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Apr 23, 2014

Obama reassures Japan, other allies on China ahead of visit

TOKYO (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama has said Washington welcomes China’s rise but that engagement with Beijing would not come at the expense of its Asian allies – as Chinese state media greeted his imminent arrival in the region with a broadside accusing the United States of wanting to “cage” the emerging superpower.

Obama’s remarks, aimed at reassuring Japan and other allies, set against a robust commentary from China’s state news agency Xinhua that also called the United States “myopic”, demonstrate the delicate balancing act Obama faces on a week-long Asia tour.

Apr 22, 2014

Asia tensions simmer as Obama set to arrive in Tokyo

TOKYO (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama arrives in a tense Asian region on Wednesday, faced with the delicate task of assuring Japan and other regional allies of America’s commitment to their defense without hurting Washington’s vital ties with a rising China.

That difficult diplomatic balancing act was highlighted on Monday, when Japanese Prime Minister sent a ritual offering to Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine, seen in parts of the region as a symbol of Japan’s past militarism.

Apr 22, 2014

Obama, Abe under pressure to salvage signature Pacific trade pact

WASHINGTON/TOKYO (Reuters) – A meeting between U.S. President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe this week in Tokyo may not seal one of the world’s biggest trade pacts, but it could give it a much-needed boost.

A central element of Obama’s strategic shift towards Asia, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) would connect a dozen Asia-Pacific economies by eliminating trade barriers and harmonizing regulations in a pact covering two-fifths of the world economy and a third of all global trade.

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.

    • 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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