- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 4, 2003

JAPAN

Koizumi ponders missile defense

TOKYO — Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said yesterday that his government would consider introducing a missile-defense system, boosted by U.S. technology, for protection from North Korea’s ballistic missiles.

“I understand there will be a move in that direction in the course of budget planning,” Mr. Koizumi told reporters at his official residence. “We will make a full study.” He made the comment after the newspaper Mainichi reported that he would convene a meeting shortly to make a formal decision.

His government is to compile a draft budget by the end of the year for the next budget year to March 2005. Japan has been conducting joint research with the United States on developing a missile defense since 1999, a year after North Korea rattled Tokyo by launching a ballistic missile over Japan and into the Pacific Ocean.

TAIWAN

Sovereignty vote termed wake-up call

TAIPEI — Chen Shui-bian, leader of the Republic of China (Taiwan), said yesterday that his plan for a public referendum next year, which has created a brouhaha, is intended to galvanize a public “lacking a sense of crisis.”

He maintained that the goal of his proposed vote on sovereignty, which has plunged relations with Beijing to a new low, is to maintain a cross-straits status quo threatened by Chinese missiles, and is not about reunification or independence.

The people had to realize that China was threatening Taiwan with the deployment of 496 ballistic missiles along the mainland’s southeastern coast, Mr. Chen said. “We urge the world, especially the Asian Pacific region, to realize the military threat from China,” he said.

The question to be put to voters, proposed to be part of the March 20 presidential elections, is being discussed by Mr. Chen’s pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party. The United States, which accepts the one-China policy, opposes any referendum that would change the status quo or move toward independence for Taiwan.

Weekly notes

Pacific islanders in the small nations of Tuvalu, Kiribati and Nauru will need visas to visit New Zealand, starting next week, Immigration Minister Lianne Dalziel announced yesterday in Wellington. Special provision could be made for visitors who already have scheduled travel to New Zealand and don’t have time to apply for a visa, she said. … Tensions rose in Sanya, China, yesterday among the 106 Miss World hopefuls amid frantic last-minute preparations after four grueling weeks of photo shoots, dieting and rehearsals. After two weeks of touring Xian, Shanghai and Beijing, the young women vying to replace reigning titleholder Miss Turkey are keyed up before the competition in southern Hainan province tomorrow.

From wire dispatches and staff reports


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