Saturday, October 16, 2004

Opaqueness to come about Japan's defense

Japan is likely to move a joint research project with
the United States on a new missile shield to the
development phase soon, Defence Minister Yoshinori Ono

Japan, which decided last December to buy a US-made
missile defence system, joined in the joint research on
a next-generation shield after North Korea test-fired a
ballistic missile that passed over Japan in 1998. Joint
technological research will eventually lead to the joint
development and production phase.

'If it doesn't, there will surely be a question as to
why we are doing joint technological research,' he said.

Asked when Japan would move the project to the
development and production phase, Mr Ono said: 'I think
that will happen in the not too distant future.' He did
not give a specific date."

Maybe better ask to Mitsubishi. Commentators say:
"Opaqueness to come about Japan's defense won't reassure

South Korea details of agreement on U.S. forces relocation

Rep. Roh Hoe-chan of the Democratic Labor Party
disclosed on Friday the details of an agreement reached
in August between South Korea and the U.S. on the
relocation of the Yongsan Garrison. This is the first
time the entire text of the agreement has been revealed,
though the gist of the agreement has already been made

According to the agreement, the Combined Forces Command
and the U.N Command will relocate by the end of 2007 and
the Yongsan base will completely relocate by the end of
2008. Korea will bear the full cost of the relocations.

Rep. Roh said that the South Korean negotiating team had
given into all of the U.S.'s demands and had ignored
input by President Roh Moo-hyun, regarding him as an
anti-U.S. activist, and the relocation agreement is
worse than a previous agreement drawn up in 1990, which
has been heavily criticized as being unfair. To support
his claims, Rep. Roh points to the fact that Korea will
have to pay the full cost of the relocation, which could
be extensive. After the cabinet meeting approves the
agreement, the National Assembly will have to ratify it.

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Allegations of Kim's troops enforcement on DPRK China border

Japan’s Sankei Shimbun, citing a knowledgeable source of
North Korea, reported on Friday that the North Korean
leader Kim Jong Il commanded an increase of guards along
the China borderline, assigning this area as the “number
one front line of national defense.�

The Sankei Shimbun reported that this can be viewed as
reflecting leader Kim’s perception that the collapse of
North Korea’s regime will begin along the border with
China instead of the armistice line with South Korea.

According to the source, Kim ordered an increase of
guards along the border with China in July 2004, and
there have been intelligence agents disguised as
civilians assigned, national assistance department and
public security stations (police stations) set up, and a
threefold strengthening of the military defense arranged
along the Duman River and Aprok River area.

The Sankei Shimbun analyzed the reason for arranging
intelligence agents along the national frontier and
moving the military to guard the rear frontier is to
serve as a preventive measure of group escape by the

The source reported, “Even though the number of guards
has been strengthened, the number of North Korean
escapees is not decreasing because if you have money,
you can even bribe the soldiers or the policemen.�

The Sankei Shimbun further reported that North Korean
authorities are concerned about external news
infiltrating into North Korea as the number of cases of
escapees who have earned money in China and trying to
smuggle back into North Korea is again increasing.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Iraq oil clash between France and USA

French diplomats yesterday launched a bitter
counter-offensive against the United States in the U.N.
oil-for-food scandal, unveiling a list of American
companies that did business with Saddam Hussein through
subsidiaries in France.

In a move certain to rekindle smoldering animosities
with the Bush administration over the Iraq war, France's
ambassador to the United States delivered to Congress a
list of 30 American companies that sold goods to Iraq
through French subsidiaries during the oil-for-food

The companies on the list, delivered to the House
Government Affairs Subcommittee on National Security,
include divisions of major U.S. electrical, chemical and
pharmaceutical firms that did more than $522 million
worth of business with Saddam's regime, according to the

Ambassador Jean-David Levitte also noted that French
subsidiaries of Halliburton, the giant oil and
construction firm formerly headed by Vice President Dick
Cheney, did more than $130 mil- lion in business under
the program.

There was no mention in the documents about the scores
of French companies, businessmen and political figures
who were included on Iraqi Oil Ministry lists of
recipients of sweetheart oil deals from Saddam — deals
at the heart of the scandal.

The French document did not say whether any of the
American deals were illegal.

The decision to pass on the list was seen by an
investigator on the subcommittee as a bald-faced attempt
by the French to deflect attention away from the growing
number of allegations that secret arms and oil deals
with Saddam were behind France's vehement opposition to
the Iraq war.

A report released last week by CIA weapons inspector
Charles Duelfer said French politicians and businessmen
accounted for 15 percent of the total number of vouchers
handed out by Saddam's regime.

The vouchers enabled the people Saddam was courting to
purchase middleman oil contracts at discount rates and
then resell on the open market at substantial profits.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

European Union disagrees on the lifting of China weapons ban

The European Union failed to agree on Monday to lift
an arms embargo against China despite energetic French
pressure, but European foreign ministers said a
stronger code of conduct on arms exports could lead to
a removal of the ban.

Britain denied it was blocking a lifting of the
embargo, imposed 15 years ago. But diplomats listed it
among the opponents, along with Nordic countries
concerned about human rights and some east European
states sensitive to fierce U.S. lobbying.

"There was no consensus. It will require further
discussion," German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer
told reporters after the 25 ministers discussed the
China embargo.

French President Jacques Chirac, who was visiting
China to boost economic and political ties, denounced
the embargo on Saturday in Beijing as a
"circumstantial measure which is purely and simply
hostile to China" and had no justification.

"That is why France, like most EU countries, is in
favor of lifting this embargo," Chirac said.

The United States has lobbied publicly and privately
against a lifting of the ban.

Dutch Foreign Minister Bernard Bot, who chaired the
talks, told a news conference: "It's clear that we
need more time to consider the situation, but we hope
to be able to indicate a positive orientation toward
the lifting."

He pledged to speed up work on a general code of
conduct for arms sales by EU countries.

Diplomats said a removal of the embargo was unlikely
before the end of the year, although another attempt
might be made just before a December 8 EU-China

Fischer said stronger EU guidelines on what arms
should or should not be exported to third countries
offered a way forward.

Meanwhile, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw
rejected suggestions that London, at Washington's
behest, was opposing an end to the China ban.

"We are not in any sense quote 'against' the lifting
of the embargo. But it has got to be done in a proper
and sensible way and that is the process which has
been agreed by the whole of the European Union," he
told reporters.

Sweden and Denmark voiced reservations on the arms
lifting. Others in the reticent camp included Poland,
the Czech Republic and Latvia, participants said.

The EU is reviewing its policy on the basis of three
criteria. China's human rights record, tension with
the Taiwan island authorities, and the EU code of
conduct on arms exports, which is yet to be worked

Japanese firms hide technologies secrets at home

Japanese firms, which have increasingly been shifting
their production bases to China and other nations with
cheap labor costs, have started making a bit of a
homeward retreat when it comes to their cutting-edge

Japanese firms, like most companies, protect their
prowess in advanced technologies by keeping the
development and production process cloaked in secrecy.

So while popularized technologies can be easily
shipped to overseas plants, state-of-the art
technologies are better kept hidden away at home.

The moves are part of efforts "to attach greater
importance to home and choose the right crop for the
land," said Tadashi Okamura, president of Toshiba

"Even the president cannot easily enter into to this
plant," said an executive at Sharp Corp.'s Kameyama
plant in Mie Prefecture, which produces widescreen
liquid crystal displays and LCD televisions.

To maintain the position as the world's top producer
of LCD televisions, Sharp keeps these new technologies
safely hidden.

The Kameyama plant is the most important production
base for these products. Sharp is investing 150
billion yen in the plant in fiscal 2003-2004 to
concentrate on developing and manufacturing LCDs in
the Kansai area.

It also has a plant in Tenri, Nara Prefecture, to
produce LCDs for personal computers.

Business analysts say that Japanese companies focused
on manufacturing digital electric household appliances
are pursuing a "vertical integration" to cope with a
"horizontal division of labor" of U.S. enterprises, in
which cheap personal computers are produced and sold
in tie-ups with those in Taiwan and China.

According to the Cabinet Office, capital investment in
domestic plants decreased with the collapse of the
technology bubble but reached a record high of 94,338
billion yen in fiscal 2003 and has since continued to

Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. plans to construct
the world's biggest plasma TV set manufacturing plant
in Amagasaki, Hyogo Prefecture.

Canon Inc. will locate its production line for new
digital cameras in Oita Prefecture. "Let's make things
in Japan," said Canon President Fujio Mitarai.

In the automobile industry, Daihatsu Motor Co. has
begun operating a plant in Oita Prefecture whose
construction was suspended after the collapse of the
bubble economy. Mazda Motor Corp. has also resumed the
operations at once-shuttered plants.

Sumitomo Metal Industries Ltd. is investing in its
production division, including the repair of a blast
furnace in Ibaraki Prefecture.

Hideo Wakabayashi, chief analyst at Mizuho Securities
Co., said that although facilities and personnel are
being downsized, major electronics companies will not
be able to catch up with their record-high
performances achieved around 1990, even in the digital
boom of fiscal 2004.

A senior official at the Ministry of Economy, Trade
and Industry said that for Japanese firms to survive
they need an annual investment of 200 billion yen in
carefully chosen businesses, 70 percent of sales
overseas and a global share of 10 percent.

But few such companies exist and the foreign
competition is stiff.

South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co., which has begun
distinguishing itself in the semiconductor and
electronic household appliance market, invested 2
trillion yen in the LCD business alone by 2001.

Taiwanese enterprises are also trying to become the
top producers of semiconductors.

"Samsung decides on its investment policy in one week,
but three months are required for Japanese
enterprises," Wakabayashi said. "Positive and swift
decisions are needed.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Being a foreign correspondent in Baghdad these days

"Being a foreign correspondent in Baghdad these days
is like being under virtual house arrest. Forget about
the reasons that lured me to this job, a chance to see
the world, explore the exotic, meet new people in far
away lands, discover their ways and tell stories that
could make a difference."

Fassihi traveled to Afghanistan to cover the war
against the Taliban.

"Little by little, day-by-day, being based in Iraq has
defied all those reasons. I am house bound. I leave
when I have a very good reason to and a scheduled
interview. I avoid going to people's homes and never
walk in the streets. I can't go grocery shopping any
more, can't eat in restaurants, can't strike a
conversation with strangers, can't look for stories,
can't drive in any thing but a full armored car, can't
go to scenes of breaking news stories, can't be stuck
in traffic, can't speak English outside, can't take a
road trip, can't say I'm an American, can't linger at
checkpoints, can't be curious about what people are
saying, doing, feeling. And can't and can't. There has
been one too many close calls, including a car bomb so
near our house that it blew out all the windows. So
now my most pressing concern every day is not to write
a kick-ass story but to stay alive and make sure our
Iraqi employees stay alive. In Baghdad I am a security
personnel first, a reporter second.

It's hard to pinpoint when the 'turning point' exactly
began. Was it April when the Fallujah fell out of the
grasp of the Americans? Was it when Moqtada and Jish
Mahdi declared war on the U.S. military? Was it when
Sadr City, home to ten percent of Iraq's population,
became a nightly battlefield for the Americans? Or was
it when the insurgency began spreading from isolated
pockets in the Sunni triangle to include most of Iraq?
Despite President Bush's rosy assessments, Iraq
remains a disaster. If under Saddam it was a
'potential' threat, under the Americans it has been
transformed to 'imminent and active threat,' a foreign
policy failure bound to haunt the United States for
decades to come.

Iraqis like to call this mess 'the situation.' When
asked 'how are thing?' they reply: 'the situation is
very bad."

What they mean by situation is this: the Iraqi
government doesn't control most Iraqi cities, there
are several car bombs going off each day around the
country killing and injuring scores of innocent
people, the country's roads are becoming impassable
and littered by hundreds of landmines and explosive
devices aimed to kill American soldiers, there are
assassinations, kidnappings and beheadings. The
situation, basically, means a raging barbaric guerilla
war. In four days, 110 people died and over 300 got
injured in Baghdad alone. The numbers are so shocking
that the ministry of health -- which was attempting an
exercise of public transparency by releasing the
numbers -- has now stopped disclosing them.

Insurgents now attack Americans 87 times a day.

A friend drove thru the Shiite slum of Sadr City
yesterday. He said young men were openly placing
improvised explosive devices into the ground. They
melt a shallow hole into the asphalt, dig the
explosive, cover it with dirt and put an old tire or
plastic can over it to signal to the locals this is
booby-trapped. He said on the main roads of Sadr City,
there were a dozen landmines per every ten yards. His
car snaked and swirled to avoid driving over them.
Behind the walls sits an angry Iraqi ready to detonate
them as soon as an American convoy gets near. This is
in Shiite land, the population that was supposed to
love America for liberating Iraq.

For journalists the significant turning point came
with the wave of abduction and kidnappings. Only two
weeks ago we felt safe around Baghdad because
foreigners were being abducted on the roads and
highways between towns. Then came a frantic phone call
from a journalist female friend at 11 p.m. telling me
two Italian women had been abducted from their homes
in broad daylight. Then the two Americans, who got
beheaded this week and the Brit, were abducted from
their homes in a residential neighborhood. They were
supplying the entire block with round the clock
electricity from their generator to win friends. The
abductors grabbed one of them at 6 a.m. when he came
out to switch on the generator; his beheaded body was
thrown back near the neighborhoods.

The insurgency, we are told, is rampant with no signs
of calming down. If any thing, it is growing stronger,
organized and more sophisticated every day. The
various elements within it-baathists, criminals,
nationalists and Al Qaeda-are cooperating and

I went to an emergency meeting for foreign
correspondents with the military and embassy to
discuss the kidnappings. We were somberly told our
fate would largely depend on where we were in the
kidnapping chain once it was determined we were
missing. Here is how it goes: criminal gangs grab you
and sell you up to Baathists in Fallujah, who will in
turn sell you to Al Qaeda. In turn, cash and weapons
flow the other way from Al Qaeda to the Baathisst to
the criminals. My friend Georges, the French
journalist snatched on the road to Najaf, has been
missing for a month with no word on release or whether
he is still alive.

America's last hope for a quick exit? The Iraqi police
and National Guard units we are spending billions of
dollars to train. The cops are being murdered by the
dozens every day-over 700 to date -- and the
insurgents are infiltrating their ranks. The problem
is so serious that the U.S. military has allocated $6
million dollars to buy out 30,000 cops they just
trained to get rid of them quietly.

As for reconstruction: firstly it's so unsafe for
foreigners to operate that almost all projects have
come to a halt. After two years, of the $18 billion
Congress appropriated for Iraq reconstruction only
about $1 billion or so has been spent and a chuck has
now been reallocated for improving security, a sign of
just how bad things are going here.

Oil dreams? Insurgents disrupt oil flow routinely as a
result of sabotage and oil prices have hit record high
of $49 a barrel. Who did this war exactly benefit? Was
it worth it? Are we safer because Saddam is holed up
and Al Qaeda is running around in Iraq?

Iraqis say that thanks to America they got freedom in
exchange for insecurity. Guess what? They say they'd
take security over freedom any day, even if it means
having a dictator ruler.

I heard an educated Iraqi say today that if Saddam
Hussein were allowed to run for elections he would get
the majority of the vote. This is truly sad.

Then I went to see an Iraqi scholar this week to talk
to him about elections here. He has been trying to
educate the public on the importance of voting. He
said, "President Bush wanted to turn Iraq into a
democracy that would be an example for the Middle
East. Forget about democracy, forget about being a
model for the region, we have to salvage Iraq before
all is lost."

One could argue that Iraq is already lost beyond
salvation. For those of us on the ground it's hard to
imagine what if any thing could salvage it from its
violent downward spiral. The genie of terrorism, chaos
and mayhem has been unleashed onto this country as a
result of American mistakes and it can't be put back
into a bottle.

The Iraqi government is talking about having elections
in three months while half of the country remains a
'no go zone'-out of the hands of the government and
the Americans and out of reach of journalists. In the
other half, the disenchanted population is too
terrified to show up at polling stations. The Sunnis
have already said they'd boycott elections, leaving
the stage open for polarized government of Kurds and
Shiites that will not be deemed as legitimate and will
most certainly lead to civil war.

I asked a 28-year-old engineer if he and his family
would participate in the Iraqi elections since it was
the first time Iraqis could to some degree elect a
leadership. His response summed it all: "Go and vote
and risk being blown into pieces or followed by the
insurgents and murdered for cooperating with the
Americans? For what? To practice democracy? Are you

From Baghdad A Wall Street Journal Reporter's E-Mail
to Friends by Farnaz Fassihi.
For more information go to:

China and Chirac

French President Jacques Chirac visited ventures by his countrymen in the business hub of Shanghai Tuesday as he wrapped up a China trade mission that yielded big contracts but failed to cinch a hoped-for deal on a high-speed railway. The new contracts between French companies and Chinese partners are worth about euro 4 billion (US$5 billion), and include deals for trains from France's Alstom SA, water and waste treatment projects, gas stations and the sale of six new passenger jets by Airbus.

But the visit already has drawn disappointment back home after failing to produce any announcement on a major high-speed railway link planned between Beijing and Shanghai. Alstom's TGV trains are up against Japan's bullet train technology for that project. There also was no word on anticipated Chinese orders for Airbus's new A380 «superjumbo.» On Tuesday morning, Chirac visited the offices of French computer game maker Ubisoft and Shanghai's overhead light rail line, which uses Alstom trains and technology. He was due to fly to Hong Kong later Tuesday, where he was scheduled to meet the Chinese territory's Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa.

French companies are trying to close the gap with European rivals Britain and Germany in exploiting China's vast markets, although its investments this year are set to lag even further behind other European countries. By the end of 2003, France had invested US$6.1 billion (4.9 billion), compared with Germany's US$8.9 billion (7.2 billion) and Britain's US$11.4 billion (9.2 billion), Chinese trade ministry figures show. Seeking to give French business a leg-up, Chirac went out of his way to charm his hosts, quoting Chinese poetry and echoing Beijing's repeated calls for «mutual respect» in foreign relations.

In a speech at a Shanghai university on Monday, he pushed for stronger economic and political ties with China, saying the countries had an obligation to balance U.S. global influence. Discussion of human rights abuses has been avoided, with Chirac instead discreetly handing over a list of imprisoned dissidents _ played down by French officials as a routine gesture by a visiting European leader. Even the names upon it remained a secret. The French head of state also called for an end to the European Union's arms embargo against China _ imposed after the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown on student protesters in Beijing _ describing it as «a measure motivated purely and simply by hostility.

Japan and USA joint plan to develop missile components

Japan plans to develop components for interception
missiles by advancing its joint missile-defence
research with the United States.

The plan will require Tokyo to ease its decades-old
ban on arms exports as it is expected to involve
exports of Japanese-made parts to the United States,
the Kyodo news agency quoted government sources as
saying. The two countries have been engaged since 1999
in joint technological research on a missile defence

Tokyo has now decided to move the programme to a
“development stage� under strong pressure from

A panel of security advisors to Prime Minister
Junichiro Koizumi this month proposed that the arms
export ban be removed with an eye on the joint parts
development, the report added. In 1976, Tokyo banned
arms exports to all nations, but made an exception in
1983, following a request from Washington, to allow
“technology� exports to the United States.

The joint research covers four areas, infrared ray
sensors for identifying and tracking missiles,
high-performance shields to protect interceptor
warheads from air-attrition heat, second-rocket
propulsion units, and kinetic warheads for destroying
warheads of incoming ballistic missiles.

Separate to the joint research, Tokyo has already
decided to purchase a US-made missile defence system.

At the same time, a Japanese newspaper said that a
multinational marine security drill that Japan is
hosting as part of a US-led initiative to clamp down
on the spread of weapons of mass destruction has been
set for Oct 26.

Australia has said it will take part in the exercises
in waters near Tokyo Bay, along with the United
States, which launched the Proliferation Security
Initiative (PSI) in 2003.

The Asahi Shimbun daily said France would also
participate in the drill and another 14 nations,
including Russia, would take part as observers. Japan
had urged China and South Korea to participate, but
they are thought to be staying away for fear of
offending North Korea, which has expressed anger over

PSI, which allows the interception of ships and
aircraft suspected of carrying weapons of mass
destruction, now has the support of more than 60
countries, but experts say it risks contravening
international law. The drill’s scenario will have a
Japanese navy patrol aircraft report to participating
countries’ vessels that it has discovered two
“suspicious� ships, Asahi said, without citing

Special units will be transferred by helicopter from
their vessels to the “suspicious� ships, where they
will practise searching for and seizing weapons of
mass destruction, the paper said.

Japan, whose post-World War Two armed forces are
constitutionally limited to “self-defence� duties, is
limiting its navy’s participation to information
transmission to avoid irritating neighbouring
countries. The Japanese Coast Guard will take a more
active role in the drill, Asahi said.

The October 26 drill will be followed by a
smaller-scale exercise the following day, in which
Japanese navy personnel will board a vessel and search
for weapons, but will not themselves be armed, the
paper said.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Joint Strike Fighter: What about Japan ?

After the F- 2, is Japan to become a partner of the Joint Strike Fighter's program ?

Tokyo based sources claim that a US official conveyed the US administration hope that Tokyo will cooperate to the JSF project. Financial reasons.

"Other Countries Potential JSF customers include current operators of F-16, F/A-18, and AV-8B"

" Lockheed Martin leads a JSF F-35 team that includes Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems as program partners. The Lockheed Martin team capitalizes on the objectives of service commonality and improved affordability in a low-risk fighter design. The United States Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps, along with the British Royal Navy and Royal Air Force, have combined efforts to produce a low-cost, technologically advanced jet fighter..."


South Korean MP reports US military attack capability

The US military is capable of surgically striking more than 900 crucial targets in North Korea, including its main nuclear complex, a South Korean lawmaker said Tuesday 5 October . The US capability is key to an operation plan by Washington, code-named OPLAN 5026, which specifies such an air strike on North Korea in the event of a war on the peninsula, said Park Jin of the main opposition Grand National Party.

"An argument that the United States can achieve its goal of neutralizing the North's nuclear programme with surgical strikes using state-of-the-art weapons at the expense of few US troops, is gaining strength within the Pentagon," Park said during a parliamentary audit of the Defence Ministry. The lawmaker based his claim on an article posted on, an Internet-based world security institute.

According to the article, more than 50 US F-15Es, B-1Bs, B-52Hs and F-117s were temporarily deployed to US air bases in South Korea and Guam in 2003 for exercises. The report said the US planes are capable of delivering about 750 precision guided munitions, specifically the Joint Direct Attack Munitions, on 612-756 aim points in North Korea, the report said.

The inclusion of US war planes in South Korea and missiles being launched by cruisers, destroyers and submarines will enable the US forces to strike 800-944 aim points, it said. The targets include North Korea's main nuclear complex in Yongbyon, weapons of mass destruction facilities, surface-to-air missile batteries, air defence radars and command and control locations, the article said.

"One scenario for dealing with North Korea's nuclear programme would consist of surgical strikes against facilities believed to be involved with the production, storage, or deployment of nuclear weapons," the article said. OPLAN 5026 was to compensate for a 1974 plan called OPLAN 5027 that called for the reinforcement of 690,000 US troops in case of a war breaking out on the peninsula.

The South Korean Defence Ministry, meanwhile, said the OPLAN 5026 is just one military option which is defence-oriented. "Our position is that we will not allow for pre-emptive US attacks on North Korea without the prior consent of South Korea under any circumstance," Defence Minister Yoon Kwang-ung said during the audit session. About 34,000 US troops are stationed in South Korea to augment 690,000 South Korean soldiers. North Korea has a 1.1-million-member army, the world's fifth largest.

SOURCE: Yonhap news agency, Seoul, in English 1046 gmt 5 Oct 04