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Japan apologizes for boat collision

SAYING SORRY: Taiwanese boat captain Ho Hung-yi received at his home a hand-delivered letter of apology written by Hideo Nasu of the Japanese coast guard

By Jenny W. Hsu
Saturday, Jun 21, 2008, Page 1

Hitoshi Funamachi, right, deputy chief of Japan’s de facto embassy in Taiwan, delivers a letter of apology to Ho Hung-yi, left, as Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lee Ching-hua looks on at Ho’s home in Rueifang Township, Taipei County, yesterday.


Ten days after a Taiwanese boat sank following a collision with a Japanese patrol vessel near the disputed Diaoyutai (釣魚台) islands, a representative from Japan’s de facto embassy in Taiwan visited the home of the fishing boat captain and offered an apology yesterday.

Deputy chief representative of the Interchange Association Hitoshi Funamachi visited Taiwanese boat captain Ho Hung-yi (何鴻義) at his home in Ruifang Township (瑞芳), Taipei County, to personally deliver a letter of apology written by Hideo Nasu, head of the 11th Operational Region of the Japan Coast Guard.

“I bow and once again offer my sincere apologies to you over the sinking of your boat and the injuries you sustained during the collision,” Funamachi said to Ho, reading from Nasu’s letter. “I hope we will begin negotiations soon on compensation, in accordance with the law.”

Nasu had also bowed at a televised press conference in Japan several days ago in apology over the accident.

Ho accepted Nasu’s apology, saying he was “very pleased” with the way that the Japan Coast Guard official was handling the aftermath of the accident, in which Ho lost his boat and sustained several injuries.

Meanwhile, after a 30-minute closed door meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with Minister of Foreign Affairs Francisco Ou (歐鴻鍊) yesterday afternoon, Tadashi Ikeda, the chief representative of the Interchange Association, said he hoped the peaceful end to the ordeal would strengthen Taiwan-Japan relations.

Standing next to Ou, Ikeda said he was pleased to see that Taiwan and Japan could “overcome the difficult situation together.”

“The Japanese have a saying that after the rain, the ground will be more solid and firm. I hope that Japan-Taiwan relations will continue to improve after this ordeal,” Ikeda said.

Ou welcomed the gesture by Japan, calling it a “perfect ending,” but said the next step in resuming negotiations with Tokyo on fishing rights and sovereignty claims would be the “beginning of the real, difficult task.”

The incident took place early in the morning on June 10 when a Japan Coast Guard patrol boat rammed into a Taiwanese fishing boat 11km off the Diaoyutai islands, an island chain claimed by Taiwan, Japan and China.

While the Japanese claim the crash was caused by the Taiwanese boat zigzagging abruptly, Ho insists his boat was stationary.

The Japanese agreed to release the crew and pay reparations, but held off on issuing a formal apology.

In related news, Ou yesterday confirmed that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) had officially accepted the resignation of Taiwan’s representative to Japan, Koh Se-kai (許世楷), who asked to be relieved of his duties on Monday.


Listen to the voice

Fight to end abuse far from over

MONEY NEEDED: An NGO said authorities lacked the manpower for domestic violence cases because of underfunding and that victims needed more help

By Loa Iok-sin
Saturday, Jun 21, 2008, Page 2

Members of the Taiwan Coalition Against Violence celebrate achievements made in the last 10 years at a press conference in Taipei yesterday.


The Taiwan Coalition Against Violence (TCAV) lauded the significant steps made in the country’s campaign to end domestic violence since the Domestic Violence Law (家暴法) was adopted 10 years ago, but said more measures, including to protect victims, were still desperately needed.

“The most important achievement [in the campaign against domestic violence] is that government authorities are now more active in helping victims. Ten years ago victims were pretty much on their own,” Gau Fehng-shian (高鳳仙), TCAV chairwoman and a Taiwan High Court judge, told a forum in Taipei yesterday.

The coalition said that domestic violence includes any violence within a family, not only violence against women and children.

The passage of the law a decade ago was a significant step, since domestic violence has traditionally been considered a family problem that the public should not interfere in, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Yang Chiung-ying (楊瓊纓) said.

Yet despite the progress over the past decade, the forum participants all agreed that crucial improvements to the handling of abuse cases, particularly in regards to the protection offered to victims of domestic violence, were still sorely needed.

Administrative efficiency must also be improved, they said.

“It can sometimes take up to 40 days before a judge issues a protection order on behalf of a victim of domestic violence,” Gau said. “As for emergency protection orders, the law states that they should be issued within four hours of a victim filing an application, yet it usually takes one, two or sometimes even three days.”

“I wonder how effective a protection order is after that many days,” Gau said.

TCAV vice chairwoman Chou Ching-yu (周清玉) said authorities still lacked adequate manpower to deal with this serious issue.

“In the first year after the Domestic Violence Law was adopted, more than 10,000 cases of domestic violence were reported. And last year, the number grew to more than 70,000,” Chou said. “Yet the number of social workers [available] to look after the cases hasn’t changed much.”

TCAV board member Lai Mei-hui (賴美惠) attributed the lack of manpower and other resources to underfunding and said the government should set up a domestic violence victim assistance fund.

“I suggest that the government create a fund with a total of NT$3 billion [US$98.7 million] over the next 10 years to assist victims of domestic violence,” she said. “The money could come from fines for domestic violence and sexual harassment cases, as well as bail money for such cases.”

Deputy Minister of the Interior Lai Fong-wei (賴峰偉), who attended the forum, promised to communicate all the suggestions and comments to the ministry for consideration.

He said the government should consider reforms to attract more social workers to handle domestic violence cases.

“At the moment, these social workers are contractors — not public servants — and thus are offered lower wages and excluded from promotions and other government benefits,” he said. “I’ll push for a reform to include contractor social workers into the government’s promotion and benefit system so that we may attract more such people.”


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Most low quality imports from China: commission

BUYER BEWARE: Unsafe foods identified last month came from Thailand, the US and Vietnam, while the PRC accounted for most subpar commercial goods

Saturday, Jun 21, 2008, Page 2

Most of the substandard products imported last month were goods made in China, the Consumer Protection Commission (CPC) said yesterday.

The commission published on its Web site 66 warnings about unsafe imported goods and other foreign goods last month.

Of these, 36 concerned products made in China, CPC section chief Liu Ching-fang (劉清芳) said.

The commission inaugurated the Web site last August as part of its efforts to inform local consumers about unsafe and substandard products.

The total number of reports last month increased by 11 from listings in April, Liu said.

Sixty-two of the 66 warnings concerned goods classified as commercial products.

Twenty of the 66 concerned chemical industrial products, 11 concerned toys, 18 named electronics products and 13 named other goods of substandard quality, Liu said.

The commission gathered information about substandard commercial products in part from announcements released by US companies who have recalled toys, clothes for teenagers, electronic heaters, gas stoves and sleeping bags over the past month, Liu said.

However, many of the products recalled in the US were not sold in Taiwan, Liu said.

The remaining four warnings published on the Web site fell into the category of food and agricultural products, Liu said.

The substandard foods were imported from Vietnam, the US and Thailand and were found to contain excessive amounts of bleach and preservatives, Liu said.

In April, 11 warnings were issued about unsafe or substandard food products.




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What Ma could learn from voters in Ireland

By Steve Wang 王思為
Saturday, Jun 21, 2008, Page 8

‘The EU has continuously worked to expand its territory and deepen the power of the EU bureaucracy.’

Worried their country would compromise its independence, Irish voters rejected the Lisbon treaty in a referendum last week.

This was a serious setback for further integration of the EU. I wonder what insights the “internationally orientated” government of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) will derive from this important development.

The EU has continuously worked to expand its territory and deepen the power of the EU bureaucracy. This has worried a lot of people in EU states who feel they never see the benefits of this growth.

Although unresolved problems — such as employees feeling threatened by cheap labor from eastern European member countries and rapid price increases resulting from the introduction of the euro — are closely related to people’s everyday lives, the bureaucrats in Brussels don’t appear concerned with these issues.

Instead, top officials criticize the public for not supporting the ideal of a united Europe and blocking the progress of integration with referendums.

This gap between high-level political operations and public opinion only widened further after France and the Netherlands voted against the EU constitution in their respective referendums in 2005, essentially killing plans for a European constitution.

The EU leaders hoped to resuscitate the plan and push through a mini-constitution in the form of the Lisbon treaty. They wanted to avoid putting the treaty to a referendum in member countries, instead asking parliaments to pass it.

However, they were hindered by Article 46 of the Irish Constitution, which says: “Every proposal for an amendment of this Constitution shall be ... submitted by Referendum to the decision of the people.”

And so Ireland was the only EU member country that turned to its citizens fairly and held a referendum.

The Lisbon treaty thus stumbled over yet another referendum, inspiring a lot of unhappy Europeans who think that the EU equals Brussels and the euro. It was heartening for those who have doubts about the shrinking independence of member states and about giving over some of their countries’ national rights to the EU bureaucracy.

Most EU member states rely on referendums to decide on their country’s relationship with the EU — like whether the country should join the union, use the euro or ratify the EU constitution — in order to obtain the full authorization of the public.

Although Ireland has greatly profited from EU subsidies in the past, the Irish public blocked the Lisbon treaty in a referendum just as it blocked the Nice treaty in 2001.

Ma promoted an EU-style union with China during his election campaign, but now that he has entered office, he is adopting a two-handed strategy, sidestepping the issue of Taiwanese sovereignty when talking to China while wishfully thinking that he can leave it to China to fix Taiwan’s economy.

I hope the Ma government will learn from Ireland’s example.

Steve Wang is a director of the European Union Study Association.


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