Compensation fund to close
A private fund used to compensate women forced into World War II brothels run by the Japanese army will be dissolved in March 2007, officials said yesterday. Critics decried the decision, saying it reflected Japan's refusal to take responsibility for the former "comfort women." Since its establish-ment in 1995, the fund has raised a total of ?560 million (US$5.4 million) and given ?2 million each in compen-sation to 285 women.
N Koreans flee to school
Eight North Koreans believed to be asylum seekers entered a Japanese school in Beijing yesterday morning, Japan's Jiji Press reported, quoting Japanese Embassy officials.
The eight North Koreans -- one man, five women and two children -- entered the Japanese school at 4am and they were later sent to Japanese Embassy in Beijing, the report said. It was the fourth time North Koreans entered the school.
■ Hong Kong
Massager traps woman
Firefighters came to the rescue when a woman's foot was trapped in a massage machine that she tried out at a Hong Kong department store, police said yesterday. The 44-year-old woman surnamed Lau was testing the OTO Big Foot massage machine on Sunday when she felt a sharp pain in her left foot and couldn't remove it, police spokeswoman Trish Leung said. Firefighters dismantled the machine and Lau was sent to a hospital and later discharged, Leung said. OTO Bodycare, the machine's manufacturer, withdrew the product following the incident, newspapers reported.
PM says `no quarelling'
Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has turned down calls for pre-election debates with his opponents on the grounds that "quarrelling in public" is un-Thai, media reports said yesterday. "It's not Thai to have senior people quarrelling in public," Thaksin said in response to challenges by his opponents in the upcoming Feb. 6 polls to face off in public debates. Thaksin, who head the Thai Rak Thai party, won the January 2001 election on a populist platform and is slated to easily win next month's polls given his strong performance in office. "People don't want debaters. They want someone who works," Thaksin told The Nation newspaper.
■ New Zealand
Israeli spoilt milk
A 30-year-old Israeli working in New Zealand could be jailed for 10 years after becoming the first person to face a charge of deliberately contaminating food, crops or water intended for human consumption. The man was charged after antibiotics were detected in a silo of 40,000 liters of milk on a South Island dairy farm, the New Zealand Press Association reported. The contamination was discovered when a sample of the milk was routinely tested as it was being taken away for processing.
Tycoon sentenced to death
An entertainment and property tycoon in southeast China has been sentenced to death for running a prosti-tution and gambling ring in a case that exposes the close ties between organized crime and officialdom. Chen Kai, who also sought a political career, was senten-ced over the weekend at a court in Fuzhou, the city where he committed his crimes and bribed 50 offic-ials to look the other way, the China Daily reported.
Ex-minister faces jail
A former justice minister and leading member of Ireland's Fianna Fail party faced a possible prison term yesterday after he admitted evading tax. Ray Burke, who resigned from Prime Minister Bertie Ahern's administration in 1997 after being accused of accepting bribes, pleaded guilty last year to filing false tax returns in 1993 -- a year when the government gave people hiding money from tax collectors the chance to declare it without penalty. Burke admitted failing to declare cash deposits of 91,980 Irish pounds (about US$140,000) and failing to reveal about US$40,000 in other income, including secret donations from property developers.