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ZODIAC

Found 13 results

  1. Abe, Japan's longest-serving modern leader, was gunned down on Friday during a speech in support of a local candidate
  2. Britain's finance ministry says Nadhim Zahawi had made a genuine mistake and was expressing his reaction to horrific incident
  3. Local media reports ex-premier Shinzo Abe was showing no vital signs after being shot during election speech
  4. WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed Monday that it is "imperative" to completely dismantle North Korea´s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile program, the White House said.During a telephone call, the...
  5. TOKYO: Shinzo Abe may have seized a "super-majority" in Japan´s parliament but he has failed to win the hearts and minds of voters suspicious of his nationalist instincts and who do not share his fixation on changing the country´s pacifist constitution. Having trounced a disorganised opposition to secure two-thirds of seats, Abe has the parliamentary numbers to start a process that would bolster the role of the military -- an ambition he has long cherished. But the victory was far from a ringing endorsement of the 63-year-old veteran, more a win by default. The election confirmed Abe´s "difficult relations with the Japanese people," said Tobias Harris, Japanese politics expert at the Washington-based Teneo Intelligence consultancy. "There is a certain amount of appreciation for certain aspects of what he has done." But, said Harris: "He is not loved." An exit poll conducted by Kyodo News showed more than half of voters (51 percent) do not trust their prime minister, while a survey by the liberal Asahi Shimbun found 47 percent of those questioned would like to see someone else in charge of Japan. Party of (no) Hope Only a few months ago, that was starting to look like a possibility. Abe was fighting for his own political survival, embroiled in scandal and smarting from an embarrassing defeat in Tokyo municipal elections. When he suddenly announced snap polls last month, critics saw it as an opportunistic manoeuvre to take advantage of a weak opposition and divert attention from his own woes, including allegations of favouritism to a friend in a business deal -- which the premier strongly denies. For a short moment, it looked as if Abe´s gambit could backfire spectacularly. The media-savvy and charismatic Governor of Tokyo, Yuriko Koike, unveiled a new party in a blaze of publicity and dominated TV broadcasts and the front pages for days. The creation of her Party of Hope sparked an unprecedented transformation in the lethargic world of Japanese politics. The main opposition Democratic Party (DP) effectively disbanded as scores of lawmakers jumped aboard Koike´s bandwagon, which, while ideologically similar to Abe´s, at least had the whiff of a fresh coat of paint. Meanwhile, left-leaning DP members banded together to form a new progressive party, the Constitutional Democrats. In the event, neither party was able to organise a nationwide campaign in the short time available, and both fizzled. "As it turned out, the Party of Hope is hopeless," said Michael Cucek from Temple University. It could be ten years before there is an effective opposition capable of forming a government, said Teneo´s Harris. Constitutional battle Having seen off all-comers and secured a two-thirds majority in the lower house, Abe now has effective control of the executive and the legislature. He will likely use the victory to start the lengthy process of amending the constitution, a personal passion for Abe and a select band of fellow right-wingers, but largely an anathema for most Japanese. The hawkish premier wants to change the US-imposed document, seen by conservatives as an outdated legacy of wartime defeat, so Japan can formally transform its well-equipped and well-trained "Self Defense Force" into a full-fledged army. The trouble for the PM is that many Japanese feel deep affection for, and pride in, the constitution´s peace provisions, which they believe have served them well over the last seven decades. China and the two Koreas -- both victims of Japan´s 20th century adventurism -- are also deeply hostile to anything that could be seen as re-militarisation. Despite his personal ambitions, Abe is sensitive to public antipathy on the issue. He knows he cannot railroad the constitutional change, said Naoto Nonaka of Gakushuin University. Immediately after his victory, he pledged to "deepen" parliamentary debate, and vowed not to use his super-majority to ram changes through. In any case, there are brakes on his ambitions -- any changes need to be put to a referendum. Polls continually show that voters are far more concerned about Japan´s flaccid economy than about Abe´s pet projects. The prime minister would be unwise to take his thumping electoral win for endorsement of his nationalist views, said Mikitaka Masuyama, professor at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies. He won Sunday´s election because the opposition "could not put up a united front" against him. "But this doesn´t mean that the Japanese voters are leaning towards conservative causes," he said.
  6. TOKYO: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe swept to a comfortable victory in a snap election Sunday, handing him a mandate to harden his already hawkish stance on North Korea and re-energise the world´s number-three economy. Abe's conservative coalition was on track to win 311 seats in the 465-seat parliament, according to a projection published by private broadcaster TBS, putting the nationalist blue blood on course to become Japan´s longest-serving leader. The comfortable election win is likely to stiffen Abe´s resolve to tackle North Korea´s nuclear menace, as the key US regional ally seeks to exert maximum pressure on the regime in Pyongyang after it fired two missiles over Japan in the space of a month. Abe was heading for a "landslide win," the Yomiuri daily said on its website. Millions of Japanese braved torrential rain and driving winds to vote, as a typhoon bears down on the country with many heeding warnings to cast their ballots early. "I support Abe´s stance not to give in to North Korea´s pressure," said one voter, Yoshihisa Iemori, as he cast his ballot in rain-swept Tokyo. Abe´s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) benefitted from a weak and splintered opposition, with the two main parties facing him created only a matter of weeks ago. Support for the Party of Hope founded by popular Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike fizzled after an initial blaze of publicity and was on track to win around 50 seats, the TBS projection suggested. Speaking from Paris where she was attending an event in her capacity as leader of the world´s biggest city, a sullen-faced Koike told public broadcaster NHK she feared a "very severe result". The new centre-left Constitutional Democratic Party fared slightly better than expected but was still far behind Abe. "The LDP´s victory is simply because the opposition couldn´t form a united front," political scientist Mikitaka Masuyama from the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, told AFP. It was unclear in the immediate aftermath of the vote whether Abe´s coalition would retain its two-thirds "supermajority." Such a "supermajority" would allow Abe to propose changes to Japan´s US-imposed constitution that forces it to "renounce" war and effectively limits its military to a self-defence role. 'Sink' Japan The short 12-day campaign was dominated by the economy and the global crisis over North Korea, which has threatened to "sink" Japan into the sea. Nationalist Abe stuck to a hardline stance throughout, stressing that Japan "would not waver" in the face of an increasingly belligerent regime in Pyongyang. Despite the sabre-rattling from North Korea, many voters said reviving the once-mighty Japanese economy was the top priority, with Abe´s trademark "Abenomics" policy failing to trickle down to the general public. The three-pronged combination of ultra-loose monetary policy, huge government spending and structural reform has catapulted the stock market to a 21-year high but failed to stoke inflation and growth has remained sluggish. "Neither pensions nor wages are getting better ... I don´t feel the economy is recovering at all," said 67-year-old pensioner Hideki Kawasaki. Although voters turned out in their millions to back Abe, support for the 63-year-old is lukewarm and surveys showed his decision to call a snap election a year earlier than expected was unpopular. Voter Etsuko Nakajima, 84, told AFP: "I totally oppose the current government. Morals collapsed. I´m afraid this country will be broken." "I think if the LDP takes power, Japan will be in danger. He does not do politics for the people," added the pensioner. Koike briefly promised to shake up Japan´s sleepy political scene with her new party but she declined to run herself for a seat, sparking confusion over who would be prime minister if she won. In the end, the 65-year-old former TV presenter was not even in Japan on election day. "I thought that I would vote for the Party of Hope if it´s strong enough to beat the Abe administration. But the party has been in confusion ... I´m quite disappointed," said 80-year-old pensioner Kumiko Fujimori. The campaign was marked by a near-constant drizzle in large parts of the country and rallies frequently took place under shelter and a sea of umbrellas. But this did not dampen the enthusiasm of hundreds of doughty, sash-wearing parliamentary hopefuls, who have driven around in minibuses pleading for votes via loudspeaker and bowing deeply to every potential voter.
  7. Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (C), who is also ruling Liberal Democratic Party leader, shout slogans with a local candidate (L) and a supporter during an election campaign rally in Fukushima, Japan. Photo: Reuters TOKYO: Election campaigning in Japan began in earnest on Tuesday with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe seeking to repel an upstart new party that has pledged to rid the government of cronyism in a challenge to Abe?s near-five year hold on power. The Oct. 22 lower house election pits Abe?s Liberal Democratic Party-led coalition against the less than one-month-old Party of Hope headed by popular Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, a former LDP lawmaker often floated as a possible first female premier. Abe says he needs to renew his mandate to cope with a ?national crisis? stemming from North Korea?s nuclear and missile threat and the demographic time-bomb of Japan?s fast-ageing population. The 63-year-old Abe called the poll amid opposition disarray and an uptick in approval ratings that had slid due to a series of scandals over suspected cronyism. But, the sudden emergence of Koike?s party, which also appeals to conservative voters, could upset Abe?s calculation. The main opposition Democratic Party imploded last month and a big chunk of its candidates are running on the Party of Hope ticket. In his first campaign speech Abe attacked the opposition for using populist slogans. ?What creates our future is not a boom or slogan. It is policy that creates our future,? Abe said in Fukushima, northeast Japan. ?We just cannot afford to lose.? The LDP-led coalition is defending a two-thirds ?super majority? in parliament?s lower house, so losing its simple majority would be a major upset. Abe?s LDP had 288 seats in the lower house before it was dissolved for the election, while its junior partner the Komeito had 35. The total number of seats has been cut to 465 from 475. Recent opinion polls show the LDP in the lead and some analysts think Abe could still pull off another landslide victory. A soggy performance for the LDP, however, could stir calls from inside the party to replace Abe or deny him a third term as leader in September 2018, ending his chances of becoming Japan?s longest-serving premier. SHORTAGE OF HOPE? Koike, who defied the LDP last year to run for governor, calls her fledgling party a ?reformist, conservative? group free from the fetters of vested interests -- an often popular campaign slogan in Japan. ?We have a surplus of things in this country, but what we don?t have is hope for the future,? said Koike, 65, kicking off her campaign outside one of Tokyo?s major train stations. Koike has repeatedly said she won?t run for a seat which would make her eligible for the premiership and has declined to say whom her party would support for the post, leaving the door open to a variety of possible tie-ups including with Abe?s LDP. ?The Party of Hope looks a lot like the LDP, but doesn?t have the same problem with vested interests,? said Koji Sasaya, 82, a U.S. resident and longtime LDP supporter who traveled to Japan to vote in the election for Koike?s new party. Others outside the station were less convinced by Koike?s talk of cleaner politics, while trusting Abe to safeguard national security. ?I doubt she can deliver politics free from vested interests,? said Minori Hiramatsu, a 28-year-old mother of one who was on her way to a job interview. ?Abe has problems domestically, but he is the best person to protect us from North Korean threats.? The Party of Hope echoes Abe?s LDP on security and diplomacy - it backs tough sanctions on North Korea and controversial security legislation enacted in 2015 to expand the military?s role overseas. Koike also agrees with Abe that Japan?s post-war, U.S.-drafted, pacifist constitution should be amended, though not necessarily on what changes are needed. On economic policies, Koike?s party has sought to differentiate itself by calling for an end to nuclear power by 2030 and a freeze on a sales tax hike planned for 2019. Abe wants to keep nuclear power as a key part of Japan?s energy mix, and raise the sales tax and spend more of the revenues on education and child care. A center-left Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, formed from the liberal wing of the failed Democratic Party, is wooing voters dissatisfied with both conservative options.
  8. TOKYO: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday called a snap election, seeking a fresh term at the helm of the world's third-largest economy as tensions with nearby North Korea reach fever-pitch. Abe hopes to capitalise on a weak and fractured opposition to sweep back into power, as polls show him regaining ground after a series of scandals. "I will dissolve the House of Representatives on the 28th" of September, Abe told reporters, a precursor to a general election. The prime minister did not give a date for the election but it will reportedly be on October 22. Surveys suggest voters approve of the hardline stance taken by the nationalist Abe on North Korea, which fired two missiles over the country in the space of a month and has threatened to "sink" Japan. According to a weekend poll in business daily Nikkei, 44 percent of voters plan to vote for Abe's conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), while only eight percent favoured the main opposition Democratic Party. Nevertheless, one fifth of those polled said they were still undecided, potentially opening the door for gains by a new party formed by allies of the popular mayor of Tokyo Yuriko Koike, which will field dozens of candidates. Koike's Tomin First no Kai (Tokyo Residents First) party humiliated Abe and the LDP in local elections in July, but analysts say the new grouping has not had time to lay a national foundation to mount a serious challenge to the prime minister. In an apparent bid to steal Abe's limelight, Koike went before the cameras just hours before his announcement to announce she was creating a national political party called "Kibo no To" (Party of Hope). "Japan is facing a difficult time considering the situation in North Korea. Economically, the world is making a big move while Japan's presence is gradually declining," said Koike. "Can we continue letting (the existing lawmakers) handle politics?" But Jeff Kingston, director of Asian Studies at Temple University in Japan, said there was "no opposition worthy of the name in Japan". "The LDP is a giant among dwarves. It would take a major scandal to derail the Abe express," said the analyst. 'Political vacuum' The winner of the expected snap election faces a daunting in-tray of challenges ranging from an unprecedented crisis with North Korea to reviving the once world-beating Japanese economy. In addition to threats to destroy Japan, Pyongyang has fired two missiles over the northern island of Hokkaido in the space of less than a month. However, the North Korea crisis appears to have given the hawkish Abe a welcome boost in the polls following a series of scandals, including allegations he improperly favoured a friend in a business deal. Despite a recent run of growth, the election winner will also have to contend with a sluggish economy, as the heavily indebted country grapples with a low birth rate and a shrinking labour force. Although Abe is expected to triumph in the vote, there are question marks over whether he will retain a two-thirds parliamentary majority needed to reform the constitution to strengthen Japan's military, one of his stated priorities. "Despite the seemingly favourable backdrop for Abe, there are risks in calling a snap election," said Yoel Sano, an analyst at BMI research. At a time of national crisis over North Korea, Japanese voters may see it as a "cynical and opportunistic move" designed to divert attention from scandals that weighed on Abe's popularity, warned Sano. Commentator Masao Yora said the election would "create a political vacuum" just when the country needs strong leadership in the face of the threat from Pyongyang. This "may seem normal in Japan but from abroad, it is difficult to understand", Yora told AFP. If re-elected, it would be Abe's fourth term. Abe, the third generation of a powerful political family, appeared to be groomed for power from an early age. He was the country's youngest prime minister when he first won the top job. Abe was the first world leader to cultivate close relations with US President Donald Trump, meeting the tycoon in Trump Tower even before he was inaugurated.
  9. TOKYO: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will dissolve parliament?s lower house on Thursday for a snap election, a party official said, in a move aimed at taking advantage of improved ratings and opposition disarray. Abe?s junior coalition partner Natuo Yamaguchi, the head of the Komeito party, said he understood that the election will be held on Oct. 22, as Abe prepared to hold a news conference at 6 p.m. (5.00 a.m. ET) on Monday. Abe, who has held power for five years, was expected to put pledges to spend on education and child care, stay tough on North Korea and revise the constitution at the forefront of his campaign. Abe, whose ratings have risen to around 50 percent from around 30 percent in July, is gambling his ruling bloc can keep its lower house majority even if they lose the two-thirds ?super majority? needed to achieve his long-held goal of revising the post-war pacifist constitution to clarify the military?s role. A weekend survey by the Nikkei business daily survey showed 44 percent of voters planned to vote for Abe?s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) versus 8 percent for the main opposition Democratic Party and another 8 percent for a new party launched by popular Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike. The Nikkei poll was far more positive for Abe?s prospects that a Kyodo news agency survey that showed his LDP garnering 27.7 percent support, with 42.2 percent undecided. Abe?s image as a strong leader has bolstered his ratings amid rising tensions over North Korea?s nuclear arms and missile programs and overshadowed opposition criticism of the premier for suspected cronyism scandals that had eroded his support. Some critics say that Abe has risked creating a political vacuum at a time when geo-political tensions over North Korea are rising. And, given the unexpected results seen in other major developed countries, political analysts are not ruling a ?nasty surprise? for the Japanese leader. ?Abe?s big gamble could yield a big surprise,? veteran independent political analysts Minoru Morita said. ?Political vacuum" Abe told LDP executives at a meeting on Monday that he intended to dissolve the lower house on Thursday. The prime minister had been expected to face a grilling over the cronyism scandals during Thursday?s session, and opposition party officials saw the move as play to avoid difficult questions. Sources have said Abe?s election platform will see him promise to go ahead with a planned rise in the national sales tax to 10 percent from 8 percent in 2019 but increase the proportion of revenue spent on child care and education, delaying a target of putting the budget in the black in the fiscal year ending March 2021. Abe on Monday asked his cabinet to compile a 2 trillion yen ($17.80 billion) economic package by the year-end to focus on child care, education and encouraging corporate investment, while maintaining fiscal discipline. The Yomiuri newspaper said earlier the funding would cover the three years from April 2018 until sales tax revenue kicks in. The main opposition Democratic Party is struggling with single-digit ratings and much depends on whether it can cooperate with liberal opposition groups. Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike announced on Monday - just hours ahead of Abe?s news conference - that she would lead a new conservative, reform-minded ?Party of Hope? to provide voters with an alternative to the LDP. ?Our ideal is to proceed free of special interests,? Koike, a former LDP member, told a news conference. A junior cabinet minister from the LDP, Mineyuki Fukuda, said over the weekend he would leave the ruling party to stand for election with Koike?s new group. An LDP internal survey showed seats held by the LDP and its coalition partner Komeito could fall to 280 from the 323 they now hold, the Nikkei reported on Saturday. Reforms enacted last year will cut the number of lower house seats to 465 from 475.
  10. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Monday he spoke with US President Donald Trump by phone and that they agreed on the need to take further action on North Korea in the wake of its most recent missile launch. Abe told reporters that he praised Trump's commitment on North Korea and that he would make the utmost efforts to protect the Japanese public. North Korea said on Saturday it had conducted another successful test of an intercontinental ballistic missile that proved its ability to strike the US mainland.
  11. Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrives at his office in Tokyo, Japan, July 3, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon/File Photo Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe urged the G20 states in a newspaper article to work together on continuing climate protection policies, such as the 2015 Paris agreement from which the United States is withdrawing. The G20 summit, which will be held in Hamburg on Friday and Saturday, comes after a G7 in May that showed deep divisions between the President Donald Trump-led US and other western countries on climate change. Trump has said he will pull the United States out of the 2015 Paris deal on tackling climate change. In an article for German newspaper Handelsblatt ahead of the G20 summit, which Trump will attend, Abe wrote, "Global warming has already resulted in the earth, which sustains human life, experiencing various crises for a long time." Abe said climate change affected people around the world and people living today had to take responsibility for the issue for future generations. "That's why we must all take action together quickly," he wrote.
  12. US President Donald Trump will speak with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Sunday, calls that come as frustration builds in the White House over North Korea's nuclear program and overcapacity in the steel market. The talks come ahead of meetings he will hold with both leaders on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, on July 7-8 where trade practices are expected to be high on the agenda. Trump, who pledged a hard line on trade during his campaign for office, has been weighing new quotas or tariffs on steel imports for national security reasons and plans to discuss his concerns at the G20. The White House said the phone calls were scheduled starting at 8 p.m. EDT (0000 GMT Monday). Trump, who met with Xi in April in Florida, had said he was willing to work with China on trade issues but wanted to see Beijing use its economic leverage to force North Korea to scale back its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, which are a threat to the United States and allies South Korea and Japan. But Trump has become frustrated that China has not done more to pressure Pyongyang, and has been considering moving ahead on trade actions. Trump also called for a determined response to North Korea after talks with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Friday in Washington. North Korea and the rich, democratic South are technically still at war because their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty. Pyongyang defends its weapons programs as necessary to counter U.S. hostility and regularly threatens to destroy the United States.
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