NAPSNet Daily Report 31 August, 2009
Contents in this Issue:
- I. Napsnet
- 1. Inspection of DPRK Ships
- 2. US-Japan on DPRK Nuclear Issue
- 3. US-DPRK Relations
- 4. Japan-DPRK Relations
- 5. Japanese Abductees Issue
- 6. Sino-DPRK Relations
- 7. US Food Aid for DPRK
- 8. ROK Food Aid for DPRK
- 9. Inter-Korean Relations
- 10. DPRK Food Production
- 11. DPRK Environment
- 12. DPRK Telecommunications
- 13. ROK National Security Law
- 14. ROK Energy
- 15. ROK Environment
- 16. ROK Influenza Outbreak
- 17. ROK-Japan Relations
- 18. Japanese Politics
- 19. US-Japan Alliance
- 20. Japanese Influenza Response
- 21. Cross Strait Relations
- 22. Myanmar Refugees in PRC
- 23. PRC Public Health
- II. PRC Report
1. Inspection of DPRK Ships
BBC (“UAE ‘SEIZES N KOREA ARMS CARGO’ “, 2009/08/28) reported that the United Arab Emirates has seized a ship carrying DPRK weapons bound for Iran, diplomatic sources at the UN have said. A diplomat told the AFP news agency that the UAE had informed UN officials responsible for implementing sanctions on Pyongyang. The Financial Times reported earlier on Friday that the ship was seized “some weeks ago”. It said the armaments included rocket-propelled grenades falsely labelled as “machine parts.”
2. US-Japan on DPRK Nuclear Issue
Yonhap (“U.S. HOPES TO COOPERATE WITH NEW JAPAN GOV’T ON N.K. NUKES”, 2009/08/31) reported that the United States said Sunday it hoped to cooperate closely with the new Japanese government in addressing the DPRK’s nuclear ambitions. “We will work closely with the new Japanese government in moving toward denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, addressing the threat of climate change and increasing the availability of renewable energy, bringing stability to Afghanistan and Pakistan, and addressing international humanitarian and health issues,” State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said in a statement. “The U.S.-Japan partnership is key to pursuing peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region and in promoting shared values around the world.”
3. US-DPRK Relations
Radio Free Asia (“BOSWORTH ‘STILL’ LIKELY TO VISIT NK, DESPITE DENIAL”, 2009/08/30) reported that Radio Free Asia said Saturday that, despite the official denial from the U.S. State Department, Leon V. Sigal, director of the Northeast Asia Cooperative Security Project at the Social Science Research Council in New York, is confident that special envoy Stephen Bosworth will still visit the DPRK soon. “Of course, he’ll go. How else we are going to fix the problem?” Sigal said.
Yonhap (“CHENEY DEPICTS CLINTON’S N.K. TRIP AS MISTAKE”, Seoul, 2009/08/31) reported that former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney Sunday said that ex-President Bill Clinton made a mistake when he visited Pyongyang to meet with DPRK leader Kim Jong-il to win the release of two American journalists. “Well, obviously, you’re concerned for the reporters and their circumstances. But I think if we look at it from a policy standpoint, it’s a big reward for bad behavior on the part of the North Korean leadership,” Cheney told “Fox News Sunday.”
4. Japan-DPRK Relations
Korea Herald (Kim Ji-hyun, “DEMOCRATS TO STEER JAPAN TOWARD TALKS WITH N.K.”, Seoul, 2009/08/31) reported that the victory of the Democratic Party of Japan is expected to steer Japan towards initiating active dialogue with the DPRK. “Japan is going to promote talks with North Korea, especially during the initial stages of the new administration,” said Park Cheol-hee, politics professor at Seoul National University. “But we will have to wait and see if this signals a genuine shift to dialogue.”
Yonhap (“N. KOREA RENEWS CALL FOR APOLOGY OVER SEX SLAVES”, Seoul, 2009/08/31) reported that the DPRK demanded Monday that Japan “break with its crooked past” and apologize for forcing hundreds of thousands of women into sexual slavery during World War II. “Japan should follow in the footsteps of countries that have demonstrated integrity in clearing up the past,” the Rodong Sinmun said.
5. Japanese Abductees Issue
Yomiuri Shimbun (“SCANT AIRING OF ABDUCTION ISSUE”, Tokyo, 2009/08/29) reported that families of people abducted by the DPRK are concerned that the issue of the abductees was overlooked in the debate leading up to the House of Representatives election. The Association of the Families of Victims Kidnapped by North Korea announced Tuesday the results of a survey it conducted on election candidates. “We don’t hear any voices calling for resolution of the abduction issue,” association Chairman Shigeo Iizuka said Tuesday.
6. Sino-DPRK Relations
Donga Ilbo (“CHINESE MEDIA GROUP CENSORED FOR N.K. DOCUMENTARY”, 2009/08/31) reported that senior managers the Documentary Channel, an affiliate of Shanghai Media Group, face dismissal due to the DPRK’s anger over last month’s airing of a documentary showing the grim situation in the DPRK, the South China Morning Post said Saturday. The DPRK filed a complaint with the PRC through a diplomatic channel after the documentary was aired, saying the program focused on the dark side of DPRK society.
7. US Food Aid for DPRK
Korea Herald (“U.S. [sic] OFFICIALS VISITED LOS ANGELES TO DISCUSS FOOD AID BY NGOS”, Seoul, 2009/08/28) reported that a group of DPRK officials visited Los Angeles last week to meet with U.S. relief organizations on the resumption of food aid, diplomatic sources said Thursday. “I understand that North Korean officials visited Los Angeles last week to meet with officials of nongovernmental organizations which had provided food aid to the North,” a source said, adding the delegation consisted of officials from the Korea-U.S. Private Exchange Society, which coordinates food and other relief goods aid to the DPRK by U.S. nongovernmental organizations. Another source said, “The North Korean delegation made no contacts with U.S. government officials while staying in the U.S. for several days,” adding that the delegation toured Operation USA and other relief groups and food and medical supply warehouses set aside for aid.
8. ROK Food Aid for DPRK
Donga Ilbo (“N. KOREA HINTS AT ASKING FOR FOOD AID FROM THE SOUTH”, Seoul, 2009/08/31) reported DPRK that officials have hinted at asking for food aid from the ROK, Seoul officials said Sunday. An ROK official quoted DPRK delegates at the Red Cross meeting on reunions of separated families as saying, “We heard the South Korean government and farmers are struggling with a glut of rice.” The delegates also said, “Farmers in the South suffer from declining rice prices while the government is struggling with storage costs.” The ROK official said, “At the venue for the talks, the North Korean delegation only mentioned reunions of separated families. At dinners held Wednesday and Friday, however, they brought up the rice issue,” adding he understands that several DPRK officials talked about the same thing.
9. Inter-Korean Relations
New York Times (Choe Sang-hun, “NORTH KOREA RELEASES FISHERMEN”, Seoul, 2009/08/29) reported that the DPRK on Saturday released four ROK fishermen it had held for a month. The DPRK returned the crew and its 29-ton fishing vessel at the sea border off the Korean Peninsula’s east coast.
Joongang Ilbo (“NO CONDITIONS NEEDED FOR NORTH TALKS, SAYS POLL”, Seoul, 2009/08/28) reported that a recent poll by the JoongAng Ilbo showed that three out of five ROK citizens think an inter-Korean summit should take place under no preset conditions. Only 36.5 percent said the two sides should have talks after the DPRK’s nuclear issue has made visible progress. 60.8 percent said the tourism to Mount Kumgang should restart after the DPRK apologizes for killing an ROK tourist and guarantees no such incident will take place again. 37.5 percent said tourism to the DPRK should nevertheless begin because it will facilitate exchanges between the citizens of both countries.
10. DPRK Food Production
Yonhap (“SIGNS OF FERTILIZER SHORTAGE AMONG N.K. RICE PADDIES”, Seoul, 2009/08/31) reported that rice paddies in the DPRK were more yellow than green this year, suggesting the country lacks fertilizer, Hahm Young-il, an agronomist who visited the DPRK from Aug. 1-8 with World Vision aid workers, said Monday. Rice plants that do not absorb enough nitrogen in summer produce low yields in the harvest season. “Their manure and fertilizer seemed to be of lower quality, maybe because the land is not privately owned,” Hahm said. He added his observations could be anecdotal, having traveled in Pyongyang and the northern Ryanggang Province to support potato seed farms there.
11. DPRK Environment
Yonhap (“N.K. SAYS NO FLOOD DAMAGE THIS SUMMER”, Seoul, 2009/08/28) reported that the DPRK did not suffer any major flood damage from summer downpours, a Pyongyang official said at inter-Korean talks on Friday. “We asked the North if there was any flood damage (in the monsoon season), and they said there wasn’t,” Kim Young-chel, secretary general of the ROK Red Cross Society and chief delegate to the three-day talks, told pool reporters.
12. DPRK Telecommunications
Radio Free Asia (“NK’S MOBILE PHONE CAN BE USED ‘ANONYMOUSLY'”, 2009/08/29) reported that the DPRK’s mobile phone service uses an electronic mobile platform produced in the PRC that can be used by anyone and potentially even anonymously, if the user changes the SIM card. Ashraf Heiba, a representative with Koryolink, a joint venture mobile telecom provider between Orascom Telecom, a Cairo-based phone company, and the DPRK government, said all the mobile phone platforms are made in the PRC and are “interchangeable” among different users. “The handsets sold are Chinese and they are sold by the local authority in euro,” he said.
13. ROK National Security Law
Korea Times (“MAN ARRESTED FOR CONTACTING N. KOREAN SPY”, Seoul, 2009/08/28) reported that the ROK prosecution has arrested a man who contacted a DPRK spy for violating the national security law. According to prosecutors, Friday, the man, identified only as Kim, 45, contacted a DPRK agent in Indonesia and handed over a friend’s ROK passport and other secret information over the past three years. He also offered access information for a number of veterans’ Web sites and e-mailed news articles on the inter-Korean summit.
14. ROK Energy
Korea Times (“HYDROGEN STATION TO BE BUILT IN SANGAM”, Seoul, 2009/08/30) reported that Seoul City was to sign a memorandum of understanding with a consortium led by SK Engineering & Construction on a project to produce hydrogen from natural biogases emitted by landfills in Sangam-dong in northern Seoul. The city aims to complete the construction of the hydrogen-extraction facility in October 2010, with the facility going operational the following month. The hydrogen station will be the first of its kind in the world to extract hydrogen from methane. The energy produced from the facility will be used to fuel two buses and two cars. There will potentially be a remaining 320 kilowatts of energy, to be used as power supply elsewhere.
Yonhap (“KOREA STARTS CONSTRUCTION OF JEJU ‘SMART GRID'”, Seoul, 2009/08/31) reported that the ROK has begun construction of a “smart grid” pilot community on Jeju Island that it hopes will help the country become a leader in energy conservation, the government said Monday. The project, to be completed in 2013, will benefit 6,000 households on the island and is expected to help Seoul evaluate locally-made energy systems in a functioning environment, the Ministry of Knowledge Economy said.
15. ROK Environment
Korea Times (Bae Ji-sook, “WEST SHORELINE REDUCED BY 40 PERCENT IN CENTURY”, 2009/08/30) reported that the ROK National Institute of Environment Research said Friday that comparisons made between maps and documents from the 1910s and those from the early 2000s show the total length of the shoreline between the mouth of Han River and Ttangkkeut Maeul in South Jeolla Province has shrunk by 40.3 percent, from 3,596 kilometers to 2,148 kilometers. Excessive reclamation projects have straightened the indented geographical figure and damaged nearby ecosystems, it said.
16. ROK Influenza Outbreak
Korea Times (Kang Shin-who, “GOV’T PLEDGES VACCINE FOR 13 MIL. PEOPLE”, Seoul, 2009/08/28) reported that the ROK government Friday said it will spend an extra 110 billion won ($88 million) to secure 10 million doses of vaccine for the influenza A virus this year. “The most effective step to block further spread of the virus is vaccination. We will provide more people with the vaccines as soon as possible,” said Jeon Jae-hee, minister of health, welfare and family affairs. “We will secure sufficient doses of vaccines within this year to vaccinate 10 million people.”
Joongang Ilbo (Seo Ji-eun, Ahn Hai-ri, “EXPERTS SAY KOREA IS OVERREACTING TO FLU”, Seoul, 2009/08/31) reported that the ROK is overreacting to the spread of the A(H1N1) virus, according to Kim Jong-seok, head of Incheon Medical Center. “I was shocked to see even doctors express fear about the new flu,” said Kim after participating in a meeting of 360 hospital officials to discuss government designation of hospitals capable of treating A(H1N1). “I wanted to share my opinions but I couldn’t say anything due to the grave atmosphere at the meeting.”
17. ROK-Japan Relations
Korea Times (Kim Sue-young, “JAPAN’S KOREA POLICY LIKELY TO CHANGE”, Seoul, 2009/08/30) reported that relations between the ROK and Japan will likely undergo a change following the victory of Japan’s progressive opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) in national elections. “The DPJ has put emphasis on Asia and relations with China and Korea,” Prof. Yun Duk-min at the Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security said. “Besides, it has taken a progressive stance toward past history. I think this is very encouraging and will improve bilateral ties.”
Yonhap (“LEE CALLS FOR IMPROVED TIES UNDER JAPAN’S NEW GOVERNMENT”, Seoul, 2009/08/31) reported that ROK President Lee Myung-bak called for improved ties between his country and Japan in a congratulatory message Monday to Yukio Hatoyama. the head of Democratic Party of Japan. “I am confident Japan will not only continue to develop under your and the DPJ’s leadership, but will also greatly boost its contribution to the peace and joint development of the international community,” Lee said, according to his spokeswoman Kim Eun-hye. “I look forward to working closely with you on developing the Korea-Japan relationship into a solid, mature partnership,” the president was quoted as saying.
18. Japanese Politics
New York Times (Martin Fackler, “WITH BOLD STAND, JAPAN OPPOSITION WINS A LANDSLIDE”, Tokyo, 2009/08/30) the opposition Democratic Party of Japan won 308 of the 480 seats, a 175 percent increase that gives them control of the chamber, according to the national broadcaster NHK. The Liberal Democratic Party took just 119 seats, about a third of their previous total. The remaining seats were won by smaller parties.
Asahi Shimbun (“DPJ TAKES POWER IN LANDSLIDE WIN”, Tokyo, 2009/08/31) reported that the Democratic Party of Japan won control of government in the Lower House election Sunday, driving the Liberal Democratic Party out of power for only the second time since it was formed in 1955. DPJ President Yukio Hatoyama stated, “The voters held a deep anger toward the ruling coalition. We have to link this result to a victory for the public in taking over control of government.” Prime Minister Taro Aso he indicated Sunday night he would step down as LDP president to take responsibility for the drubbing.
Asahi Shimbun (“VOTERS TURN OUT IN DROVES TO OUTST LDP”, Tokyo, 2009/08/31) reported that overall turnout for Sunday’s election in Japan was around 70 percent, exceeding the 67.51 percent figure at the last election in 2005, the highest since the introduction of the current voting system in 1996. Turnout for absentee ballots was also higher. Between August 19 and Saturday, 13.98 million voters, or 13.4 percent, cast their votes, an increase of 4.7 percentage points from four years ago.
19. US-Japan Alliance
Associated Press (Mari Yamaguchi, “HATOYAMA NOT LIKELY TO CHANGE US-JAPAN ALLIANCE”, Tokyo, 2009/08/30) reported that as Japan’s opposition leader, Yukio Hatoyama was a strong critic of what he called Tokyo’s subservient position to Washington. But he is not likely to do anything to derail the alliance, analysts said. ” The Democrats would maintain the Japan-U.S. relationship pretty much as is to reassure the international community that there will be no drastic shift under the new government,” said Tomoaki Iwai, a Nihon University political science professor .
20. Japanese Influenza Response
Yomiuri Shimbun (“CITIES WORRY ABOUT CAPACITY TO HANDLE NEW FLU”, Tokyo, 2009/08/30) reported that municipalities across Japan are worried about whether they will have enough hospital beds and if medical systems can cope with the influx of people expected to be hospitalized with the new flu if the virus’ spread peaks in October as forecast. The medical facilities of a municipality where a patient infected with the new flu recently died are already being stretched, with an official saying, “We have no option but to try to discharge patients from hospitals quickly.” The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry announced Friday that about 46,000 people could be hospitalized with the new flu in October.
21. Cross Strait Relations
Agence France-Presse (“PROTEST ACCUSES DALAI LAMA OF ‘POLITICS’ IN TAIWAN”, Beijing, 2009/08/31) reported that a group of 30 people who said they were Taiwan typhoon victims demonstrated against the Dalai Lama Monday . The group, from Taiwan ‘s aboriginal community, were standing outside his hotel in Kaoshiung, holding up banners, one reading: “We don’t want Dalai politics.” “The Dalai Lama is only staging a political show here,” said the leader of the protesters. “The Dalai Lama’s visit to Taiwan is bound to have a negative influence on the relations between the mainland and Taiwan,” a spokesman for the PRC State Council’s Taiwan Affairs Office said. “The Democratic Progressive Party has ulterior motives to instigate the Dalai Lama — who has long been engaged in separatist activities — to visit Taiwan.”
Associated Press (Peter Enav, “DALAI LAMA SAYS TAIWAN VISIT IS NOT POLITICAL”, Taoyuan, 2009/08/31) reported that the Dalai Lama denied any political agenda as he began his visit to Taiwan. “I’ve visited different parts of the world, and I may have a political agenda there … (but) my visit here is purely for humanitarian concerns,” he said. His arrival at a suburban Taipei train station Sunday was greeted by about 50 demonstrators waving PRC flags and banners supporting unification with China and shouting, “Go home Dalai Lama, don’t come here.” The demonstrators briefly scuffled with police.
22. Myanmar Refugees in PRC
Associated Press (Ng Han Guan, “MYANMAR REBELS DROP WEAPONS, FLEE INTO CHINA”, Meng Peng, 2009/08/30) reported that hundreds of ethnic rebels have fled clashes in northeastern Myanmar, surrendering their weapons and uniforms to PRC border police and crossing to safety. The United Nations and PRC officials say up to 30,000 civilian refugees have streamed into the PRC to escape the fighting.
Washington Post (Tim Johnston, “CHINA URGES BURMA TO BRIDLE ETHNIC MILITIA UPRISING AT BORDER”, Bangkok, 2009/08/29) reported that the PRC called on the Burmese authorities to “properly handle domestic problems and maintain stability in the China-Myanmar border region,” according to a statement from Foreign Ministry spokesman Jiang Yu. “We also urge Myanmar to protect the security and legal rights of Chinese citizens in Myanmar.”
23. PRC Public Health
Agence France-Presse (“NEW LEAD POISONING SCARE IN CHINA: STATE MEDIA”, Beijing, 2009/08/31) reported that parents in southwestern PRC are accusing a local industrial park of causing lead poisoning in their children, the China Daily reported Monday. A hospital in Kunming , capital of Yunnan province, has found that 200 out of 1,000 children living near the industrial park had elevated levels of lead in their blood. The results of an investigation by the local bureau of the Ministry of Environmental Protection were expected this week, the paper said.
II. PRC Report
24. PRC Civil Society and Education
Changsha Evening News (“HUNAN FOUNDATIONS AID 200,000 POOR STUDENTS IN 5 YEARS”, 2009/08/28) reported that according to Hunan Education Department yesterday, all levels of education foundations in Hunan province have given financial support to near 200,000 poor students with a total grant of over 100 million RMB in five years. The recipients have covered all counties and towns of the province.
25. Sino-US Energy Cooperation
People’s Daily (“CHINESE ORGANIZATIONS PROMOTE CHINA US NEW ENERGY COOPERATION”, 2009/08/28) reported that China-US New Energy and Sustainable Development Seminar, co-sponsored by Liantai Supply Chain System Research Center of Peking University and US Arizona Overseas Chinese Association, was held in Peking University on 24 th . Sino-US energy cooperation has broad prospects.
26. PRC Civil Society and Public Health
China News Net (“US-CHINA CHARITY FOUNDATION DONATES MEDICAL EQUIPMENT OF 200 MIL. RMB”, 2009/08/28) reported that US-China Foundation has donated medical equipment of over 200 million RMB to poverty-stricken areas of China on 25 th in Beijing, for the improvement of diagnose level there.