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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.

Jun 2, 2015

Japanese government seeks to reassure public over pension data leak

TOKYO (Reuters) – Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government sought on Tuesday to assure the Japanese public their pensions were not at risk after a big data leak, an incident with echoes of a scandal that helped oust Abe during his first term in office.

The leak, underscoring what critics have long charged is Japan’s vulnerability to cyber attacks, coincide with Abe’s push to legislate a big shift from post-war pacifism, keep a nascent recovery on track and craft plans to rein in public debt.

May 26, 2015

China-led lender adds urgency to Japan’s pursuit of pan-Pacific trade pact

TOKYO, May 26 (Reuters) – China’s drive to create a
Beijing-led Asian development bank seen as a threat to U.S. and
Japanese regional clout is adding to a sense of urgency among
Japanese officials keen to get a 12-nation pan-Pacific trade
pact off the ground.

Japan hopes the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will help
anchor ally Washington in Asia and create a rule-based regime
that would eventually draw in China. Beijing, for its part, is
seeking to reshape Asia’s economic architecture with
institutions such as the new Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank

May 21, 2015

Japan unveils $110 bln plan to fund Asia infrastructure, eye on AIIB

TOKYO, May 21 (Reuters) – Japan unveiled a plan on Thursday
to provide $110 billion in aid for Asian infrastructure
projects, as China prepares to launch a new institutional lender
that is seen as encroaching on the regional financial clout of
Tokyo and its ally Washington.

The amount of Japanese funds, to be invested over 5 years,
tops the expected $100 billion capitalisation of the Asian
Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the Beijing-sponsored
lender scheduled to begin operations next year.

May 19, 2015

Western scholars press Japan’s Abe on war history

TOKYO (Reuters) – More than 450 mostly Western scholars have signed a letter urging Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to confront boldly Japan’s wartime past, the latest sign that the conservative leader has not erased concern that he wants to dilute past apologies.

During a high-profile trip to the United States last month, Abe expressed “repentance” over Japan’s role in World War Two in a speech to Congress. But the scholars’ letter suggests his public contrition has not eased foreign misgivings.

May 18, 2015

Osaka’s colourful mayor and potential ally of Japan PM says to quit politics

TOKYO (Reuters) – A potential ally for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s drive to revise the post-war, pacifist constitution – and one of Japan’s most colourful politicians – has said he’ll leave politics after his party suffered defeat in a local referendum.

Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, founder of Japan’s second largest opposition party and perhaps best known abroad for his 2013 comments that appeared to excuse Japan’s “comfort women” system of wartime military brothels, said late on Sunday that he would leave politics when his term as mayor expires in December.

May 14, 2015

Abe’s cabinet approves Japan security bills; voters wary, confused

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s cabinet approved on Thursday bills to implement a drastic shift in security policy allowing the military to fight abroad for the first time since World War Two, although the public is divided and wary over the changes.

The planned changes, reflected in new U.S.-Japan defense guidelines unveiled last month, set the stage for Japan to play a bigger role in the bilateral alliance as Tokyo and Washington face challenges such as China’s growing military assertiveness.

    • 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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