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Archive for Thursday, August 15, 2002

Briefly

August 15, 2002

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Japan

WWII surrender anniversary marked

Thousands of Japanese, from war veterans to lawmakers, gathered in the nation's capital today to mark the 57th anniversary of Japan's surrender in World War II with bundles of flowers and silent prayers for the dead.

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and Emperor Akihito were among those invited to the traditionally staid ceremony held annually at a cavernous martial arts hall outside the stone-lined moats of the Imperial Palace.

The anniversary remains an emotional day for many older Japanese who lived through the surrender and still recall the unprecedented Aug. 15, 1945, radio address by Emperor Hirohito Akihito's father announcing Japan would "bear the unbearable" and give up.

The decision came after the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Pakistan

President promises increased security

Pakistan's president lashed out Wednesday at Islamic militants responsible for recent terror attacks and warned of a long struggle to rid the nation of extremist violence.

"An insignificant minority has held the entire nation hostage," President Gen. Pervez Musharraf said in a speech marking the 55th anniversary of Pakistan's independence from Britain.

"The recent attacks, especially directed at the worship places of our Christian brothers, are the most shameful and despicable examples of terrorism."

Musharraf was referring to last week's attacks against a school for Christian missionary children in Murree and a Presbyterian hospital in Taxila. Eleven Pakistanis, including one assailant, were killed in the two attacks.

Indonesia

Last E. Timor governor convicted of war crimes

In the first verdict in a series of war crimes trials, a court convicted Indonesia's last governor of East Timor and sentenced him Wednesday to three years in prison for doing nothing to stop atrocities when the territory voted for independence in 1999.

Human rights groups immediately assailed the verdict as a whitewash. But others, including Nobel Peace Prize laureate Jose Ramos-Horta, expressed sympathy for the defendant.

"I've been made a scapegoat," former East Timor governor Abilio Soares declared after the verdict was read, punching his fist into the air. "How can I, one person, disband a militia which is armed with spears, axes and guns?"

Soares angrily declared he would appeal.

Prosecutors, too, said they would launch a legal challenge to what they and rights activists described as a lenient sentence that could serve as a template for pending cases, some involving Indonesian military and police generals.

Republic of Congo

New president vows to fight corruption

President Denis Sassou-Nguesso promised to fight corruption as he was sworn in Wednesday after winning this central African nation's first elections since back-to-back civil wars.

"Too many men and women in public service in our country lack professional consciousness and patriotic consciousness," Sassou-Nguesso said.

"These failings, I plan to fight with all my energy, so that sound and transparent management of public affairs can be established once and for all."

International lending organizations have repeatedly complained about the level of corruption in the Republic of Congo, an oil-rich country that borders the much larger Congo.

A government investigation last year found that some 75 percent of annual customs earnings were embezzled by state agents and their accomplices. But no charges were filed against those responsible.

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