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Reporters on the Job

Discriminating Cabbies: Thursday was not a good day to be a Japanese tourist in Nanjing, China, staff writer Peter Ford reports. "Anti-Japanese feeling runs deep in many Chinese breasts", he says, "but especially in Nanjing, where Imperial Japanese troops ran amok in December 1937 in what has become known in China as the Nanjing Massacre."

In Japan, it's called the "Nanjing Incident."

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"One Chinese taxi driver told me that on every Dec. 13th, the anniversary of Nanjing's fall, none of his colleagues will carry a Japanese passenger – though they don't discriminate the rest of the year. He said that it was a special day," says Peter.

Out of the 60 or so foreign reporters that were covering the 70th anniversary events, most were not from Western news organizations. About 30 percent were from the Japanese media. Fortunately, they didn't have to take cabs to the events. A press bus was provided by the Chinese government.

During Thursday's activities, the city's air-raid sirens wailed at 10.30 a.m., as they do each year. It reminded Peter of his days as a correspondent in the Middle East in the early 1990s. "On Holocaust Memorial Day (Jan. 27) in Israel, the air-raid sirens sound, too. All of Jerusalem stops. If people are driving, they get out and stand by their cars. Here in Nanjing, life goes on but everybody knows why the sirens are sounding" (see story).

Korean Beach Scene: The presence of thousands of volunteers cleaning up South Korea's worst oil spill (see story) can be a boon for visiting reporters. One of them, Shin Kyong Chol, a botany expert, drove correspondent Don Kirk along the coastline, stopping off for closer looks at four or five beaches and villages. "The tourist hotels were either empty or filled with soldiers billeted there while fighting the oil spill. On the beaches, volunteers dispensed cups of powdered coffee, green tea, and noodles," says Don.

– David Clark Scott

World editor


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