Fri, Sep 03, 2004 - Page 6 News List

World News Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ China

Refugees' fate undecided

The fate of 29 refugees who rushed a Japanese school in Beijing hung in the balance yesterday as Japanese consular officials interviewed them to find out who they were and what they wanted, diplomats said. "We are still trying to find out who they are," Japanese embassy spokesman Keiji Ide said. "They claimed they are North Koreans but we should be careful." The 11 men, 15 women and three children were "more relaxed" after sleeping in the Japanese embassy Wednesday night, he said. Ide said that as far he knew the refugees had not been in contact with South Korean or Chinese officials. A senior foreign ministry official in Seoul said the group would be accepted if they wanted to come to South Korea while Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi pledged that they would be treated "in a humanitarian way."

■ Japan

PM views disputed islands

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi boarded a coast guard patrol boat and viewed a group of Russian-held islands claimed by Japan yesterday, brushing off protests by Moscow that the trip could harm relations. Koizumi departed from the northern island of Hokkaido toward the Kuril islands ahead of 59th anniversary today of the Soviet occupation of them in the weeks following Japan's defeat in World War II in 1945. Former Japanese residents of the islands, known in Japan as the Northern Territories, and other supporters of the trip waved rising sun flags as Koizumi boarded the ship. National broadcaster NHK later showed Koizumi viewing the islands with binoculars.

■ China

New ban on sexy clothes

Female civil servants in eastern China have been banned from wearing sexy clothes such as slinky tops and tight leggings and told to not use "dirty" or "strange" language in the office, state media said yesterday. The Zhejiang provincial archives bureau announced a set of regulations -- the first of their kind in the country -- that also require female workers to refrain from wearing excess jewelry at work, the China News Service said. Women workers must not be "avant-garde and ostentatious," the regulations reportedly say. They should neither be "too thin and tight or showing the under-garments."

■ China

Baby swapped for phones

A couple in China have traded in their newborn baby boy for two new mobile phones, a news report said yesterday. The couple, who live in Beijing, sold their five day-old boy for 13,000 yuan (US$1,569) and used the money to buy new mobile phones. Police arrested the 32-year-old man and his 22-year-old wife after the husband's enraged brother reported them after hearing about the sale. The mother, from China's Henan province, told police she did not know it was illegal to sell her son, according to the South China Morning Post.

■ China

Two arrested in killing spree

Two brothers have been arrested in central China accused of killing 12 people and cutting up their bodies, state media reported yesterday. Shen Changyin, 29, and Shen Changping, 21, were detained over the murder and dismemberment of 11 waitresses and one man across six provinces, the Yanzhao Metropolitan Daily said. The two farmers had fled Nanwu village in Huojia county, Henan province, in 2000 after the elder brother murdered a man, the report said.

■ United Kingdom

Criminal tracking tested

Britain will test a satellite system for tracking criminal offenders, government officials said yesterday. Prisons Minister Paul Goggins said the system could be used to track several thousand offenders. "We estimate there are 5,000 prolific offenders causing major problems and mayhem with their offending behavior, day in, day out. So they would be a clear target," he said in an interview with BBC Radio. Sex offenders released from prison could be requir-ed to wear the tags as a condition of their freedom, he added. In the pilot program, up to 120 offenders will be fitted with tags which have a wireless connection to a mobile phone.

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