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Published: October 24 2005 03:00 | Last updated: October 24 2005 03:00
Fresh from last month's resounding election victory, Junichiro Koizumi, the Japanese prime minister, is understandably piqued at his government's inability to secure a permanent seat for Japan on the UN Security Council.
Mr Koizumi has swiftly revived Japanese demands for a cut in the country's UN contributions, although Japan denies a direct link with the stalled efforts to reform the council. Nobutaka Machimura, the foreign minister, told the Financial Times that Japan would be "proactively involved" in talks next year to renegotiate payments for 2007-2009. In arithmetical terms, the Japanese argument is unassailable. It is unjust that Tokyo should pay 19.5 per cent of the UN budget - more than the combined payments of four of the five permanent Security Council members - rather than the 14 per cent indicated by its share of global income.
However, a good case for a seat on the Security Council or for lower UN fees is no substitute for good foreign policy - and that is what Mr Koizumi needs if he is to achieve his aim of making Japan a "normal" nation.
Mr Koizumi's visit last week to the Yasukuni shrine, which commemorates war criminals as well as other Japanese soldiers, undid the diplomatic good done on the war's 60th anniversary by his full if formulaic apology to victims of Japanese aggression.
China and South Korea reacted to Mr Koizumi's latest Yasukuni visit by cancelling ministerial meetings with Japan, once again leaving regional relations in a frosty state unhelpful for economies so dependent on each other for trade and investment. Resurgent nationalism is a dangerously potent force in all three countries.
With Yasukuni and the lack of remorse it implies, Japan provides its enemies with the perfect excuse to thwart its UN ambitions.
China, which has campaigned against Japan's bid for a Security Council seat, must still share the blame for the resulting tension. Beijing's complaint that Mr Koizumi visited Yasukuni to detract attention from the return to earth of two Chinese astronauts says more about the prickliness of Chinese nationalists than any cunning on the part of Mr Koizumi.
The Japanese people remain deeply divided over whether their country should do more to atone for its wartime record and it was notable that Mr Koizumi - although his annual visit to the shrine is an unnecessary provocation in itself - made an effort this time to diminish its political significance. Among other changes, he went to Yasukuni in a personal capacity and did not add "prime minister" to his signature in the visitors' book.
Such gestures will not secure Japan a Security Council seat or cut its UN dues but they are the kind of small, conciliatory steps that could undermine the ritualistic posturing on all sides over Yasukuni and so promote lasting peace in north-east Asia.
日本は近隣諸国と対話を 靖国参拝で英紙社説 (共同 2005/10/24)
靖国を巡る争いで、米は綱渡り - IHT
Transsexuals Call for Equal Treatment
By Chung Ah-young
(Photo) Harisu, a popular transsexual model, actress and singer, got permission from a local court in 2002 to change her official gender from male to female. However, as many transsexuals have struggled to switch their official documents with the courts.
A 54-year-old who underwent a transsexual operation in 1992 looks no different than any other middle-aged man.
However, he has had difficulties at work and in his marriage because he is still a woman on the family register.
His application to change his registered gender from female to male was turned down by the court in 2003.
Lower courts dismissed the suit, saying that a masculine appearance does not determine a person’s gender.
Recently, three transsexuals have brought their cases to the Supreme Court in their desperate bid to change their officially registered genders.
The court said that earlier next year, it will make a ruling, which will be a precedent for the top court’s decision on transsexuals.
In 2002, a court permitted Harisu, a celebrity transsexual, to change her officially registered gender from male to female after having a sex-change operation.
A total of 81 transsexuals applied for changes to their gender registration between 2000 and 2004.
Among them, 41 transsexuals have been permitted to change their recorded gender.
Currently, there are an estimated 4,000 to 10,000 people in Korea with gender identity disorder, who believe they were born the wrong sex.
However, Han Chae-yoon, head of the Korean Sexual Minority Culture and Rights Center (KSCRC), said that in Korea, their official genders, even after surgery, depend on judges’ decisions because of the lack of legal ground.
``Being determined a man or a woman in society can determine an individual’s happiness over her or his entire life,’’ Han told The Korea Times.
``It is nonsense for judges to decide one’s gender at their own mercy in accordance with their tastes and values because of the absence of a relevant law,’’ she added.
Lee Moo-sang, professor at the college of medicine at Yonsei University, said at a forum on transsexuals that people have been able to change their registered genders in Germany since 1980.
About 30 judges and medical experts on transsexual surgery took part in the forum held on Sept. 13.
In Korea, some lawmakers proposed a bill for transsexuals to have the right to change their registered gender in 2002.
However, a move to improve the rights of sexual minorities has hit a snag since the bill could not be passed in a regular session.
Han said that many transsexuals have continued to appeal to the authorities to get legal permission to change their official gender long before Harisu was allowed to change hers.
``For many years, transsexuals have struggled to change their registered sex in the courts. But the courts have not listened. The case of Harisu is just the tip of the iceberg among many transsexuals deprived of their right to happiness,’’ she said.
Lee estimates that hundreds of people undergo sex change operations every year.
``Many transsexuals don’t want to come out publicly and helplessly accept the courts’ decision without appealing to a higher court when they apply to change their registered gender,’’ Lee said.
For that reason, there is no precedent in the Supreme Court since so many are reluctant to appeal, he added.
In 1996, a man who sexually assaulted a transsexual woman was not charged with rape because the victim was deemed by the court not to be a woman.
The court first allowed a transsexual to change the registered gender in Korea in July 2002.
Sweden was the first country to set up a law concerning transsexuals in 1972.
October 24, 2005
埼玉県新座市 - TransNews
ポーランド 大統領に保守強硬派 (東京 2005/10/24夕刊)
ポーランド次期大統領、レフ・カチンスキ氏――党首の兄と二人三脚（登場） (日本経済 2005/10/24夕刊)
Polish right takes all as Kaczynski wins run-off
Sun Oct 23, 2005 11:15 PM BST
Poland may hold euro referendum-Kaczynski
By Pawel Sobczak
WARSAW (Reuters) - Conservative Lech Kaczynski won Poland's presidential run-off on Sunday on a platform combining traditionalist Catholic values with promises to curb corruption and shore up the welfare state.
Partial results showed Kaczynski, a tough-on-crime Warsaw mayor, captured more than 54 percent of the vote, an eight-point advantage over his pro-business ally-turned-rival Donald Tusk.
Kaczynski's victory seals a swing to the right in the European Union's biggest ex-communist newcomer after his Law and Justice and Tusk's moderate Civic Platform crushed the ruling left in general elections last month.
A moderate nationalist who is wary of deeper European integration, Kaczynski replaces veteran leftist Aleksander Kwasniewski, who could not run after two five-year terms.
Kaczynski said that the EU newcomer may hold a referendum on adopting the euro in 2010.
"The question of the euro should be resolved through a referendum, which could take place in 2010," Kaczynski told Reuters in a brief interview.
Kaczynski has expressed reservations about euro zone entry, but said the referendum was necessary because adopting the single currency meant giving up part of national sovereignty.
The race between Tusk and Kaczynski, former activists in the pro-democracy Solidarity movement that toppled communism in 1989, became a plebiscite on whether the country of 38 million needs more free-market medicine or more welfare.
Kaczynski, who portrayed Tusk as a heartless free-market zealot, extended an olive branch to his defeated rival. He urged him to join forces in government after coalition talks between their centre-right parties stalled during the campaign.
"I want to call ... for us to quickly conclude work on the government. I will approach Donald Tusk, who fought superbly in this campaign," Kaczynski told supporters.
In the presidential and parliamentary campaigns, the Kaczynskis combined patriotic rhetoric and traditional Christian values with scepticism of free markets -- a message which appealed to many poor, less educated Poles.
They promised to build a "Fourth Republic" in a clean break with the corruption that characterised the post-communist "Third Republic".
Sleaze and political patronage peaked during the four-year rule of the social democrats, whose popularity sunk to all-time lows despite their success in bringing Poland into the EU.
Transparency International rates Poland the most corrupt nation in Europe, putting it in 70th place in its 2005 ranking of perceptions of corruption worldwide.
The double crown won by Law and Justice in both elections is a sweet reward for the Kaczynski twins, 56, after years of never quite making it to the top in politics.
The former child-stars of a popular 1962 movie called "The Two Who Stole The Moon", the brothers were kingmakers in previous centre-right governments but were shunned for top posts due to their combative, all-or-nothing style.
The president is commander-in-chief of the army, can propose or veto legislation, nominate prime ministers -- who hold most executive power -- and, in some cases, dissolve parliament.
He influences the government's foreign policy, a field where Kaczynski faces a steep challenge after irking big neighbours Germany and Russia with scathing remarks during the campaign.
He has raised eyebrows in Europe by courting the religious right with his anti-gay remarks and pro-death penalty talk.
The financial markets rooted for Tusk, seeing him as a counterbalance to Kaczynski's ambivalence about the need for fiscal reforms and liberal economic policies.
Analysts expect the zloty and Polish bonds to dip on Monday but losses will not be deep if coalition talks make headway.
"The main focus remains the coalition talks and the market still basically trusts that the two parties will come to some sort of a compromise," said Tania Kotsos, currency strategist with RBC in London.
Tusk's Civic Platform said they will not give up on their campaign pledge to lower taxes and cut red tape to spur growth and reduce Poland's 18 percent unemployment, the EU's highest.
(Additional reporting by Malgorzata Rakowiec in Gdansk)
The Times October 24, 2005
Firebrand wins power after surge in support
From Kamil Tchorek in Warsaw
THE conservative Mayor of Warsaw has been elected President of Poland despite trailing in opinion polls for weeks.
Unofficial exit polls in yesterday’s runoff gave Lech Kaczynski, 56, a seemingly unassailable six-point lead over Donald Tusk, 48, the founder of the centrist Civic Reform party. The official result is expected later today.
The last-minute change in voter sentiment came about after Mr Kaczynski softened his usually firebrand tone in television debates while simultaneously alerting Poland’s poorest voters to the dangers of free-market ideology.
Mr Tusk campaigned on a low-tax, low-spend platform for weeks and seemed about to take Poland down a course of fast eurozone entry, privatisation and foreign direct investment. He conceded defeat last night and told glum supporters: “Today I must tell myself I did not make it.” Mr Kaczynski appealed to the 18 per cent of the Polish population that are unemployed and the large agricultural and heavy-industry sectors. He was also endorsed by a former rival candidate, the populist Andrzej Lepper, who has a working-class support base.
During the campaign an aide to Mr Kaczynski accused Mr Tusk’s family of ties with the occupying Nazi forces during the Second World War.
Mr Tusk vehemently denied this, until evidence was produced that his grandfather had been a member of the Wehrmacht. He had been forced to enlist from a concentration camp.
Mr Kaczynski is strongly pro-church, against abortion and gay rights and has banned Warsaw’s gay pride parade for the past two years. He also wants Poland to become the first EU country to reinstate the death penalty.
The results echo the general election a month ago, when Law and Justice — the party that Mr Kaczynski helped to found in 2001 — emerged victorious after trailing Civic Reform for weeks. The two parties will today begin coalition talks that had been delayed by the presidential runoff following the first election on October 9.
Mr Kaczynski, who has a tough attitude towards Germany and Russia, said last night that Mr Tusk had “fought superbly” in the campaign and offered to make him parliamentary speaker, which is a powerful post.
Poland’s two top political jobs will now be in the hands of the Law and Justice party. Mr Kaczynski’s twin brother, Jaroslaw, who heads the party, had been expected to become Prime Minister, but declined the job to give his lookalike a better chance of winning the presidency.
Lech Kaczynski is a former child actor who, age 12, starred with his identical twin brother Jaroslaw in the 1962 film The Little Hoodlums Who Tried to Steal the Moon