- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 22, 2007

JAPAN

Tokyo governor amasses challengers

TOKYO — The race to become Tokyo’s next governor began yesterday with more than a dozen candidates competing to block incumbent Shintaro Ishihara, 74, from a third term.

A street musician, a taxi driver, a feng-shui authority and a fortune teller are among the contenders challenging the novelist turned politician, known for his nationalist views.

Mr. Ishihara, whose views on Japan’s militarist past have frequently riled Asian neighbors, wants another four years in office. He is known for his support of Taiwan and criticism of China, and is accused by opponents of spending too much time on celebrity appearances.

VIETNAM

Communists assert one-party rule

HANOI — Communist Vietnam, under pressure on human rights, stressed in the state-controlled press yesterday that it will act against dissidents who challenge one-party rule.

The deputy security minister said Vietnam would defend its political system against pro-democracy activists, several of whom have been detained, according to an English-language online newspaper report.

“The Vietnamese constitution states that Vietnam has a one-party political system,” Lt. Gen. Nguyen Van Huong, the deputy public security minister, told the Thanh Nien daily. “It’s illegal if some people want to establish another party,” he was quoted as telling a U.S. diplomat this month.

CHINA

Prime minister to visit Japan

BEIJING — China, whose disputes with Japan predate World War II, hopes Prime Minister Wen Jiabao’s upcoming visit will be a success in narrowing differences, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said yesterday.

Mr. Wen is expected to visit Japan in mid-April. The first visit there in seven years by a Chinese prime minister “will be an extremely important one,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said at a press conference.

“We are doing our best to make Prime Minister Wen Jiabao’s visit to Japan a success,” Mr. Liu added. A delegation of senior Chinese legislators left yesterday for Tokyo to prepare the way for Mr. Wen’s visit, Xinhua news agency said.

Weekly notes …

Japan yesterday defended Foreign Minister Taro Aso’s suggestion Wednesday that Japanese can help in the Middle East peace process more than Americans, citing Tokyo’s initiative to build a business park to ease the income gap between Palestinians and Israelis. “Japanese are trusted,” the gaffe-prone minister said. “If you have blue eyes and blond hair, it probably won’t work. Fortunately, we have yellow faces.” … Australian authorities yesterday turned off for 48 hours the tap of a householder who repeatedly ignored tough water restrictions introduced to counter the country’s worst drought in a century. Victoria state’s City West Water said the man continued to ignore restrictions and wash his car, despite a formal warning letter and requests from water patrol officers.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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