- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 4, 2006

SOUTH KOREA

‘Protection’ planned over disputed islets

SEOUL — The South Korean government announced yesterday a project to protect the environment and develop natural resources around two disputed islets called Dokdo in South Korea and Takeshima in Japan, seeking to enhance its control over them.

The announcement elicited a protest from Japan, whose foreign minister, Taro Aso, in Brussels as part of an eight-day visit to the United States, Belgium and Lithuania, told reporters that Tokyo had lodged a formal protest to South Korea on Thursday.

THAILAND

ILO reports drop in region’s child labor

BANGKOK — Child labor in Asia and the Pacific is declining, but the region still has some of the highest concentrations of underage workers in the world, the International Labor Organization said yesterday.

The ILO said the number of children working in Asian and Pacific countries fell from 127 million in 2000 to 122 million in 2004. Most of the youngsters have agricultural or domestic-service jobs, the ILO said in its report. Worldwide, the child labor force fell from 246 million to 218 million in that period.

Of these, about 126.3 million are trapped in the worst forms of labor, such as sex trade, mining, military service and drug trafficking.

SOLOMON ISLANDS

Parliament picks new prime minister

HONIARA — Parliament chose an opposition leader as the new prime minister of these troubled Islands yesterday, replacing a politician whose election last month provoked riots over charges of corruption.

Manasseh Sogavare, backed by a four-party coalition, campaigned on pledges to clean up endemic corruption in the South Pacific nation, which relies on foreign peacekeepers to maintain order. Mr. Sogavare told about 200 people gathered outside the parliament building that his selection was a “vote for change.”

Weekly notes

An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.0 struck the area off Tonga in the South Pacific early yesterday, a day after the region was hit by a magnitude 7.8 quake, the U.S. Geological Survey reported. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii issued no tsunami warnings for the latest quake. … Lava flowed yesterday from the rumbling Mount Merapi, Indonesia’s most active volcano, but streams of molten rock stopped far from inhabited areas on its slopes and foothills, a volcanologist said. “Gunung Merapi,” or Fiery Mountain, which killed 70 people in a 1994 eruption and 1,300 in 1930, is one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the Pacific “Ring of Fire” and has been rumbling for weeks. Specialists say an eruption is possible any time.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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