- The Washington Times - Friday, October 25, 2002

Resistance in Tokyo slows bad-loan write-offs

TOKYO A battle is raging in Japan about how to erase bad loans from the banking system and halt deflation, with old-guard politicians opposing radical reforms as Tokyo prepares new measures to boost the economy.

Stiff resistance from ruling-party lawmakers and weak financial institutions has already forced Financial Services Minister Heizo Takenaka to cancel the release of an interim report on accelerating bad-loan disposals.

Mr. Takenaka said Wednesday that a final report on bad loans and a government policy to deal with them would not be out until month's end. But Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi plans to outline measures today to revive the recession-weary economy.

Hanoi trial slated for Internet essayist

HANOI Internet essayist Le Chi Quang, detained for criticizing Vietnam's 1999 border agreements with China, will go on trial next week, the Committee to Protect Journalists said yesterday.

Mr. Quang, 32, was arrested Feb. 21 and has been held at B14 prison in the Thanh Tri district outside the capital since. His arrest was part of a crackdown on intellectuals and dissidents who used the Internet to circulate news or opinion banned from the tightly controlled state press.

On Oct. 14 several Hanoi-based writers and intellectuals wrote an open letter to the government demanding the immediate release of Mr. Quang. He will appear in court Monday for trial on national security charges, the committee said, citing unnamed Vietnamese sources.

Government officials in Hanoi could not immediately be contacted to confirm the trial date. If convicted, Mr. Quang faces three to 12 years in jail. This month the government announced that all Vietnam-based Web sites will require a license to prevent "poisonous or harmful" information from threatening Vietnamese culture and national security.

Indonesia to blacklist Islamic militant group

JAKARTA, Indonesia The government increased pressure on Jemaah Islamiah militants yesterday by saying it will ask the United Nations to put the group suspected of being behind the Bali bombings on its terrorist list.

The announcement came as police scoured the vast archipelago of 17,000 islands and 210 million people for three suspects and hours after the United States branded the group a "foreign terrorist organization."

Foreign Ministry spokesman Marty Natalegawa said that getting Jemaah Islamiah on the U.N. list would mean a "freeze without delay of any funds or financial assets owned by that organization" and hamper the movement of members across borders.

The Bali bombs killed more than 180 people Oct. 12.

Weekly notes

Cambodia's Information Ministry has ordered an independent radio station to stop broadcasting news reports from Voice of America and Radio Free Asia, officials said yesterday. Ministry spokesman Khieu Kanharith said Beehive Radio must stop the broadcasts immediately because its programs threaten to "cause anarchy in news broadcasting." Taiwan has invited Malaysians to travel to the island free of charge for the first two weeks of November as part of a tourism drive. During that period, Malaysian citizens can apply for an entry visa upon landing for a stay of as long as 30 days rather than submit an application before leaving home. Kuala Lumpur recognizes Beijing but trades with Taipei.

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