NAPSNet Daily Report Thursday, July 29, 2004
- 1. Multilateral Talks
2. US – DPRK Relations
3. US – PRC on DPRK Nuclear Issue
4. Japanese on Inter – Korean Summit
5. Sino – DPRK Relations
6. EU – DPRK Relations
7. DPRK Defectors
8. PRC on DPRK Defectors
9. DPRK Food Aid
10. US on DPRK Food Aid
11. Japan on DPRK Food Aid
12. Japanese Abductions
13. Abductee Reunion
14. US – ROK Relations
15. US – ROK Military Alliance
16. ROK Cabinet Reshuffle
17. PRC Espionage Charges
18. PRC Domestic Corruption
19. PRC Media Control
20. Sino – Pakistani Relations
21. Sino – Indian Relations
22. Sino – Japanese Relations
23. PRC Emissions Trading
24. PRC Environment
25. PRC Economy
26. PRC Human Trafficking
- 27. US Bases in Japan Realignment
28. Japan History Textbook
29. Japan-Russia Relations
30. Japan-PRC Territorial Dispute
I. United States
Yonhap (“SOUTH KOREAN OFFICIAL SAYS SIX-WAY TALKS LIKELY IN THIRD WEEK OF AUGUST”, 2004-07-29) reported that working-level six-party talks on the DPRK’s nuclear program will likely be held in the third week of next month, a government official said Thursday (29 July). Host the PRC has proposed 11-14 August as dates for a “working group” meeting and the other participants are exchanging views on that schedule, but a majority of them prefer the following week of 18-21 August, the official said on condition of anonymity. “For now, it is likely that the meeting will be held in the third week of August.”
(return to top) 2. US – DPRK Relations
Los Angeles Times (“PYONGYANG DIPLOMAT WILL VISIT UNITED STATES”, 2004-07-29) reported that a negotiator in the DPRK’s nuclear talks with Washington is expected to make a rare trip to the US next month in a sign of fresh attempts to make progress on the 21-month-old crisis. Gen. Ri Gun, deputy head of US affairs at the DPRK’s Foreign Ministry, has been invited for informal talks by a think tank in New York, PRC officials said. Ri’s trip would follow a trip to Washington this month by the DPRK’s U.N. ambassador — the first such visit allowed by President Bush.
(return to top) 3. US – PRC on DPRK Nuclear Issue
The Washington Post (“U.S. ENVOY TO MEET WITH CHINA ON N. KOREA”, 2004-07-29) reported that amid signs that the DPRK is prepared to formally reject a US proposal for ending its nuclear programs, a senior US diplomat will hold talks in the PRC today on the next round of six-nation talks aimed at resolving the impasse over the DPRK’s nuclear ambitions, the State Department said. Joseph R. DeTrani, the special envoy for negotiations with the DPRK, will meet with senior PRC officials as part of a “regular and expected pattern of diplomatic consultations,” State Department spokesman J. Adam Ereli said. Other US officials said, however, that the trip had been hastily arranged over the weekend, when the DPRK issued a statement denouncing the latest US proposal.
(return to top) 4. Japanese on Inter – Korean Summit
Yonhap (“JAPANESE ENVOY OPEN TO INTER-KOREAN SUMMIT “, 2004-07-29) reported that Japan’s top envoy indicated openness Thursday to the ROK and DPRK holding a second summit if it is helpful in resolving tensions over Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions and other pending issues. “It is important to resolve the nuclear problem and other pending issues in order for North Korea to become a responsible member of the international community. Each country should make efforts toward that goal,” said Ambassador to Seoul Toshiyuki Takano, when asked to comment on the possibility of a second inter-Korean summit.
(return to top) 5. Sino – DPRK Relations
Yonhap (“SINO-NORTH KOREAN TRADE UP 37 PERCENT IN FIRST HALF”, 2004-07-29) reported that the trade volume between the DPRK and the PRC increased by 37 percent to US$517 million in the first six months of this year compared with the same period of last year, the ROK’s state-run trade agency said Thursday. But Pyongyang still recorded a $174 million trade deficit with its communist ally, the Korea International Trade Association said.
(return to top) 6. EU – DPRK Relations
Yonhap (“EU AID TO N. KOREA REACHES US$386 MLN: EU ENVOY “, 2004-07-29) reported that the European Union has sent 320 million euro (US$386 million) worth of aid to the DPRK since 1995 when it began providing humanitarian assistance to the impoverished state, a top European diplomat here said Thursday. European Union Ambassador to the ROK Dorian Prince added that the EU executive commission has also supplied an additional 115 million euro to a U.S.-led international consortium for the construction of two light-water reactors in the DPRK.
(return to top) 7. DPRK Defectors
Agence France-Presse (“NORTH KOREA SAYS SOUTH KOREA “KIDNAPPED” DEFECTORS”, 2004-07-29) reported that the DPRK accused the ROK Thursday of “kidnapping” DPRK citizens after more than 450 refugees arrived here from the communist country this week, Yonhap news agency reported. The Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland said in a statement monitored by Yonhap that the mass defection was the result of the ROK’s “planned kidnapping and daytime terrorist crime.” The committee said the latest defection was designed to defame and topple the DPRK. The warning, Pyongyang’s first official reaction to the airlifts of North Koreans to the ROK from a third country, came ahead of expected cabinet-level talks between the two Koreas.
The New York Times (“NORTH KOREA DENOUNCES SOUTH FOR GIVING ASYLUM TO DEFECTORS”, 2004-07-29) reported that the DPRK denounced the ROK government today for granting asylum this week to nearly 460 DPRK defectors, characterizing the ROK’s actions as “abduction and terrorism.” The defectors from Vietnam, according to human rights groups in the ROK. As more details emerged of what has amounted to the largest-ever single arrival in the ROK of northern defectors, it became clearer that the group’s size had resulted from the increasing popularity of a smuggling route out of the PRC, and not from a rise in people fleeing directly from the DPRK. The recent flow of people out of the DPRK has remained steady or perhaps diminished, experts said, because the PRC has tightened security on its border with the DPRK. Today, however, the DPRK’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland issued a statement declaring that “South Korean authorities will be held wholly accountable for the ensuing consequences and other forces who supported them will have to pay a high price for them,” according to the Korean Central News Agency.
(return to top) 8. PRC on DPRK Defectors
The Korea Herald (“N.K. DEFECTORS IN CHINA REMAIN CONCERN”, 2004-07-29) reported that though 468 DPRK defectors were brought from a Southeast Asian country to Seoul this week, the government’s concerns have not abated because an estimated 100,000 North Koreans in the PRC still seek asylum in the ROK. With the ROK maintaining its policy of embracing all DPRK escapees who want to settle in the ROK, experts and civic activists are insisting the government’s measures should be far-reaching enough to address the plight of North Koreans hiding in the PRC. “It is very important that the government engages in active diplomatic negotiations with China and strengthens international alliances for the safety of defectors because China may step up its crackdown on them,” said Do Hee-youn of the Citizens’ Alliance for Human Rights of North Korean Defectors.
(return to top) 9. DPRK Food Aid
Bloomberg News (“NORTH KOREA’S FOOD SUPPLIES CUT BY FUNDING SHORTFALL, UN SAYS “, 2004-07-29) reported that the DPRK’s food supplies are being cut because donor nations have provided only one sixth of the $171 million needed to feed 6.5 million of its citizens this year, the UN said. The World Food Program needs about 40,000 metric tons of food each month for the DPRK between now and September, the UN said in a statement. Only 1.8 million of the most vulnerable DPRK citizens, women, children and the elderly, are receiving food aid, it said. The UN has prevented mass starvation in the country since starting food aid shipments in 1995. The DPRK produces only 20 percent of the food needed for its population, the World Food Program said in February.
(return to top) 10. US on DPRK Food Aid
Yonhap (“FOOD AID DISTRIBUTION IN N.K. MORE TRANSPARENT: EX-U.S. OFFICIAL “, 2004-07-29) reported that the transparency of humanitarian food aid distribution in the DPRK has improved as the communist country eased its restrictions on international monitors, Voice of America (VOA) said Thursday, quoting a former U.S. official. Jack Pritchard, a former U.S. special envoy to the North, said the DPRK’s relations with the World Food Program (WFP) have improved as the DPRK allowed the U.N. agency to increase its inspection visits to food distribution centers over the past six months, according to the VOA, monitored here.
(return to top) 11. Japan on DPRK Food Aid
Chosun Ilbo (“TOKYO MULLS SENDING FOOD AID TO N. KOREA NEXT MONTH “, 2004-07-29) reported that Tokyo has begun preparations to send 250,000 tons of food assistance to the DPRK next month, as pledged by Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi during talks with DPRK leader Kim Jong-il in May. This is according to the Japanese media citing government sources. The planned food aid for Pyongyang mostly wheat and corn, will not only be the first but also the largest since October 2000 when Japan sent 500,000 tons of rice aid to the DPRK. The food aid will reportedly be shipped together with pharmaceutical products worth some US$10 million U.S. dollars. Tokyo is also preparing to hold a working-level meeting with Pyongyang from August 10th, to discuss the DPRK’s proposed reinvestigation into the whereabouts of 10 missing Japanese, who Japan claims were kidnapped by DPRK agents decades ago.
(return to top) 12. Japanese Abductions
Kyodo News (“N. KOREA TIES TALKS LINKED TO ABDUCTION PROGRESS: OFFICIAL”, 2004-07-29) reported that a senior Foreign Ministry official indicated Thursday resuming talks with DPRK on normalizing ties will hinge on the result of a working-level meeting on the North’s abductions of Japanese, a ministry source said. Akitaka Saiki, deputy director general of the ministry’s Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, was quoted as telling a group of abductees and their relatives, ‘If North Korea continues investigating (the abduction cases) in an insincere manner, it would be meaningless to proceed with negotiations’ for normalization. Saiki, who joined a luncheon with the group members, was referring to the DPRK’s reinvestigation of cases of abducted Japanese.
(return to top) 13. Abductee Reunion
Kyodo news (“U.S. MAY DEMAND JAPAN HANDS OVER JENKINS WITHIN 1 OR 2 WEEKS”, 2004-07-29) reported that the US may demand Japan hands over alleged U.S. Army deserter Charles Jenkins, now in a Tokyo hospital, for court martial possibly within one or two weeks, a US administration official said Wednesday. U.S. military authorities have already called for a decision by Washington to demand the handover within one or two weeks and if the government decides to do so, the move would take place immediately, the official said. A source familiar with Japan-U.S. relations said a defense counsel belonging to U.S. forces in the ROK will arrive in Japan next week to meet Jenkins.
(return to top) 14. US – ROK Relations
Chosun Ilbo (“OUTGOING U.S. AMBASSADOR SAYS KOREA, U.S. HAVE DIFFERING VIEWS OF NORTH “, 2004-07-29) reported that ahead of returning home on August 5 upon completing his three-year term, U.S. Ambassador to Korea Thomas Hubbard said Thursday, “Many Koreans think that North Korea has become a less of a threat, whereas since the September 11 attack, Americans has had considerable concern over the threat of North Korea, showing that the two countries have different perspectives on the North.” Coming to Seoul on the very day of the September 11 attack, Hubbard made this remark in his last press conference at the Seoul Press Center, adding, “The relationship between the two countries will become more solid if they look at the issue in a large framework and find a common solutions.”
(return to top) 15. US – ROK Military Alliance
Chosun Ilbo (“THE U.S. PULLS KEY MILITARY EQUIPMENT OUT OF KOREA TO IRAQ”, 2004-07-29) reported that it has been confirmed that in connection to the redeployment of the 2nd Brigade of the U.S. 2nd Infantry Division from Korea to Iraq, the U.S military has been shipping key combat equipment that doesn’t belong to the 2nd Brigade to Iraq. Since the U.S. had notified the ROK that only the 2nd Brigade would be sent to Iraq, it is expected that the redeployment of the equipment and some forces belonging to the 8th army and the infantry brigade would cause a controversy over a possible military power vacuum and the earlier withdrawal of U.S forces stationed in the ROK. Military authorities explained that although the 2nd Brigade would be deployed to Iraq, there would be no military power vacuum because mainly manpower would be sent while key equipment would remain in the ROK.
(return to top) 16. ROK Cabinet Reshuffle
Korea Herald (“ROH REPLACES JUSTICE, DEFENSE MINISTERS”, 2004-07-29) reported that Kim Hyun-jong promoted to new trade minister in Cabinet reshuffle. President Roh Moo-hyun yesterday named National Defense Adviser Yoon Kwang-woong as his new defense minister and former Vice Justice Minister Kim Seung-kyu to head the Justice Ministry. He also replaced Trade Minister Hwang Doo-yun with Deputy Minister Kim Hyun-jong in a minor reshuffle which, political analysts said, focuses on the stable management of state affairs based on the ability of the new department heads to effectively control their agencies. Presidential officials said Yoon, 62, is seen as the best choice to reform the military and implement Roh’s plan on “cooperative self-defense” because he has kept pace with the president as his senior aide on defense affairs since January. Yoon succeeds Cho Yung-kil, who offered to resign Tuesday over the recent controversy surrounding inter-Korean radio communications before a firing incident near the disputed western maritime border on July 14.
Yonhap (“NEW DEFENSE CHIEF VOWS TO DEVELOP INDEPENDENT WAR CAPABILITY “, 2004-07-29) reported that the ROK’s new defense minister said Thursday that he would push forward President Roh Moo-hyun’s resolve to bolster the nation’s defense capability and lessen the nation’s dependence on the US. Outlining his policy priorities in an inaugural speech, Yoon Kwang-ung said he would establish a “cooperative self-defense system” that would determine the fate of the nation following a recent U.S. plan to drastically slash its troop strength in the ROK.
(return to top) 17. PRC Espionage Charges
The Washington Post (“JAILED AMERICAN SPIED FOR TAIWAN, CHINA SAYS”, 2004-07-29) reported that a PRC-born U.S. citizen who lives in New York and runs a US-based trading company has been imprisoned since September on suspicion of spying for Taiwan for the past 14 years, official PRC news media reported Wednesday. David Wei Dong, also known as Dong Wei, was accused of taking $3,000 a month from Taiwan’s National Security Bureau and its military intelligence agency, according to China Daily and the Global Times, two Beijing-based newspapers controlled by the government. Dong, 52, was paid to collect information about Beijing’s activities in the US and attitudes toward Taiwan’s political and economic affairs, the newspapers said. Dong also set up a foundation at St. John’s University in New York with money from the military intelligence agency to bring students to the US from mainland PRC who later could be recruited as Taiwanese spies, according to the unusually detailed reports, which quoted PRC officials.
(return to top) 18. PRC Domestic Corruption
United Press International (“CHINA CONTINUES CADRE CRACKDOWN”, 2004-07-29) reported that the Wu Guangzheng, one of nine members of the Politburo’s Standing Committee, said Wednesday a crackdown on corrupt officials will continue. In a story carried by the state-run Xinhua news agency, Wu said the focus of the campaign included bureaucratic abuse of official power for personal gain, bribery, perverting justice and other serious violations of the public interest. Wu is the secretary responsible for party discipline; he ranks seventh in the official communist hierarchy. Urging committees and discipline inspection organs to carry out regulations concerning party-building, Wu warned regional and departmental leaders nationwide they will be held accountable for chronic infractions in areas under their jurisdiction. Cleaning up the work style of cadres will be a key theme of the party plenum set for September in Beijing.
(return to top) 19. PRC Media Control
Associated Press (“HONG KONG NEWSPAPER CHALLENGES RAIDS “, 2004-07-29) reported that a Hong Kong newspaper sought Wednesday to revoke a search warrant used by anti-graft officials to seize documents and computer files from its office, and demanded that the confiscated items be returned. The Independent Commission Against Corruption, or ICAC, drew international condemnation after raiding seven newspapers that published the name of a protected witness over the weekend. Lawyers for the Sing Tao Daily submitted documents to the High Court, seeking to annul a search warrant and demanding the commission disclose the document used to apply for the warrant, according to a newspaper spokesman who would not give his name. “We want to see what rights the ICAC has under the law, and whether its actions are legal and reasonable,” said Ho Man-kei, a lawyer for Sing Tao, in comments broadcast by Hong Kong network Cable TV.
(return to top) 20. Sino – Pakistani Relations
Reuters (“CHINA, PAKISTAN TO HOLD ANTI-TERROR DRILLS”, 2004-07-29) reported that the PRC and Pakistan will hold joint military anti-terrorism exercises in the PRC’s far-western region of Xinjiang in August, the official Xinhua news agency reported on Thursday. The exercises would help expand non-traditional security cooperation between the two countries and were aimed at restraining what the PRC has dubbed the “three forces” of separatism, terrorism and religious extremism, Xinhua said. “The purpose of these exercises is to take a step in strengthening and consolidating the China-Pakistan national and military friendship and cooperation, improve the two countries’ joint anti-terror fighting abilities … and safeguard regional peace and stability,” it said.
(return to top) 21. Sino – Indian Relations
Outlook India (“CHINA POSITIVE ON STRENGTHENING BILATERAL TIES WITH INDIA”, 2004-07-29) reported that the PRC today said it is keen to forge friendly and good-neighborly ties with India and expressed confidence in resolving pending problems through dialogue. Stating this, member of the Secretariat of the Central Committee of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC), He Yong, told a delegation from the Communist Party of India (CPI) led by its National Secretary, D Raja, that Beijing appreciated the positive stance of the UPA government towards the PRC. He, also Deputy Secretary of the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, stressed that Sino-India relations should be further strengthened and developed, and lauded the contribution of the CPI in promoting mutual trust between the two neighboring nations.
(return to top) 22. Sino – Japanese Relations
Agence France-Presse (“HK-CHINA EMISSIONS TRADING GIVEN COOL RESPONSE”, 2004-07-29) reported that pans for Hong Kong to join a south PRC emissions trading scheme in a bid to reduce pollution in the region have been condemned as unworkable by experts. The proposal was put forward by the city’s environment minister Sarah Liao in November as a way of reducing the smog that covers the city for much of the year. Studies suggest much of it is carried on prevailing southerly winds from power plants and factories in the PRC’s neighboring Guangdong Province, making it difficult for local policies to have much effect in battling the choking pollution. Under an emissions trading scheme, Hong Kong and Guangdong power plants and factories would gain financial incentives for reducing their output of pollutants in the form of credits that they can trade in an emissions market. “We are open to the suggestion but feel it hasn’t been thought out properly yet,” said Greenpeace Hong Kong campaigns manager Edward Chan. “On the face of it, it appears a good means to control pollution. But we are concerned that too much emphasis is being placed on it at the expense of more effective pollution control measures, such as investing in renewable energy sources.”
(return to top) 24. PRC Environment
Agence France-Presse (“CHINA’S DEPENDENCE ON COAL FOR ENERGY CAUSING POLLUTION AT HOME AND ABROAD”, 2004-07-29) reported that the PRC is relying on coal-fired power plants to meet severe electricity shortages, but such heavy polluters are damaging the environment and harming its people and its neighbors. Energy shortfalls are reaching crisis levels in the PRC, with a 30,000-megawatt shortfall in electricity this summer — the worst shortage since the 1980s. To meet the rapidly growing economy’s huge demands, the country is building more coal-fired power plants — which emit large amounts of sulphur dioxide and other pollutants, causing acid rain and leading to respiratory illnesses. From 2000 to 2002, air pollutant emissions actually decreased due to government efforts to control pollution, but last year pollution levels increased by about 12 percent from 2002, according to government statistics.
(return to top) 25. PRC Economy
The Associated Press (“CHINA TOUTS PROGRESS IN SLOWING ECONOMY”, 2004-07-29) reported that efforts to slow skyrocketing investment are helping slow economic growth and easing energy and transport bottlenecks, but lenders shouldn’t cut back across the board, the PRC’s banking regulator says. In a report on a meeting in Beijing with top bank executives, the China Banking Regulatory Commission warned lenders against jeopardizing needed construction and development by choking off credit for worthy borrowers and projects. The PRC began tightening credit late last year, warning that soaring investment was fueling inflation and could lead to financial problems.
(return to top) 26. PRC Human Trafficking
Agence France-Presse (“CHINA CONVICTS 15 PEOPLE FOR TRAFFICKING 120 CHILDREN”, 2004-07-29) reported that a court in central PRC has convicted 15 people for trafficking at least 120 children and sentenced the ringleader of the operation to death. The Puyang City Intermediate People’s Court in Henan province ruled this week that chief culprit Li Guoju would die for his actions, Xinhua news agency said. Two other leaders, Yu Xiushu and Zhang Xinfa, were given life imprisonment and fined 20,000 yuan (2,415 dollars). The others were sentenced to between one and 15 years in jail. They were accused of “colluding with each other” in the kidnapping and trading of children between 1998 to 2003, the report said, without elaborating on the ages of children involved or where they were abducted and sold.
27. US Bases in Japan Realignment
Kyodo News (“LOCAL OPPOSITION IS OVERSHADOWING FEASIBILITY OF U.S. TROOP REALIGNMENT”, 2004-07-19) reported that the US has told Japan it plans to reduce the number of troops in Okinawa Prefecture as part of a major military realignment, but the proposal’s feasibility remains unclear due to local opposition in other parts of Japan. At working level talks that began July 15, the US and Japan discussed moving some marines in Okinawa to Camp Fuji in Shizuoka Prefecture. At the same time, the US suggested integrating the functions of its 13th Air Force in Guam into the 5th Air Force at Yokota base in western Tokyo and relocating an army brigade in Washington state to Camp Zama in Kanagawa Prefecture. The large-scale realignment plan also includes moving night landing practice at Atsugi to Iwakuni in Yamaguchi Prefecture due to complaints about severe noise.
Kyodo News (“GINOWAN MAYOR PUSHES FOR BASE CLOSURE BY 2008”, 2004-07-18) reported that the mayor of Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture, said he has asked the US to implement the agreed closure of the US Marine Corps Futenma Air Station and the return of the land by 2008. At a news conference in Washington following a series of talks with State Department and Pentagon officials earlier this week, Yoichi Iha said the current plan to relocate the helicopter operations of the Futenma base in Ginowan to another site in the prefecture is “the worst option.” The functions of the Futenma base should be moved outside of Okinawa, given that the prefecture hosts the bulk of the US military presence in Japan, he said.
The Asahi Shimbun (“AIR BASE MOVE ROUSES ROAR OF PROTEST”, 2004-07-19) reported that Iwakuni residents, already vexed by the noise of US military aircraft, are lashing out at a plan to shift Naval Air Facility Atsugi, in Kanagawa Prefecture, to the Marine Corps air station in their Yamaguchi Prefecture city. Iwakuni Mayor Katsusuke Ihara said the plan, which would increase noise and threaten citizens’ safety, “cannot be accepted.” Upset by severe noise pollution, residents of Atsugi and surrounding municipalities have long demanded that all night landing practices (NLPs) be shifted to Iwojima island. Jets from the USS Kitty Hawk aircraft carrier still conduct some NLPs at Atsugi base. NLPs at Iwojima, some 1,200 kilometers away, were begun in the early 1990s.
The Japan Times (“EXTRA SQUADRONS PITCHED FOR U.S. YOKOTA AIR BASE”, 2004-07-16) reported that the US has informally proposed integrating a US air base on Guam into the US Yokota Air Base outside Tokyo. The US plans to dissolve the 13th Air Force on Guam and integrate its functions into the 5th Air Force at the Yokota base in western Tokyo. At the same time, Japan has tabled a plan to consolidate two operations of the Air Self-Defense Force in Fuchu, western Tokyo, and relocate them to nearby Yokota, sources said. Observers said bringing the two organizations to Yokota would not only improve cooperation between Japan and Washington on airspace defense but would also help smooth bilateral coordination with a view to increasing overseas SDF dispatches to enhance Japan’s contribution to international operations.
28. Japan History Textbook
The Japan Times (“SOUTH KOREANS BLAST ‘DISTORTED’ TEXTBOOK”, 2004-07-16) reported that a group of South Korean residents in Japan urged the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s board of education not to adopt a controversial junior high school textbook — which critics say glosses over Japan’s wartime atrocities — for use in a public secondary school that will open in April. The metropolitan education board will decide next month which textbooks will be used at the new school in Taito Ward, which will provide an integrated six-year education program at junior high and high school levels. Cho Soo Yoong, chairman of the central head office of the Korean Youth Association in Japan, said the controversial textbook, published by Fuso Publishing Inc., should not be selected because it presents a distorted version of historical facts. “We are concerned that the spread of the textbook could deepen a gap between Japan and other Asian countries, including South Korea,” he said.
29. Japan-Russia Relations
The Asahi Shimbun (“GETTING ISLES BACK NOW PRIORITY IN RUSSIA TALKS”, 2004-07-20) reported that the thorny Northern Territories issue has been taken off the back burner and is now at the forefront of Japan’s new foreign policy initiative that includes concluding a peace treaty with Russia. Now, the Japanese government says it is imperative to conclude a peace treaty through bilateral summit diplomacy with confirmation that all four disputed islands off Hokkaido should be returned to Japanese sovereignty in one go. A senior Foreign Ministry official said now is a perfect opportunity for Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and President Vladimir Putin, who in May began his second term in office, to settle the peace treaty issue once and for all. Officials hope that when Putin visits Japan early next year, the two nations will be ready to make headway on the issue. But, Russia, under Putin, has shown no enthusiasm for concluding a peace treaty nor any desire to return all four islands. This gulf was evident during talks in June between the foreign ministers of both nations. Russia’s Sergey Lavrov gave the cold shoulder to Yoriko Kawaguchi, who arduously preached the need for a territorial solution, according to Japanese sources.
30. Japan-PRC Territorial Dispute
Kyodo News (“CHINESE AUTHORITIES BLOCK SENKAKU ISLANDS BOAT LAUNCH”, 2004-07-20) reported that the Chinese Communist Party secretary of Sansha Town in Fujian Province sent more than 10 official vehicles to stop the China Federation for Defending the Diaoyu Islands from setting sail to the Japanese-controlled territory in the East China Sea on July 18, federation leader Zhang Likun said. Zhang is one of the 10 who had hoped to reach the islands and was among seven people who made it to the islands in March, sparking a three-day diplomatic row.