NAPSNet Daily Report 21 January, 2010
Contents in this Issue:
- I. NAPSNet
- 1. DPRK Economy
- 2. DPRK Human Rights
- 3. Inter-Korea Economic Cooperation
- 4. ROK-US Military Relations
- 5. USFJ Base Relocation
- 6. Japan-Australia Relations
- 7. Japan SDF Haiti Dispatch
- 8. Japan Nuclear Reprocessing
- 9. Japan Nuclear Safety
- 10. Japan Politics
- 11. Japan Voter Reform
- 12. Sino-Japanese Territorial Dispute
- 13. Japan-PRC Joint History Project
- 14. Sino-US Relations
- 15. Sino-US Military Relations
- 16. Cross-Strait Relations
- 17. Hong Kong Government
- 18. PRC Security
- 19. PRC Internet
- 20. PRC Media
- 21. PRC Environment
- II. PRC Report
1. DPRK Economy
Yonhap News (“N. KOREA TO LAUNCH STATE BANK TO FUND DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS”, Seoul, 2010/01/20) reported that the DPRK plans to launch a state bank to fund its development projects, its official media reported Wednesday, in the latest move by the communist state to revive its broken economy and draw foreign investment. The State Development Bank, a project ordered by the DPRK’s highest political body, the National Defense Commission, “is to provide investment on major projects to be carried out according to the state policy,” the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.
2. DPRK Human Rights
Bloomberg (“NORTH KOREAN GULAGS HOLD 200,000 PRISONERS, STUDY ESTIMATES”, 2010/01/20) reported that the DPRK holds about 200,000 political prisoners in gulags, used by the totalitarian regime to control its 24 million people, an ROK study showed. The DPRK has six political camps, where people are detained for anti-government remarks and actions, and for attempts to defect from the country, the National Human Rights Commission said in a study posted today on its Web site. Prisoners aren’t allowed the right to trial and their families are also kept in custody, according to the study. “Political prisons are used as the most effective tool of controlling citizens by creating fear,” said the study, based on interviews with 371 DPRK defectors, including 17 former prisoners. Prisoners’ lives are at constant risk due to lack of sufficient food and medical assistance, it said.
Yonhap News (Hwang Doo-hyong, “N. KOREAN RIGHTS RECORD STILL DIRE DESPITE CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGE: HRW “, 2010/01/20) reported that human rights abuses continue in the DPRK despite new constitutional language apparently intended to quell international criticism, Human Rights Watch said in a report Wednesday. “Despite lip service to human rights in the constitution, human rights conditions in the DPRK remain dire,” the group said in its annual report. “There is no organized political opposition, free media, functioning civil society or religious freedom. Arbitrary arrest, detention and torture and ill-treatment of detainees and lack of due process remain serious issues.” The 612-page report, also mentioned the DPRK among the governments that “have over the past year intensified attacks against human rights defenders and organizations that document abuse.”
3. Inter-Korea Economic Cooperation
Yonhap News (“DIVIDED KOREAS FAIL TO AGREE ON FUTURE TALKS ON JOINT BUSINESS VENTURE “, Seoul, 2010/01/21) reported that the ROK and DPRK failed Thursday to agree on an additional round of talks on their joint business venture in the DPRK as the ROK opposed early negotiations on wage increases for DPRK workers, an official here said. “The two sides were unable to narrow their differences despite extended discussions,” Unification Ministry spokesman Chun Hae-sung said shortly after the meeting ended in the DPRK border town of Kaesong.
Associated Press (Kwang-tae Kim, “KOREAS AGREE TO HOLD TALKS ON INDUSTRIAL PARK”, Seoul, 2010/01/21) reported that the two Koreas agreed Thursday to meet next month to discuss their joint industrial park at Kaesong. The DPRK officials agreed to Seoul’s proposal for talks on February 1, Kim Young-tak, Seoul’s chief delegate, told reporters.
4. ROK-US Military Relations
Yonhap News (“SEOUL HINTS AT DELAYING OPCON TRANSITION AMID SECURITY CONCERNS “, Seoul, 2010/01/20) reported that the ROK defense chief said Wednesday the proposed transfer of wartime operational control (OPCON) to Seoul is scheduled for the “worst” possible time, hinting at proposing changes to Washington amid heightened tension on the Korean peninsula.
5. USFJ Base Relocation
Kyodo (“HATOYAMA VOWS TO DECIDE ON U.S. BASE RELOCATION BY MAY”, Tokyo, 2010/01/21) reported that Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama vowed Thursday to reach a final conclusion on where to relocate the U.S. Marines’ Futemma Air Station in Okinawa no later than May. Hatoyama said during the opening session of the House of Representatives Budget Committee. ”I want to make it (the site) one for which we can seek understanding from the United States.” Hatoyama’s pledge ”means a situation where we will be able to propose that ‘the government will negotiate with local governments and the United States with this idea’, or that ‘this is how we think of it as the Japanese government’,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirofumi Hirano said at a morning news conference.
6. Japan-Australia Relations
Agence France Presse (“AUSTRALIA SAYS WHALING ROW WILL NOT HURT JAPAN PACT”, Sydney, 2010/01/20) reported that Australia’s disagreement with Japan over its annual whale hunts will not affect a proposed defence pact between the nations, Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said Wednesday. Smith said Australia’s opposition to Japan’s slaughter of whales would not stand in the way of plans to allow the two countries’ militaries to share food, fuel and other supplies and services during foreign operations. “Australia and Japan have a disagreement over whaling but neither Australia or Japan will let it get in the way of what is a comprehensive economic and strategic partnership,” Smith told state television.
7. Japan SDF Haiti Dispatch
Kyodo News (“SDF MEDICS TO BE SENT TO HAITI”, 2010/01/20) reported that Japan said it will send another medical team to quake-devastated Haiti, this time consisting of medical and other personnel of the Self-Defense Forces, to join international rescue efforts. Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa ordered the deployment after a meeting of top defense officials and SDF chiefs of staff, clearing the way for the roughly 110-member team to leave Narita airport Thursday night for Miami aboard a chartered aircraft. “It is quite important that we contribute for the people of Haiti, making use of the SDF’s abundant experience in disaster relief missions,” Kitazawa said at the outset of the meeting.
8. Japan Nuclear Reprocessing
British Broadcasting System (Jorn Madslien , “SELLAFIELD RETURNS NUCLEAR WASTE TO JAPAN”, 2010/01/20) reported that the first shipment of highly radioactive waste from the UK has left the Sellafield nuclear site. It has been loaded onto a ship specifically designed to carry nuclear waste that will sail for Japan. The waste is a by-product of nuclear fuel spent by Japanese reactors that was sent to the UK for reprocessing during the 1980s and 1990s. Some campaigners have criticised the shipments, saying they are dangerous. “It is highly irresponsible for the industry to still be sending this kind of material across the world,” said anti-nuclear campaigner Martin Forward. But Sellafield spokesman Mike Johnson said the site was simply fulfilling its contractual obligations, and government policy, in transporting the waste safely.
9. Japan Nuclear Safety
Asahi Shimbun (“IAEA TO ADOPT JAPANESE SEISMIC SAFETY STANDARDS FOR NUCLEAR PLANTS”, Tokyo, 2010/01/20) reported that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will likely adopt Japanese seismic safety standards for nuclear power plants around the world, giving Japanese companies the edge in winning orders to build nuclear facilities overseas. According to a draft, Japan’s seismic-resistant guideline will serve as a prototype when IAEA member countries create or revise safety guidelines for their nuclear power plants.
10. Japan Politics
Yomiuri Shimbun (“OZAWA ‘APPROVED FALSIFICATION OF FUNDS REPORT'”, Tokyo, 2010/01/20) reported that a former aide of Democratic Party of Japan Secretary General Ichiro Ozawa has told prosecutors that Ozawa approved the aide’s decision not to list 400 million yen used to purchase land in a political funds report for 2004, according to sources. The sources said House of Representatives member Tomohiro Ishikawa said he told Ozawa about his intention to not include the 400 million yen in the funds report and obtained approval from the DPJ heavyweight in late October 2004, before Ozawa’s political fund management group, Rikuzan-kai, purchased land. The special investigation squad of the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office is probing the matter with an eye to filing criminal charges against Ozawa, as it suspects he conspired to falsify the political funds report with Ishikawa and others.
11. Japan Voter Reform
Chosun Ilbo (“60% OF JAPANESE SUPPORT VOTING RIGHTS FOR FOREIGNERS”, 2010/01/20) reported that an overwhelming majority of Japanese people are in favor of giving the vote to foreign residents including ethnic Koreans, according to a survey by the Asahi Shimbun newspaper. The survey, conducted last weekend, shows that 60 percent of Japanese support giving the vote to foreign residents in local elections, while 29 percent are against. Opponents including the LDP have claimed that Japanese public sentiment is against it and the move may be against the constitution.
12. Sino-Japanese Territorial Dispute
China Daily (Cheng Guangjin and Liu Qi , “JAPAN WARNING TO CHINA ‘HAS DOMESTIC CAUSE'”, 2010/01/20) reported that domestic political uncertainty in Japan caused the country’s foreign minister to threaten on Sunday that “action” would be taken against the PRC over its exploration of the Chunxiao oil and gas fields in the East PRC Sea, PRC experts said Wednesday. “Under the 2008 agreement on the East PRC Sea issue between the two countries, the Chunxiao oil and gas fields can be cooperatively developed, which means that PRC’s sovereignty over Chunxiao is indisputable, but PRC still welcomes Japan to participate in the development,” said Yang Bojiang, director of Japanese Studies at the PRC Institute of Contemporary International Relations. Okada’s remarks were a deliberate misinterpretation of the 2008 agreement designed to make the ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) look tough before Japan’s upcoming parliamentary elections, PRC analysts said .
Kyodo News (“JAPAN REBUTS CHINA’S ARGUMENT OVER OKINOTORI ISLAND”, Tokyo, 2010/01/20) reported that Japan on Wednesday countered the PRC’s argument that Tokyo should not claim jurisdiction around Okinotori Island in the Pacific, saying that the tiny atoll representing the country’s southernmost point has “the status of an island.” “Our stance is that we have an exclusive economic zone and a continental shelf around Okinotori Island, ” Foreign Press Secretary Kazuo Kodama said, a day after a PRC Foreign Ministry spokesman criticized Japan’s claim of jurisdiction over a large sea area as contrary to the common interest of the international community.
13. Japan-PRC Joint History Project
Kyodo News (“JAPAN-CHINA HISTORY REPORT TO BREAK NEW GROUND”, 2010/01/20) reported that historians from Japan and the PRC are planning to release a report later this month on the outcome of a three-year joint history research project, including what could be a significant meeting of minds on the fighting in the PRC between 1937 and 1945. Still, gaps in perception of some events, including the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, will prevent the two sides from releasing any research on postwar history. But the results of the joint studies that concluded in late December in ancient, medieval and modern history will be made available in the report. It contains 26 papers, half of them written by Japanese researchers and the other half by Chinese scholars.
14. Sino-US Relations
Washington Times ( Bill Gertz, “CHINA REMOVED AS TOP PRIORITY FOR SPIES”, 2010/01/20) reported that the White House National Security Council recently directed U.S. spy agencies to lower the priority placed on intelligence collection for the PRC, amid opposition to the policy change from senior intelligence leaders who feared it would hamper efforts to obtain secrets about Beijing’s military and its cyber-attacks. The downgrading of intelligence gathering on PRC was challenged by Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair and CIA Director Leon E. Panetta after it was first proposed in interagency memorandums in October, current and former intelligence officials said. The decision downgrades PRC from “Priority 1” status, alongside Iran and DPRK, to “Priority 2,” which covers specific events such as the humanitarian crisis after the Haitian earthquake or tensions between India and Pakistan.
15. Sino-US Military Relations
The Telegraph (Dean Nelson , “US TO HOLD ARMS REDUCTION TALKS WITH CHINA, GATES SAYS”, New Delhi, 2010/01/20) reported that the US wants to open Cold War-style arms reduction talks with PRC to prevent future military confrontations, Robert Gates, the US defence secretary, said in New Delhi on Wednesday. Mr Gates said he had discussed cyber security and the PRC’s military build-up with the Indian prime minister and voiced America’s hopes to deepen understanding between Washington and Beijing on the issue.”There was discussion about PRC’s military modernisation programme, what it meant, what the intentions of that military build-up and the desire on our part to engage the PRC in a more routine and in depth dialogue about our strategic intentions and plans to avoid any miscalculations or misunderstandings down the road.
16. Cross-Strait Relations
Reuters (“TAIWAN PRESIDENT TO STOP IN U.S., TESTING CHINA”, 2010/01/19) reported that Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou will make two stops in the United States next week during a trip to take aid to earthquake-hit Haiti, officials said on Wednesday, a move likely to anger the PRC. It comes at a time of increased friction between China and the United States, at odds over U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, exchange rates, trade quarrels, climate change policy and Google Inc.’s dispute with Beijing over hacking and censorship. Ma will spend Monday night in San Francisco and stay in Los Angeles on Jan. 28, holding private meetings, his spokesman said.
17. Hong Kong Government
The Wall Street Journal (“RAIL LINK ROW FUELED BY PUBLIC OUTCRY FOR ACCOUNTABILITY “, 2010/01/20) reported that the Hong Kong government’s plans to roll out a new $8.6 billion high-speed rail link to the PRC, while now moving forward, have been a public-relations fiasco. Fierce protests by critics led to rare scenes last weekend of riot police wielding pepper spray, clashing with scores of demonstrators in the middle of Central, the main business district. It isn’t the first time infrastructure plans here have sparked virulent opposition and delays, but this time the stakes reach well beyond planes and trains, into the future of Hong Kong’s political system itself. Many believe the root of the issue is a lack of political accountability in Hong Kong’s government that can be solved only with direct elections. Reaching consensus on how to achieve that goal, in a manner acceptable to Beijing, will be one of the territory’s biggest challenges in years to come.
18. PRC Security
Associated Press (“9-YEAR SENTENCE FOR EX-CHINA DEMOCRACY LEADER”, Beijing, 2010/01/20) reported that a former PRC democracy movement leader controversially handed over to Beijing from Hong Kong has been sentenced to nine years in prison in the PRC on fraud charges, a rights monitoring group said Wednesday. Zhou Yongjun was sentenced last Friday in the southwestern city of Shehong after being convicted of attempted financial fraud, Hong Kong’s Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy said. He was also fined 80,000 yuan ($11,700).
19. PRC Internet
Financial Times (Kathrin Hille , “CHINESE MEDIA HIT AT ‘WHITE HOUSE’S GOOGLE’”, Beijing, 2010/01/20) reported that the PRC has signaled a change of approach to the Google crisis, with state media describing the company’s threat to pull out of the country as a political conspiracy by the US government. Accusations in two newspapers that Washington was using Google as a foreign policy tool were echoed by a PRC government officials on Wednesday. Global Times, a nationalist tabloid owned by People’s Daily ran an editorial with the headline: “The world does not welcome the White House’s Google”. “Whenever the US government demands it, Google can easily become a convenient tool for promoting the US government’s political will and values abroad. And actually the US government is willing to do so,” the piece said.
Associated Press (Anita Chang, “CHINA: GOOGLE CASE NOT LINKED TO TIES WITH US”, Beijing, 2010/01/21) reported that the PRC’s dispute with Google should not be linked to bilateral ties with the United States, Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei said Thursday. “The Google case should not be linked with relations between the two governments and countries; otherwise, it’s an over-interpretation,” China’s He told a news conference, according Xinhua News Agency .
20. PRC Media
Xinhua News Agency (“CHINA ALWAYS WELCOMES FOREIGN JOURNALISTS: FM SPOKESMAN “, Beijing, 2010/01/20) reported that the PRC government welcomes more foreign journalists to the country, and would provide them with better information services, said Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu on Wednesday. Relevant departments and local authorities would endeavor to provide quality information and services for foreign journalists to help make their reports more comprehensive, prompt, subjective and accurate, Ma said. Ma said the ministry will make further efforts in public diplomacy this year to help foreigners better understand the PRC.
21. PRC Environment
China Daily (“DAM FORCES RELOCATIONS OF 300,000 MORE”, 2010/01/20) reported that at least another 300,000 people living near the Three Gorges Dam will have to be relocated to protect the environment and escape geographic hazards. This is in addition to the 1.138 million people already relocated for the world’s largest hydropower project, a local migration official said. “An eco-screen, or buffer belt, is waiting for approval to be built alongside the reservoir to improve the water quality of the Yangtze River streams and reduce the contamination from residents living nearby,” said Hu Jiahai, who was also a deputy of the local people’s congress. “Additionally, more people will have to move out of the area to avoid geographic hazards, like landslides, caused by the dam that tames water levels rising or falling between 145 m to 175 m every year to produce electricity.”
II. PRC Report
22. PRC Social Welfare
Xinhua News (“HENAN DEVELOPS 100,000 PUBLIC WELFARE POSTS”, 2010/01/19) reported that Henan will develops 100,000 public welfare posts for the “4050” people (woman over 40 years old and man over 50 years old), sources with Henan Department of Human Resources and Social Security. The employment of this group is difficult on a large, so the government will also provide business training, small secured personal loans, and other business-creating services.
23. PRC Civil Society
People’s Daily online (“7TH SHENZHEN LOVE ACTIVITY LAUNCHED”, 2010/01/20) reported that the 7 th Shenzhen Love Activity was formally launched in Shenzhen on January 12. Various love actions with the theme of “love, thanksgiving, return” will be carried out one after another in the city. The Activity also explores a “new social aid NGO model”, which is closely met with the basic idea of the innovative socialist country’s national social aid model and worth of further promotion.