Saturday, May 22, 2010

Japan uptight on Child Abduction


A planet for kids, too

The Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Inter-Country Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention) is an international agreement to safeguard inter-country adoptions. Concluded on May 29, 1993 in The Hague, the Netherlands, the Convention establishes international standards of practices for inter-country adoptions.

Complaints are growing over cases in which a Japanese parent, often mothers, bring a child to Japan without the consent of the other foreign parent, or regardless of custody determination in other countries, and denies the other parent access to the child. Japan is the only country among the G-8 nations that is not a party to the Hague Convention.

Eighty-two countries are members of the Hague Convention, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and France. Of the Group of Eight countries, Japan and Russia are the only two that haven't signed. There are about 200 active cases involving Japanese, among them 35 cases involving France, 40 dealing with Canada, 83 with the United States and 38 with the United Kingdom, according to the embassies of those countries.

Following French Foreign and ex-"French doctor" minister Bernard Kouchner mid-March, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton yesterday urged Japan to sign the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction and thus resolve a long-running problem. Clinton made the request in a meeting with Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada in Tokyo.

Okada told reporters he told his U.S. counterpart there were various domestic problems surrounding the treaty and that the Foreign and Justice ministries were taking the issue into consideration. "I said (to Clinton) that we are trying to resolve such problems so that we can join the Hague Convention as soon as possible," Okada said. Japan has been under international pressure to sign the Hague Convention, which aims to protect children from being wrongfully taken out of their country of "habitual residence" by a parent.

Some Japanese experts have expressed concern over signing the treaty, citing legal and cultural differences. Cases of domestic violence have been raised. A Japanese Justice Ministry official thinks signing on to the convention would necessitate numerous changes, including setting up a system for handing over children and determining how far the central authority would be allowed to go in searching for those allegedly abducted by a parent.

Sources: agencies, J Times, Hague Convention, Reporter's notes

✍✍✍ Anyone asked the children and parents sufferings and misery instead of asking these so called "Japanese technical experts"?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Red-Shirts Crushed by Tanks and Snipers

Protest encampment in central Bangkok seized after ferocious combat

Red-shirts leaders surrender. Violence still reported in the capital city and provinces. Curfew to be imposed. A climate of civil war : Bangkok Post newspaper evacuated, Thai stock exchange partly on fire, Bangkok's Central World Mall on fire, parts of Bangkok hit by power failure

Army tanks, troops and police invaded the red-shirts camp downtown Bangkok on Wednesday. A curfew is to be imposed across Bangkok on Wednesday night, as gunfire and combat continue in the Thai capital, defense minister General Prawit Wongsuwon announced.

Warnings had been issued prior to the military offensive against anti-government protesters in the capital. Thai soldiers with armored vehicles stormed the camp occupied since March 14th, near Silom road and Lumpini park, forcing shopping district, foreign hotels and shops to close.

After days of clashes in Bangkok, at least four people have been killed, including the Italian photojournalist Fabio Polenghi, and dozens wounded, including journalists, as demonstrators and army units exchange fire. Troops have gained control of an area south of the site and some protesters have fled, the government added that the security operation would be continuing all day. It insists talks are only possible if the protesters leave the streets.

The troops' move followed six days of clashes around the camp, triggered by a government operation to seal the area and the subsequent death of renegade general who backed the protests. In a separate development, ousted Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra warned that "a military crackdown can spread resentment and these resentful people will become guerrillas".

Building a reconciliation road-map after the crackdown on the protesters and the military influence over the country's administration will give no chance of an amnesty for Thaksin. Global community calls for amnesty and clemency from the Thai government and military.

Sources: Bangkok Post, Nation, Tan, agencies, Reporter's notes.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Cannes, Beat Takeshi and his Outrage

Beat Takeshi is back with the underworld
Keen eyes on Japan's struggle for power

"If this film is not a success, Kitano said yesterday in Cannes, I will go back to the non-violent genre again! My film directorial career has been nothing but repetition of one failure after another! But for me the film ended up not too bad and I definitely think it's a controversial movie."

"Ah, the walkout. Nothing more fires the heart than the sight of a film festival attendee storming theatrically out of the auditorium, Irish Times writes. "Ouch! Give me a break, Beat!"


Underboss Kato (Tomokazu Miura) ticks off subsidiary boss Ikemoto (Jun Kunimura) for being too close with lesser, outsider gang, Murase. Since Ikemoto has made a pact of brotherhood with Murase, he asks another subsidiary head Otomo (Kitano, aka Beat Takeshi) to do the dirty work of roughing up Murase. Their actions trigger a vicious circle of vendettas and turf wars that also implicate a corrupt cop and an African ambassador.

Le Regard du pro

The film is structured as a series of violent confrontations between members of different clans trying to humiliate each other. And what violence it is : Kitano gives us snappily choreographed set pieces ranging from the classic gunshots to the heart to more gruesome bloodbaths involving chopped fingers, slashed faces, smashed teeth, crushed tongues, and other varieties of brutally delivered corporal punishment. These sequences are interspersed with scenes of pokerfaced clan members gathering to re-strategise and admonish each other for either going too far or not far enough in their retribution.

Les Commentaires

- Outrage is Kitano's first yakuza film in about 10 years after his acclaimed Brothers, with the veteran director having pursued a range of other movie genres since then. 63-year-old Kitano plays an old-fashioned yakuza tough guy Otomo. He is the man the bosses count on for executing the dirty work. "I got fed with me people asking me questions about violence," he told a press conference marking Outrage's premiere at the Cannes Film Festival on Monday. "So I started making non-violent movies."

- Takeshi Kitano has said that his latest yakuza movie Outrage marks his controversial return to the genre. The director, who has not made a film about Japanese gangsters since 2000's Brother, told the Cannes press conference for the movie that the time was right to come back to violent filmmaking. Kitano said: "I thought it would be as good a time as any to tackle the violent film again. But if I were to repeat the same old, same old, it wouldn't be too exciting, it would just be boring. "I wanted to make something new, I wanted to make something evolved from my earlier movies. That's why I included a lot of dialogue exchanges which I didn't have in my earlier movies and I incorporated a very straightforward, simple story-line about the yakuza." He quipped: "So if this film is not a success I will go back to the non-violent genre again! "My film directorial career has been nothing but repetition of one failure after another! But for me the film ended up not too bad and I definitely think it's a controversial movie.

- Still, the picture of the Japanese underworld that Kitano paints is about settling scores, elaborate body tattoos, corrupt police and cheap broads. Kitano said he first puts together the ideas for portraying the violence before he starts writing the story. "It's like the movie's skeleton. Then I add the story later," he said. Speaking at Monday's press conference, Kitano admits that his film is likely to be controversial. But he also insisted that he is no expert on yakuza. Either way, Kitano's movie depictions of yakuza society have brought the Japanese director international fame. His 15th movie, Outrage represents Kitano's second appearance in Cannes' top category. Kitano first burst onto the movie scene in 1989 with Violent Cop with his subsequent movies establishing him almost as a cult filmmaker. In 1997, his seventh film Hanabi (Fireworks) won the top prize at the Venice Film Festival, the Golden Lion. Six years later, Kitano's story about a blind former samurai Zatoichi won another top prize in Venice, the Silver Lion.

Sources: News wires, Irish Times, Digital spy, Earthtimes, Kyodo, Hollywood reporters, WSJ, Le Figaro, Reporter's notes.

Monday, May 17, 2010

France Iran: l'universitaire Clotilde Reiss est libre!

"Je suis très très heureuse d'être de retour dans mon pays"

Clotilde Reiss et Bernard Kouchner sur le perron de l'Elysée

La jeune universitaire, âgée de 24 ans, a regagné la France dimanche au lendemain de sa libération par les autorités iraniennes et a été reçue durant une quinzaine de minutes, aux côtés de sa famille, par le président français à l'Elysée. "Je suis très très heureuse d'être de retour dans mon pays", a-t-elle dit lors d'une brève déclaration à l'Elysée, le ministre des Affaires étrangères Bernard Kouchner, notamment, à ses côtés.

"Je tiens à remercier tous les gens qui m'ont soutenue dans cette épreuve", a-t-elle poursuivi, citant en premier lieu Nicolas Sarkozy "qui a défendu mon innocence dès mon arrestation", en juillet 2009. Elle a également exprimé ses remerciements aux Iraniens et à "tous les inconnus qui ont aussi manifesté leur solidarité à mon égard, Français et des gens du monde entier". (Agences)

"La jeune femme de 24 ans, lectrice à l'université d'Ispahan (centre de l'Iran) était accusée d'atteinte à la sécurité nationale de l'Iran, notamment pour avoir rassemblé des informations et des photos lors de manifestations dans cette ville les 15 et 17 juin contre la réélection contestée du président iranien Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Elle avait été arrêtée le 1er juillet alors qu'elle s'apprêtait à regagner la France. Libérée sous caution le 16 août, elle résidait à l'ambassade de France à Téhéran jusqu'à son jugement. Lors de sa première comparution, filmée par la télévision, Clotilde Reiss avait reconnu avoir participé «pour des motifs personnels» aux manifestations et avoir rédigé un rapport pour un institut dépendant du service culturel de l'ambassade de France.

"C'était pour moi beaucoup beaucoup d'émotion et de la force pour surmonter cette épreuve", a-t-elle dit. "Je suis de retour dans mon pays, libre, je suis très heureuse de retrouver ma famille, de pouvoir reprendre une vie libre, et c'est avec soulagement que je vous parle aujourd'hui"." (Agences)

Clotilde Reiss, au tribunal de Téhéran le 8 Août 2009

English Quotes 1 with Agence France Presse ("JAPAN OFFERS TO ENRICH URANIUM FOR IRAN: REPORT", Tokyo, 2010/02/24) reported that Japan has offered to enrich uranium for Iran to allow the Islamic republic access to nuclear power while allaying international fears it might be seeking an atomic weapon, according to a report Wednesday. Tehran has not yet given a concrete response to the US-backed proposal, which was made when Iran's top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili visited Tokyo in December. Okada told his guest that "Japan strongly hopes Iran's nuclear issue will be resolved peacefully and diplomatically ... and that Iran considers a related UN Security Council resolution seriously", a foreign ministry spokesman said.

Quotes 2: France denies deal to release 'spy' from Iran By Geneviève Roberts in Paris Monday, 17 May 2010 EPA. "France has denied cutting a deal with Iran to secure the release of Clotilde Reiss, a French academic charged with spying after last year's anti-government protests and detained in Tehran for 10 months, at first in the notorious Evin prison. Looking happy and relieved, the 24-year-old from Lille arrived back on French soil and paid tribute to two Iranian men who were on trial with her. "I am thinking chiefly of two men who were executed in January 2010 and who were pretty much at my sides during the public trial," she said. "They treated me like a sister. I am thinking about them because I was overwhelmed by their stories. Now that I am free in my country, my thoughts turn to them."

Ms Reiss was arrested as she prepared to board a flight leaving Iran on 1 July, having worked for five months at a university in Isfahan. She spent 45 days in Evin prison, where she was charged with acting against national security by participating in the June protests that followed the disputed re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, collecting information and sending pictures of the demonstrations abroad. She pleaded not guilty and was released on bail on condition that she stay at the French embassy pending a verdict. She was convicted of provoking unrest and spying, but her lawyer said the 10-year jail term had been commuted to a fine of three billion rials ( 240.000), which was paid on Saturday.

After being reunited with her family, Ms Reiss was whisked to the Elysée Palace. "I am very, very happy to be back in my country, to be free again," she told reporters after meeting President Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife, Carla. "I want to thank everyone who has supported me in this ordeal, starting with the President, for his support and for defending my innocence from the moment I was arrested," she said. President Sarkozy thanked the Brazilian President, Lula de Silva, the Senegalese President, Abdoulaye Wade, and Syria's President, Bashar al-Assad, for their "active role" in the release of the young Frenchwoman.

Less than two weeks ago, Paris refused to extradite to Washington an Iranian accused in the US of illegally buying technology online intended for sale to the Iranian military. Majid Kakavand, who was arrested by French authorities in March 2009 at the request of the US, returned to Tehran last week, a move welcomed by Iran as "a positive point in Franco-Iranian relations".

Tomorrow, an Iranian prisoner serving life in France for the 1991 murder of the former Iranian prime minister, Shahpour Bakhtiar, is expected to win parole then be expelled back to Iran.

Quotes 3 Associated press : "Reiss' return came a week and a half after Iranian Majid Kakavand was permitted to leave France and return to Iran. He had been detained in France on a U.S. warrant accusing him of evading export controls to purchase technology over the Internet to sell to Iran's military. The U.S. had been seeking Kakavand's extradition, but a French court rejected the request May 5. Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Ramon Mehmanparast, was quoted by the semi-official Fars news agency as saying there was no link between the cases of Kakavand and Reiss. Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner insisted on French Radio J that France offered nothing in exchange for Reiss' release and that the country's judges act independently."

Last but not least...

En Français : Une bien complexe affaire. Nous en avons même parlé ici depuis Tokyo! C'est la photo d'une conférence de presse du Dr Saeed Jalili, passionnante d'enseignements, dont j'ai été le modérateur au FCCJ de Tokyo le 21 Décembre 2009 (Dr Saeed Jalili 3e a droite). Il est le Secrétaire général du conseil de sécurité nationale de la République Islamique d'Iran et principal négociateur du dossier nucléaire iranien, un proche de Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Dans le contexte des fortes pressions sur le dossier Iranien, le Dr Jalili a fait preuve durant la conf' d'un tempérament remarquablement bien trempé, logique et ferme, d'une grande éloquence et distinction. Il était au Japon pour discuter de technologie dans le nucléaire avec les opérateurs japonais du secteur dans le cadre d'un règlement international du "nucléaire iranien" les 20% etc.

Aujourd'hui je peux écrire que j'ai parlé avec le Dr Jalili et l'ambassadeur Araghchi, après la conférence de presse, de l'affaire Clotilde Reiss et je sentais bien l'intérêt mais aussi son embarras dans cette affaire éminemment complexe. Je savais en le raccompagnant avec sa délégation, à l'entrée du building du press club de Tokyo, que ce dossier allait être réglé. Nous avons discuté tous deux... En me serrant la main il m'avait fait comprendre que ce dossier serait réglé à la condition que chacun respecte ses engagements "dans la dignité". Plus tard, une invitation m'est venue en mars dernier de l'ambassade d'Iran de Tokyo, à Hiroo, lors de la fête nationale Iranienne. Mon impression de brèche ouverte en faveur de la libération de Clotilde Reiss se renforçait en parlant avec l'ambassadeur Araghchi. Cette affaire Reiss avançait, laborieusement, mais avançait.

Contraste (illustration)

Exemples de diplomatie non-productive...

Sources: Wire news agencies, Reporter's notes

✍✍✍ Espionne? Les espions, ils parlent de leur métier, à la télé, ils écrivent des livres, très ouvertement ces temps-ci en France. En principe, les pros sont discrets et ne se font pas souvent prendre, encore moins à pérorer sur leur métier.

✍✍✍ Le blog de Merchet de Liberation

"Ces déclarations sont irresponsables. Pierre Siramy
est en pleine campagne de promotion de son livre "25
ans dans les services secrets", paru en mars chez
Flammarion. De son vrai nom, Maurice Dufresse, ancien
officier de marine, il a travaillé pendant un quart de
siècle à la DGSE. Il a d'ailleurs signé son livre
sous le pseudonyme qu'il utilisait à la DGSE. Il
explique avoir été informé par les contacts qu'il
garde dans son ancienne maison. Contactée par nos
soins, la DGSE "dément formellement" les déclarations
de son ancien cadre. "C'est complètement faux. Il
dit n'importe quoi." assure-t-on à la "Centrale". "
"Immatriculée" chez nous ? Cela ne veut rien dire"
précise la même source. Nous pouvons confirmer ses
déclarations, d'une source proche du dossier mais
extérieure à la DGSE. Clotilde Reiss ne fait pas
partie des services de renseignements français.
L'affirmer, comme le fait Maurice Dufresse, c'est
mettre en danger la sécurité et la vie de tous les
Français travaillant dans des pays "difficiles". Les
Iraniens auront aujourd'hui beau jeu de dire : "vous
voyez bien que nous avions raison de l'arrêter !""

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Bangkok under "Live Firing Zone"!

A lonely TukTuk on Bangkok's boulevards

Red shirts protesters are loosing the battle while PM Abhisit Vejjajiva has vowed to stop protesters from toppling his government.

"We will not retreat," Mr Abhisit said in a televised statement, we cannot allow the country to be in a condition in which people can establish an armed group to topple the government that they are not happy with."

Thai government strategy is to bring gains in spite of a heavy bloodshed. From 10.000, the number of Red shirts protesters dropped to 5.000. I can see why. The fighting took place in a 3 square km war-zone and it could not succeed. The strategy mistake of the red shirts was to settle their fight into such area made for chic tourists and businessmen. Water, food, electricity, telecommunication were cut (what are ex Telecom Tycoon Thaksin's boys doing about it?)

Far from their logistics, cut off from their supporters in popular areas, no arms or aid expected to Silom and Ratchaprasong quarters under an unbearable + 40 degrees Celsius. It is just a matter of days before this desperate wave of riots come to and end and Thaksin partners sent to courts, commentators say. We'll see.

Stones and petrol bombs against M-16

Remaining combatants are the Red-shirt die-hards! They will confront the Thai authorities and it leaves the government and the military forces with the responsibility of deciding if PM Abhisit Vejjajiva can rule after the bloodshed? Rangoon and Tiananmen are in mind of the world people. One difference is that Thailand is under scrutiny and its economy needs foreigners, capital, investment, people. For days repeated calls for dialogue between government and red shirts calls came from the whole world leaders.

Two days of street battles between soldiers and anti-government "Red Shirts" have left more than 20 people dead, all civilians, and 187 wounded. The military declared one area of Bangkok a "live fire zone" as troops struggled to regain control. Scenes of urban warfare erupted on the southern and northern fringes of the Red Shirts' sprawling encampment in the heart of Bangkok, after the army moved in Thursday to seal off the area.

Thai army sniper

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, who last week shelved a plan to hold early elections because the protesters refused to disperse, warned last night that the government "cannot turn back" in the two-month standoff.

"Countdown to End Game" writes the TAN TV network. "As DAAD movement approaches its most dramatic stage, its leaders have been put in the most difficult position of all. Amid rising tension, they must make up their minds between one of two choices – either to give up or to fight on. If they choose the first choice, their concern will be how they can disperse the rally in the most gracious way possible and let their defeated supporters go home. It doesn't sound like a good choice but the consequences are far better than that of the latter choice which will lead to a huge body count."

According to local media, the army says it is tightening its grip around the camp, which has taken over Ratchaprasong, the battle zone commercial district of high-end shops, hotels and embassies in central Bangkok, in order to starve it of reinforcements and supplies. Army spokesman Col Sansern Kaewkamnerd said about 5,000 protesters remained, down from twice that number a few days ago. There is a plan to crack down on Ratchaprasong if the protest does not end," said the army spokesman, Sunsern Kaewkumnerd. More than 50 people have been killed and 1,600 have been wounded since the protests began on March 12, according to figures from the emergency services and the public health ministry.

The aging most respected King did not appeal but the Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn has expressed her concern for the patients and medical personnel at Chulalongkorn Hospital and sent food and water. A sign expected from the Thai people.

Twitts and blogs again on the front line. Not necessarily with guarantees of sound judgment and impartiality, but in the large amount of messages, a certain "people's voice" allow to see better in dire situations such as the Thai crisis. I saw this one "Bangkok Dangerous : Areas to avoid in Bangkok this weekend: Sala Daeng/Silom area, Lumpini Boxing Stadium/Bon Kai area and Ratchaprarop to Din Daeng area." Pictures of BKK clashes here

People power

"The non-ideological notion of “people power” is back in vogue in East Asia, especially in those democracies that are in distress, writes Frontline magazine of the Hindu media group . Thailand, which hit crisis mode sometime in the middle of March, is not alone in groping for the substance of this idea, which has almost become a political formula of sorts in the East Asian milieu of enormous diversity.

Japan, which prides itself on being the oldest democracy in geographical East Asia as different from the wider geopolitical region by the same name, witnessed some new signs of people power in April on the issue of Tokyo’s foreign policy equation with the United States. Elsewhere in East Asia, Indonesia, as of end-April, is back in the political business of assessing the potency of people power as different from the primacy of the country’s President.

The notion of people power, insofar as it is variously invoked in the differing political situations within the state boundaries across East Asia, is not of any uniform standard. For instance, the anger among sections of the Japanese people over the continuing U.S. military presence in Okinawa is qualitatively different from the clamour for people power in Thailand. Nonetheless, an idea emerging in some significant pockets across East Asia is quite unmistakable: that the traditional centres of power must be accountable to the people at large. Within this broad spectrum, Thailand is conspicuous as the new theatre of people power, although the phrase itself is not at all as commonplace as in the Philippines for a number of years or as in some sections of Malaysia in recent years." End of quotes. Article is interesting.

Last but not least: Seen on some TV channels: Are you there? Send your images, video... And now major TV networks, ask citizens for reporting! Until death part? A totally unprofessional gesture from the marketing branches of these networks.

✍✍✍ "I would not advise young tourists or inexperienced visitors to emotionally metamorphose into sudden war-zone-free reporters. Please all be cautious. Snipers are all around. Leave it to professionals and even for them it's a hell of a work, I speak of quite recent experience."