- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 22, 2004

JAPAN

U.N. contribution due for sharp cutback

TOKYO — Japan, a major provider of money to the United Nations, plans to cut its contributions substantially to the organization beginning in 2006, Kyodo News reports.

Tokyo is expected to spend about $1.24 billion on the United Nations during the next fiscal year, starting in April. The sum accounts for nearly one-fifth of the U.N. budget. The U.S. contribution also exceeds $1 billion a year.

A senior Finance Ministry official told Kyodo on Wednesday the reduction, which could amount to millions of dollars, reflects Tokyo’s fiscal austerity as Japan’s long economic slowdown shrinks tax revenues and investments. Contributions to the U.N. budget are based loosely on each country’s economic power.

Japan’s gross domestic product accounts for more than 14 percent of the world economy, but its payments amount to 19 percent of the U.N. budget.

THAILAND

Boy has bird flu; cover-up charged

BANGKOK — A Thai senator said yesterday that a boy had become the first person in the country to test positive for bird flu and accused the government of a cover-up for repeatedly denying the outbreak had reached the kingdom.

“The case in Suphan Buri [province] has tested positive,” said Sen. Nirun Phitakwatchara, a medical doctor who is also chairman of the parliament’s Social Development and Human Security Committee.

He accused Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s government of lying about the deadly disease affecting parts of Asia in order to protect its valuable poultry industry — the region’s largest.

TAIWAN

TV airs police raid on homosexual orgy

TAIPEI — TV footage of 92 homosexual men dressed only in their underpants and hiding their faces after a police raid provoked outcry over their rights after blood tests ordered by authorities found 28 of the men had HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

The display has outraged awareness groups, who criticized the media’s role in broadcasting police videotapes of the raid on the drug-and-sex orgy, saying it shows lingering antihomosexual sentiment in Taiwan, which is considering becoming the first country in Asia to legalize homosexual “marriages.”

Weekly notes …

A Philippine tribunal yesterday ordered the immediate transfer to the government of $683 million in illegally accumulated funds from Swiss bank accounts of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos. The Supreme Court ruled in November that Marcos illegally accumulated the money — totaling $356 million when discovered in 1986 — during his 20-year rule. The amount grew with interest. … Bangladeshi Prime Minister Khaleda Zia will begin a four-day official visit today to Indonesia and Brunei, the official Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha news agency said. She will be the guest of honor tomorrow at a banquet hosted by Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri and later will travel to Brunei for talks with Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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