Thu, Jun 30, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Taiwan Quick Take

STAFF WRITER, WITH AGENCIES

■ Justice

US rejects sex-slave case

A US appellate court said on Tuesday that 15 Asian women forced into sexual slavery during World War II cannot use US courts to sue Japan. The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia said the issue involved international relations and the courts were not authorized to hear the claims. The women from Taiwan, China, South Korea and the Philippines sued Japan in 2000, contending they were among 20,000 used as "comfort women" for Japanese soldiers during the war. The appellate court initially ruled that Japan had absolute immunity from a lawsuit under federal law, but the Supreme Court overturned the ruling and instructed the appellate court to reconsider the case. In its opinion on Tuesday, the appellate court said it was extremely "clear the Allied Powers intended that all war-related claims against Japan be resolved through government-to-government negotiations rather than through private tort suits."

■ Society

New rules for `veteran' status

Cabinet Spokesman Cho Jung-tai (卓榮泰) said yesterday that the requirements for being classified a "military veteran" will be revised. Cho made the announcement at a press conference after the weekly Cabinet meeting yesterday morning. He said that the new definition will help reduce financial problems in the health-insurance system. Those who have served in the military for more than three years are currently classified as veterans. In the future, military service of more than 10 years will be required to qualify for veterans' benefits. According to current regulations, veterans are fully reimbursed for medical expenses, while regular citizens are only entitled to partial health-insurance coverage. As the military tries to phase out conscription, Cho said that the new definition of "veterans" would benefit the health-insurance system, because the number of people eligible for full coverage would grow too quickly if the definition does not change.

■ Education

Hsieh promises financial aid

Premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) yesterday promised to improve financial assistance to college students in response to growing complaints from the public that college tuition fees are becoming unreasonable. Urging college students to focus on their lessons, Hsieh said that more money will be made available for those who really need help. He also asked the Ministry of Education to extend the college-tuition financing period. The ministry announced that it has set aside a total of NT$17.4 billion (US$550.5 million) for college and graduate students as scholarships. The ministry is also considering a proposal that students who received ministry loans to cover their college tuition fees would not have to pay back the money if their annual income is lower than NT$240,000 after graduation.

■ Society

Singer's brother not dead

China's Taiwan Affairs Office yesterday denied reports that the adopted brother of the Taiwanese singer Yu Tien (余天) had been executed. Officials said the case against Yu Fu-hsing (余福星) was still pending in the Fujian Supreme Court. Chinese-language media in Hong Kong and Taiwan last week reported that Yu Fu-hsing had been executed on Sunday for smuggling heroin to China. The reports claimed that Yu Fu-hsing had smuggled heroin from Thailand to Xiamen last March. Yu was arrested late last year, and Chinese authorities have sentenced him to death.

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