- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 8, 2007


Wartime sex-slave issue re-examined

TOKYO — Under intense pressure from Asia and the United States, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said yesterday that ruling party lawmakers will conduct a fresh investigation into the Japanese military’s forced sexual slavery of women during World War II.

Mr. Abe provoked outrage in China, North and South Korea and the Philippines last week by saying there was no proof the women were coerced. He said on Monday that Japan would not apologize again for the Japanese military’s “comfort stations.”

Mr. Abe also faces pressure from the United States, where the House of Representatives is considering a resolution urging Japan to formally apologize for its wartime brothels. Japanese leaders apologized in 1993 for the government’s role, but the apology was not approved by the Japanese Diet.

Japanese conservative lawmakers have demanded that the government water down its statement of apology to thousands of so-called “comfort women,” a move certain to infuriate other Asian countries.


Stem-cell trial set for spinal injuries

HONG KONG — Scientists are preparing a large clinical trial next year using stem cells to try to help 400 patients with spinal cord injuries in Hong Kong, mainland China and Taiwan grow new cells and nerve fibers.

Stem cells from umbilical cord blood will be injected into the spinal cords of the participants, who will also be given lithium to help stimulate cell regeneration, said Dr. Wise Young, a leading neuroscientist and spinal-cord injury researcher at Rutgers, the state university in New Jersey.

Twenty patients in Hong Kong are now being given lithium to in the phase 1 safety and feasibility trial. Lithium is a chemical element that is thought to assist cell regeneration.


Japan, North Korea adjourn history probe

HANOI — Talks between Japan and North Korea on normalizing ties ended after only 45 minutes yesterday, leaving wide gaps as their top envoys blamed each other for the lack of agreement on key historical issues.

“I hope they understand the consequences,” Koichi Haraguchi of Japan said of the North Koreans during a press conference at the end of the rocky two days of talks.

No further discussion is planned in Hanoi, he said. No date was immediately announced for more talks.

Weekly notes …

Strong winds killed at least four persons yesterday on the resort island of Bali, Indonesian officials said.

Cyclone George, which triggered weather warnings in Australia, helped cause the bad weather, said Gde Agus, a meteorologist in Bali. A busy ferry crossing from Bali to nearby Lombok island was closed Wednesday. …

Norfolk Island residents began a tense wait yesterday as a jury retired to consider its verdict in the first murder case on the tiny South Pacific outpost in 150 years. At stake was whether a pall of suspicion over the 1,300 closely knit islanders would be lifted by the conviction of New Zealander Glenn McNeill, 29, accused of murdering Australian Janelle Patton and dumping her stabbed and battered body at a picnic spot on Easter Sunday 2002.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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