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Jul 15, 2015

Japan’s Abe pushes security bills in summer of discontent

TOKYO (Reuters) – Legislation for a dramatic change in Japan’s defence policy that could allow troops to fight abroad for the first time since World War Two was approved by a lower house panel on Wednesday, despite opposition from a majority of ordinary voters.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says a bolder security stance, welcomed by key ally Washington, is vital to meet new challenges, such as those from a rising China.

Jul 15, 2015

Japan’s Abe set to push through security bills in summer of discontent

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe faces his toughest challenge since taking office in 2012 as his ruling bloc prepares to force unpopular security bills through the lower house despite voter doubts about the legislation and a slew of other policies.

The legislation, based on a July 2014 cabinet resolution, would implement a dramatic change in defense policy allowing Japanese troops to fight abroad for the first time since Tokyo’s defeat in World War Two.

Jul 14, 2015

Japan security debate masks clash of views on pacifist constitution

TOKYO (Reuters) – Is Japan’s constitution a symbol of peace and respect for universal values or a reminder of humiliating defeat?

As Prime Minister Shinzo Abe rushes to push through unpopular legislation allowing broader use of Japan’s military, the heated security debate masks a deeper divide over the pacifist charter, drafted by U.S. Occupation officials after Japan’s World War Two defeat.

Jul 7, 2015

Japan’s Abe faces growing risk on security shift: opposition leader

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will be taking a big risk if he pushes through a dramatic change in security policy despite objections from most citizens, who want a better explanation why the change is needed, a top opposition figure said on Tuesday.

Abe’s ratings have slipped over the security policy shift, which could let Japanese troops fight abroad for the first time since Tokyo’s defeat in World War Two, and which he hopes to enact into law in a parliament session that runs until Sept. 27.

Jun 26, 2015

Japan, U.S. can reach agreement for July pan-Pacific trade deal: Japan official

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan and the United States are likely to resolve outstanding bilateral issues so that a 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal can be struck at a multilateral ministerial meeting expected in July, a senior Japanese official said on Friday.

A deal between the United States and Japan, the world’s largest and third-largest economies, is vital to clinching the multilateral TPP pact, which would cover 40 percent of the world economy. The deal is a key part of U.S. President Barack Obama’s strategic rebalance to Asia in the face of a rising China.

Jun 18, 2015

Japan, S.Korea send conflicting signals on ‘comfort women’ feud

TOKYO (Reuters) – As Japan and South Korea near their 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties, the two are sending conflicting signals over whether they can resolve a feud over “comfort women” forced to work in Japan’s wartime military brothels that has chilled ties.

The fraught relations are complicating efforts to boost security cooperation between Tokyo and Seoul, both staunch U.S. allies, as the region copes with an unpredictable North Korea and an assertive China.

Jun 17, 2015

South Korea foreign minister to make first trip to Japan in four years

SEOUL/TOKYO (Reuters) – South Korea’s Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se will visit Tokyo on Sunday, the first such trip in four years, as the U.S. allies prepare to mark the 50th anniversary of the normalization of ties amid a chill because of feuds over the wartime past.

Yun will meet Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida on Sunday and attend a ceremony at the South Korean embassy the next day, the anniversary of a 1965 treaty normalizing diplomatic ties, South Korea’s foreign ministry said on Wednesday. The visit was simultaneously announced in Tokyo.

Jun 15, 2015

Japan PM Abe’s support lowest since 2012 amid doubts about security bills

TOKYO (Reuters) – Support for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s cabinet has fallen to the lowest level since he took office in 2012, to just over 40 percent, with nearly two-thirds of voters opposed to his muscular defense policy that would end a self-imposed ban on the military fighting overseas, a weekend media survey showed.

The survey by Nippon Television Network coincided with weekend rallies by thousands protesting the legislation, which would allow Japan to exercise its right of collective self-defense, or militarily aiding a friendly country under attack.

Jun 10, 2015

Japan’s ‘survival game’ fans play at combat, wary of war

YOTSUKAIDO CITY, Japan (Reuters) – Dressed in camouflage fatigues and sweating in the summer heat, Kento Atari and his comrades sneak through the woods trying to outfox their enemies in a mock military exercise.

“I’ve been hit,” yells one, emerging with hands held high.

The young Japanese, armed not with real weapons but air guns that shoot plastic pellets, are devotees of so-called “survival games”, which are increasingly popular in a land whose soldiers have not gone into battle since defeat in World War Two.

Jun 5, 2015

Abe’s ruling party suffers ‘own goal’ in Japan security debate

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling party suffered an embarrassing potential setback this week when an expert it called to comment in parliament said legal changes to let troops defend an ally under attack would violate the constitution.

Abe’s cabinet last year adopted a resolution reinterpreting the pacifist constitution to let Japan exercise its right of “collective self-defense”, or militarily aiding an ally under attack. The change is part of Abe’s more muscular defense policy that would give Japan a bigger role in the U.S.-Japan alliance.

    • 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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