Abe cements grip in weekend win

July 22, 2013

Japanese prime minister scores weekend victory, blast targets radical Buddhist monk, and UAE drops charges against a Norwegian woman for reporting rape. Today is Monday, July 22, and this is the World Wrap, brought to you by @dwbronner and @clarerrrr.

Japan’s Prime Minister and the leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), Shinzo Abe, makes an appearance before the media at a news conference following a victory in the upper house elections by his ruling coalition, at the LDP headquarters in Tokyo, July 22, 2013. REUTERS/Issei Kato

Abe’s win a double-edged sword. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s decisive victory in Sunday’s upper house election gives him better footing to bolster his signature economic reform plan, Abenomics. However, Abe could face pushback from members of his own Liberal Democratic Party on making politically unpopular reforms. A stronger mandate also may prompt Abe to push for other elements of his conservative agenda:

Ever since Abe stormed back to power with a big win in a December lower house poll, some – including Japanese businesses with a big stake in the matter – have worried the hawkish leader will shift focus to the conservative agenda that has long been central to his ideology. That agenda includes revising the post-war pacifist constitution, strengthening Japan’s defense posture and recasting Tokyo’s wartime history with a less apologetic tone.

According to the Tokyo Shimbun metropolitan newspaper, 42.9 percent of those polled said they are against Abe’s plan to alter the constitution to make it more hawkish, and nearly 55 percent are against restarting nuclear reactors. Analysts say Abe’s mandate is not as strong as it appears, despite a landslide win. Just over half of the eligible population turned out to vote, and Abe’s victory was aided by a splintered opposition.

Buddhist monk Wirathu (C), leader of the 969 movement, greets other monks as he attends a meeting on the National Protection Law at a monastery outside Yangon, June 27, 2013. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

‘Burmese bin Laden’ targeted by bomb attack. The leader of a radical Buddhist movement in Myanmar was unscathed by a bomb that exploded 40 feet from him as he delivered a mass sermon. Wirathu, who has described himself as the “Burmese bin Laden,” said he believes the attacker wanted to silence him with the blast:

The home-made bomb went off inside a parked car, according to police and witnesses. There was no immediate claim of responsibility. Tensions have been smoldering between radical elements of Myanmar’s Buddhist majority and Muslims. Bouts of religious violence have killed at least 237 people and displaced 150,000 in the past year, testing the resolve of a two-year-old quasi-civilian government.

Five people were slightly injured by the bomb. The 969 movement has been accused of inciting violence against Myanmar’s minority Muslim Rohingya, many of whom have fled the country in hopes of finding acceptance elsewhere. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack.

Norwegian interior designer Marte Deborah Dalelv, 24, who reported being raped, speaks during an interview with Reuters at the Norwegian Seamen’s Center in Dubai, July 21, 2013. REUTERS/Jumana El Heloueh

Backwards ruling reversed. The UAE pardoned a Norwegian woman sentenced to 16 months in prison for illicit sex after she reported she was raped to authorities in Dubai:

Marte Deborah Dalelv, 24, had been awaiting an appeal hearing of her 16-month sentence handed down this month after a court in the Gulf Arab emirate found her guilty of having sex outside marriage, drinking and making false statements… News of the sentence had dominated the front pages in Norway and raised questions about the judicial system in the Gulf state, which attracts large numbers of expatriates and tourists with a Western lifestyle but has little-publicized conservative laws covering sex and alcohol.

Dalelv told police a colleague had pulled her into his hotel room and raped her when she asked him for help finding her own room after they had a few drinks. In the UAE, a rape conviction requires testimony from four adult male witnesses or a confession.

Nota Bene: At least 54 people were killed and hundreds injured in a 6.6-magnitude earthquake that hit China.


Trade route revamp – Hewlett-Packard revives the Silk Road. (The New York Times)

Would you like porn with that? – Internet porn will be blocked in British homes unless subscribers opt-in. (BBC)

Ancient digs – Israeli archaeologists say they have located King David’s palace. (The Associated Press)

Quack cops – Geese are the newest soldiers fighting China’s war on crime. (Quartz)

Great Barrier grief – Bombs dropped by U.S. fighter jets on the Great Barrier Reef add to a long list of threats. (National Geographic)

From the File:

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