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Jan 30, 2015

Jordan still holding prisoner demanded by Islamic State as deadline passes

AMMAN/TOKYO (Reuters) – Jordan said on Thursday it was still holding an Iraqi would-be suicide bomber as a deadline passed for her release set by Islamic State militants who threatened to kill a Jordanian pilot unless she was handed over by sunset.

An audio message purportedly from a Japanese journalist also captured by the insurgents said the pilot would be killed unless Jordan freed Sajida al-Rishawi, who is on death row for her role in a 2005 suicide bomb attack that killed 60 people in Amman.

Jan 29, 2015

Japan checking purported message on new deadline set by IS

AMMAN/TOKYO (Reuters) – An audio message purportedly from a Japanese journalist being held by Islamic State militants said a Jordanian air force pilot also held by the group would be killed unless an Iraqi female prisoner in Jordan was released by sunset on Thursday.

The message appeared to postpone a previous deadline set on Tuesday in which the journalist, Kenji Goto, said he would be killed within 24 hours if the Iraqi was not freed.

Jan 25, 2015

Japan condemns apparent IS execution, demands hostage release

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Sunday called the apparent killing of a Japanese captive by Islamic State militants “outrageous and impermissible,” and again called for the group to release a second Japanese national they are holding.

Abe, speaking to public broadcaster NHK, said chances were high that a recording and an image of what appeared to be the decapitated body of captive Harman Yukawa, which emerged late on Saturday, were authentic.

Jan 23, 2015

Corrected – Islamic State threat could stiffen Japan PM Abe’s stance on security

TOKYO (Reuters) – (In Jan 21 story, corrects Abe’s age in 9th para)

A purported Islamic State threat to kill two Japanese captives unless it gets $200 million in ransom could harden Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s resolve to break with Japan’s pacifism and boost Tokyo’s global security role – even as it intensifies debate over his polarising policy.

In an online video released on Tuesday near the end of a tour by Abe to the Middle East, a black-clad figure holding a knife and standing between two kneeling men in orange clothes, gave Japan 72 hours to respond to the ransom demand, which he linked to Abe’s Jan. 17 pledge of $200 million in non-military aid for countries battling the Islamic State.

Jan 21, 2015

Islamic State threat could stiffen Japan PM Abe’s stance on security

TOKYO (Reuters) – A purported Islamic State threat to kill two Japanese captives unless it gets $200 million in ransom could harden Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s resolve to break with Japan’s pacifism and boost Tokyo’s global security role – even as it intensifies debate over his polarising policy.

In an online video released on Tuesday near the end of a tour by Abe to the Middle East, a black-clad figure holding a knife and standing between two kneeling men in orange clothes, gave Japan 72 hours to respond to the ransom demand, which he linked to Abe’s Jan. 17 pledge of $200 million in non-military aid for countries battling the Islamic State.

Jan 19, 2015

Japan’s Abe could ease doubts by apologising over WW2 – ex-PM Fukuda

TOKYO (Reuters) – Prime Minister Shinzo Abe could help remove international doubts about Japan’s stance towards its wartime past by apologising over World War Two in a statement he plans to mark the 70th anniversary of the war’s end, said former premier Yasuo Fukuda.

The statement by Abe, whose conservative agenda includes adopting a less apologetic tone toward the wartime past and bolstering Japan’s defences, will be closely parsed in China and South Korea, where memories of Japan’s past militarism run deep.

Jan 18, 2015

Japan opposition Democrats turn to familiar face to try to fix flagging fortunes

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s opposition Democratic Party elected former foreign minister Katsuya Okada as its leader on Sunday, turning to a familiar face to try to persuade voters it can again become a viable alternative to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling party.

Okada, 61, must try to repair the Democratic Party of Japan’s (DPJ) battered image two years after Abe led his conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) to power pledging to revive the economy and strengthen defence policies.

Dec 22, 2014

Sony hack puts Japan’s Abe in bind over North Korea abductee talks

TOKYO (Reuters) – U.S. accusations that North Korea was behind the cyberattack on Sony Pictures could force Japan to choose between backing its ally Washington and keeping talks on track with Pyongyang about Japanese citizens abducted decades ago.

Washington is weighing how to punish North Korea after the FBI concluded Pyongyang was responsible, including possibly returning North Korea to the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism. North Korea has denied that it was to blame.

Dec 20, 2014

Japan, South Korea condemn Sony hack; Chinese paper says movie is senseless

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan and South Korea condemned a hacking attack on Sony Pictures that the United States has blamed on North Korea and said they would cooperate in international efforts against cyber-crime as asked for by Washington.

The government of China, North Korea’s only major ally, has yet to respond to the U.S. call, but a state-run newspaper denounced Sony’s comedy woven around a fictional plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as senseless and arrogant.

Dec 14, 2014

Abe coalition secures big Japan election win with record low turnout

TOKYO, Dec 15 (Reuters) – Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo
Abe’s coalition cruised to a big election win on Sunday,
ensuring he will stick to reflationary economic policies and a
muscular security stance, but record low turnout pointed to
broad dissatisfaction with his performance.

NHK public TV said Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party and junior
partner the Komeito party were assured more than the 317 seats
in the 475-member lower house required to maintain a two-thirds
“super-majority” that smoothes parliamentary business.

    • About Linda

      "I direct a team of reporters responsible for covering politics, diplomacy, social and security policies in the world's second-biggest economy, as well as natural disasters, entertainment and lifestyle trends. I have been in my current position since April 1999 and prior to that was Chief Economics Correspondent, Japan."
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