- The Washington Times - Friday, December 25, 2009

JAPAN

Corruption charges taint prime minister

TOKYO | Two former aides to Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama were charged Thursday with falsifying reports of campaign contributions - dashing his promise of a new, cleaner era in the country’s politics.

Mr. Hatoyama bowed deeply at a hastily called news conference, apologizing for the misdeeds of the aides, whom prosecutors accuse of listing dead people as donors to hide the source of some money, as well as underreporting some donations.

Mr. Hatoyama rose to power in August partially on the promise that he would end the corruption scandals that many had come to expect of the Liberal Democrats, who ruled the country for most of the past 50 years. His popularity has already begun to wane just 100 days into his tenure, but he refused to resign.

AFGHANISTAN

Suicide bombing kills 8 in Kandahar

KABUL | A suicide bomber with a horse and cart detonated himself Thursday in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar, killing eight people and wounding five, a senior police officer said.

The explosion occurred outside the Kandahar provincial health ministry directorate and a guesthouse sometimes used by foreigners, deputy provincial Police Chief Sazel Ahmad Shairzad said.

“Five of the dead were killed while sitting in a car nearby,” he said, adding that one was a policeman.

The other three dead were passers-by, he added.

Taliban denials of involvement in the attack were dismissed as the militants often distance themselves from operations that claim high numbers of civilians.

NORTH KOREA

Rewards for soldiers who nab Americans

SEOUL | North Korea has commended two soldiers who apprehended a pair of American journalists earlier this year along the country’s border with China, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported Thursday.

Journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee, captured in March while reporting a story on North Korean defectors, were sentenced to 12 years of hard labor for trespassing and “hostile acts” against North Korea. They were held in a Pyongyang guesthouse until the North pardoned them in early August after a landmark trip by former President Bill Clinton.

After their release, the Americans wrote that they briefly crossed into the North but were “violently dragged” back from China by two North Korean border guards.

The two soldiers appeared in a North Korean state television program broadcast Thursday to mark the 18th anniversary of leader Kim Jong-il’s assumption of command of the country’s army, Yonhap reported. The program’s anchor said Mr. Kim has given them an award for apprehending the journalists.

INDIA

India loosens new visa rules

MUMBAI | India softened its stand Thursday on plans to tighten rules for Indian visas that were drafted after the arrest of a Chicago man alleged to have prior knowledge of the Mumbai attacks.

On complaints from foreign missions about a proposal to restrict travelers on long-term multiple-entry tourist visas from entering India within two months of their last departure from India, the government said it would make some allowances.

Bonafide tourists who planned to visit another country and re-enter India “may be permitted two or three entries, as the case may be, subject to their submission of a detailed itinerary and supporting documentation,” a Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

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