■ EarthquakeTaiwan offers Japan aid
Taiwan has offered aid to Japan following the earthquake of magnitude 8 which hit Japan's northern island of Hokkaido on Friday, the Foreign Ministry said yesterday. "Premier Yu Shyi-kun has sent a message to Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi to express concern and hope that life can return to normal as soon as possible," the ministry said in a statement. "Taiwan has also offered assistance. Japan thanked Taiwan for the offer, but said that since there are no collapsed buildings or people buried alive, emergency rescue teams are not needed now," the ministry said. Friday's earthquake and the aftershocks have injured 559 people. Two fishermen are listed as missing.
■ Illegal masseuses
Minister won't be fired
Premier Yu Shyi-kun said yesterday that he has no intention of replacing Minister of Interior Yu Cheng-hsien (余政憲), even though he made a serious mistake by employing the services of two illegal masseuses. Responding to a journalist's question while accompanying President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) on a hike in Taipei, the premier said it is inappropriate for a minister to use a masseuse who is not licensed to practice. However, the mistake is not so serious as to cost Yu his Cabinet position, the premier said. A local newspaper caused an uproar on Wednesday when it reported that Yu frequents a local massage parlor and is in the habit of employing two women at a time to give him massages. These masseuses are not blind, although the law limits the profession to people with impaired eyesight. Yu apologized to the public on Wednesday and claimed to be unaware that the women were unlicensed.