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Tom Clifford

Beijing, China
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About Tom
Tom Clifford is a journalist based in Beijing, China.

Past year accounts for half Iraqi civilian deaths

23 Apr 2007  |  South China Morning Post
The past year has seen a significant surge in civilian deaths in Iraq, with nearly half of all violent civilian fatalities since the 2003 invasion occurring in this period. The Iraq Body Count organization reports that the fourth year of the conflict was the deadliest, with a marked increase in mortar attacks, bomb blasts, and other violent incidents. Despite the deployment of additional US troops, insurgent attacks continue unabated, leading to daily civilian casualties. Adult males are the most affected demographic, bearing the brunt of the violence.

Dubai lines up next tourist move

09 Aug 2004  |  South China Morning Post
Dubai is set to enhance its tourism appeal with the construction of Chess City, a $3 billion project featuring 32 buildings shaped like chess pieces, aiming to become the chess capital of the world. This initiative is part of Dubai's extensive infrastructure investments to diversify its economy as its oil resources dwindle. Other notable projects include Palm Island, where David Beckham has bought a property, and Dubai Land, which will feature a Formula One race track and the world's longest indoor ski slope. Additionally, Dubai is constructing the world's tallest tower, surpassing Taipei 101.

War without end: despair and fatigue the order of the day

20 Mar 2004  |  South China Morning Post
Journalists from various nations gathered in Amman, heading to Baghdad a year after the war started, to witness the city's condition. The journey involved avoiding disturbances in Fallujah and observing the poverty in Iraqi villages. Baghdad's skyline changed with the proliferation of satellite dishes as Iraqis sought connection with the outside world. Despite the electronic boom, inflation and laissez-faire policies of the coalition have been met with distaste. Baghdad residents express a sense of despair and fatigue, with a black humor about their lack of optimism. The Green Land cafe's customers discuss the decline in quality of life, attributing blame to democracy for frequent power outages and bombings. The article reflects on the disillusionment following initial high hopes for freedom, with Iraqis finding the nation ungovernable and associating the failures with the American forces.

Japan's identity crisis - life after Akihito

01 Jan 2003  |  South China Morning Post
The health of Emperor Akihito, who has prostate cancer, has prompted discussions on the succession of Japan's throne, a rare event since the Meiji Restoration. The Imperial Household Law of 1948 limits succession to male descendants, potentially excluding Akihito's granddaughter, Princess Aiko, unless the law is changed. The imperial family is seen as a symbol of traditional values in Japan, which contrasts with the country's lost economic opportunities post-economic bubble. The upcoming succession is seen as a reaffirmation of national identity, though it may also be co-opted by rightist groups to promote a vision of the 'real Japan'.

Party shake-up leaves Japan out in the cold

19 Nov 2002  |  South China Morning Post
Japan is struggling to establish relations with the new administration in Beijing, led by General Secretary Hu Jintao. The Japanese Foreign Ministry's 'one-on-one' system for developing personal ties with Chinese officials has faltered, leaving Japan without a close relationship with Hu. Koichi Kato, a Liberal Democratic Party legislator who once befriended Hu, has fallen from grace. Japan is concerned about being out of touch with China's fourth-generation leadership, particularly with Zeng Qinghong, who is better known to them. Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi hopes for a stable trend in Japan-China relations and anticipates a new diplomatic approach from Hu, especially regarding historical issues. Japan seeks to finalize a visit to China by Koizumi and secure a visit from Vice-Premier Wen Jiabao.

Three win damages for denial of entry to bath house

12 Nov 2002  |  South China Morning Post
A Japanese court ordered a bath house to pay three million yen in damages to foreigners denied entry due to discrimination. The bath house in Otaru, northern Japan, had a 'Japanese Only' sign. Plaintiffs Olaf Karthaus, Ken Sutherland, and Debito Arudo (formerly David Aldwinckle) sued the bath house and city officials. The court ruled against compensation from the city, which is bound by but not legally required to follow the UN convention against discrimination. The case highlights issues of discrimination against foreigners in Japan.

Bath-house ban puts Japanese racism in the dock

11 Nov 2002  |  South China Morning Post
A court in northern Japan is set to decide on the legality of a bath house's ban on foreigners, highlighting issues of discrimination in Japan. The case involves a German, an American, and a naturalized Japanese suing the bath house in Otaru, Hokkaido. The owners defend their policy citing cultural ignorance and complaints from Japanese customers. Japan lacks specific laws against racial discrimination, despite its constitution and international agreements suggesting equality. Discrimination is prevalent in mundane aspects of life, with service industries often refusing to serve foreigners. Japan has a low percentage of immigrants and naturalization is difficult. Tokyo Governor Ishihara Shintaro's racist remarks about foreigners rioting in disasters have gone unpunished, reflecting the broader issue of discrimination without legal recourse.

Animals to be used for earthquake prediction in Japan

06 Nov 2002  |  South China Morning Post
Japanese researchers at Azabu University are establishing 'Quake Farms' to use animals for earthquake prediction, a method inspired by observed erratic animal behavior prior to the 1995 Kobe earthquake. The farms will breed animals like dogs, cats, peacocks, snakes, and horses, which are believed to be sensitive to seismic shifts. While the prediction method is not precise, it is currently considered the best available, and a successful prediction could significantly reduce casualties if proper evacuation procedures are followed.

Japan oblivious to militarism's menacing signs

28 Oct 2002  |  South China Morning Post
Japan's apparent ignorance of the dangers of its militaristic past is highlighted by the recent assassination of reformist politician Koki Ishii. The event, Japan's first political assassination since 1960, was met with denial and attempts to depoliticize the act. The assassin, Hakusui Ito, provided various non-political motives for his crime. The article suggests that the visible signs of militarism in Tokyo, such as nationalist propaganda and the Yasukuni shrine, are disturbingly reminiscent of pre-war Japan and are tolerated by society and authorities alike. This contrasts with post-war liberalization and the subsequent Cold War shift that rehabilitated war criminals and suppressed political dissent, a path not taken by post-war West Germany.

Koizumi may call early polls in face of waning popularity

01 Jul 2002  |  South China Morning Post
Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi of Japan is considering an early election amid falling popularity, with his approval rating dropping from 92% to 35% since taking office. Taku Yamasaki, secretary-general of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, hinted at the possibility of an early election after a cabinet reshuffle in September. Koizumi's reform agenda targets public spending, financial institutions, and political ties with big business, challenging senior LDP politicians. His dismissal of reformist foreign minister Makiko Tanaka under LDP pressure was a significant blow to his public support, but he remains too strong to be toppled, with no LDP faction leader ready to succeed him.

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Dec 2014

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