WOMEN RISE IN JAPAN'S NEW GOVERNMENT Japanese Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa appointed a record number of women to his Cabinet yesterday. Economists and businessmen said the new Cabinet, a coalition of eight conservative, centrist, and socialist parties, provides the expertise needed for crafting economic policies. The three new women ministers were appointed to the Economic Planning Agency, the Education Ministry, and the Environment Agency. Unlike the Liberal Democrats, who ruled from 1955 until last week, Mr. Hosokawa and his reformist Ja pan New Party appear to want women in office as part of their pledge to run Japan on behalf of consumers rather than business interests. At the July 18 election, voters returned a record number of women representatives 14 of 511 lower house seats. Another US official quits

A second State Department official has quit over differences with the Clinton administration's policy toward Bosnia. John Western, an analyst in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research who dealt with Bosnian policy, resigned late last week. Marshall Freeman Harris, the State Department's Bosnia desk officer, stepped down on Wednesday. Earlier this summer, a dozen State Department officials involved in mid-level policymaking wrote to Secretary of State Warren Christopher expressing dissent over aspects o f the Bosnia policy. Now for health care

Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell (D) of Maine said yesterday that approval of President Clinton's deficit-reduction plan is "a first step," but that Congress won't control the deficit until it reforms the US health care system.

Republican lawmakers, however, indicated Sunday they may not cooperate on new budget-cutting efforts unless the Democrats agree to take another look at the new taxes just enacted on wealthy Americans. The GOP does not want the taxes applied retroactively to the beginning of this year. Chad military cracks down

Chad's military government yesterday ordered a nationwide curfew after more than 40 people were killed in the capital. Witnesses said members of President Idriss Deby's palace guard, most of whom are from the Zaghawa tribe, opened fire without warning Sunday on residents protesting the killing of 82 civilians in eastern Abeche region last week.

A huge territory straddling Saharan and sub-Saharan Africa, and one of the continent's poorest, Chad has been riven by ethnic rivalry since independence in 1960. Venezuela digs out after Bret

Venezuelans began clearing mud and debris from their homes yesterday after a devastating tropical storm killed at least 99 people and left thousands homeless. Tropical Storm Bret was breaking up as it moved off the northwest coast of Colombia, but could gain strength before moving over Central America, the US National Weather Service reported yesterday.

Bret had been expected to pass by Venezuela without much damage, but it struck hard early Sunday with 5 inches of rain over a five-hour period. Environment Minister Adalberto Gabaldon called it the country's worst natural disaster since a 1967 earthquake. Hanoi offers MIA rewards

The Vietnamese government yesterday revived an offer to pay "a reasonable fee" to citizens who can help locate or recover the remains of US servicemen missing from the Vietnam War. The Vietnam Office for Seeking Missing Personnel said it was offering the money in an effort to intensify the search for missing Americans.

The issue has gained urgency since US Assistant Secretary of State Winston Lord visited Hanoi last month. Mr. Lord said that accelerated recovery of remains was one of four areas of concern where Vietnam must show progress if Washington is to restore diplomatic relations. Aussies will pay Nauru

The Australian government yesterday agreed to pay about $730,000 to the island of Nauru for environmental damages caused by Australia's phosphate mining there. In response, the tiny South Pacific island said it would withdraw a case against Australia currently before the World Court.

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