Fri, Feb 02, 2007 - Page 7 News List

World News Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ Japan
Minister refuses to go

A minister yesterday refused to step down for disparaging women as "child-bearing machines" as the opposition boycotted parliament to demand he quit. "I want to do my best at the job I've been given," Health Minister Hakuo Yanagisawa told reporters. The opposition camp boycotted the parliament session for the second straight day to demand Yanagisawa step down.

■ Japan

Drug crackdown working

A crackdown on a drug trafficking ring with links to North Korea and other anti-narcotic operations has sharply reduced the flow of illegal drugs into the nation, sending prices surging, police said yesterday. With stricter inspections and more patrols, authorities exposed 77 alleged smugglers last year, almost twice the number reported the year before, according to figures released by the National Police Agency. The price of amphetamines is up tenfold from 2002, according to the police's annual report.

■ South Korea

North Korean teens suffer

North Korean children experience stunted growth in their early teens due to chronic malnutrition, a scholar said yesterday. Park Sun-young, an anthropology professor at Seoul National University, surveyed 1,192 North Korean child defectors. Children aged between two and 14 at the time they left showed no major differences with South Korean counterparts in terms of growth, she told Yonhap news agency. A 2004 survey of 2,300 North Korean defectors showed that the average adult North Korean men and women are respectively 5.9 centimeters and 4.1 centimeters shorter than their South Korean counterparts.

■ Hong Kong
Mothers-to-be not welcome

New rules aimed at barring heavily pregnant women from mainland China abusing Hong Kong's hospital system came into effect yesterday. Immigration officers at the border were under orders to stop any woman more than seven months pregnant and refuse them entry to the territory unless they had a hospital appointment. By mid-day there were no figures available for the number of women who had been turned away, although television pictures showed some being questioned. A government spokesman said a tally would be issued later in the day.

■ Pakistan

Six rapists arrested

Police have arrested six men who allegedly raped a teenage girl and forced her to parade naked through a village in a so-called "honor punishment," officials said on Wednesday. The men kidnapped the 16-year-old girl in Habib Labalo village in southern Sindh Province on Saturday because her cousin had an affair with a woman from their family, local police officer Aftab Farooqi said. Two of them raped her and other members of the group later forced her to walk naked through the streets before villagers intervened, Farooqi said quoting the girl's family members and local residents.

■ China

Vote-buyers prosecuted

Beijing has prosecuted 192 officials for vote-buying and electoral fraud in the current round of village elections across the country, state media reported yesterday. The Chinese Communist Party allows limited direct elections in 680,000 villages across the country. But it has resisted calls for elections at township, county, provincial and national levels. The appointments of 613 officials were annulled in elections for local party committees, heads of local people's congresses, local governments and advisory bodies that began last year and will finish in 2007, the Shanghai Daily said.

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