News

Japan Defeats North Korea in Politically-Charged World Cup Qualifier

Host Japan, with a late goal in injury time in the second half, defeated a North Korean team, mainly composed of army players, 2-1 in an Asian Group B qualifier for soccer's World Cup. Japanese officials took extraordinary security measures inside and around the stadium amid worries that any clashes between rival supporters could trigger an international incident.

The 60,000 spectators in Saitama Stadium were boisterous but well behaved.

Japan said it was concerned that North Korea, with which it has no diplomatic relations, would make a political issue out of any incidents that might occur off the field. There was no trouble reported between the Japanese supporters and the 5,000 North Korean fans, who were bussed to and from the stadium outside Tokyo.

The North Koreans were segregated in a special section with 1,000 seats on each side of them kept empty. They waved giant North Korean flags throughout the game.

Some 3,000 police and security guards were in and around the stadium - 20 times the usual number seen at professional soccer games in Japan.

Masashi Oguro, making only his second appearance with the Japan national team, scored his country's go-ahead goal just at the end of regulation time.

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi was among those expressing his joy after the game.

Mr. Koizumi says he was relieved to see the last-minute goal. He adds he doesn't know how Japan will perform in future qualifiers but he hopes they are prepared to do their best.

Mitsuo Ogasawara had put Japan in front with a free kick a mere four minutes into game. Japan stayed ahead until North Korean substitute Nam Song Chol scored a goal, just after the hour mark to even the score following a sluggish North Korean performance earlier.

After the game Japanese players praised their opponents, saying they gave the hosts a severe test.

North Korea coach Yun Jong Su said his players were disappointed with the outcome but relieved that the game was played in a friendly atmosphere.

North Korea will have a chance to avenge its defeat when it hosts Japan June 8th in Pyongyang's 150,000-seat Kim Il Sung Stadium. The North Koreans are pursuing their first appearance at the World Cup since a 1966 surprise run to the quarterfinals.

The game was played one day after the Japanese government received a petition from five million of its citizens calling on the country to impose economic sanctions on North Korea.

Japanese anger towards Pyongyang has been rising amid frustration over the failure of the two countries to resolve a decades-old abduction issue. Japan has repeatedly called on North Korea to reveal all it knows about the fate of Japanese kidnapped in the 1970s and 1980s by North Korean agents.

North Korea's official media on Wednesday called Japan a "wicked trickster" for making public a photo of two alleged Japanese abductees who later turned out to be Koreans.

The communist state has previously said it would regard any sanctions imposed by Tokyo as a "declaration of war."

Some in Japan's government are reluctant to impose sanctions, fearing that would give North Korea another excuse not to return to six-party talks about its suspected nuclear weapons programs.


Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outragei
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 04, 2015 11:36 AM
The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outrage

The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Russians Observe 11th Anniversary of Beslan School Attack

This week, Russians have been observing the 11th anniversary of the attack by Islamic militants on a school in Russia's North Caucasus region that killed more than 330 hostages, including 186 children. The three-day siege and massacre that started on September 1, 2004 took place in Beslan, a town in the republic of North Ossetia, and is one of the bloodiest terrorist acts ever in Russia. VOA's Mike Richman reports.
Video

Video Native Americans Debate: Father Serra, Saint or Sinner?

Pope Francis will canonize an 18th century missionary to Spanish California during a papal visit to the United States this month.  But some Native Americans have criticized the elevation to sainthood of the missionary priest, Junipero Serra. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video China Announces Troop Cuts at WWII Parade

Chinese President Xi Jinping Thursday announced plans to cut the world’s largest military force by 300,000 troops. The announcement was made during a massive military parade to commemorate victory over Japan in World War II. The event was shunned by most Western leaders and for some is raising fresh concerns about China’s military ambitions. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.

VOA Blogs