- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 20, 2005

JAPAN

Politician speculates on N. Korea collapse

TOKYO — Japan may need to compile a policy on Pyongyang taking into consideration the prospect that the regime led by North Korean leader Kim Jong-il may collapse, Tsutomu Takebe, secretary-general of the governing Liberal Democratic Party, said yesterday.

“People in North Korea have been suffering from human-rights infringement, and it is unforgivable from the humanitarian standpoint. We need to consider issues of North Korea by taking into account the possibility of a collapse of its regime,” Mr. Takebe said in a Tokyo speech.

He indicated the hereditary communist regime may implode, depending on steps that Japan and other countries take. Calls are growing in Japan for economic sanctions after North Korea’s failure to provide trustworthy accounts about 10 Japanese kidnapped by North Korea.

TAIWAN

Cabinet reshuffle set, yet prospects bleak

TAIPEI — The Cabinet of Chen Shui-bian, president of the Republic of China (Taiwan), will resign next week to pave the way for a reshuffle after his party’s defeat in legislative elections, but prospects of a coalition government look dim, analysts said yesterday.

Taiwanese press predict the most important post of prime minister will go to Frank Hsieh, 58, mayor of the port city of Kaohsiung and a heavyweight in Mr. Chen’s independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). Mr. Hsieh would replace Yu Shyi-kun, and is likely to face the same difficulties in the opposition-dominated parliament as his predecessors in the Chen administration because ideological disputes prevent cooperation.

The DPP stands for Taiwan independence while the opposition Nationalist Party and People First Party (PFP), which hold a majority in parliament, are more conciliatory toward Beijing because they support eventual unification with a democratic China.

PHILIPPINES

Baby-formula use alarms UNICEF

MANILA — The United Nations Children’s Fund expressed alarm yesterday over the widespread use of commercial baby formula in the Philippines, saying lack of breast-feeding leads to diseases and deaths.

“In a country where access to safe water is limited, and where 26.5 million persons live in poverty, the high consumption of infant formula is a death sentence to thousands of infants,” said Nicholas Alipui, UNICEF’s Philippines representative. He was reacting to presidential spokesman Ignacio Bunye’s statement that the No. 1 consumer commodity in the Philippines is baby formula.

An infant not exclusively breast-fed is up to 25 times more likely to die from diarrhea and four times more likely to die of pneumonia than a breast-fed baby, Mr. Alipui said. UNICEF estimates that if every infant in the world were breast-fed from birth to six months, the lives of 1.3 million babies could be saved in a year, he said.

Weekly notes

An 18-year-old woman has died of bird flu in Vietnam, bringing the death toll in the country this month to six, as Thailand confirmed yesterday new outbreaks of the virus for the first time this year. The latest deaths take to at least 26 the number of people killed by the H5N1 strain of bird flu in Vietnam since the end of 2003. Twelve have died in Thailand in the same period. … The tiny Caribbean nation of Grenada dumped Taiwan for China yesterday, signing a communique to establish diplomatic ties with Beijing. “The Grenadian government recognizes that there is only one China in the world,” Foreign Minister Elvin Nimrod was quoted by Xinhua news agency as saying.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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