- The Washington Times - Friday, March 8, 2002

Japan denies pressure curbed sunken-ship probe

TOKYO Japan denied yesterday that pressure from China forced it to cut short a probe into a suspected North Korean spy ship sunk by the Japanese coast guard in the East China Sea.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda said vessels sent to search for the ship had withdrawn from China's 200-nautical-mile economic zone because the investigation was over. A day earlier in Beijing, Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan told reporters: "As a result of China's representations, the Japanese investigation boats have … withdrawn from the area."

The Japanese coast guard used five ships to locate the sunken ship and examine it with ultrasound equipment and remotely controlled cameras. The mystery ship, sunk Dec. 22 in a sea battle with the coast guard, looked like a fishing vessel but carried machine guns.

Cambodia says UNHCR smuggled Montagnards

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia The government has accused the U.N. refugee agency of smuggling 63 asylum seekers from Vietnam's Central Highlands into Cambodia.

Phnom Penh made the accusation, which the world body dismissed as "absurd," on Wednesday. The government deported 63 Montagnard asylum seekers over the weekend, hours after they had crossed into northeastern Cambodia.

The deportation was criticized by the U.N. human rights envoy to Cambodia and the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), who said their staff tried to prevent it.

Seing Lapresse, Cambodia's undersecretary of state for foreign affairs, told reporters: "According to … the Interior [Ministry], UNHCR officials transported the so-called ethnic Vietnamese Montagnards from Vietnam … across the border to the refugee camp" on the Cambodian side.

Indonesian factories said humiliating women

SYDNEY, Australia Poorly paid women workers at an Indonesian shoe factory supplying Nike and Adidas forgo unpaid menstrual leave to which they are entitled by law because of the humiliating "proof" required, a report said yesterday.

Tim Connor, campaign coordinator for Australia-based Oxfam NikeWatch and author of the report, said Indonesian law provides two days of unpaid menstrual leave per month. However, at the main Indonesian factory supplying the sports-goods firms, women had to pull down their pants in front of female factory doctors to prove they were menstruating.

"Very few workers are willing to suffer this humiliation," said the report of the investigation, based on the accounts of 35 workers in West Java producing for both companies.

Weekly notes

The youngest son of Gen. Suharto, Indonesia's former strongman, was formally charged yesterday with the killing of a Supreme Court justice in a case seen as a test of Indonesia's legal system. The trial of Hutomo Mandala Putra, known as "Tommy," was expected to begin in a week to 10 days, a court clerk said. … An American tourist was found dead yesterday in his room at a guest house in Phnom Penh, Cambodia's capital. Police said they were investigating the cause of death, but California-born James Arthur Webb, 54, was described by his landlord as having suffered from chronic heart disease.

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