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Apr 17, 2014

Obama, Abe to battle negative images at U.S.-Japan summit

TOKYO/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – When President Barack Obama meets Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at a summit next week, they will be battling negative undercurrents that could undermine their message that Asia’s most important security alliance is firm.

Obama, stopping in Tokyo at the start of a four-nation Asian trip, must counter worries in Japan that his commitment to its defense in the face of an increasingly assertive China is weak.

Apr 11, 2014

U.S. may give up demand for zero Japan beef tariffs in trade deal: Nikkei

TOKYO (Reuters) – The United States appears willing to accept a big cut in Japanese tariffs on beef imports rather than insist on scrapping the levy, the Nikkei business daily said on Friday, as the two countries seek a trade deal seen as vital to a broader regional pact.

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and Japanese Economics Minister Akira Amari wrapped up two days of intense talks on Thursday on the bilateral deal, a cornerstone of the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), with both saying progress had been made but that big gaps remained.

Apr 8, 2014

Japan, fresh from Australia pact, says U.S. trade talks ‘difficult’

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan, fresh from clinching a trade deal with Australia, said on Tuesday it hoped for a similar result in negotiations with the United States and also for a broad regional trade pact, but said the talks would be difficult.

Japan and the United States are pushing for a two-way trade deal, a crucial part of a broad U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), before U.S. President Barack Obama arrives in Japan this month.

Apr 3, 2014

Japan’s Abe closer to deal on looser limits on military

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government and ruling party are close to a consensus on the need to ease the pacifist constitution’s constraints on the military’s ability to fight alongside allies abroad, but have yet to persuade their junior coalition partner to agree to the historic change.

Allowing Japan’s Self-Defense Forces to aid the United States or other friendly nations under attack would mark a major turning point for Japan’s post-war pacifism and its military, which has not fired a shot in conflict since World War Two.

Mar 31, 2014

Abe bets he can break Japan sales tax jinx with April 1 rise

By Linda Sieg

TOKYO, March 31(Reuters) – Shinzo Abe has already ensured
himself a place in Japan’s history books with his comeback as
prime minister five years after a brief, troubled first term.
Now he aims to break another jinx by implementing a sales tax
increase, a move that has been the downfall of previous leaders.

Japan’s sales tax will rise on Tuesday to 8 percent from 5
percent, the first increase in 17 years and the first step in a
two-stage boost that is set to take the levy to 10 percent in
2015 as part an effort to curb the nation’s massive public debt.

Mar 26, 2014

Obama brokers Japan, South Korea talks as Pyongyang fires missiles

THE HAGUE/TOKYO (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama brought together the leaders of Japan and South Korea for their first face-to-face talks as a North Korean ballistic missile launch underscored the need for Washington’s two key Asian allies to repair their strained ties.

Washington hopes the three-way summit will improve relations between Seoul and Tokyo, which are clouded by the legacy of Japan’s 1910-1945 colonial rule of the Korean peninsula and Seoul’s concerns that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wants to rewrite Japan’s wartime past with a less apologetic tone.

Mar 24, 2014

Abe faces push-back in aim to free Japan military from constitution

TOKYO (Reuters) – Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is hitting a speed bump in his drive to ease constitutional limits on Japan’s ability to fight abroad, as members of his own coalition put up obstacles that could force him to delay or water down the move.

Abe has made clear he will press on with changes to free the military from the constraints of the pacifist constitution, but members of his own party are urging caution and his coalition partner is dubious about the wisdom of the historic – and unpopular – change.

Feb 21, 2014

Obama’s ambitious trade agenda hits Asian resistance

TOKYO/SINGAPORE, Feb 21 (Reuters) – America’s ambitious
trade agenda is running into fierce resistance in Asia, but
negotiators say a draft Pacific free-trade deal that papers over
some differences may be ready by the time U.S. President Barack
Obama visits the region in April.

A central element of Obama’s strategic shift towards Asia,
the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) could accelerate global
economic growth, boost U.S. exports and level the playing field
between emerging and rich nations in one of the world’s biggest
trade pacts, covering about one-third of global trade.

Feb 20, 2014

Aides give Japan’s Abe a headache on history, U.S. alliance

TOKYO (Reuters) – Remarks by aides to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe about U.S.-Japan ties and the wartime past are giving the Japanese leader a political headache as he seeks to soothe strains with key ally Washington amid rising regional tensions.

Investors have begun to worry that Abe, who took office in December 2012 pledging to revive the economy, is shifting more attention to his conservative agenda to bolster Japan’s military and recast history with a less apologetic tone.

Feb 15, 2014

Japan PM keen to cut corporate tax rate – chief cabinet secretary

TOKYO (Reuters) – Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is determined to cut Japan’s corporate tax rate, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said, a step experts say could boost the global competitiveness of Japanese companies and make the country more attractive to foreign investment.

Suga, who serves as the government’s top spokesman and is one of Abe’s most trusted aides, also said Japan’s participation in talks on a U.S.-led free trade pact, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, was a vital part of Abe’s growth strategy, the “Third Arrow” in his “Abenomics” policy that also includes hyper-easy monetary policy and fiscal spending.

    • 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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