Saturday, December 22, 2007

NATO wants more in Asia

Difficult course for NATO in Afghanistan, when his chief came to visit FCCJ for a breakfast, I asked Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer at the Press club of Tokyo whether NATO should become involved in the fight against narcotics in Afghanistan and Scheffer told me that the organization needed to concentrate on improving security. "What NATO should avoid in Afghanistan is being responsible or being held responsible for everything."

Violence in the southern sector has climbed sharply since ISAF took over more than a year ago, but NATO allies have been reluctant to provide all the troops and equipment that were promised more than a year ago. Among the forces that have so far failed to materialize are three infantry battalions, some 3,000 trainers primarily for the police, and about 20 helicopters. Scheffer admitted NATO was also "lagging behind" in its efforts to train the Afghan national army. "That is an ambition we have not fulfilled and I think we should fulfill. I'm very critical about my allies there as well,".

The NATO chief also voiced frustration at a shortfall of coalition troops needed in Afghanistan, saying he would keep pushing for reinforcements. "I'm not entirely happy with what we have on the ground and in the air in Afghanistan," visiting NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said. Scheffer said NATO had about 90 percent of the ground troops that it needed to battle a resurgent Taliban. NATO is ". During the meeting with our press members, there was a straight request for France to do more. France president Nicolas Sarkozy confirmed he would keep effort high on Paris Elysée agenda. Sarkozy just came to Kabul December 22nd under a very high military protection, escorted by 2 French Mirage 2000, and met with Afghan president Karzai and France troops.

What about training Afghan police and dealing seriously with the drug lords?

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Korean startling election

Koreans grappling with high youth unemployment, an ever-widening income gap and soaring property prices gave the candidate whose slogan was "Economy First!" the unprecedented mandate despite a looming fraud investigation. Lee Myung-Bak won South Korea's presidential election by a landslide Wednesday, as voters backed the former Hyundai chief executive to revive the economy and disregarded fraud allegations against him.

(So he played in Winter Sonata too?)

GNP headquarters erupted with joy when exit polls flashed on a screen. Officials and supporters hugged each other, wept and yelled "Hurrah!" Thousands of others celebrated in the streets in near-zero temperatures, chanting "Lee Myung-Bak!" setting off firecrackers and cheering and dancing.

Lee, who turned 66 on polling day, will be the nation's first leader from a business background and the first president-elect to face a criminal inquiry. He will be inaugurated on February 25 to replace incumbent Roh Moo-Hyun, who congratulated his successor on his victory.

State prosecutors cleared Lee early this month of involvement in a 2001 share-rigging fraud involving his former business partner, an issue which had dogged his campaign. But apparent new video evidence surfaced Sunday of Lee's past connection to a firm linked to the scandal, prompting rivals in parliament to vote for an inquiry by an independent prosecutor. Media reports said the prosecutor may report just before the inauguration but most voters were clearly willing to accept the awkward situation.

My question is: what does Yong sama (Bae Yong Jun) and what does Yu Jin (Choi Ji Woo) both think about this electrifying election? Well, after Yong sama and Yu Jin give an answer, then and only then, as millions (tens of millions) of Japanese fans, I certainly will cast my ballot.

(Actor Yong sama & Actress Choi Ji Woo)

Might be that the Sunshine policy melts to all-time low too?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Of course the cold war is over...

According to Japan news agency, Japan successfully intercepted a ballistic missile in its first test launch of the SM-3 missile interceptor system from a warship in waters off Hawaii, reports said Tuesday. The Japanese destroyer Kongo launched a missile from waters off Kauai Island and successfully intercepted the mock target, another missile, fired from onshore on Monday. Now question: how to intercept a ballistic missile with a SM-3 when the ballistic missile flies several hundreds or thousands of kilometers above our heads...?

"Their introduction of missile defence systems, as far as I can tell, doesn't really have anything to do with defending Japan against missiles," said after North Korean missiles tests Robert Karniol, Asia-Pacific editor of Jane's Defence Weekly, adding he was skeptical of the systems' effectiveness. Involvement in missile defence is a political move enabling Tokyo to maintain its close security relationship with the United States and militarily useful in that it helps the two countries integrate their command and control systems, Karniol said. But Masatsugu Naya, a security expert at Hitotsubashi University, said missile defence could have a psychological effect even if it could not be relied upon to intercept all incoming missiles. "The question is whether they can shoot down a large enough percentage to make a launching country reconsider its plans," he said. "From that point of view it is effective." (Quotes from Reuters, June 23rd 2006 & The China Daily)

The cartoon is explicit enough: How to face the threats? Interesting debate a while ago, in Foreign Affairs: Quotes: "The Bush administration claims national missile defense can protect the United States from long-range missiles fired by rogue states. But that threat is trivial, and Washington's unilateralist approach to missile defense will only anger China and Russia while alienating U.S. allies." Click the title to access the Foreign Affairs article by John Newhouse. July August 2001 release.

Maybe a better solution is improving treaties and involve all parties on the checkers?