Chavez: We'll back Iran 'under any circumstances'

When Hugo Chavez pledges support, he goes all out:

"Venezuela will remain alongside Iran under any circumstances," Chavez, who is on his ninth visit to the Iran, told President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during a meeting, according to the presidency website.

"Venezuela seriously considers cooperation with Iran as a holy matter," he said, adding that "independent nations" can join forces to "strengthen our power in facing imperialists."


Japan's secret foreign policy

As anti-Japanese protests flare across China, the Japanese media is reporting that the government may have unwittingly violated a secret pact with China over the disputed Senkaku islands, leading to the current round of tension:

Aera magazine reported that under Japan's conservative Liberal Democratic Party, which ruled for half a century until last year, Tokyo and Beijing had made "secret promises" to each other over the territorial issue.

"Under the secret promises, Japan was in principle to prevent landings (of Chinese nationals) on the islets and not to detain them unless it develops into a case of grave concerns," the magazine said, citing unnamed government sources.

"The Chinese side promised to block (anti-Japanese) protesters' boats from sailing off to reach the islands," the weekly added.

In an illustrative case, Japan in 2004 immediately deported seven Chinese activists who had landed on one of the rocky islands, Aera said.

When power changed in Japan last summer, the earlier promises may not have been mentioned to the new centre-left Democratic Party of Japan government, an unnamed government source was quoted as saying by Aera.

If true, this would be the second revelation this year about a secret foreign policy pact made by the LDP government. In March, it came out that under an undisclosed passage of a 1960 treaty with the United States, Japan had been allowing nuclear-armed U.S. vessels to use its ports in violation of longstanding anti-nuclear principles.

Obviously, secret agreements between countries are hardly unheard of. But it's certainly starting to seem like the LDP had been trying to avoid public outcry on some of Japan's most contentious foreign-policy issues and that after decades of unquestioned rule, didn't anticipate having to let the opposition in on the secret.

JASON LEE/AFP/Getty Images