■ Foreign affairs
Japan releases fishing boat
Japan yesterday released a Taiwanese fishing boat and its crew, after detaining the boat early Sunday for allegedly intruding into Japan's exclusive economic zone. The boat was released at 6pm after the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Relations Office in Okinawa agreed to act as a guarantor and pay the Japanese government ¥4.2 million (US$35,600). The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) on Sunday urged Japan to release the boat and its crew unconditionally. MOFA spokesman Michel Lu (呂慶龍) made the request after the Suao-based Tsengjinshun No. 206 was detained by Japanese coast guard patrols for allegedly intruding into Japan's exclusive economic zone southeast of Miyako Island in Okinawa prefecture. Lu said the Tsengjinshun was operating in the overlapping areas of the two countries' 320km exclusive economic zones when it was chased and intercepted by Japanese coast guard patrols.
■ Foreign affairs
Wang to attend inauguration
Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) will attend the presidential inauguration ceremony of Honduras' newly elected president Manuel Zelaya as President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) envoy late this month, Minister of Foreign Affairs Mark Chen (陳唐山) confirmed yesterday. Wang is slated to make a transit stop in Washington en route to Honduras during his trip. While in Washington, Wang said he will visit his old friends in the US Congress. But he said he would not deliver any message on behalf of Chen to the US government.
New health site launched
The Taipei City Government's health bureau has established a Web site educating students on personal and social health issues. The site was launched in view of statistics indicating high incidences of teen pregnancy. A survey commissioned by the bureau found that 47.3 percent of adolescents aged between 15 and 19 who engage in sexual conduct don't use birth control, while statistics from the Ministry of the Interior show that the teen pregnancy rate is around ten in 1,000. The Web site used virtual cartoon characters to provide information on issues such as what constitutes healthy interaction between men and women, frequently asked questions about sex, how to use contraception, how to perform breast checks and the correct way to wear bras. The Web site is www.healthcity.net.tw.
Youth suicide rate climbs
The number of youths committing suicide has continued to climb over the past decade, and suicide has become the No. 2 cause of death among Taiwanese youth aged 15-24, the National Youth Commission said yesterday. In a white paper on youth policy, the commission cited Department of Health statistics as saying that the top three causes of death among the nation's youth in 2003 were accidents (51.8 percent), suicide (10.7 percent) and malignant tumors (9.28 percent). Tallies released by the Ministry of Education show that a total of 91 youths committed suicide between January and November last year, up by 21 over the figure for the whole of 2004. The suicide rate among Taiwanese youths is 0.61 per ten thousand.