- The Washington Times - Friday, September 2, 2005

Excerpts of editorials from newspapers around the world:

Asahi Shimbun

Japanese troops in Iraq

TOKYO — The current plan specifies that the 600 Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force personnel stationed in Iraq will be pulled out in mid-December. It will take several months to accomplish a safe withdrawal, including preparation. If they are really to come home, they must start preparing now. Whether to again extend their stay or pull them out should be a major point of contention in the campaign for the upcoming Lower House election.

The manifesto of the Liberal Democratic Party is vague, saying: “We will pursue the SDF dispatch overseas in view of international cooperation and national interests in the future.” It does not clearly state if it will either pull the troops out or extend their stint in Iraq.

Meanwhile, the campaign manifesto of Minshuto [the rival Democratic Party of Japan] calls for the unit to be withdrawn by the end of December. It touches upon the rising deaths and injuries from terrorist attacks and deteriorating security in and around Samawah, and it provides a clearly reasoned explanation of the party’s stance. Minshuto should be particularly applauded for its manifesto that includes a specific timetable.

However, there are concerns that Japan-U.S. relations may be undermined if the SDF is withdrawn. …

Regardless of the outcome — withdrawal or extension — the ruling and opposition parties must squarely and clearly debate the issue by showing reasons.

Egyptian Gazette

Iraq’s constitution

CAIRO — The Iraqi parliament’s endorsement of the country’s controversial charter is unlikely to end the ominous divisions there. There are growing signs that the constitution, hammered out under U.S. pressure, will fuel Iraq’s woes.

The Bush administration, facing renewed criticism over its rationale for the bloody Iraq war, was too impatient for the birth of the constitution when President George W. Bush went public with his personal call on the Iraqi politicians to stop haggling and finish the job.

This personal, open interference has raised suspicions, particularly of the Sunnis, over the whole business. The Sunnis, the once-dominant power under Saddam Hussein, feel sidelined as the majority Shi’ites as well as the Kurds emerge as the new power brokers in post-Saddam Iraq. The draft constitution has drawn public criticism from the Sunnis, with some of their top clerics warning that the document would be a prescription for sectarianism.

The big irony is that the charter will end neither the tribulations of the Iraqis nor the political predicament of the Bush administration, which is accused of waging an unethical and unjustified war in Iraq.

London Daily Telegraph

Textile tiff with China

No one would deny that China, through its size, rapid growth and low wages, presents a unique challenge to Western manufacturers. Yet the behavior of the European Union in its textile dispute with Beijing has been both shortsighted and muddled. Peter Mandelson, the trade commissioner, failed to dissuade the protectionist lobby in France, Italy, Spain and Eastern Europe from seeking a deal which has placed restrictions on exports of 10 categories of Chinese clothing, including sweaters, trousers, T-shirts and bras. …

Having been persuaded against his better judgment to negotiate a deal with China, Mr. Mandelson has since given the impression of not knowing which way to turn. First, he unfairly blamed retailers for ordering goods which then piled up at European ports. On Sunday, reminding us of his initial skepticism on trade restrictions, he turned his fire on the commission of which he is a member, EU governments and China. He has given confusing signals on the probable shortfall in deliveries to European retailers, and now finds himself desperately seeking a concession from Beijing before [British Prime Minister] Tony Blair leads an EU delegation to a summit there next week.

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