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Fri, 23rd June 2017

Anirudh Sethi Report

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Archives of “junichiro koizumi” Tag

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s approval rating plunges amid lingering school scandal

Support for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government has dropped below 50% for the first time in more than a year as respondents expressed dissatisfaction with his response to allegations of preferential treatment toward a conservative educator.

The cabinet’s approval rating plunged to 49% in a weekend poll by Nikkei Inc. and TV Tokyo, down 7 percentage points from May and 11 points compared with April. The government’s disapproval rating climbed 6 points to 42% — the highest since October 2015.

 This marks the Abe cabinet’s most serious setback in public opinion since that year, when legislation expanding the armed forces’ remit ignited a public debate on Japan’s commitment to peace.

Now, the prime minister is facing allegations of favoritism over plans to establish a veterinary school in a government-designated special zone for deregulation. The prospective school operator, Kake Educational Institution, is headed by a friend of Abe’s.

The government insists that all of the proper procedures were followed in approving the new school. But a purported memo describing the project as in line with “the prime minister’s wishes” — a document whose credibility the government had questioned — has been found at the ministry of education after a second internal investigation.

The ruling coalition’s move to cut short the upper house debate on anti-conspiracy legislation also seems to have contributed to the drop in support. Among other things, the recently enacted law makes it a crime to plot terrorist attacks. Nearly half, or 47%, of respondents support the law, which has raised concerns among civil liberties groups, while 36% are opposed.

The cabinet’s approval rating fell among both men and women. Only 24% of respondents unaffiliated with any political party expressed support for the government, down 5 points from the previous survey.

Pyongyang takes threat to new level by targeting bases in Japan

North Korea announced Tuesday that its missile launch the day before was part of a drill to strike U.S. military bases in Japan, issuing a defiant challenge to the two allies trying to thwart the rogue state’s nuclear ambitions.

The state-run Korean Central News Agency reported Tuesday on the simultaneous launch of the rockets, which it said was practice for striking “the bases of the U.S. imperialist aggressor forces in Japan.” Footage of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un supervising the drill, as well as of rockets being fired from mobile launchers, were aired intermittently as well.

 North Korea’s proclamation has significantly raised the stakes. The U.S. military bases operating across Japan are a core part of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty. Some in western Japan fall within a 1,000km radius of Tongchang-ri, the northwestern part of North Korea where the four rockets were fired from. Those in eastern Japan would too if the launch site was moved further east.

The U.S. reacted swiftly. U.S. President Donald Trump spoke separately on the phone with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean Prime Minister and acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn. Trump and Abe agreed that the North Korean threat had reached a next level, and decided to hold a foreign and defense ministers’ meeting as soon as possible.

White House Is Exploring Use Of Military Force Against North Korea

An internal White House strategy review on North Korean options includes the possibility of both military force and regime change to counter the country’s nuclear-weapons threat, the WSJ reports, a prospect that has some U.S. allies in the region on edge. The review comes amid recent events have strained regional stability including last month’s launch by North Korea of a ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan, and the assassination of the estranged half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Malaysia.

The WSJ adds that U.S. officials have underscored the possible military dimensions of their emerging strategy in recent discussions with allies, suggesting that the planning is at an advanced stage.

President Trump has taken steps to reassure allies that he won’t abandon agreements that have underpinned decades of U.S. policy on Asia, his pledge that Pyongyang would be stopped from ever testing an intercontinental ballistic missile—coupled with the two-week-old strategy review—has some leaders bracing for a shift in American policy. During Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s two-day summit in February with Mr. Trump, U.S. officials on several occasions stated that all options were under consideration to deal with North Korea, according to a person familiar with the discussions.

It was clear to the Japanese side that those options encompassed a U.S. military strike on North Korea, possibly if Pyongyang appeared ready to test an ICBM. The Japanese side found that scenario “worrisome,” he said.

The proposal emerged roughly two weeks ago, when Deputy National Security Adviser K.T. McFarland convened a meeting with national-security officials across the government and asked them for proposals on North Korea, including ideas that one official described as well outside the mainstream.

 The request was for all options, ranging from U.S. recognition of North Korea as a nuclear state to military action against Pyongyang. Ms. McFarland’s directive was for the administration to undergo a comprehensive rethink of America’s North Korea policy.

 The national-security officials reported back to Ms. McFarland with their ideas and suggestions on Tuesday. Those options now will undergo a process under which they will be refined and shaped before they’re given to the president for consideration.

 In addition to concerns about US intervention, there is speculation that China may itself pre-empt a move by Washingont: the heightened prospect of U.S. military action in North Korea could encourage China, which fears the fallout of a military confrontation with its neighbor, to take steps Washington has long sought to choke off Pyongyang’s economic lifeline.

Abe could call election in January, rumors say

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is said to be mulling dissolving Japan’s lower house when the Diet convenes in January, seeking popular approval of territorial talks with Russia and a better chance at extending his term as party leader.

“I don’t know what the prime minister’s going to do, but a dissolution in January is possible — be prepared,” Finance Minister Taro Aso told junior lawmakers in his faction of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party in August. The minister reportedly urged Abe to take this course just ahead of the July upper-house election.

 The Diet will be called into session in early January. Dissolving the lower house then would likely result in an election in late February. This could work to the LDP’s advantage: The leading opposition Democratic Party chose a new leader Thursday, and could be unprepared for an election early next year, an official in the ruling party said.

Calling an election would also be of symbolic importance for the Abe government. The prime minister this month expressed high hopes for a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Japan planned for December — a prime opportunity to settle a longstanding territorial dispute over Russian-administered islands just north of Hokkaido.

Japan-Extraordinary Diet session to be convened Sept. 26: LDP official

An extraordinary session of Japan’s Diet is set to be convened Sept. 26 following an agreement between the government and the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, a top party official said Tuesday.

Speaking to reporters at party headquarters in Tokyo, LDP Secretary General Toshihiro Nikai said the party has settled on the date with the office of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

 The extra session follows the LDP’s strong showing in July’s House of Councillors election on a platform of stepped-up economic policy. The election brought Abe’s goal of amending the Japanese Constitution closer after pro-amendment lawmakers achieved a supermajority legally required to kick-start the process.

The start date for the session has been fixed out of consideration for the main opposition Democratic Party, which will hold a leadership election Sept. 15.

According to a senior LDP member, Abe had suggested to the LDP a start date of Sept. 13 or 16 in order to make time to introduce a bill to ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact.

ALERT- North Korea launches ballistic missile: South Korea

North Korea launched a ballistic missile into the sea off its east coast Wednesday morning, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

The missile was launched from South Hwanghae Province in the southwest of the country at around 7:50 a.m., the JCS said.

 The Japanese government said Thursday it has issued a strongly worded protest to Pyongyang over the launch.

“(The launch) is in defiance of clear U.N. Security Council resolutions and is an extremely problematic act from the standpoint of securing the safety of aircraft and vessels at sea,” the government said in a statement.

Japanese Defense Minister Gen Nakatani ordered the country’s Self-Defense Forces Wednesday to devote themselves to information gathering and surveillance in the wake of the launch.

A series of North Korean missile launches and attempted launches since the start of the year have raised concern in Japan, South Korea and further afield.

North Korea has also conducted four nuclear tests, most recently in January this year, despite U.N. Security Council resolutions prohibiting the act and warnings from the international community.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe goes all in with $266 Billion stimulus package

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe unveiled plans Wednesday for an economic package topping 28 trillion yen ($266 billion), putting every option on the table to breathe new life into his signature Abenomics policies.

“We will take the fruits of Abenomics and mobilize the entire society to create a strong and positive economic cycle,” Abe said in a speech in the city of Fukuoka. “We will make every effort to protect the Japanese economy from global economic risks,” he added, stressing the need for quick stimulus to underpin domestic demand.

 The stimulus, which the cabinet is expected to approve Tuesday, includes 6 trillion yen in direct cash injections and another 6 trillion yen in fiscal lending and investment.

Responding to criticism that Abenomics has failed to produce the intended boost in consumer spending, the government will roll out 15,000 yen in payouts to low-income individuals. The roughly 22 million people exempt from resident taxes are expected to qualify. For single-person households, an annual income of 1 million yen will be the threshold. 

Abe’s stimulus plan experiencing headline inflation of its own

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government is putting pressure on the fiscally conservative Ministry of Finance to satisfy expectations for a bold new shot of the first arrow of Abenomics — fiscal spending.

But critics say that the contents of the stimulus package matter more than its apparent size, which is easy to inflate. Some observers now see the tally rising to between 20 trillion yen and 30 trillion yen ($189 billion and $283 billion) after off-budget items are counted. 

 The chairman of business lobby Keidanren, Sadayuki Sakakibara, is among those urging “large-scale” on-budget expenditures, he told an audience in Nagano Prefecture on Thursday.

The trial balloon floated by the Finance Ministry missed expectations. There had been talk in the financial markets and elsewhere that general-account budget items alone — known as mamizu, or “fresh water,” in Japanese government jargon — would amount to 5 trillion yen to 10 trillion yen. Then came the revelation that flagging tax revenue growth and other constraints would leave less than 1 trillion yen available for stimulus.

Abe set to call for fresh economic stimulus

After a resounding win in Sunday’s upper house election, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will give the go-ahead as early as this week for work on measures to combat deflation and stoke economic growth.

“Abenomics won recognition” in the poll, said Sadakazu Tanigaki, secretary-general of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, in a television appearance.

 “We take this to mean voters want us to go further with Abenomics,” LDP elections chief Toshimitsu Motegi told public broadcaster NHK.

Funding for the economic measures is to be appropriated in a supplementary budget during an autumn session of Japan’s parliament.

The budget proposal is expected to include pick-me-ups for consumer spending, as well as public works projects and aid for small and midsize businesses.

ALERT- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledges $200bn for global infrastructure

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged Monday to invest $200 billion in the coming five years to build roads, power plants and ports around the world.

In a speech read out by an aide at a banquet for the 22nd International Conference on The Future of Asia, Abe said that as host of the just-concluded Group of Seven Leaders’ meeting in Ise-Shima, Japan had taken on “a new responsibility” to contribute to the global economy, using all the policy tools at its disposal. 

Abe said that Asia, as the world’s growth center, has a role to pull the economy along. But to do that it needs skilled people who can lead such growth, as well as improved connectivity within the region.

“Last year, at this event, I pledged to provide $110 billion over five years to Asia. This year, we have gone further and decided to invest $200 billion in high-quality infrastructure around the world over the next five years,” he said.