Minister receives threat
Trade Minister Toshihiro Nikai received a letter along with a razor blade in the mail, threatening him not to flatter Beijing, media reports said yesterday. Nikai is one of the few ministers in Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's Cabinet who has personal contacts with Chinese politicians. "Don't pander to China. You're handing over Japan's assets and riches," said the letter, according to the reports quoting Tokyo police. "We urge you to commit suicide," it added.
Crook flight to be curbed
Authorities yesterday vowed to stop suspected economic criminals fleeing abroad. Gao Feng, an official at the Ministry of Public Security, said about 800 suspected economic criminals had escaped in recent years and more than 300 of them had been repatriated in cases involving more than 70 billion yuan (US$8.73 billion). "The Ministry of Public Security has intensified cooperation with the Audit Commission, People's Bank of China and the State Administration of Taxation ... to prevent suspects from transferring money and running away," Gao told a news conference.
Condemned man given stay
President General Pervez Musharraf has granted an indefinite stay of execution for a British-Pakistani man who was set to hang next month for the killing of a taxi driver 18 years ago, the man's brother said yesterday. Mirza Tahir Hussain, now 35, was acquitted of murder by the high court 10 years ago, but an Islamic court imposed a death penalty two years later. Rights groups have protested his trial was unfair, and British Prime Minister Tony Blair last week urged Musharraf to reconsider the sentence.
Half-baked beans risky
Dieters were warned to stay away from half-cooked kidney beans on Monday after a dieting method aired on TV made at least 158 people sick. In a program aired earlier this month, Tokyo Broadcasting System Inc encouraged people to eat rice sprinkled with lightly roasted white kidney beans to lose weight. But at least 158 people who tried the method developed symptoms of nausea and diarrhea, including 30 who were hospitalized, the Health Ministry said on Monday. White kidney beans contain lectin, a protein that can cause diarrhea if the beans aren't heated thoroughly, according to health officials.
Floods kill at least five
Flash floods triggered by days of heavy rain killed at least five people and trapped thousands of others on rooftops and inside trains in northern Thailand, officials said yesterday. Officials said the death toll was expected to rise as outlying villages hit by landslides were reached by rescuers. The floods, following three days of rain, inundated several towns in the provinces of Nan, Phrae, Lampang, Sukhothai and Uttaradit and caused landslips in the mountainous region, officials said. In Uttaradit's Lablae district, more than 2,000 people were trapped on the roofs of their houses or in trees, said Nitipat Pimpiriyakul, chief of the provincial Disaster Prevention and Rescue Center.
China to give big dollars
Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing (李肇星) announced a 20 million yuan (US$2.5 million) aid package to Mauritania on Monday and pledged to encourage more Chinese companies to invest in the West African country. The Islamic republic, which lies on the western edge of the Sahara and straddles black and Arab Africa, began pumping oil in February and sold its first cargo to China, whose rapid industrialization has boosted its thirst for minerals and crude. "China will continue to support and aid Mauritania," Li said. He also thanked Mauritania for supporting the principle of a "united China" by recognizing Beijing's sovereignty over Taiwan.