Thursday, January 13, 2005

Japan NHK TV producer says political intervention was 'constant'

A chief NHK producer in charge of a 2001 program on
Japan's sexual slavery during World War II said Thursday
that workers were forced to edit the program because of
LDP political pressure and that political intervention at
NHK was "constant" under the system built up by NHK
President Katsuji Ebisawa.

NHK producer Satoru Nagai wipes away tears during his
news conference in Tokyo on Thursday.

"We were forced to edit the program under pressure from
politicians. NHK allowed the political intervention,"
the chief producer, Satoru Nagai, said in a news
conference in Tokyo.

"Outspoken cases of political intervention like this are
rare, but since the establishment of the system under
President Katsuji Ebisawa, political intervention has
been constant," Nagai said. "President Ebisawa ought to
have received a report about this problem and understood
it. The president and executives should all resign."

It is unusual for a whistle-blower who is still working
to come out and hold a news conference.

In December last year, Nagai requested that NHK's
compliance commission, the body that handles
whistle-blowing within the broadcaster, conduct an
investigation into the incident. He reportedly decided
to hold a news conference because one month had passed
without any investigation being conducted.

Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Shoichi Nakagawa
and former Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe reportedly
summoned Takeshi Matsuo, then executive director-general
of broadcasting, over the program, which featured a mock
trial on the Imperial Japanese Army's use of "comfort
women" during World War II, Nagai said.

Nagai, 42, said the program was almost completed on the
evening of Jan. 28, 2001, two days before the scheduled
broadcast. However, shortly after 6 p.m. the following
evening, Matsuo approached him and said, "We're going to
change the program. Show it to me." He then took the
rare move of viewing the program with Naoki Nojima, an
NHK executive in charge of Diet affairs at that time,
and program production official Ritsuko Ito.

Part of the mock trial that said the emperor bore
responsibility was subsequently cut, and comments from
well-informed people criticizing the mock trial were
increased, according to Nagai.

Then on Jan. 30, the day of the broadcast, another order
was given to cut testimonies from former "comfort
women," the term used to refer to sex slaves during the

NHK officials maintain that the program was edited based
on an independent decision. But Nagai contradicted the

"In response to the second revision order, in
particular, everyone there at the time was opposed,
including the section head," Nagai said.

NHK admitted that the program had raised a stir when
various Diet members heard about it, but said this had
not affected the impartiality or fairness of the

Explaining his reasons for holding the news conference,
Nagai said he needed to state the truth.

"Holding the news conference might be disadvantageous
for me. For four years, I worried about this, but I
decided that I had a responsibility to state the truth,"
he said with tears in his eyes.

Both Abe and Nakagawa have denied pressuring NHK to edit
the program. (Mainichi Shimbun, Japan, Jan. 13, 2005)

Tsunami : Indonesia reluctant to foreign aid while logistics don't work

The French helicopter-carrier Jeanne D'Arc to reach on
Friday northern Indonesia on a mission to deliver
humanitarian aid to the tsunami-hit town of Meulaboh.

Helicopter pilots on the ship were busy training
Tuesday, hauling medicines and other aid into the air
and suspending them above the bridge while soldiers
sorted the supplies and stacked them in a nearby hangar.

The Jeanne D'Arc left Djibouti earlier Tuesday with six
helicopters and 600 crew to transport 6,000 food
rations, 800 tonnes of water and water treatment
equipment, five tonnes of medicine and field medical

Until Tuesday, Meulaboh had only been reachable by air
or sea as most major roads to the town have been washed
away. Ships from the Indonesian, US and Singapore navies
have brought in supplies while helicopters have made

"The tension will certainly mount before our arrival in
the (disaster) zone, but, for now, we are trying to make
the best of the time we have left to prepare," said an
officer on the ship after it left the French military

The Jeanne D'Arc had already participated in
humanitarian operations, in particular last year in
Haiti, but it had never undertaken an operation of this
magnitude, he added.

"The Indonesian authorities estimate that only 30,000 to
40,000 of Meulaboh's 100,000-strong population are
left," said Christophe Bergey, the ship's press officer.

With an accompanying frigate, Georges Leygues, the
Jeanne D'Arc can produce 50 tonnes of drinking water
each day in addition to its own requirements.

Its medical setup includes an operating bloc, two
intensive care beds and two hospital beds. A total of 20
doctors and a dozen nurses were making the voyage.

The final destination of the Jeanne D'Arc was still
being discussed with the United States and the
Indonesian authorities, but it was expected to drop
anchor off the northern coast of Sumatra between the
towns of Meulaboh and Banda Aceh some time on Friday.

"We will position ourselves between ten and twenty
nautical miles (18.5 to 37 kilometres)" off the coast,
said the captain of the helicopter-carrier, Marc de

As the nearest refuelling points were Banda Aceh and
Medan, some 200 kilometres apart, the helicopter carrier
could also serve as a fuel station for the fleet of
helicopters delivering relief, the captain added.

The first major convoy of aid trucks reached Meulaboh
Tuesday, more than two weeks after it was almost
completely cut off by the tsunami disaster, which killed
an estimated 28,000 people there when waves swept

In the same time, the U.S. military faced tighter
restrictions Wednesday as the Indonesian government
sought to reassert control over foreign troops, relief
workers and journalists in the tsunami-devastated
region, which also has been the site of a rebel

The moves by the Indonesian government, aimed primarily
at U.S. troops, underscore the nationalistic country’s
sensitivities at having foreign military forces
operating there — even in a humanitarian effort. They
also come amid warnings from the Indonesian military
that areas of tsunami-battered Aceh province may not be
safe for aid workers.

Hundreds of from troops from France, Australia,
Singapore, Germany and other nations are also prepared
to help the relief mission. The Indonesian military is
providing security for all of them.

The aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, which is
leading the U.S. military’s relief effort, steamed out
of Indonesian waters Wednesday because the U.S. Navy
only has permission from the Indonesians to fly aircraft
into its airspace that are directly supporting the
humanitarian operation, said Lt. Cmdr. John M. Daniels,
spokesman for the Lincoln carrier strike group.
Helicopters will still deliver aid to Sumatra’s
devastated coast, however.

Indonesia declined to let the ship’s fighter pilots use
its airspace for training missions. Under U.S. Navy
rules, pilots of carrier-based warplanes cannot go
longer than 14 days without flying or their skills are
considered to have degraded too far.

Since the Abraham Lincoln has been stationed off Sumatra
since Jan. 1, the carrier moved out of Indonesian waters
so its pilots could conduct their training flights in
international airspace.

Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla said foreign
troops would be out of the country by March 31.

"A three-month period is enough, even the sooner the
better," Kalla said.

The government also ordered aid workers and journalists
to declare travel plans or face expulsion from Aceh as
authorities moved to reassert control of the
rebellion-wracked area. The White House said Wednesday
it has asked the Indonesian government to explain the
restrictions on aid workers and journalists.

"We’ll seek further clarification from Indonesia about
what this means," White House spokesman Scott McClellan.
"We hope that the government of Indonesia and the
military in Indonesia will continue the strong support
they have provided to the international relief efforts
so far."

Financial :

At a Paris meeting Wednesday, a French official said the
world’s wealthiest nations, including the United States,
believe a temporary suspension of billions of dollars in
debt repayments by tsunami-devastated countries will
provide a necessary "breath of oxygen" for recovery and
reconstruction from the disaster that killed more than
150,000 people across southern Asia.

While three debtor countries — Indonesia, Sri Lanka and
the Seychelles — support the moratorium, Thailand does
not because it fears the potential effect on its
standing in international financial markets, French
Finance Minister Herve Gaymard told French radio.

The proposed moratorium on debt repayments by
tsunami-hit countries "was very quickly accepted" by the
19 creditor nations that make up the Paris Club, Finance
minister Hervé Gaymard said. The details on the
moratorium were being finalized Wednesday.

Later, as the Paris Club met to sign off on the
proposal, Gaymard told reporters the leading
industrialized nations within the club regard the
moratorium as "completely indispensable" for tsunami-hit
countries "to overcome the immense difficulties."

Security concerns threaten to hamper efforts to deliver
aid to Aceh province on the northern tip of Sumatra
island, where more than 100,000 people were killed and
tens of thousands left homeless or in need. The United
Nations has been running the relief effort, appealing to
donors attending a conference in Geneva to honor the
unprecedented $4 billion in pledges to help victims.

Separatists in the Aceh region have been fighting for an
independent state for decades. Indonesia’s military
chief offered the rebels a cease-fire Tuesday, matching
a unilateral one already declared by the insurgents.

The military has nevertheless warned that rebels could
rob aid convoys and use refugee camps as hideouts but
has yet to offer evidence to back its claims.

"It is important to note that the government would be
placed in a very difficult position if any foreigner who
came to Aceh to assist in the aid effort was harmed
through the acts of irresponsible parties," the
government said in a statement.

Asked if those who failed to register with the
government before traveling outside the provincial
capital, Banda Aceh, would be expelled, Welfare Minister
Alwi Shihab said: "I think that is one possibility."

Australian Prime Minister John Howard described
Indonesia’s demand as "a good idea." "It is very, very
important that in the process of giving full effect to
this magnificent international response, that we
recognize the difficulties in Aceh, but that we don’t
overreact to them and we don’t dramatize them," he said.

But Australian National University defense expert Clive
Williams said the Indonesians wanted to keep close tabs
on foreigners to conceal military corruption and not
protect them from rebels.

"The big problem with dealing with (the military) in
Aceh is that they’re involved in a lot of corruption
there and the reason I think they don’t want people to
go to some areas is because they’re involved in human
rights abuses in those areas," Williams said.

Before the tsunami, foreigners were banned from the
area, and Wednesday’s demand highlighted the unease with
which Indonesia has faced the aid operation, replete
with civilian aid workers and foreign soldiers.

U.S. Marines have scaled back plans to send hundreds of
troops ashore to build roads and clear rubble. Col. Tom
Greenwood, commander of the 15th Marine Expeditionary
Unit, said earlier this week they would instead keep
only a "minimal footprint."

In a major compromise, the Marines agreed not to carry
guns while on Indonesian soil and that the vast majority
of troops would return to ships stationed off the coast
after each day’s operations. The bulk of the Marines’
mission has become ferrying aid workers and transporting
food from the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme

The Marines flew a French medical team to the shattered
city of Calang by helicopter Wednesday and delivered
supplies to Indonesian troops in Meulaboh to the south.
Navy crews based on the Abraham Lincoln have flown
hundreds of relief missions in the past two weeks. U.N.
agencies said they did not expect Jakarta’s order to
affect their operations because their security officers
already work closely with Indonesia’s military.

"It could change the situation of (non-governmental
organizations) who are moving around like private
persons," said Mals Nyberg, a spokesman for the U.N.
High Commission for Refugees. "I guess that’s what
soldiers want to control — that people are moving in
conflict areas just like tourists."

Nyberg said Indonesian bureaucracy had eased in recent
days, allowing the organization to get permission faster
for helicopter flights to outlying regions.

Getting help to the neediest is already difficult, with
roads washed away or blocked by downed trees.

Kevin Kennedy, a senior official in the U.N. Office for
the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said food
assistance has been delivered to all the affected people
in Sri Lanka. But he said some villages on the hard-hit
west coast of Sumatra had not been reached. He said the
U.N. World Food Program was delivering aid to 300,000
people on the island.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Tsunami aid : Indonesia restricts Aceh

Indonesia's army is to restrict relief workers from
reaching remoter parts of the tsunami-hit province of

The army said aid workers must now register to travel
outside the towns of Banda Aceh and Meulaboh, because it
could not guarantee safety elsewhere.

Correspondents say the army wants to re-establish
control over Aceh, where it has been battling separatist

Aceh, near the epicentre of the quake, was worst hit in
the natural disaster that has killed about 150,000

Everything is controlled by the military so it's
difficult to get out the true story Aceh rebel spokesman

The United Nations is hosting a meeting of donor
countries in Geneva to discuss how best to spend the
billions of dollars pledged around the world to help
victims of the tsunami.

One of the major concerns is to ensure that, in contrast
with previous catastrophes, all the money promised is
actually paid this time and reaches the people who need

Protecting aid

The head of the army, Endriartono Sutarto, admitted the
restrictions could slow down relief efforts.

ACEH: KEY FACTS Province on the north-western tip of
Sumatra Higher percentage of Muslims than other parts of
Indonesia Gam rebels have fought decades-long separatist
campaign Year-long military crackdown beginning in May
2003 weakened Gam, but failed to capture senior members

General Sutarto told the BBC the move was necessary
because he had to protect foreign aid workers.

He accused the separatist Free Aceh Movement (Gam) of
stealing aid, although aid agencies, who have been
travelling freely outside the main towns, have not
reported any problems.

Sofyan Dawood, a Gam spokesman in Aceh, told the BBC
that the authorities were trying to paint the rebels as
the black sheep, and stressed that Gam were Acehnese -
unlike some of the military in Aceh - and were keen to
support the aid effort.

Correspondents say the Indonesian government and the
military may be pursuing different policies on how to
handle Aceh following the tsunami.

Earlier, Indonesia's foreign minister told the BBC that
Jakarta had struck a "gentleman's agreement" with rebels
not to disrupt aid efforts.

Speaking on a visit to London, Foreign Minister Hassan
Wirajuda said he sensed an "optimism that both sides are
interested for reconciliation".

He said Jakarta had made contact with Gam, in a bid to
avoid clashes between Indonesian government troops and
rebels during the aid effort.

Before 26 December Aceh had been under emergency rule
and was closed both to aid agencies and the
international media.

In 2003, Indonesia's military launched an offensive
against the rebels, who are estimated to have lost more
than 2,000 men over the past two years.

Aid agencies will fear this new directive could increase
bureaucracy on the ground where local commanders have
immediate control, says the BBC's Christian Fraser in

Some minor skirmishes have been reported and both sides
have accused the other of using the tsunami as a pretext
for a renewed offensive, but the claims have not been
independently verified.

Correspondents do stress the pre-tsunami level of
hostility has not resumed.

In Sri Lanka, where Tamil Tiger separatists have also
fought a long-running battle for independence, hopes
that the tsunami might calm tensions have proved

Sri Lanka's President Chandrika Kumaratunga said on
Monday that she had advised UN Secretary General Kofi
Annan against visiting rebel-held areas in northern Sri
Lanka during a weekend visit to the country.

The Tigers have accused the central government in
Colombo of withholding aid from Tamil areas of the
country and using the disaster as a pretext for sending
government troops into Tamil-governed area.

A 20-year war civil war in Sri Lanka killed 64,000
before a ceasefire was brokered in 2002. The agreement
was faltering in the weeks before the tsunami struck Sri

Cultural Identity, democracy and global equity

3rd Forum on Human Development “Cultural Identity,
democracy and global equity� Paris, 17-19 January, 2005

Presentation :

The dynamics of globalization, the increasing flows of
commodities, capital, services, information and cultural
goods as well as the accelerated migration of people,
are rapidly changing the make up of societies. Some will
benefit hugely from these changes while others will be
unable to or even fall further behind. Inequalities will
continue to widen and identity-related demands will get
stronger. International and national governance of
economic, political and social systems must adapt to
this new reality of the 21st century.

In this context, government action is necessary and
urgent. New approaches to governance need to be invented
if we are to achieve progress in human development
overall or at least in terms of extreme poverty as
measured by the Millennium Development Goals.

Key questions the Forum will examine include: What room
for maneuver do governments have at their disposal for
responding to the expectations of their citizens and to
promote cultural liberty, respect for identities and
equity? How can human development be promoted through
international trade and foreign investment? What
measures can improve the international financial and
economic framework in order to reduce inequality? What
resources can be mobilized to finance human development?
On what basis can a new international solidarity be

The Forum will be held over 2 and half days, alternating
between plenary sessions and parallel sessions, to
examine these key issues in light of the latest policy
research and experiences of leaders from government,
civil society, and academia, the world over. The aim is
to promote viable responses to the challenges of human
development today and offer governments strategies for
meeting their commitments as signatories to the
Millennium Declaration of 2000.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

The European Airbus A380 super-jumbo revealed in France

The A380 super-jumbo passenger jet, due to be officially
unveiled next week, was wheeled out of its hangar in
southwestern France for the first time.

The white prototype, one of four that will make test
flights later this year, will remain in the open for 48
hours before returning inside the hangar at Blagnac near
the city of Toulouse, informed sources said.

The plane, designed by the European consortium Airbus,
will be officially unveiled on January 18 at Blagnac
about two months before its maiden flight, Airbus
executives have said.

The A380 is set to break a 30-year monopoly that US
aircraft maker Boeing has held in the market for big
passenger airplanes with its 747 jumbo.

French President Jacques Chirac, British Prime Minister
Tony Blair, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and
European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso were
expected to attend the unveiling.

Representatives of all airlines that have ordered the
A380, which is set to become the world's biggest
commercial airliner, carrying up more than 550
passengers, were also on the guest list.

Airbus is 80-percent owned by the European Aeronautic
Defence and Space Company, and the rest of aircraft
maker's capital is owned by British defence contractor
BAE Systems.

Airbus and Boeing are currently locked in a bitter
dispute. Boeing contends that Airbus benefits from
government subsidies that violate international trade

The European Union for its part maintains that Boeing
has received illegal subsidies in the form of major
contracts from US defense and space agencies.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

2007 : Japan ready to intercept any ballistic missile outside the atmosphere

Japan has decided to use its missile defense system
solely to intercept ballistic missiles targeting Japan,
not missiles that pass over Japan and target other
countries including the United States, government
sources said Saturday.

The government has decided to limit the scope of
interception by the missile defense system, to be
deployed in fiscal 2007, because intercepting missiles
that are targeted at other countries would be construed
as collective self-defense.

According to the Japanese government's interpretation,
under international law Japan has the right to
collective self-defense -- which is the right to use
force to counter a foreign attack on an allied country
-- but Japan's war-renouncing Constitution forbids the
exercise of that right.

The government will explain the decision during Diet
deliberations if it submits legislation on missile
defense to the upcoming ordinary session, the sources

Political analysts say, however, that Japan will likely
be hard-pressed by the United States, which is expected
to show discontent over the decision as it would bar
Japan from taking any action against missiles aimed at
the United States that pass over Japanese territory.

The target of a ballistic missile can be predicted by
its speed and angle as it leaves the atmosphere.

A missile fired by North Korea, for example, will not
pass over Japan if it is targeted at the U.S. mainland,
but if it is targeted at Hawaii and Guam it will pass
through Japanese skies.

The government had once judged it possible to shoot down
missiles that travel over Japan by interpreting such an
action as exercising its right to individual
self-defense given the possibility that some missile
parts could fall on Japanese territory.

But it finally determined that intercepting missiles not
targeting Japan would pose a constitutional problem, the
sources said.

A gray zone remains, however, as the government had said
in past Diet sessions that in cases where the precise
destination of a missile cannot be predicted, it will
consider the probability of it targeting Japan as high
and such a launch as an armed attack against Japan,
allowing interception.

Senior officials of Japan's Defense Agency also said
interception would be inevitable in cases where Japan
cannot specify where the ballistic missile will land.

Japan has recently decided to purchase a missile
interception system from the United States, apparently
to deal with possible ballistic missile attacks from
North Korea.

Under the system, Japan would intercept an incoming
ballistic missile outside the atmosphere, using an SM-3
standard missile carried on destroyers equipped with the
Aegis air defense system.

If the SM-3 fails to shoot it down, a ground-based PAC-3
missile will try to intercept it before it reaches its

US nuclear submarine runs aground south Guam, crew seriously injured

US military planes and ships rushed to help the US
nuclear submarine San Francisco after it ran aground in
the Pacific injuring about 20 crew, one seriously, the
US Navy said.

The vessel's nuclear plant was not damaged in the
accident which happened while the San Francisco was
conducting underwater operations 560 kilometers (350
miles) south of its base at Guam, the Navy said.

The submarine was heading back to base under its own
steam but on the surface on Saturday.

The Los Angeles class submarine, which has a crew of
137, was heading for a port visit in Brisbane, Australia
when the accident happened on Friday.

A Pacific fleet spokeswoman said about 20 crew were
injured, and one was reported in critical condition.

The injured were being treated on board by medics with
special emergency training, the spokeswoman said.

But the submarine was still out of helicopter range to
allow to evacuation of the sailor with the most serious
injuries, Pacific Fleet spokesman Master Chief John

"We are sending air and sea units out to meet the ship
to bring in extra medical help," he pointed out. "We are
still working trying to get the right assets out there
to help those guys."

A Navy statement said the submarine was on the surface
and making best speed back to their homeport in Guam.

"There were no reports of damage to the reactor plant,
which is operating normally," according to the document.

Officials said the hull of the vessel was intact.

The submarine was expected to arrive back in port on
Monday, but a full investigation into the accident has
already started, officials said.

Los Angeles class submarines are 110 meters (360 feet)
long and have one nuclear reactor and one shaft,
according to US Navy data.

The USS San Francisco is one of three submarines of the
class to be based in Guam. It has been there since 2002.
It can carry out intelligence gathering and take special
forces on missions. Its strike arms usually include
Tomahawk missiles.

The incident occurred at 0200 GMT Saturday (12 noon in
Guam), the statement said.

The US Navy insists its submarines have an excellent
safety record.

In 2001, the USS Greeneville (news - web sites) collided
with a Japanese fishing boat off Hawaii, killing nine
Japanese boys and men. The commander was later
reprimanded and had to retire.

Chemical war : New Zealand confirms supplying Agent Orange in Vietnam

New Zealand supplied Agent Orange chemicals to the
United States military during the Vietnam war, a
government minister has revealed.

The disclosure led to immediate claims that New Zealand
was in breach of the Geneva convention and could face a
flood of lawsuits from veterans and Vietnamese.

Transport Minister Harry Duynhoven said the highly toxic
chemical was sent to a United States base in the
Philippines during the 1960s.

"The information that has been given to me is that
products used to make Agent Orange were shipped from New
Plymouth to Subic Bay in the Philippines," he told the
Sunday News newspaper.

After nearly three decades of official denials, a
high-level parliamentary committee formally acknowledged
late last year that New Zealand soldiers in the Vietnam
War were significantly exposed to Agent Orange, but no
mention was ever made that the country was a supplier.

Some New Zealand veterans are seeking compensation for
chronic illnesses suffered by them and their families.

Although the National Party was in power during the
Vietnam War, Duynhoven said his current Labour
government was responsible for setting the record

"Any government has to deal with the situation it finds
itself in and it's always a problem if previous
governments leave a mess."

From 1961 to 1971, the US and South Vietnamese military
sprayed millions of litres of toxic herbicides, mainly
Agent Orange, over South Vietnam to destroy the
vegetation used by communist forces for cover and food.

Hanoi says the defoliant has caused health problems for
more than one million Vietnamese and continues to have
devastating consequences.

A study released in August last year by scientists from
the United States, Germany and Vietnam found that Agent
Orange was still contaminating people through their

Dioxin, the defoliant's deadly component, can cause an
increased risk of cancers, immunodeficiencies,
reproductive and developmental changes, nervous system
problems and other health effects, according to medical