Kitera is new envoy to China
Tokyo yesterday appointed a new ambassador to China, months after the last nominee died before he could take up his post and as tensions simmer between Tokyo and Beijing over disputed territory. Career diplomat Masato Kitera’s appointment will be effective on Monday, the foreign ministry said, while local media reported that the 60-year-old will be dispatched to Beijing next month to formally succeed Uichiro Niwa. Kitera joined the ministry in 1976 and is currently assistant chief Cabinet secretary in the prime minister’s office.
North warns of repeat attack
North Korea has threatened to attack a South Korean island over what it calls Seoul’s provocative claim that it was victorious in a deadly artillery exchange there two years ago. North Korea shelled the front-line island in November 2010, killing two marines and two civilians. South Korea returned fire, but Pyongyang says it suffered no military casualties. South Korean marines plan to open a “victorious battle memorial hall” on Yeonpyeong Island this week to mark its second anniversary. An unidentified spokesman at the North Korean military’s southwestern front command said yesterday that the South’s moves were aimed at sparking a war and would lead to “the second Yeonpyeong Island disaster.” The North has made similar threats before.
Ninety ‘kidnappers’ nabbed
Police have arrested 90 gang suspects across the nation and freed 28 children who were allegedly kidnapped from the far west and taken to various cities to steal, the China Daily said yesterday. “Suspected gang members ‘beat, abused or threatened’ these young children to force them to steal and rob in public places,” it quoted Ministry of Public Security spokesman Huang Shihai as saying. Authorities carried out the operation last month in Beijing and various provinces as part of a campaign launched in April last year that has netted 2,700 suspects and rescued 2,300 children.
Halt private armies: HRW
Human Rights Watch (HRW) yesterday urged President Benigno Aquino III to do more to break up private armed groups, three years after 58 people were killed in the country’s worst political massacre. HRW Asia director Brad Adams said the government had failed to disband dozens of “private armies” following the Nov. 23, 2009, massacre in Maguindanao that was blamed on a powerful local clan. “Three years since the horrors of the Maguindanao massacre, the trial crawls along, half of the suspects remain at large, and the victims’ families still face threats,” Adams said in a statement. Aquino spokesman Ramon Carandang said police had carried out raids against such groups, leading to some arrests. He cited an interior department report that showed only about 60 private armed groups remained, compared with 112 at the end of 2010.
PRC passports draw protest
Manila has protested China’s depiction of its claims over the entire South China Sea in an image of a map printed on newly issued Chinese e-passports. In a note he sent to the Chinese embassy in Manila that he read to reporters yesterday, Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said Manila “strongly protests” Beijing’s inclusion in the new passport of the image, which shows China’s claimed maritime borders. Del Rosario said China’s claims include an area that is “clearly part of the Philippines’ territory and maritime domain.”