- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 27, 2006

NORTH KOREA

Disaster death toll reaches 154

SEOUL — The death toll from floods and landslides in North Korea this month has risen to at least 154, with 127 others missing, the United Nations said.

More than 31,000 houses were destroyed and about 17,000 families left homeless, the world body said in a report this week.

The disaster has damaged about 74,000 acres of arable land, which could lead to a loss of 100,000 tons of food — about 10 percent of the country’s annual food shortfall.

North Korea’s state television said yesterday that leader Kim Jong-il sent a message to Chinese President Hu Jintao about the floods. But the Pyongyang government has no plans to appeal for international help, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said.

CHINA

Activist’s injury called self-inflicted

BEIJING — Chinese investigators have concluded that an activist who said he was paralyzed after assailants broke his neck inflicted the injury on himself, his son said yesterday.

“We cannot accept this decision,” said Fu Bing, whose father, Fu Xiancai, criticized the government’s treatment of people who were forced to relocate as a result of the Three Gorges dam project.

Fu Xiancai was injured June 8, three weeks after German public television broadcast an interview in which he said he had been threatened and beaten for complaining about inadequate compensation for relocated residents.

JAPAN

Finance minister aims to succeed Koizumi

TOKYO — Japan’s finance minister yesterday became the first announced candidate to succeed Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, who plans to step down in September.

Sadakazu Tanigaki, who is seen as a long shot, said he would seek to soothe relations with Japan’s neighbors and bolster the economy.

Polls indicate Shinzo Abe, the chief Cabinet spokesman, is a strong favorite to replace Mr. Koizumi, though he has not announced his candidacy.

Weekly notes …

A Vietnamese dissident was released from a South Korean prison yesterday after a court turned down a Vietnamese government request for his extradition. Nguyen Huu Chanh, 55, was arrested April 5, acting on a Vietnamese extradition request. Hanoi has blamed him for a series of failed attempts to bomb the Vietnamese Embassy in Bangkok in 2001. … Cambodia will have a Miss Cambodia for the first time in 11 years in 2006, but she won’t be wearing a swimsuit, Sim Sarak, director general of the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, told Kyodo News yesterday. There were Miss Cambodia competitions in 1993 and 1995, but no contest has been held since because of budget shortages.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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