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From Beijng to Tokyo, from Seoul to New Delhi, LinkAsia takes viewers into media about Asia – from Asia – offering unfiltered insight into one of the most diverse, fast-paced regions of the globe.

 

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Dispatch from Washington: Vietnam's President Makes Rare US Trip
Truong Tan SangThe Obama administration came into office vowing to strengthen ties with Southeast Asia, and this week's rare visit by Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang signals greater cooperation ahead. President Obama met with President Truong at the White House today. Truong's trip to the United States is only the second visit by a Vietnamese president since the two countries resumed relations in 1995. 

On Wednesday, I had the privilege of attending a luncheon in Washington, DC hosted by Secretary of State John Kerry in honor of Vietnam's President. I came there not only as a guest, but as a journalist and an immigrant who fled Vietnam in 1975 with my family as Saigon was falling to the communists. 

As Secretary Kerry and President Truong stood next to each other, I was struck by the imagery. It was yet another step in reconciliation. Kerry, a Vietnam veteran who once fought against the communist regime represented by President Truong, was now his political ally. Kerry thanked the Vietnamese government for its help in finding the remains of US servicemen. "They voluntarily dug up their rice paddies to help us answer our questions," he said. 

"From conflict to friendship," said Kerry, "Today, when people hear the word Vietnam, they're able to think of a country, not a war." 

President Truong did not talk about the war. He spoke of the US as a valuable military partner in a region that feels threatened by the growing dominance of China. "Vietnam wants to be a responsible partner with the international community," he said. Vietnam has pledged to participate in UN peacekeeping operations in 2014. It's also seeking to boost economic relations. Trade between Vietnam and the US has grown to US$26 billion since a trade deal was signed in 2001. 

President Truong barely touched on the thorny issue of human rights, saying simply "Vietnam has been continually making progress on human rights." 

Thuy Vu and Truong Tan SangThose who feel Vietnam has not done enough on the issue have heavily criticized his visit. According to Human Rights Watch, Vietnam is jailing a growing number of dissidents, bloggers and religious leaders for crimes such as "conducting propaganda" and "disrupting the unity of the state." The visit leaves a bitter taste for many Vietnamese Americans who have lingering resentment over losing their homeland to a regime that they view as abusive.

For me, it's sometimes a challenge to report on Vietnamese issues because I straddle two worlds -- journalism and the Vietnamese American community. As an immigrant, many Vietnamese Americans expect me to side with them in my reporting. I have to remind them that my role as a journalist is to be fair, not to advocate. Sometimes I win them over.  Other times I don't. As a Vietnamese American, I will always face expectations from my own community that aren't leveled at other journalists.

I understand their pain. Communists took my grandfather away for being a landowner. My uncle fought against communist forces during the Vietnam war. My brother was jailed by the communist regime. It is part of the Vietnamese American experience: struggle, heartache, survival. This is our story. 

My duty as a journalist, though, is to tell all stories with balance and insight. It's my own journey of reconciliation between my professional obligations and perceptions in the Vietnamese American community. That journey is still unfinished.
 
 

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NHK Honors Japanese-American Senator Daniel Inouye
(LinkAsia: December 21, 2012)
Yul Kwon:
A huge supporter of stronger US-Japan ties was US Senator of Hawaii, Daniel Inouye. He was a decorated war veteran and had served in the US Congress since 1959, when Hawaii was granted statehood. He was the highest ranking Asian-American politician in US history. Here's NHK with a tribute.

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NHK World NEWSLINE
Airdate: December 18, 2012

Reporter:
Inouye was elected to the senate in 1962 and served for half a century. He was chairman of the senate appropriations committee. He worked to promote exchanges between US and Japanese politicians. He helped support reconstruction efforts in Northeastern Japan and visited areas affected by the earthquake and tsunami. Inouye sat down in October for an interview with NHK. He called on Japanese and US officials to strengthen their alliance.

Daniel Inouye:
If there's turmoil and disasters in Asia-Pacific area, we would be affected. So it's in our best interest also

Reporter:
Inouye served during the Second World War in an Army unit made up of soldiers of Japanese ancestry. He lost his right arm in a battle in Italy. President Obama said the country has lost a true American hero. Daniel Inouye was 88 years old.
 
 

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2012 US Presidential Election: The View from Asia

 
 

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Japan Analyzes US Election
(LinkAsia: October 26, 2012)
Yul Kwon:
So who won the debate?  Here's Japanese broadcaster, NHK, with one analyst's opinion.

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NHK World NEWSLINE
Airdate: October 23, 2012

Fumiko Nishizaki:
I think foreign policy is usually the domain of the incumbent president, and I think President Obama used the opportunity quite well by explaining his specific foreign policy agenda and priorities and so on. Whereas, Governor Romney tended to be more general. He had this broad approach mapped out as his foreign policy agenda, but he was a little weak on specifics.

I guess they spent a whole lot of time on the Middle East, Middle Eastern policy and the Al Qaeda and Pakistan, Afghanistan-what impressed me was that President Obama was emphasizing a lot about his multilateral approach to many things, like in Libya or Iran. How the administration has dealt with in cooperation with the other countries. And in that sense I think Governor Romney tended to emphasize on leadership, on America's leadership. And he was attacking President Obama for not exerting strong American leadership.

Among the three debates I think the first debate made the strongest impression on the American public, because President Obama unexpectedly did not very well. He was not so focused and energetic and so on. The third debate, President Obama was clearly the winner I think. But it deals with foreign policy, first of all, and it's not something that the American public is most concerned about. They were worried about the economy and domestic policies. It is very difficult to say that either of these debates would have a definitive impact on the account of the election.
 
 

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US Pressures India to Cease Iran Oil Imports
(LinkAsia: May 11, 2012)
Sydnie Kohara:
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is continuing her Asian tour with a stop in India, but she's not getting much cooperation there. The United States is asking India not to buy oil from Iran. The oil embargo is to force Iran to halt its nuclear program, but Iran is the biggest supplier of oil to India. And as NHK reports, they're not likely to stop doing business together any time soon.

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NHK World NEWSLINE
Airdate: May 8, 2012

Reporter:
Hillary Clinton's visit to India comes less than two months before additional sanctions against Iran go into force. The United States has outlined new sanctions against Iran in response to Iran's nuclear program. But so far, India, which imports about 10 percent of its oil from Iran, has shown no intention of following Washington's lead. One factor at play is the importance of energy security seen by the government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as a crucial element of India's economic growth. Clinton emphasized that the US is ready to provide expert advice on how India can diversify its sources of oil. In line with its sanctions against Iran, Washington is hoping that India will agree to reduce imports from Iran.

Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State:
We commend India for the steps its refineries are taking to reduce imports from Iran. There is no doubt that India and the United States are after the same goal.

Reporter:
While India is not prepared to join western sanctions, curbing oil imports from Iran would motivate the country to diversify its sources of oil leading to greater energy security.

S.M. Krishna, Indian Foreign Minister:
Given our growing demand, it is natural for us to try and diversify our sources of imports of oil and gas to meet the objective of energy security.

Reporter:
India is keen to avoid further economic slowdown caused by the European debt crisis. On the other hand, the United States wants to make sanctions against Iran as effective as possible. Clinton and Krishna are said to meet again in Washington in June. The search for a compromise over Iranian oil imports is likely to continue until just before the sanctions begin.

Sydnie Kohara:
Hillary Clinton held up Japan as the example for India to follow. Japan has successfully reduced its oil imports from Iran by about 20 percent.
 
 

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