- The Washington Times - Monday, February 26, 2007

Samurai soldiers

The Japanese ambassador praised wounded U.S. veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq for their valor, honor and loyalty and compared them to ancient Japanese samurai warriors.

“Although our two cultures are different, in many ways you represent what we Japanese call the samurai spirit,” Ambassador Ryozo Kato told about 70 veterans and their families at a dinner last week at his residence. He explained that “samurai” is an “ancient Japanese word that means ‘to serve.’ ”

“Samurai served with valor, with honor, with loyalty, with respectful, ethical behavior. They served with pride. They served with noble selflessness,” he said. “So have you. You honor this residence by your presence here tonight.”

Mr. Kato also read a message from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who pledged Japan’s continued support of the United States in the war on terrorism and thanked the troops for their sacrifice.

“I also appreciate the efforts of your families because their devotion and support are indispensable for your accomplishments,” Mr. Abe said. “Mindful of the contributions of those who cannot share this moment with us tonight, I extend my profound condolences for your colleagues whose lives were lost in the struggle for freedom.”

He reminded the audience that his country will “always stand with the United States in the face of the difficult challenges of the international community.”

“Let me tell you why this dinner is meaningful to Japan,” he said. “Japan is a close ally of the United States a close ally in the war on terror.”

Japan had 650 ground forces in Iraq from 2004 until September 2006. It still maintains 200 troops in Kuwait to provide airlift services for the coalition and 350 sailors on two ships in the Indian Ocean for refueling operations.

Other guests at the Friday night dinner included Paul Wolfowitz, president of the World Bank; Gordon England, deputy secretary of defense; and Adm. Edmund Giambastiani, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The Japanese Embassy yesterday announced that Mr. Abe’s government has approved $104.5 million grant to assist Iraq through the U.N. Development Program, the U.N. Children’s Fund, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, the International Organization for Migration, the World Food Program and the World Health Organization.

The projects include $38 million for the rehabilitation of the Ramadi and Tikrit hospitals; $12 million for medical assistance to the victims of land mines and chemical weapons in the Kurdistan region; $7 million for medical assistance for women and children; and $5 million to help internal refugees.

Philippines warning

The U.S. ambassador in the Philippines yesterday urged the government to stop the military from killing political dissidents, whom the army has accused of waging a terrorist campaign.

Ambassador Kristie Kenney’s warning followed the findings of an investigation by a government commission and an envoy from the United Nations that implicate top military commanders in what they called political assassinations.

“Human rights are critical to every country that is a democracy, and I think the important thing now is the government of the Philippines has put together some very good ideas. Let’s get them into action,” the ambassador told reporters in the capital, Manila.

“Let’s beef up the human rights in the Armed Forces of the Philippines and make every effort to investigate, prosecute those responsible, exonerate the innocent.”

The military, accused of killing 800 people since 2001, has argued that those targeted for death are leaders of a communist insurgency that controls large areas of the country.

Ignacio Bunye, spokesman for President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, on Sunday said the government will follow the recommendations of the commission to establish a witness-protection program to shelter those who testify against the military and create a special court to handle the cases.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail [email protected]

washingtontimes.com.

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