Chief Correspondent, Political and General News
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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.

Feb 15, 2014

Japan’s chief cabinet secretary rejects charges country lurching toward militarism

TOKYO (Reuters) – Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s most influential aide on Saturday rejected criticism from China that Japan is lurching toward militarism and said Tokyo would keep seeking dialogue with both Beijing and Seoul, ties with which have been badly strained by rows over territory and wartime history.

Sino-Japanese ties, long plagued by China’s bitter memories of Tokyo’s wartime aggression, have worsened since a feud over disputed East China Sea islands flared in 2012. Relations with South Korea are also badly frayed by a separate territorial row and the legacy of Japan’s 1910-1945 colonization.

Feb 12, 2014

Japan on backfoot in global PR war with China after Abe shrine visit

TOKYO/BEIJING (Reuters) – Japan risks losing a global PR battle with China after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to a controversial shrine for war dead and comments by other prominent figures on the wartime past helped Beijing try to paint Tokyo as the villain of Asia.

Sino-Japanese ties have long been plagued by territorial rows, regional rivalry and disputes stemming from China’s bitter memories of Japan’s occupation of parts of the country before and during World War Two. Relations chilled markedly after a feud over disputed East China Sea isles flared in 2012.

Feb 9, 2014

Japan ruling party candidate elected Tokyo governor, aiding Abe

TOKYO, Feb 9 (Reuters) – A candidate backed by Prime
Minister Shinzo Abe won Sunday’s election for governor of Tokyo,
frustrating a rival’s efforts to make the vote a referendum on
the Japanese leader’s pro-nuclear energy policy nearly three
years after the Fukushima disaster

The widely-expected victory by former health minister Yoichi
Masuzoe comes as a relief for Abe, who had suffered a rare
setback in another local election last month.

    • 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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