Ambassador opposes Japanese whale hunt
TOKYO — Australian Ambassador to Japan Murray McLean has expressed opposition to Japan’s plan to expand its scientific research whaling program in the 2005-06 hunting season, which is expected to be on the agenda of the plenary session of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) opening Monday.
“There is a great concern with this new program, … [which will mean] significantly increasing [target] whales. If it were approved by the IWC, it will be an extremely unfortunate matter,” Mr. McLean told Japan’s Kyodo News.
Canberra is an outspoken critic of Tokyo’s scientific research whaling program and its efforts to lift a 1982 moratorium on commercial whaling. Japan’s new plan to expand its research whaling catch in the Antarctic Ocean to humpback and fin whales and nearly double its catch of minke whales has provoked a new outcry in Australia, which has a thriving whale-watching industry.
2 crewmen arrested in tanker hijacking
KUALA LUMPUR — Police announced yesterday the arrest of two crewmen from a tanker hijacked by Indonesian pirates Tuesday, saying they think it was an inside job.
Ten pirates boarded the tanker loaded with diesel off Malaysia’s Langkawi island, but their plans were foiled when a quick-thinking sailor raced off in their speedboat, stranding them on the vessel. He returned with five police patrol boats, and after a tense standoff, the pirates surrendered.
Kedah state police Chief Datuk Mohamed Supian Amat told the Star newspaper that an Indonesian crew member and an unidentified officer were thought to have alerted the pirates to the ship, which was en route from Singapore to Burma.
Farm worker tests positive for bird flu
JAKARTA — Health authorities yesterday reported Indonesia’s first human case of bird flu, saying a farm worker had tested positive for the disease that killed 54 persons in Southeast Asia in the past two years.
Tests in Hong Kong found that the worker, from South Sulawesi province, had been infected with the potentially deadly H5N1 strain of the virus, although he is healthy and shows no symptoms, said Health Ministry official Wilfried Purba, who added that a blood sample from the man carried a concentration of antibodies.
Steven Bjorge, a World Health Organization expert in Jakarta, said Indonesia’s first human case was not a cause for major concern.
“Technically, we’re not calling it a case. We found someone with serum positive, meaning he has an antibody,” Mr. Bjorge said.
Weekly notes …
The United States will examine “other options” than the stalled six-party talks aimed at ending North Korea’s atomic arms program if Pyongyang fails to return to the negotiating table, said Christopher Ford, a senior U.S. official and member of the U.S. delegation to the International Atomic Energy Agency. The talks among North and South Korea, the United States, China, Russia and Japan have been on hold for a year because Pyongyang has boycotted them, saying Washington’s policy is hostile. … Another day of torrential rain worsened widespread flooding in southern Taiwan yesterday, as the death toll rose to 10 with one person missing. The floods, among the worst on the island in recent years, has left about 800 people homeless.
From wire dispatches and staff reports