TOKYO - Facing restive voters and an upcoming U.S. summit, Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto gave his strongest hint yet of permanent income tax cuts.

South Korea

SEOUL - Police detained 350 striking subway workers after they set fires on the tracks, bringing morning commuter traffic to a standstill.


HANOI - Scrap-iron scavengers have found a mass grave containing the bodies of 20 Vietnamese soldiers, the Communist Party newspaper Nhan Dan reported. The grave is located along National Highway 9, which links the central town of Dong Ha to Khe Sanh, a former U.S. military base.


BERLIN - Although still leading in the polls less than three months before federal elections, the opposition Social Democrats found themselves fending off criticism this week from friends and foes.


BEIJING - A barge has capsized near the construction site for the huge Three Gorges dam project and 19 people were missing, an official newspaper said.

BEIJING - Shasha, the nation's oldest female panda in captivity, has died from heart failure at age 33, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.


BANGKOK - A ferry capsized in a storm near the resort island of Phuket, leaving seven people dead, police said.


COPENHAGEN - Police ended the search for a suspected bomb on board a Pakistan International Airlines Boeing 747 airliner having found nothing, a police spokesman said.


SOFIA - Former communist dictator Todor Zhivkov has opened a homepage on the Internet sparking a heated online debate between fans and foes.


MOSCOW - Retired general Lev Rokhlin, a member of parliament and an outspoken critic of President Boris Yeltsin, was found dead. His wife said she had killed him, Russia's Interior Ministry said.


BANDAR ABBAS - An Iranian official said the United States should officially apologize for shooting down an Iranian airliner over the Persian Gulf 10 years ago, killing all 290 people on board.


ZURICH - Swiss bank shares shrugged off news that more U.S. states were planning to slap banks with economic sanctions over their handling of Holocaust-era accounts.


JAKARTA - Security forces wounded two students during a confrontation in remote Irian Jaya province, the official Antara news agency said.


SYDNEY - Some 180 protesters occupied a planned $7.3 billion uranium mine in the country's remote north, with many chaining themselves to machinery, police and environmentalists said.

New Zealand

WELLINGTON - The nation marked the return of 11 preserved Maori heads from Britain with a ceremonial welcome and funeral at its national museum.


MEXICO CITY - Human Rights Watch asked President Ernesto Zedillo to support investigations by rights observers in the troubled southern state of Chiapas.