyeseong are looking forward to this project, the construction of the industrial complex will be a success.”

8. DPRK-ROK DMZ Electricity

Donga Ilbo: (Seung-Ryun Kim, “‘ROK ELECTRICITY’ CROSSING THE DMZ” 4/20/2004) reported that the ROK will supply electricity to North Korea across the DMZ. On April 20, Korea Land Corporation and Hyundai Asan decided to supply electricity directly to ROK firms undergoing construction in the Kaesung Industrial Complex through Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO). KEPCO will set up telegraph poles to Kaesung and supply energy to about 10 factories. They will settle in the initial section (10,000 pyong) of the Kaesung Industrial Complex, which opens in the second half of this year. An official from the Ministry of Unification said, “When the need for electricity increases after the industrial complex is completed and more factories are built, we will construct a substation in the Kaesung area and supply power by linking it with a ROK substation and transmission tower.” “Since the ROK central station has a complete control over the matter, the electricity supply will be intercepted if North Korea attempts to steal energy,” he explained. The DPRK government has asked South Korea to supply power by building a power plant in the Kaesung area. However, the ROK government showed disapproval because electricity is a “strategic resource.”

9. PRC on Cheney Censorship

The Associated Press (Stephanie Hoo, “CHINA SAYS MEDIA DIDN’T CENSOR CHENEY,” Beijing, 04/20/04) reported that a government spokesman Tuesday dismissed suggestions that the PRC censored a speech by Vice President Dick Cheney during a recent visit, saying any deletion of remarks was due to editing in the state media. Cheney’s April 15 speech to students at Shanghai’s Fudan University was broadcast live on state-run television at the insistence of US officials following negotiations with the PRC side, said a US Embassy spokeswoman in Beijing, who spoke on condition of anonymity. But the official PRC transcript of Cheney’s remarks published in the Communist Party’s People’s Daily newspaper deleted references to political freedom and other issues that the PRC government prefers not to discuss. Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan said Tuesday that he had no knowledge of the edited transcript. “I don’t know where you got this information,” he said. Kong said that Cheney’s speech was broadcast live and “correspondents may have edited the remarks” after it was finished. In one segment of his speech, Cheney spoke of “rising prosperity and expanding political freedom” across Asia. But the PRC transcript refers only to “rising prosperity.” The PRC transcript also excludes Cheney’s support for the Taiwan Relations Act.

10. PRC Coal Energy

Agence France-Presse (“CHINA’S ROARING DEMAND FOR COAL EXACTS STEEP PRICE IN HUMAN LIVES,” 04/20/04) reported that more than 7,000 mining deaths a year is the steep price the PRCis forced to pay for being the world’s top producer and consumer of coal. With an economy growing by more than nine percent a year, China needs all the energy it can get, pushing coal production last year to 1.7 billion tonnes, up 21.5 percent from the previous year. Coal was playing a declining role in the PRC’s energy make-up in the late 1990s, but it has picked up again and accounted for more than 70 percent of total energy output in 2002, the latest available data shows. Even though coal extraction is on the rise, it is not enough to satisfy the appetite of the roaring PRC economy. As a result, the government decided last month to reduce the 2004 export quota of coal allocated to the production of steel overseas. This has sent jitters through the ranks of European steel producers, who fear it will lead to a coal shortage. The issue has moved so high up on the Sino-European agenda that European Commission President Romano Prodi raised it during a visit to the PRC last week. In the PRC, the soaring demand for coal has led to the reopening of a large number of mines which had previously been closed due to abysmal safety conditions. Last September, the State Administration of Work Safety said the number of coal mining deaths in major accidents increased 25 percent in the first eight months of 2003 from a year earlier. According to other official statistics, a total of 7,197 PRC miners died between January and October last year, the vast majority of them while extracting coal. The PRC government has so far given no figures for mining deaths for the entire year of 2003.

11. Iraq Japanese Hostages

Agence France-Presse (“LAST TWO FREED JAPANESE HOSTAGES ARRIVE HOME AFTER IRAQ ORDEAL,” 04/20/04) reported that the last two Japanese hostages to be freed by their kidnappers in Iraq arrived in Tokyo. Freelance journalist Junpei Yasuda, 30, and peace activist Nobutaka Watanabe, 36, arrived on an overnight flight from Moscow, a Civil Aviation Bureau spokesman said. “I apologise for having created worry for many people. We have returned home safely. I thank you,” Yasuda told reporters at the Narita airport. “I want to thank those who supported us and who worried about us,” said Watanabe, who raised his arms and gave the thumbs up to a group of reporters and photographers. “I want to express my thanks to them,” he said. The two men said they had no plans to return to Iraq.

12. OpEd: New York Times on Asia Missile Defense

New York Times (“ASIA’S ILL-ADVISED UMBRELLA,” 04/16/04) carried an OpEd that read that by pushing ahead with its plans for a missile defense in Asia, the Bush administration runs the risk of creating a larger threat than the one it means to counter. The danger of an American-led Asian “umbrella club,” theoretically protected from any missiles – we say “theoretically” because of the technology’s poor track record – is that it would unnecessarily isolate and antagonize China. The improving relations between Washington and Beijing, and between China’s Communist government and its neighbors, are the main guarantor of future stability in East Asia. The missile defense system would prove to be a self-defeating reversal. Beijing understandably sees a threat in an ambitious American push to create a missile shield that would exclude it while covering Japan and Taiwan. Japan, once skeptical of the project, is now willing to go along in response to North Korea’s nuclear program. But a technologically unreliable shield is not the answer. The best way to deal with North Korea, which may only be emboldened if it thinks that its missiles have an expiration date, is with a mix of muscular deterrence and a united diplomatic front. China is Washington’s indispensable partner in this response. Hence the foolishness of the Bush administration’s election-year bravado in planning to bolt into place some pieces of a missile defense network by this summer even though no one knows whether the whole system would work. In February, Pentagon officials said they planned to have missile interceptors based in Fort Greely, Alaska, by July. Japan would be covered by America’s own radar and satellite systems, but its actual defense would initially rely on modified Aegis destroyers and land-based Patriot missiles. The idea in the long term would be to create a global network of interceptors to protect the United States and its allies. The greatest folly would be to make Taiwan part of such a system. This could only provoke China into an accelerated arms race. Beijing has made it clear that it will build as many missiles as it needs to be able to overwhelm Taiwan – and to strike back should it be attacked by America. By striving to neutralize China’s current arsenal, a missile defense system would encourage Chinese leaders to conclude that the United States and its allies still saw that nation in stark cold-war terms, leading China to stockpile even more missiles. A missile defense would be destabilizing as well as unnecessary – Washington’s commitment to defend Taiwan’s security is already quite credible. Meanwhile, other excluded nations will also be antagonized – Pakistan must be alarmed by the casual talk of someday bringing India under the umbrella. Even assuming that the technology at issue was shown to work (hardly a detail), the costs of creating a missile shield for Asia would outweigh the benefits. The Bush administration should step back from its foolhardy missile shield obsession, which dates back to the 2000 campaign. We hope that Vice President Dick Cheney, traveling in Asia this week, will re-evaluate the wisdom of a missile shield and decide to put the project on the back burner.

II. Japan

1. Japan Constitutional Revision

The Mainichi Shimbun (Takashi Sudo, “BILLS ON CONSTITUTIONAL REFERENDUM NOT TO BE SUBMITTED DURING THIS DIET,” 04/15/04) reported that the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and the New Komeito agreed to make the outline of the national plebiscite bill on the Constitutional amendment and of the associating revision of the Diet Law as early as possible by setting up a working-level team between the two parties. However, New Komeito’s unwillingness to reach the final version of the bills during current Diet session has made it impossible to submit the bills in the session, which the LDP has wanted. On April 14, the LDP’s secretary-general Shinzo Abe reiterated his hope to submit the bills during the current session, while the New Komeito’s counterpart Tetsuzo Fuyushiba said, “We should wait until the publication of final reports of the Research Committee on Constitution in both Houses (which will be submitted before May next year).”

2. Japan Hostage Crisis in Iraq

The Asahi Shimbun (“BEHIND THE SCENES: KOIZUMI ASKED CHENEY FOR HELP,” 04/17/04) reported that, in a meeting with US Vice President Dick Cheney, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi secretly asked that US troops continue a cease-fire in Fallujah, where three Japanese were thought to have been taken hostage, according to sources. In the meeting, Cheney promised to cooperate on securing the release and rescue of the hostages, according to Japanese officials. The Foreign Ministry disclosed little other information on what was discussed.

The Asahi Shimbun (“ANNOYED LAWMAKERS WANT TO BILL RELEASED HOSTAGES,” 04/17/04) reported that Japanese ruling coalition lawmakers on Friday criticized the three released hostages and their families for ignoring travel advisories and costing the government a bundle to deal with the crisis. “The families above anything else should say they are sorry for causing such trouble, and their initial request for the government to pull the Self-Defense Forces out of Iraq is questionable,” Kiichi Inoue, state minister in charge of disaster prevention, told reporters. “Since they caused a lot of trouble for many people, they should acknowledge their responsibility.” Some lawmakers want the released hostages or their families to cover the amount of taxpayers money used in the government’s efforts to secure their release. “We should bill them for the costs,” LDP member Kohei Tamura said at a meeting of party members. Tetsuzo Fuyushiba, secretary-general of ruling coalition partner New Komeito, said in a coalition meeting that the government should make public the amount spent on dealing with the hostage situation. The price tag for the weeklong ordeal “probably amounts to about 2 billion yen,” a senior LDP member said. “This may sound harsh, but people must take into consideration that they are responsible for themselves before they act,” education minister Takeo Kawamura told reporters. “In a way, this is an educational issue.”

The Asahi Shimbun (Yasunori Kawakami, “EXTERNAL MEDDLING CITED IN HOSTAGE CRISIS,” Baghdad, 04/17/04) reported that the three Japanese hostages released Thursday would have won their freedom much earlier were it not for “external meddling,” Sunni religious leaders here said. In an Iraqi setting, the term “external forces” is taken as a way of referring to terrorists from outside Iraq. After the 24-hour deadline passed, Abdel Satar Abdel Jabar, a senior committee member of the Islamic Clerics Committee, which mediated in the crisis, said Japan’s outright refusal to meet the abductors’ demand for the withdrawal of Self-Defense Forces “may have spread antipathy” among the hostage-takers. “In Japan, people are marching for the release of only three citizens,” Abdel Jabar said. “Why don’t they speak up for the victims in Fallujah then?” On Thursday, another committee member noted that Iraqis were incensed by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s reference to “terrorists” in describing Iraqi forces of resistance. Koizumi’s remark was widely reported via Al-Jazeera and other networks.

3. Japan Iraq Troops Dispatch

The Japan Times (Kanako Takahara, “HOSTAGE DRAMA HIGHLIGHTS SDF’S TOUGH ROLE IN IRAQ,” 04/17/04) reported that the hostage crisis involving three Japanese civilians highlighted the worsening security situation in Iraq. Middle East experts say the security situation is likely to deteriorate in Iraq in the leadup to the transfer of sovereignty from the US-led administration to an interim government by June 30. But Akifumi Ikeda, professor of international relations at Toyo Eiwa Women’s University, said the kidnapping incident should not be used to incite calls that the SDF be withdrawn from Samawah in the coming months. He also said SDF members should make further efforts to communicate with local citizens instead of shutting themselves inside their camp. Meanwhile, Isamu Nakashima, senior researcher at the Middle East Research Institute of Japan, said Japan might be able to play a key role in the Middle East amid rising anti-US sentiment. He said the Arabs might agree with US President George W. Bush’s idea to promote democracy in the region, but they are opposed to the way he is going about it. “Japan can offer advice (to Middle East nations or the US) without doing things that will cause them to lose face,” he said.

The Asahi Shimbun (“DIET DEBATE TO FOCUS ON SDF MISSION IN IRAQ,” 04/17/04) reported that the release of the three Japanese hostages likely would steer debate among lawmakers over the eventual price to be paid for stationing troops in Iraq. The leader of Democratic Party of Japan Naoto Kan said continued heavy fighting in Iraq offers Japan a perfect opportunity to reconsider its mission over there. “The time has come for cool-headed discussion on whether conditions for the dispatch of the SDF are still being met in Iraq,” Kan told reporters Thursday night. “We should use this opportunity to change the occupation policy in Iraq away from one of relying solely on strength (centered on the US) and move toward one of dialogue (centered on the UN).” The Japanese Communist Party also made clear it would focus on the SDF dispatch to Iraq. “We will continue to demand the government to make the difficult decision of withdrawing the SDF,” said party chief Kazuo Shii in a statement. By contrast, Liberal Democratic Party policy chief Fukushiro Nukaga tied the release of the hostages to the legitimacy of the SDF dispatch. “I believe it was correct on the part of the government to place priority on gaining the release of the hostages while also maintaining a resolute stance on the humanitarian support efforts being made by the SDF,” Nukaga said.

The Japan Times (“MOST IN POLL BACK TOKYO IRAQ EFFORTS,” 04/18/04) reported that about 68 percent of respondents to a Kyodo News survey released Saturday approved of how the government handled the hostage crisis involving Japanese civilians in Iraq, and more than 60 percent feel Japan was right to not cave in to the kidnappers’ demand that Japan withdraw its troops from the country. It showed 61.3 percent said the government made the right decision not to yield to the captors’ demand. Only 8.8 percent said the decision was inappropriate. As for the deployment itself, 53.2 percent of the respondents backed the government’s decision, while 38.2 percent opposed the move. It was the first time for the support figure to exceed 50 percent in a survey since the GSDF troops were deployed in January. In a poll conducted April 9 and 10, immediately after the three Japanese were taken captive, more respondents were against the SDF deployment. The survey also found that those throwing their support behind the administration of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi increased by 7.2 percentage points to 55.6 percent, while those who did not fell 6.8 points to 32.5 percent. However, 57.1 percent want the prime minister to review his stance on the Japan-US alliance, while 36.6 percent said such strong ties should continue. The random survey had responses from 1,008 households with eligible voters.

III. CanKor E-Clipping Service

1. Issue #161

The nuclear standoff between North Korea and the USA received intense scrutiny at an annual event attracting over 500 participants from a large variety of US denominations. Participants at the “Ecumenical Advocacy Days for Global Peace with Justice,” held in Arlington, Virginia, from 5-8 March 2004, spent two days of intense briefings on global justice issues and advocacy training workshops, followed by a day of visits to their respective representatives, senators, and foreign policy staff. CanKor is pleased to publish four of the presentations on the DPRK heard in the “Asia Track” of the conference. Because of the length of the papers, we are publishing them in two separate editions. The first paper in the current full-edition FOCUS is by John Feffer, who serves on the advisory committees of Foreign Policy in Focus and the Alliance of Scholars Concerned about Korea. He is a steering committee member of the Washington DC local of the National Writers Union, and author of “North Korea, South Korea: US Policy at a Time of Crisis.” His paper, “Push and Pull: East Asian Regional Security,” examines the North Korean nuclear standoff in the context of shifts in the USA’s global military policies and how these interact with shifts in the East Asian security environment. The second paper is by Peter M. Beck, and examines “The Bush Administration’s Failed North Korean Policy.” The author works on Korean affairs for a small think thank in Washington DC, and is an adjunct faculty member at Georgetown and American Universities. The paper as reproduced here was inspired by his presentation at the “Ecumenical Advocacy Days” conference and was formally presented at Northeastern Illinois University on April 5.

For more information: http://www.cankor.ca

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Shanghai, People’s Republic of China

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