Reporters on the Job

A Presidential Apology: It's not often that the president of China apologizes publicly to anyone, least of all to journalists, but that's what happened on Monday. Staff writer Peter Ford gathered with a few hundred of his colleagues in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing for the unveiling of the newest members of the nine-member Communist Party ruling council .

"The glossy red and gold invitation said the Standing Committee would meet the press at 'around' 11.00 a.m.," Peter says, "and we all had to be there by 9.45 a.m. for a security check. TV crews who wanted a decent camera position got there even earlier."

But President Hu Jintao did not lead his new team out into public view until after 11.30. "At the end of his prepared address he ad-libbed for a moment – itself a rare occurrence – to say he was aware how long we had waited and how sorry he was. But he and his colleagues still refused to answer any questions."

An Isle of Contradictions: His friends and family were envious as correspondent Takehiko Kambayashi left to report today's story in Okinawa, a chain of subtropical islands located about 1,000 miles southwest from Tokyo. It would be similar to a New Yorker going to the Bahamas. "Many Japanese associate the islands with a vacation resort, and the island I visited, Zamami, is one of the best for diving and whale watching. It was 65 degrees F. in Tokyo, and 85 degrees in Okinawa," says Takehiko.

But he wasn't there for the weather. He went to find islanders who would tell him about coerced mass suicides at the end of World War II . "I've been to Okinawa almost every year since 1997. One of the friends I've made there is a lady in her early 90s. She always tells me, 'If you know Okinawa, you will begin to understand Japan's contradictions.' "

– David Clark Scott

World editor

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