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.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs