- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 15, 2005

JAPAN

Missile-defense share put near $1.2 billion

TOKYO — Japan expects to shoulder about $1.2 billion, a third of the cost of developing a missile-defense system with the United States, the Defense Agency said yesterday after reports that Tokyo faced an even greater burden.

The close allies have done joint research on missile defense amid growing concern about North Korea, which stunned the world in 1998 by firing a missile over Japan’s main island, and rising tension between Japan and China.

Washington’s initial estimate was for the United States to shoulder $545 million from fiscal 2006 to 2012, the Yomiuri Shimbun had reported. But the amount nearly tripled after Washington extended the period for development to 2014 and recalculated the cost, the mass-circulation daily said.

CHINA

Sixth human case of bird flu confirmed

BEIJING — The Health Ministry confirmed yesterday one more human case of bird flu, the country’s sixth, the official Xinhua News Agency reports. It said a 35-year-old man in Jiangxi province tested positive for bird flu.

A week earlier, on Dec. 8, the ministry announced China’s fifth confirmed human case: a 31-year-old woman in Liaoning province. The fourth case of bird flu involving a 10-year-old girl in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, north of Hainan Island, was announced Dec. 6. The first three cases were confirmed last month in the central Anhui province.

Xinhua said the ministry confirmed yesterday a new outbreak of bird flu in Jiangxi province that killed 1,640 ducks raised by a villager. The H5N1 strain of deadly bird flu was suspected, and a government lab confirmed it. The H5N1 virus, which can jump to humans, has killed at least 72 persons in five Asian countries since 2003.

THAILAND

Islanders welcome tsunami-alert towers

TON SAI — Two tsunami-warning towers now dot the skyline in the idyllic vacation village of Ton Sai on Phi Phi island — a welcome sight to shopkeeper Fatima Thamnakla, 35.

“If it happens again, it will be better than last time,” she told Agence France-Presse, pointing to the towers on the beach. “We won’t know how well the warning system works until it happens again.”

Before waves unleashed by a violent undersea earthquake crashed onto the shores of 11 Indian Ocean countries on Dec. 26, 2004, many governments had no way to warn people of the imminent danger, leading to a death toll of about 217,000.

Weekly notes …

The World Trade Organization announced yesterday that Tonga is about to become its 150th member. The ongoing WTO ministerial conference in Hong Kong that opened Tuesday and will last until Sunday approved the terms of accession for Tonga, the fourth Pacific Island economy to join the WTO after Fiji, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. … “This year is currently the second warmest on record and could end up being the warmest, once all the figures are in,” U.N. World Meteorological Organization Secretary-General Michel Jarraud said at a press conference yesterday. Catastrophic storms took weather extremes to new levels in 2005, he said in issuing an annual report.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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