Japan will make a "strong protest" to North Korea after the communist state fabricated all its evidence about the fate of Japanese whom it kidnapped during the Cold War, victims' relatives said yesterday. \nGovernment officials met family members of the Japanese kidnapped by North Korean agents amid growing public anger and calls for economic sanctions against Kim Jong-il's regime. \nThe officials said a government examination, initial findings of which were announced earlier this month, concluded that human remains which North Korea gave a visiting Japanese mission last month did not match the abduction victims. \n"All the evidence was complete fabrication," one of the government officials said at the closed meeting, according to a relative. \n"We cannot accept that," the official was quoted as saying. "The re-examination ordered by Secretary-General Kim lacked sincerity. We will make a strong protest." \nThe official said that Japan would deliver the results of its final study of the remains to the North Korean embassy in Beijing. \nThe evidence offered by North Korea included ashes said to be those of Megumi Yokota, who was 13 when she was whisked away in 1977 by North Korean agents who kidnapped Japanese people to train spies. \nJapanese forensic experts have already said DNA tests proved the ashes are not those of Yokota, whose case has attracted great public sympathy. \nNorth Korea has insisted the remains are genuine. Its official media said Thursday that Yokota's North Korean husband is requesting the return of the ashes in their original state. \nChief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda, the Japanese government spokesman, on yesterday rejected any thought of returning the remains. \n"We are not thinking about [that]," he told reporters. \nThe controversy has led lawmakers to demand economic sanctions against cash-strapped but heavily armed North Korea. \nBut Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has said such measures would be a last resort against the unpredictable neighbor, which fired a missile over Japan in 1998. \nIn 2002, Kim for the first time admitted that North Korea had kidnapped Japanese people and allowed five of them to come home, a move which led to aid from Japan and cleared the way for talks on normalizing relations. \nBut Japan believes at least 10 more abduction victims are alive and being kept under wraps, possibly because they know secrets about the isolated Stalinist state. \nNorth Korea says eight of them are dead and the two others never entered its territory. \nThe kidnapping issue has dogged relations between North Korea and Japan as they take part in six-nation talks on curbing Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions. \nThe US, South Korea and China have all expressed caution about imposing sanctions against North Korea, fearing such a move would deal a blow to the nuclear talks. \nA newspaper poll said Tuesday nearly two-thirds of Japanese want sanctions against North Korea over the kidnapping dispute but that the public understands why Koizumi is being cautious with Pyongyang.
‘LIKE A CASSANDRA’: Chinese residents of Prato went into self-imposed lockdown and warned their Italian neighbors about what was coming, but were ignored In the storm of infection and death sweeping Italy, one big community stands out to health officials as remarkably unscathed — the 50,000 ethnic Chinese who live in the town of Prato. Two months ago, the country’s Chinese residents were the target of what Amnesty International described as shameful discrimination, the butt of insults and violent attacks by people who feared that they would spread the coronavirus through Italy. However, in the Tuscan town of Prato, home to Italy’s single biggest Chinese community, the opposite has been true. Once scapegoats, they are now held up by authorities as a model for early,
Reporters Without Borders has accused the Algerian government of taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to “settle scores” with independent journalists, including those covering long-running anti-government protests. In a statement signed with Algerian non-governmental organizations, the watchdog on Thursday called for the immediate release of its correspondent, Khaled Drareni, who has been in pretrial detention since Sunday after being charged with inciting an unarmed gathering and endangering national unity. Drareni has been arrested several times for covering the “Hirak” anti-government protests held in the capital, Algiers, every Friday since February last year. Imprisoning people during a pandemic is “an act of physical endangerment,”
Vietnam has lodged an official protest with China following the sinking of a Vietnamese fishing boat that it said had been rammed by a Chinese maritime surveillance vessel near islands in the South China Sea. The Vietnamese fishing vessel, with eight fishermen onboard, was fishing near the Paracel Islands (Xisha Islands, 西沙群島) on Thursday when it was rammed and sunk by the Chinese vessel, the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement posted on a government Web site yesterday. All of the fishermen were picked up by the Chinese vessel alive and were transferred to two other Vietnamese fishing vessels
DIVIDED YOUTH: There is a belief that overseas students see themselves as superior, which is compounded by perceptions of their extreme wealth and multiple nationalities Chinese students flying home from overseas to escape the COVID-19 pandemic face a frosty reception from sections of the public who view them as wealthy, spoiled — and potentially contaminated. The number of officially reported cases in China has dwindled dramatically over the last month, but the country is now taking drastic steps to try and stem a second wave of infections brought in from abroad. With most international flights canceled and nearly all foreigners barred from entering the country, the vast majority of returnees are Chinese nationals, including many students. The situation has exposed animosities over class and privilege in Chinese society,