Chief Correspondent, Political and General News
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Oct 16, 2014

Japan’s trade minister apologises over reports political funds misused

TOKYO (Reuters) – In a blow to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, his newly appointed trade minister was ensnared in controversy on Thursday after reports that her political funds were spent buying theatre tickets for supporters and goods from relatives’ businesses.

Abe picked Yuko Obuchi, the 40-year-old daughter of a former prime minister, to head the powerful ministry of economy, trade and industry (METI) in a cabinet reshuffle in early September. She was among five women given top jobs, as Abe sought to bolster his government’s popularity with voters.

Oct 10, 2014

Japan PM Abe’s growth plan hits new obstacle: Daycare NIMBY

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s efforts to help women juggle work and family are hitting a roadblock: opposition to building new daycare centers from residents who fear noise from children playing will spoil their quiet neighborhoods.

The number of Japanese children is falling due to a low birth rate but many pre-schoolers are nonetheless on daycare waiting lists because of a shortage of facilities. Abe has vowed to fix the problem as part of plans to get more women working to offset a shrinking, aging population and boost economic growth.

Oct 8, 2014

Japan sees growing chance of Abe holding talks with China’s Xi

TOKYO (Reuters) – Expectations are growing in Japan that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will meet Chinese President Xi Jinping for an ice-breaking chat next month, while an aide signaled Abe may postpone visits to a shrine for war dead that have infuriated Beijing in the past.

Any talks between the two leaders on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific leaders gathering in Beijing in November would likely be well-choreographed, but without the trappings of a formal summit, a Japanese diplomatic source said.

Oct 2, 2014

Japan’s Obuchi: Political “princess” could be first female PM

TOKYO, Oct 3 (Reuters) – With a telegenic presence, powerful
ruling party mentors and a talent for avoiding making political
enemies, Japan’s new trade and industry minister, Yuko Obuchi,
may have what it takes to become the country’s first female
prime minister.

In Tokyo’s male-dominated corridors of power, where
seniority still matters, Obuchi’s gender and youth would in the
past have made her a long-shot – at best – to succeed Prime
Minister Shinzo Abe.

Sep 26, 2014

U.S.-Japan trade talks hit new farm exports snag

WASHINGTON/TOKYO, Sept 26 (Reuters) – U.S.-Japan trade talks
hit a rough patch this week with both sides blaming the other
for a stalemate over farm exports, a major hurdle in concluding
an ambitious 12-nation trade pact.

Bilateral talks between U.S. Trade Representative Michael
Froman and Japanese Economy Minister Akira Amari in Washington
broke up early on Wednesday, midway through the second day,
according to people close to the talks.

Sep 16, 2014

Japan PM’s liberal newspaper critic is humbled by errors

TOKYO, Sept 16 (Reuters) – It was a rare role reversal for
Japan’s influential Asahi newspaper, which is known for exposing
wrongdoing in high places, when its president stood before
cameras to bow, apologise and pledge to restore his
organisation’s credibility.

Tadakazu Kimura told more than 100 reporters packed into a
second-floor room at Asahi headquarters that the newspaper was
withdrawing a controversial article on the Fukushima nuclear
crisis that it now said was erroneous. It was also apologising
for belatedly retracting decades-old articles on wartime
atrocities based on an account later found to be fictitious.

Sep 4, 2014

Japan’s First Lady speaks out on sales tax, nuclear power

TOKYO, Sept 4 (Reuters) – Japanese First Lady Akie Abe -
often called the “domestic opposition” for her penchant to speak
out – said on Thursday the country should consider cutting
wasteful spending and boosting the economy before going ahead
with a rise in the sales tax to 10 percent, as her husband
wrestles with just that decision.

Mrs. Abe is a rarity among Japan’s First Ladies, most of
whom have stayed in the background. While her outspokenness wins
praise from fans, some cynics suspect that Prime Minister Shinzo
Abe’s aides welcome her role as softening the image of a leader
seen by detractors as a nationalist with pro-business policies.

Sep 4, 2014

Japan’s First Lady speaks out ahead of sales tax decision

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese First Lady Akie Abe said on Thursday the country should consider cutting wasteful spending and boosting the economy before going ahead with a rise in the sales tax to 10 percent, as her husband wrestles with just that decision.

“Considering the falling birth rate and ageing society, it probably can’t be helped,” Akie Abe told Reuters in an interview on Thursday at the prime minister’s official residence, referring to an eventual rise in the sales tax.

Sep 3, 2014

Japan PM Abe appoints China-friendly lawmakers to key posts

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe picked two veteran lawmakers with friendly ties to China for top party posts on Wednesday in an apparent signal of hope for a thaw in chilly ties with Beijing and a summit with Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

The change in executives in Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is part of a broad leadership rejig, including a cabinet reshuffle, which is aimed at strengthening party unity and polishing Abe’s image.

Sep 2, 2014

Japan’s Abe to co-opt rival, draft more women in cabinet reshuffle

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to co-opt a rival and draft more women to spruce up his image while keeping key ministers when he reshuffles his cabinet on Wednesday, a rejig dictated more by political dynamics than policy matters.

Abe has not revamped his cabinet since returning to office in December 2012, a record for a post-World War Two premier. That means dozens of veterans in his male-dominated Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) are eager to be tapped for a post.

    • 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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