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Fri, 23rd June 2017

Anirudh Sethi Report

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Archives of “Prime Minister of Japan” 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.

Abe, Trump agree to hold meeting on Feb. 10

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump agreed on Saturday to hold a summit in Washington on Feb. 10.

It will be their first meeting since Trump assumed the presidency.

 The two spoke on Saturday by phone.

Afterward, Abe told reporters that he and Trump “confirmed the importance of the Japan-U.S. alliance in light of economic and security challenges facing the countries.”

He also said that during the planned February meeting, he “wants to have a candid and productive exchange of opinions on economic and security issues as a whole” with Trump.

When they get together, Abe plans to confirm that Trump will stick to the current policy that the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture fall under Article 5 of the Japan-U.S. security treaty, which defines the U.S.’s defense commitment to Japan.

Abe looks to obtain assurance that the U.S. will continue to concern itself with security in the Asia-Pacific region by first discussing the handling of the Senkaku issue.

China also claims the islands.

Speculation grows over possible extension of Xi’s term

Speculation is rife in Chinese political circles about the results of the recent annual meeting of the Communist Party of China’s leaders, in the seaside resort of Beidaihe.

Following the unusually long meeting in the town in Hebei Province, some pundits say Chinese President Xi Jinping, like Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, wants to extend his term in office. According to party observers, there was no specific discussion of candidates to succeed Xi as the Communist Party’s general secretary, and Xi seemed to be paving the way for extending his term.

 The meeting this year was different from the one in the summer of 2006, when candidates to be China’s future leader were discussed. Li Keqiang, now China’s premier, was seen as the leading candidate for the top job at that time, while Xi was hardly mentioned — at least publicly.

The top echelons of the party will be reshuffled at its convention in the fall of 2017, and usually, party leaders exchange frank opinions about the nation’s future leadership during their summer gathering the year before. But little information was leaked about this year’s meeting, possibly because Xi suppressed discussions in a bid to avoid gradually becoming a lame duck, even if he retains his current post following next year’s convention.

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- 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.

No coordinated fiscal action as G-7 finance meeting ends

Financial chiefs from seven leading industrial nations on Saturday adjourned two days of meetings here in northeastern Japan by agreeing to continue working on fiscal, monetary and structural reforms.

Bank of Japan Gov. Haruhiko Kuroda, right, and Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso speak to reporters after the G-7 finance chiefs’ meeting in Sendai, Japan, on May 21.

The central bankers and finance ministers from the Group of Seven nations were trying to lay the groundwork for a summit to begin in Japan’s Ise-shima region on Thursday.  

The financial policy leaders agreed to avoid excessive currency volatility but failed to come to terms on boosting public spending in a coordinated fashion.