Thursday, September 4, 2003


Koizumi faces rivals for ruling party helm

TOKYO — Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi faced another challenger to his reign over Japan’s ruling party yesterday, but his chances of re-election were boosted by support from a foe of his stalling reform drive.

Former Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura became the third person to announce a bid for Mr. Koizumi’s job as head of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) after former party policy chief Shizuka Kamei and former Transport Minister Takao Fujii.

“I want to run no matter what,” said Mr. Komura, who heads an LDP faction of 16 lawmakers. A candidate for the party leadership election Sept. 20 needs to be endorsed by at least 20 members of the national Diet. But Mikio Aoki, who wields influence in the largest LDP faction, pledged support for Mr. Koizumi’s re-election as LDP chief.


Government to press East Timor claims

JAKARTA — Indonesia will seek compensation for its citizens who lost property in East Timor when ministers from both countries meet in Dili for two days of talks starting today, Foreign Ministry spokesman Marty Natalegawa told reporters.

“But having said that, I think we are open to any win-win type of solution to this situation, not wishing to prolong it any further than required,” he said. Indonesia seized the former Portuguese colony with which it shared the island of Timor in 1975, and relinquished control in October 1999 after East Timorese voted for independence. After 31 months of U.N. stewardship, East Timor became independent in May 2002.

Mr. Natalegawa said Jakarta seeks “proper compensation” for Indonesians who have lost property in East Timor. Prospects are good for a “win-win” solution for firms whose assets could be turned into equities in partnership with East Timorese, he said.


Abandoned fishermen head back to Asia

MOMBASA — Seventeen crew members of two South Korean fishing vessels who were abandoned at sea for 30 months by their employer headed home yesterday after spending months on the decaying vessels in this East African port, said Rosemary Atoti, spokeswoman for a law firm that represented them here.

The eight Vietnamese, five Chinese, two Koreans and two Indonesians of the Beira 7 and Beira 9, both owned by the Mozco firm of Pusan, survived for 30 months after being abandoned at sea without wages or proper food. “They will be pursuing their case from their own countries after enduring much suffering here,” Miss Atoti said.

Weekly notes …

Australian Prime Minister John Howard warned Papua New Guinea yesterday that his government would not back down from its new policy requiring the former Australian trust territory to tackle corruption in exchange for continued aid. He spoke after Papuan Prime Minister Michael Somare rejected a planned visit next week by Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer in anger over Canberra’s aggressive stance. … Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra will visit Singapore for three days starting today to discuss with Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong ways to boost bilateral ties, officials said. They also will exchange views on enhancing regional cooperation in the context of the Oct. 7-8 summit in Bali of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the Foreign Ministry said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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