Friday, September 24, 2010

Reshuffle on Top of the Chosun Workers Dynasty

Yesterday frightful cartoon

Reporting on an increasingly inflammatory dictatorial regime. It's clear that whatever happens on the top level of DPRK hierarchy, Pyongyang won't give up, and will do all it can to strengthen its nuclear deterrence, continue to fire off short-range missiles to Japan's sea while big plans are on rebuilding North Korean economy with the neighbors' help, China. So get ready for what DPRK prepares next! It could spark thrills! The dynasty new young leader to be announced soon, sources say.

"The Chosun Workers' Party Delegates' Conference will open in Pyongyang, the city of the revolution, on September 28th, 2010, for the election of the highest organs of the Chosun Workers' Party."

It should open on Tuesday. Scheduled for early September but it was postponed without any explanation from the secretive state. Recent assignments were announced.

Kang Sok-Ju, North Korea's first vice minister of foreign affairs, has been appointed to the position of a vice premier of the cabinet, the Korea Central News Agency said.

Kim Kye-Gwan, Pyongyang's chief negotiator in six-nation nuclear disarmament talks, was named to fill Kang's slot at the foreign ministry while Ri Yong-Ho, Kim's deputy in the nuclear talks, was named a vice foreign minister.

The announcement came as North Korea prepares for its biggest political meeting for decades next week, expected to pave the way for a power transfer to Kim Jong-Il's youngest son, Kim Jong-Un.

Pyongyang is worth a mess

September 28th conference is expected to put a new and young leadership line-up in place, spell out possible policy shifts and give top party posts to new leader Jong-Un and his supporters, such as the senior Kim Jong-Il's powerful brother-in-law Jang Song-Thaek.

"Jang can likely thank his wife's influence on Kim Jong-il in large measure for his resuscitation. Kim, whose power rests in his position as chairman of the national defense commission, not only gave Jang a place on the commission but named him in June as vice chairman. Jang's power and prestige were on display when he accompanied Kim in May to Beijing for a session with Chinese President Hu Jintao, at which they made the case for a vast infusion of aid and investment." Asia Times writes on September 23.

China economic reforms watched for a decade by Pyongyangers

Kim Jong-Il health and the silence of his French doctors

The Kim Dynasty DPRK has always kept links with France. Still there is no diplomatic relations between the two. Paris and Pyongyang relations are deep though and, say, proceed discreetly. Economical relations. French industrial groups are trying hard to get on business relations with DPRK for acquisition of raw material and ores, textiles manufacturing etc. And in addition to KJI love for French wines (...), an other type of cooperation existed, some suspect financial, and a medical one, for a while. For instance Kim Jong-il was "allegedly" cured by French doctors since his "alleged" stroke in 2008. Not to forget an astonishing "kind of romance" floated between France and North Korea offspring. Of course anyone official in Paris won't say a word about it.

Kim Jong-Il's Romantic 'Tribulations' from Pyongyang

From left, Kim Ok, Song Hye-Rim and Ko Young-Hui

Kim Yong-hui (1953 - 2004), Kim Jong-Il third wife, appeared to be born of Korean family in Osaka Japan, her family originally from Cheju island and then moved to North Korea in the early 1960s with her parents at a moment when many Koreans living in Japan "returned to the fatherland". Then in the early 1970s, she began to work as a dancer at the famous Mansudae Art Troupe in Pyongyang. This is where she met Kim Jong-Il while she entertained VIPs at a party he organized. Most women with whom Kim was involved were celebrities.

Yong-Hui was the mother of two of Kim Jong-il's sons, Kim Jong-Chol in 1981 and Kim Jong-Un in 1983, Jong-Un is now 27 years old, 28 in Korean age. The first son Kim Jong-Chol studied in France or in Switzerland (like the second brother Jong-Un) or in Singapore and is seen as intelligent, with a passion for basket-ball. Milder than his younger brother who, according to witnesses and sources, would better rather fit the ferocious look of a dictator than Jong-Chol.

At this stage there are contradictions between gossip and reality. KJI was said as favoring good family reputation, with a worker background rather than a rich linked Korean background family like Yong-Hui but this sudden change means his valuing Kim Yong-Hui family might also indicate a sign of his changeable character. Quite fearful for a "Dictator" obsessed with propaganda, as Japanese and South Korea media reported.

Kim Yong-Hui became sick and was treated for cancer in Paris, France and died in Paris in August 2004.

A DPRK princess' suicided after a failed love story?

An other puzzle to the North estrange romances: The romantic tragedy of a Kim Jong-il's niece Jang Keum-Song. The story of the only daughter of rising star Jang Song-Thaek and Kim Kyung-Hee (the very tough and powerful younger sister of Kim Jong-Il) was a shock. The news about her "alleged" suicide for having her heart broken in an "alleged" love story was reported on 2006 September 15 on the DailyNK. The cause of her death by medicines revealed the stern opposition of her parents to her marriage because her boyfriend was of a lower rulers class "of mean birth" as put by the DPRK propaganda and revealed by watchers.

So was the unfortunate destiny of Jang Keum-Song, 29, who was the sole birth child of Kim's brother-in-law and confidant Jang Song-Thaek, KJI's lng time confident who, let's say it again is introduced now as the political rising star of the DPRK, behind the Chosun's Workers dynasty kids.

Here is how the Daily NK reported about her suicide: "His [Jang Song-Thaek] daughter who had attended at Kim Il Sung University fell in love with a man. His parents were general workers in a rural area. He was so smart that he could get an admission from Kim Il Sung University. Later, the Head Secretary scolded his daughter, saying “You can never be married with him”. The desperate daughter ate agrochemical pills to kill herself. Fortunately, she did not die, yet became insane. To the end she had wondered here and there and died." By Park Hyun Min, Reporter of Daily NK (2006-09-20)

One wishful thinking is that not only French magazines, such as Gala and Voici, pale copies of people's rich and famous Vanity Fair, but also more serious publications, have now to keep looking at DPRK with different eyes not only because there are "sparkling" stories, accounts of horrors and tools for propagandist tales (both from the west and the hermit regime) but because all around in the transfer of power of the most secretive dynasty on the earth there are important consequences that could modify the course of events in the whole Asian region.

Remains to see if the North Korean coming leadership, whatever clues are sampled abroad, would eventually follow China’s market policy example with the neighbor and big sponsor's support. And, by the way, it would be good to know how the expected leader Jong-Un looks like. Anyone, an authentic recent picture?

Changes will be brought from China

Hu Jintao is reported to have agreed with Kim Jong-Il who is to nominate Jong-Un to perpetuate the dynasty leading mission, which is this time an economic revolution with or without reunification according to sources in Beijing. And this is not entirely impossible as we are to see that traveling educates the youth...and boost economies.

To be continued...

Update October 1st 2010: Confirmation of what I wrote in this chapter: It is reported in Bernama news (Malaysia) October 1st that the PRC is seeking to build an economic zone in the northeastern region bordering the DPRK, aiming to promote trade with the world's most reclusive country, Yonhap news agency reports. Thirteen cities in the Dongbei region, commonly known as Manchuria, issued a joint proposal on Thursday to build the Yalu River Economic Zone and to boost trade with the DPRK. The participating cities include Dandong, Dalian, Tonghua and Mudanjiang, all of which are located either in the Liaoning province, the Jilin province or the Heilongjiang province. The three provinces make up the Dongbei region. Telex

Sources: Joong Ang Ilbo, Daily NK, Xinhua, A Times, other Sources wont be identified according to their requests (AG recommends to take this post and quotes of sources with precaution), Reporter's Notes (edited).

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Japan PM Naoto Kan at the United Nations: Unheard of!

Where is the audience? Question is : How come Japan is erased day after day of the world's map of influential and affluent nations?

Prime Minister Naoto Kan speaks at UN
Millennium Development Goals Summit New York on Wednesday
in the middle of a severe diplomatic battle with China

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan pledged Wednesday during a New York U.N. summit on eradicating poverty that Tokyo will offer a total of $8.5 billion over five years from 2011 to help improve the health of mothers and babies as well as education services in poor countries.

Specifically, Japan will offer $5 billion over the five years to support efforts to improve the maternal and pediatric health services, combat Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria as well as international health threats, such as the spread of new type of Influenza. In the area of education, Japan will offer $3.5 billion in aid to back comprehensive efforts to improve the educational environment for children under the "School for All" initiative.

Kan also unveiled Tokyo's new initiative called EMBRACE, the acronym of "ensure mothers and babies regular access to care," aimed at providing seamless and continued services to pregnant mothers and newborns by conducting regular checkups, improving access to hospitals and offering vaccinations.

Referring to his experience of tackling a scandal involving HIV- tainted blood products in Japan, in which an estimated 2,000 hemophiliacs were infected with the virus that causes AIDS, Kan said he has long been interested in the fight against the infectious disease. (Kan shot to fame in 1996 when he was health minister for battling with bureaucrats to uncover hidden documents and admitting the government's responsibility in the scandal.)

But who listened to PM Kan? Attention now is rather on the disproportionate territorial dispute between Beijing and Tokyo.

China effectively rejected Japan’s Wednesday call for high-level talks to address rising bilateral tensions in the wake of a ship collision earlier this month near the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.

‘‘Unless the Japanese side corrects mistakes and releases the Chinese captain unconditionally, it is unavoidable that bilateral relations will deteriorate further,’’ Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said in a statement.

It is futile to ‘‘play tricks deceiving’’ international public opinion, Jiang said, criticizing Japan for arresting the Chinese fishing boat captain.

Earlier Wednesday, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku expressed hope for high-level talks with China ‘‘as soon as possible,’’ suggesting a meeting between Prime Minister Naoto Kan and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in New York.

The two leaders are in the United States this week for U.N. but gatherings won't work and they won't meet. China refused.

Remaining here is the European Union, a proved grown-up in territorial settlements through integration --who has not spent time in Cognac Jean Monnet's birth city?-- inquired Wednesday about the relationship between Japan and China. Catherine Ashton, EU high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, asked her Japanese counterpart Seiji Maehara about developments following the collisions near the disputed Islands. Maehara regarded as a DPJ hawk close to the United States said Japan will continue to deal with the incident according to domestic law and seek a "calm" response from China.

"Ginza Lu", favorite spot of Chinese tourists

Businessmen and industries in both countries are not happy -- on this it's important to read further into Nissan Chief Carlos Ghosn's statement about technology transfer to China-- and straightforward critics add that China who did not cancel all tourists group from shopping on Ginza boulevard (The Champs Elysées of Tokyo) is to increase military presence of her Chinese Navy around Senkaku Daioyu islands looking to intimidate the Japanese SDSF while the U.S. might not want to have direct interference and conflict with China over these rocks - islands dispute.

Maybe the reference to Taiwan as a tool of Chinese inflexibility could indicate to these 2 non-partners heading to the wall at the November APEC meeting in Yokohama that it is time to take care of proper routing. Sending ships under a foolish weather is not the best a Captain can do...

The Ninja versus the Panda

This JP - China quarrel has even developed as talented Animated News game format on the Internet "Japan China relations sour over island dispute: 釣魚台爭議衝擊日本與中國關係"

Click the arrow to watch the anime vdo

Sources: Agencies, NMA youtube, Reporter's notes

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Top Level Japanese Prosecutor Arrested. Justice Denied?

"A coup" for the Asahi Shimbun ?

"It's terrifying that something like this could happen, his alleged victim said to the media". It remains to see if the defendant Maeda is guilty or not or if he is a scapegoat but also it is quite time efficient to check if other cases have been "doctored" too, say... in money-politics.

The facts

Tsunehiko Maeda, 43, was arrested in a swift move by the Supreme Public Prosecutor's Office, which launched an investigation, early yesterday. He is suspected of altering the date on a floppy disk in a case, sources said.

The story

The Supreme Public Prosecutors Office's investigation into the Osaka prosecutor, Tsunehiko Maeda, 43, started Tuesday, after the Asahi Shimbun reported his suspected doctoring of data on a floppy disk seized as evidence:

"The rare investigation comes as anger and dismay spread among legal experts. "It's incredible that investigating authorities would alter materials under probe," said Takeshi Tsuchimoto, a former prosecutor in the Supreme Public Prosecutors Office. "It is a question that goes beyond a matter of rules." The Osaka District Public Prosecutors Office had told The Asahi Shimbun that Maeda said that he had "mistakenly" rewritten the data. But a prosecution source quoted Maeda as telling a colleague earlier that he had "changed the data to match" his storyline of what had happened in the fraud case."
The Asahi story here

The questions

But today, the Yomiuri shimbun, the Conservative rival, brings a cloud of doubts on this prosecutor's arrest. In his career he handled a lot of important cases. Is there something else to read behind his arrest as the paper suggested?

Quotes: "Tsunehiko Maeda is regarded as an ace prosecutor among his colleagues because of his success at getting suspects to confess to scenarios prosecutors have laid out, allowing them to be indicted without trouble. However, despite the trust he has gained also from his superiors, he has been criticized for his forceful investigative style. Since April 2008, Maeda has been a key player in the Osaka District Public Prosecutors Office's special investigation division. He was assigned to the investigation squad after serving for two years in a similar unit operated by the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office. While in Tokyo, he investigated fraud and bribery cases, including one involving a former executive of a defense equipment trader who allegedly bribed a former administrative vice defense minister.

Just after joining the Osaka prosecutors office, he was lead investigator of a fraud case involving lawyer Morikazu Tanaka, former prosecutor of the special investigation division. He also probed a fraud case involving music producer Tetsuya Komuro in November that year. While serving at the Osaka office, Maeda was dispatched to the Tokyo office to investigate a government-paid secretary of former Democratic Party of Japan Secretary General Ichiro Ozawa in connection with an alleged violation of the Public Funds Control Law by Ozawa's political fund management organization."

Time to update and it might be good and helpful to dive into the Roman and Greek tragedies such as the "Metamorphoses" of Apuleius, tragedy describing when crime and injustice protagonist's curiosity mix with an insatiable desire to see and practice... magic! And magic there is in Japanese politics. The Metamorphoses were a source of inspiration for the 16th century author Niccolo Machiavelli, founder of modern political science in his Florentine Republic...

Sources: Asahi, Yomiuri, Reporter's Notes

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

From China seas to Arctic: new maritime tension ahead!

World War I Posters: Buy bonds and the importance of merchant marine

The territorial turmoil about China seas and Japan already alarms Asian nations and the West, it won't be difficult to imagine what the future Polar Maritime cruising confusion might be within 10 years and launches new security challenges!

Chinese and Japan nationalism grow, and same with their navy and ability to project power in the oceans and sea lanes. In the Senkaku Daioyu territorial disputes, China cut off all high-level ties and exchanges for the time being while Japan secures the area as Asian Gazette wrote previously here.

Not without tension, facing China will to control the continental shelf, Japan actively develops its military control over Senkoku Daioyu and the US might intervene suggest US media "the Japan-U.S. security treaty specifies that the U.S. will help defend areas that Japan administers. And in 1972, when the U.S. handed Okinawa back to Japan, it agreed that Japan should administer the Senkakus. So we’re in the absurd position of being committed to help Japan fight a war over islands, even though we don’t agree that they are necessarily Japanese." writes the NY Times (Look Out for the Diaoyu Islands Sept 10, 2010)

The passage to the Arctic

"Anti-Japan sentiment is easily whipped up in China, where nationalist netizens refer to their neighbor patronizingly as "little Japan." For its part, Japan, while all too eager to do business with China, doesn't have a very good image of the giant to the west. Concerns range from the safety of Chinese food imports to China's increased military muscle-flexing," writes Global Post "Asia's titans can't seem to make nice. What does it mean for the region?".

Most Japanese government officials continued to call for calm, today, Sept. 21 with Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda: "We need to respond in a level-headed manner to avoid the row from having any impact" on the nations' economic ties. Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Akihiro Ohata said: "I believe we can overcome this issue with both countries dealing with it in a calm manner," and that he will watch the developments in hopes that it will not affect negotiations over a trilateral free trade agreement between Japan, China and South Korea. Las with Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa: "We need to convey the "real situation" to the Chinese government and people", he voiced doubts whether they were properly informed about the fact that it was the Chinese boat that collided with the Japanese vessels.

On her side, China said Japan’s detention of a Chinese ship captain over a collision in disputed waters has "severely hurt bilateral relations" and warn of consequences. "Obviously not suitable" for Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao to meet with Japanese counterpart Naoto Kan when both leaders attend the coming United Nations General Assembly.

"The pain has to be piercing. Japanese politicians need to understand the consequences - votes will be lost, and Japanese companies have to be aware of the loss of business involved. Japanese citizens will feel the burden due to the downturn in the economy. China's domestic law, business regulations and consumers can all be maneuvered" warns today the Global Times of China in a vitriolic editorial "Finding the Achilles' heel of Japan"!

The Arctic: From Asia-Pacific to Western Europe

Businessmen, traders, and seafarers have spent hundreds of years wishing for a shortcut through the Arctic to ship goods between Asia and the West. Now, they're about to get what they wished for: global warming has cleared out enough ice to allow a shipping route to cut directly through the Arctic and the vessels to make the voyage herald the opening of the most important shipping passage since the Suez Canal.

"... As most of the Arctic warmed significantly in the 2000s and 1990s compared to the 1980s, Scientists have been monitoring ongoing changes in Arctic sea ice for decades. By collecting samples of ice as well as a wide range of satellite-based data to document the changes, scientists find that Arctic sea ice is melting at an increasing rate. If the trend continues, Arctic sea ice may be gone by the year 2100."

Japan more discreetly than in China seas opts for a similar strategy for the future Arctic maritime transport to control the new sea lanes. Harbors such as Hokkaido - Otaru, also Akita, Rokkasho, Tomakomai are to compete to become a hub ready to update an economical success faded away. Much development expected for the militarization of the Arctic maritime sea lanes zone with Japan most powerful Navy and Coast Guards fleet. In addition, Japan started to educate maritime pilots specially trained for sailing in these vulnerable seas.

Military detachment on permanent stand-by

And here, not only are to be picked the same "quarrel partners" such as China, Japan, Taiwan and Korea, but also, and this is to be a more difficult piece to face, the Russia, the northern European nations and north America.

Killing waves ahead.

This "Arctic Governance" is the topic of the INTERNATIONAL ARCTIC CONFERENCE. GEOPOLITICAL ISSUES AND EQUATIONS IN THE 21ST CENTURY to be held at Lyon, 22-23 November 2010 at Centre d’Etudes Canadiennes de Grenoble - Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Grenoble - Université Pierre Mendès France. Conference Webpage

Sources: "Le Japon Renouveau d'une puissance" Par Remi Scoccimaro. La Documentation Francaise. NY Times, Global Post, NASA Earth Observatory, Maritime Journal, Reporter's Notes.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

China Japan Islands Scuffle: Art of War or just sandbag punches?


"Faint disorder and crush your enemy. If your opponent is in anger, irritate him and pretend to be weak that he can grow arrogant..."

Sun Tzu

Probably a very Asian local brawl, born from a New Age type conflict, result of quick industrialization and quick made money, rather than born from a complex geo-strategic battle. Just checking the human intelligence relations between power breakers and this looks quite simple. More noise than violence. "Fog should dissipate on the troubled waters soon in the region's interests", according to informed sources.

September 18th China celebration of the Manchurian incident 79 years ago went smooth although, media said, it was aggravated by the arrest of a Chinese fishing boat Captain after a row in the Senkoku Daioyu waters, and, at a moment chosen by China while a floating atmosphere reigned in Tokyo when the government was in a prime minister job election process. Fog should soon dissipate... as Sun Tzu added: "No King should go to war in anger, and anger may change to joy."

Today, I chose a few reports from some agencies, describing the mood and as illustration that of course this chapter of recent events carries on with the "test your nation's guts" trade mark. Crowds were not there, let's be clear.

So, things should settle and this is why Beijing cooled down Chinese citizens, netizens, demonstrators and its cyber fighters to the minimum level of complaints tolerated, and certainly not to reach level of an international crisis as some would dream to read about, or, papers hoping for the good sales kickoff.

Hong Kong

"Anti-Japan protesters hold banner written "Get out" during a march in Hong Kong on Saturday, Sept. 18, 2010. Protesters in several cities across China marked a politically sensitive anniversary Saturday with anti-Japan chants and banners, as authorities tried to stop anger over a diplomatic spat between the Asian giants from getting out of control. Ever-present anti-Japanese sentiment in China has been inflamed in recent weeks by Japan's arrest of a Chinese captain after his fishing boat collided with two Japanese coast guard vessels in waters near an island group claimed by both Tokyo and Beijing. Japan has returned the boat and its crew but holds the captain. China has demanded his release. Around 50 protesters gathered outside the Japanese embassy in Beijing Saturday, waving the Chinese national flag and telling Japan to "get out of the Diaoyu Islands," all while marking the 79th anniversary of Japan's invasion of China. Sirens also wailed across major Chinese cities, including Harbin, Xi'an, Changchun and Chengdu, to mark the date, which served as another chance to protest Tokyo's seizure and continued detainment of a Chinese fishing boat captain." (Global Times)

"The demonstrators were not allowed to linger long outside the Japanese Embassy. Instead, guided at times by police, the crowd wended its way through the streets until it reached the Foreign Ministry. Then the protesters stood across the street and shouted a few more slogans, pumping their fists all the while. "Chinese government, stand up!" "Crush the traitors!" ...A demonstration of any kind is rare in this tightly controlled nation, and Saturday's protest was a deliberately understated affair. The marchers were carefully monitored by rings of police, who moved through the protest with an almost methodical choreography. But riskier drama unfolded on the edges of the main event, and in the days leading up to Saturday's protest, as China's unruly "netizens" threatened to infiltrate the demonstration for their own purposes, the government raced in the final days to downplay plans for protest. The struggle, much of which unfolded on the Internet before Saturday had dawned, gave a keen illustration of the razor's edge walked by the Chinese government as it basks in renewed nationalism while keeping a tight grip on any expressions of political discontent." (L.A. Times)

"Authorities in recent days sought to forestall protests. The website of the China Federation for Defending Diaoyutai remained offline Saturday, and messages about organizing protests were largely scrubbed from Internet bulletin boards. Still, the state-run Chongqing Evening News reported Saturday that hundreds of residents in the southwestern city "spontaneously" gathered to mark the anniversary and sing anti-Japanese songs. The newspaper also reported about 1,000 soldiers, students and others in the northeast city of Changchun gathered in front of a monument marking the "Mukden Incident," vowing to remember history. Beijing has stated that the arrest of the fishing captain could damage relations and has summoned Japan's ambassador, Uichiro Niwa, five times. The Japanese government made no public comment Saturday on the protests, the boat incident or the anniversary." (Ap)

"... A year ago, when Japan's centre-left Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) came to power, its first premier Yukio Hatoyama said he wanted closer ties with East Asia, especially China. Hatoyama called the East China Sea a "Sea of Fraternity" and promoted the idea of an EU-style Asian Community, while unsettling Washington with a plan, since abandoned, to move a US airbase off Japan's Okinawa island. But conservative politicians and the defense bureaucracy have long pointed with alarm at China's defence spending and growing military muscle. In its annual defence white paper on September 10, Japan criticised China's lack of transparency in military spending and its recent naval activities as "a matter of concern for the region and the international community". A Pentagon report last month said China was ramping up investment in nuclear weapons, long-range missiles, submarines and aircraft carriers, building up a force that could strike as far as the US territory of Guam. Last Wednesday former US deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage said on a Tokyo visit that in the ongoing row China was "testing" Japan..." (Afp)

Rich waters

To end, this interesting report of Today's Global Times about this China Japan territorial quarrel, realized on the conflict zone, it shows more sense of realism than as read in the inflamed Japanese media lately.

"The Japanese Coast Guard (JCG) set four cordons surrounding the Diaoyu Islands in a bid to block Chinese boats from accessing the area, a Chinese skipper told the Global Times on Wednesday. "The first cordon lies 12 nautical miles (22 kilometers) off the islands. If a Chinese ship breaks two cordons, the JCG may take action to have it seized," said Shen Changling, captain of the vessel Fishery Administration 202..."

The full report here, worth reading

Sources: Agencies, Global Times, LA Times, Ap, Afp, Yomiuri, Reporter's notes