- The Washington Times - Friday, January 23, 2004

Excerpts of editorials from newspapers around the world:

Japan Times

Reform key to Koizumi’s future

TOKYO — In his policy speech to the Diet on Monday, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi spent a considerable amount of time trying to convince a public that is skeptical about sending Self-Defense Force troops to Iraq to provide humanitarian aid and assist with reconstruction. It is not clear whether he succeeded in his attempt at persuasion. However, one thing is clear: The troop dispatch to Iraq has expanded the SDF’s nonmilitary roles abroad.

To begin with, Mr. Koizumi provided obvious reasons for the troop dispatch. Creating a stable and democratic government in Iraq, he said, is of great importance not only to the international community but also to Japan, which depends heavily on Mideast oil. If Iraq were to become a terrorist hotbed, he said, the threat of terror would spread around the globe.

Reminding the nation that it had received aid from many countries after World War II, he stressed that Japan should help rebuild war-ravaged Iraq as best it can. …

The “safety factor,” however, continues to dog the debate on troop deployment. Mindful of the risky situation in Iraq, Mr. Koizumi said SDF personnel will not use force; they will operate only in combat-free areas and, in the event of combat taking place in their vicinity, they will suspend their activities, evacuate or take other appropriate steps, pending instructions from the director general of the Defense Agency.

Implicit in these statements is the fear that without utmost security precautions, troops may end up using force in combat. That would be in violation of Article 9 of the Constitution, which places severe restraints on the use of force overseas, as well as the special law on Iraqi reconstruction that limits SDF activities to “noncombat areas.”

Left unsaid, perhaps intentionally, was the related issue of rewriting Article 9.

La Repubblica

The Iowa caucuses

ROME — The immense crowd of people who faced the freezing cold in order to vote in the first Democratic primary has stirred a cold breeze to make [President] Bush and the Republicans shiver.

The experience of all U.S. elections teaches not to read too much into Iowa. But there are two indisputable figures: 75 percent of the state’s citizens are against the war, yet only 18 percent voted for Howard Dean, the candidate whose banner was his fierce opposition to the war. And the success of two moderates John Kerry … and the southerner [John] Edwards, came in the highest electoral turnout since 1972.


Frenzy over the new dinar

[Editor’s note: A new Iraqi currency issued by the Coalition Provisional Authority on Jan. 15 replaced the old dinar bearing Saddam Hussein’s likeness.]

BAGHDAD — Suddenly, we Iraqis discovered that we have a paper currency that is well liked abroad, where people rushed to get it and bid on it constantly until they elevated it to a status it does not deserve. …

Strange. During the former regime we used paper currency that was printed on paper not unlike newsprint, and its printing looked as if it was done in Somalia. Its value was close to zero, because the dinar was worth nothing. …

We are facing a fantasy surrounded by a frenzy that paints a picture of impossible dreams and has turned our days, here in Iraq, into afflictions. The speculators do not know, or do not appreciate the fact that there is a large number of Iraqis whose salaries are paid in dollars. They do not know that the Iraqi citizen used to exchange his $100 monthly salary for 200,000 dinars, but because of the speculation his salary [is now worth only] 100,000 dinars. They do not know that this speculation will put an end to investments in Iraq, because a few weeks ago $10,000 equaled 20 million dinars, while today it is no more than 10 million dinars.

(Translation provided by the Middle East Research Institute, www.memri.org)

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