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    Japan odds and ends II

    Quick Japan news: the ROK Foreign Minister took a swipe at Japan for the Yasukuni Shrine issue at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference in Pusan:

    Ban stated, “Japanese leaders have not been capable of squarely acknowledging past history; their pilgrimages to the Yasukuni Shrine are undesirable.” While he avoided mentioning Prime Minister Jun’ichiro Koizumi and Foreign Minister [Taro] Aso by name, he did criticize the policies of the Japanese side.

    I believe that Ban is usually referred to as the “Foreign Minister” in English, though the kanji title would mean something closer to “Minister of Diplomacy and Trade.” Whatever his title, and however generic his statement, it is evidence that the ROK is not softening toward Japan on the Yasukuni issue–not surprising, given that Koizumi’s new cabinet includes a new member or two known for nationalist leanings.

    The seven federal ministries asked to cut their budgets have come up with only ¥28.9 billion of the requested ¥630 billion. That’s a whopping 4.6%. Let’s hope the regional government bodies don’t spend it all in one place.

    The government has established a central processing center for information about possible money laundering and financing of terrorism.

    Has anyone heard anything about Minerva? Minerva is the probe that was launched off the Hayabusa spacecraft and was supposed to land on the Asteroid Itokawa. Apparently, the Hayabusa was ascending too fast and so the Minerva’s trajectory was screwed up–such aerospace geeks who may be reading this will probably be wincing at that description, but I was only half-paying attention to NHK when the announcement was made. There didn’t seem to be a way to get the Minerva back on course, so they were fearing it might be lost. I hope not. Japan’s aerospace programs have had a lot of embarrassing failures over the last several years.

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