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Apr 1, 2015

Japan PM Abe to craft war history comments with eye on U.S.

TOKYO (Reuters) – When Prime Minister Shinzo Abe addresses Japan’s wartime past in a statement marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two, the reaction of ally Washington will likely be as much, if not more, on his mind than that of Asian nations that suffered from Japanese military aggression.

U.S. officials have welcomed Abe’s push to strengthen the alliance and give Japan a bigger global security role less constrained by its pacifist constitution. But they have also made clear they are loath to see Abe stir regional tensions with comments that critics could construe as whitewashing history.

Mar 23, 2015

Indonesian president says China’s main claim in South China Sea has no legal basis

JAKARTA/TOKYO (Reuters) – Indonesian President Joko Widodo says one of China’s main claims to the majority of the South China Sea has no legal basis in international law, but Jakarta wants to remain an “honest broker” in one of Asia’s most sensitive territorial dispute.

Widodo’s comments in an interview with a major Japanese newspaper come as he embarks on a visit to Japan and China and is the first time he has taken a position on the issue since coming to power in October.

Mar 20, 2015

Seventy years on, Japan, U.S. remember epic Iwo Jima battle

TOKYO (Reuters) – When Yoshitaka Shindo was a boy, he did not hear much from his family about his grandfather Tadamichi Kuribayashi, commander of the Japanese troops who fought and died in the bloody battle of Iwo Jima.

The battle, in which nearly 7,000 U.S. Marines and almost 22,000 Japanese defenders died, was etched in America’s memory by an Associated Press photo of six soldiers raising the U.S flag on the small volcanic island’s Mount Suribachi.

Mar 17, 2015

Japan ex-ruling party chief urges Abe to erase doubts over war history

TOKYO (Reuters) – Prime Minister Shinzo Abe must erase doubts – sparked by his own words and deeds – that he wants to water down accounts of Japan’s wartime wrongs, a former leader of Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party said on Tuesday.

Yohei Kono, who as chief cabinet secretary issued a landmark 1993 apology over women forced to work in wartime military brothels, said one source of such doubts was Abe’s push for a more muscular military unfettered by the pacifist constitution.

Mar 10, 2015

Japan ex-PM says Abe risks alienating neighbors if he dilutes apology

TOKYO (Reuters) – Prime Minister Shinzo Abe risks further alienating Asian neighbors China and South Korea if he does not stick to the substance of a 1995 apology for wartime aggression, the man who issued the landmark statement two decades ago said on Tuesday.

Former prime minister Tomiichi Murayama, a socialist, was head of an unwieldy coalition with the conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) when he made the “heartfelt apology” for the wartime damage and suffering caused by Japan. Abe, then a rookie LDP lawmaker, was one of those who opposed the move.

Mar 6, 2015

Japan eyes MI6-style spy agency as it seeks to shed pacifist past

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan is looking into creating an overseas intelligence agency possibly modeled on Britain’s MI6 spy service, ruling party lawmakers say, 70 years after Allied victors dismantled Japan’s fearsome military intelligence apparatus following World War Two.

A new foreign intelligence agency would be an integral part of a security framework Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is building as he seeks to loosen the post-war pacifist constitution’s limits on the military’s ability to operate overseas.

Feb 24, 2015

Japanese media self-censorship grows in PM Abe’s reign

TOKYO (Reuters) – Worries are growing in Japan about a trend of media self-censorship as journalists and experts say news organizations are toning down criticism of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government for fear of sparking ire and losing access to sources.

No one is accusing Abe’s administration of overt meddling in specific news coverage, but media insiders and analysts say the government’s message is getting through.

Feb 10, 2015

Japan global PR message could misfire with focus on wartime past

TOKYO (Reuters) – A push by Japan to correct perceived bias in accounts of the country’s wartime past is creating a row that risks muddling the positive message in a mammoth public relations campaign to win friends abroad.

The PR campaign, which has a budget of over half a billion dollars, comes as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe aims to adopt a less apologetic stance on Japan’s actions before and during World War Two and ease the fetters imposed on defense policy by Japan’s post-war, pacifist constitution.

Feb 2, 2015

Working with global community only way to fight terrorism – Japan PM

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Monday he wanted to debate the possibility of Japan’s military rescuing Japanese citizens abroad, a day after Islamic State militants said they had beheaded a Japanese journalist.

The militants said on Sunday they had beheaded Kenji Goto, a veteran war reporter, after international efforts to secure his release through a prisoner swap failed. They killed another Japanese hostage, Haruna Yukawa, a week before.

Feb 1, 2015

Japan to debate rescue missions after Islamic State executions

TOKYO (Reuters) – The beheading of two Japanese citizens by Islamic State militants is fanning calls to allow Japan’s long-constrained military to conduct overseas rescue missions as part of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for a more muscular security posture.

Even some advocates of legal changes to make rescues possible, however, say Japan’s military faces big hurdles to acquiring the capacity to conduct such missions, while critics say sending troops overseas would just increase the risk.

    • 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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