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    Weekend news

    We watched the blow-by-blow election coverage this weekend, but there was very little suspense: the KMT candidate started trouncing the DPP candidate very early, and his lead never let up.

    Now he’s made his opening diplomatic salvo:

    Fresh from victory as Taiwan’s new president, Ma Ying-jeou, has posed what may be a dilemma to the United States – by requesting to make a trip to Washington, which may earn the fury of China if allowed.

    US President George W. Bush was among the first to congratulate Ma [Ying-jeou], seen as [more of] a moderate on the China question than outgoing, independence-leading president Chen Shui-bian, whose rule roiled ties with both Beijing and Washington.

    But allowing the Harvard-educated lawyer Ma to visit Washington could anger Beijing even though he said he planned to come before his May 20 inauguration, said Brad Glosserman of Pacific Forum, a Hawaii-based think tank.

    “Slim and none are the chances of that (trip),” Glosserman said. “It’s very clearly an attempt by the president-elect of Taiwan to raise his political profile,” he said.

    The United States, he added, would not risk angering China, especially at a time when Beijing was grappling with a bloody revolt in Tibet.

    John Tkacik, once the chief of China analysis in the State Department’s bureau of intelligence and research, said he felt Ma’s trip would not anger China.

    “No, I really do not think so,” he said.

    “I think China is very pleased with the election of Ma and (Vice President-elect) Vincent Siew and as long as they come before the inauguration and they still have colour of ‘unofficiality,’ then I think China would put up with it,” he said.

    Ma was the candidate who, of course, advocated more of an open market with the PRC. He won handily, but not a few Taiwanese are worried about what an influx of Chinese labor and outflow of corporate management could mean for Taiwan.

    *******

    This weekend was Japan’s most recent incident with a stabby lunatic: a man in Ibaraki Prefecture knifed eight people before being detained. Luckily, only one was wounded fatally.

    The suspect, Masahiro Kanagawa, was already wanted in connection with another fatal stabbing of a stranger. The police were looking for him but failed to intercept him:

    Kanagawa was put on a nationwide wanted list Friday after his bicycle was found near Miura’s home. Police posted about 170 police officers at train stations on the Joban Line and the Tsukuba Express Line starting from the first train runs of the day Sunday.

    But they acknowledged that the patrol at Arakawaoki Station failed to catch Kanagawa before the stabbing spree.

    “We regret that (our efforts to prevent the second incident) ended in a result like this,” Takashi Ishii, a senior officer of the Ibaraki prefectural police said in a news conference at Tsuchiura Police Station on Sunday. “We did our best by taking such measures as placing police officers at train stations and Net cafes.”

    Police said the reason they didn’t spot the suspect was because their picture of him was two years old and he was wearing a knitted hat and silver-rimmed glasses when he arrived at the station.

    “It was an unlucky time for us because there were many passengers getting on and off the trains,” the officer said.

    This is the sort of case, I think, that highlights the difficulties that the detectives investigating the Lindsay Hawker murder are probably facing. Melting into a crowd on a train platform isn’t difficult at all. Neither is disguising yourself sufficiently to go unnoticed by people in shops. Kanagawa claims he had actually intended to target people at his old elementary school, the Asahi article says. That would be chilling enough anywhere, but in Japan it resonates especially because of the 2001 stabbing of two dozen children at an Osaka school.

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