Thursday, March 10, 2011

A week of diplomatic apologies, a brewing sex scandal and diplomatic immunity still in the news

“I feel sorry for this scandalous incident,” said Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan at a National Assembly Foreign Affairs Committee meeting yesterday, promising reforms at diplomatic posts overseas.

The scandalous incident South Korea's top diplomat is referring to? A brewing quad-love-angle involving a diplomat assigned to its mission in Shanghai, two other officials from the Ministry of Knowledge Economy and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and "a Chinese siren, Deng Xinming, 33, who lives in Shanghai with her Korean husband."  Three men and one siren, and a husband who reportedly complained to the South Korean government about the affairs.  Move over, Anna Chapman, there's a new break out star over there.

One local report says the diplomat resigned from his job after the affair was discovered and returned to China in a possible bid to be with the woman: 

“Deng seemed like someone I was related to in a former life,” an official of the Justice Ministry quoted the consul as saying during its investigation. “I want to go to China and live with her.”

The official said that he advised the consul to come to his senses, saying, “She met you because you were in a consul position. She wouldn’t meet you now.”
Not too far away, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for the East Asia Pacific Affairs arrived in Japan for a two-day visit and has to apologized to Japan on behalf of the United States for remarks made by one of his officers. According to ABC News, Mr. Campbell speaking to reporters in Tokyo offered a personal apology for "misunderstandings" the reports may have caused.
"In all my meetings, I will offer deep apologies for the developments in Okinawa, and the misunderstandings that have taken place," Campbell said. "The alleged statements in no way reflect U.S. government policy and the feelings towards the people of Okinawa."
Ambassador John Roos reportedly also reached out to Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano and expressed "deep regret" for the purported remarks. In a statement released Monday, the U.S. embassy said the comments "attributed to a U.S. government official in no way reflect U.S. government views."

What is this all about and what were they apologizing for?

According to ABC News, the State Department's Director of Japan Affairs, Kevin Maher reportedly made an in an off-the-record lecture given to students at Washington's American University in December. Maher's comments were made during a speech on "Military Bases and Their Impacts on Okinawa." This is part of what Mr. Maher reportedly said, "Consensus building is important in Japanese culture. While the Japanese would call this 'consensus,' they mean 'extortion' and use this culture as a means of extortion."
ABS News added that "the comments were an apparent reference to financial subsidies Tokyo pays to Okinawans in exchange for hosting U.S. military bases on the island. "Students also noted that Maher called Okinawa residents "too lazy to grow goya," referring to a bitter melon, famously used in local cuisine." Mr. Maher was reportedly expected in Japan for bilateral talks but has now canceled the trip.

A March 10, 2011 statement from the US Embassy Tokyo attempts to better the wrinkle: 

Assistant Secretary Kurt Campbell today informed Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto that, effective immediately, Rust Deming, a long-time diplomat, former Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, and a strong friend of Japan, has been appointed Director of the Office of Japan Affairs at the State Department.

Assistant Secretary Campbell conveyed his deep regrets about statements attributed to Mr. Maher in recent news reports. He reiterated that these reported statements in no way reflect U.S. Government policy or the utmost respect the United States has for the Okinawan people.

In New York, NYPost
reported that Oleg Sharifov, 33, of Georgia who is in the big apple accompanying the official delegation of Georgia, including its head of state, has allegedly pilfered hundreds of dollars of merchandise from the Century 21 department store downtown. He dodged prosecution by claiming diplomatic immunity and was released to representatives from the UN Mission to Georgia and the Consulate of Georgia. A representative for the Georgian Embassy in Washington was quoted in the report saying, "[Sharifov] is a Georgian citizen, and this incident is under investigation."

Meanwhile, over in Pakistan, CNN reported that the Raymond Davis case has been adjourned until March 16 when Davis is expected to be formally charged. Arrested on Jan 27, Davis will also have a hearing at the Lahore High Court on March 14 which could determine if he has diplomatic immunity and should be released.

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