Tag Archives: shinzo abe

Japan Winning A Race Seoul Doesn’t Want It To Finish

28 May

Japan's First LapHere’s a neat metaphor – all allowances made for the limits of that rhetorical device – for understanding Abenomics: “Ultimately, the BoJ’s asset-purchase program is a bit like throwing giant quantities of damp wood on a fire and hoping that the fire can set the wood alight before the wood smothers the fire.” The Bank of Japan is divided about how to proceed.

Minutes released by the Bank of Japan highlighted a split among policy makers over achieving 2 percent inflation and mixed views on bond market turbulence after Governor Haruhiko Kuroda cited signs the economy is picking up.

“A few” policy makers said that it’s “highly uncertain whether changes in inflation expectations would lead to a rise in the actual rate of inflation,” according to a record of an April 26 meeting, released today in Tokyo. One member said the bond market may become unstable again, while another said rising rates may point to an economic upturn.

Divisions in the board add to communication challenges for Kuroda, 68, as volatility in the stock and bond markets threatens to undermine business and consumer confidence. Kuroda said yesterday that the economy has clearly started picking up and there are no signs investors have “excessively bullish” expectations. He also cited a report indicating interest rates could rise by between one and three percentage points in an improving economy without causing financial instability.
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Hashimoto Apologizes To US

28 May

Torun Hashimoto ApologizesIt was a very calibrated apology, “to the US forces and to the American people“, but then the mayor of Osaka, Toru Hashimoto doubled down on his opinion about comfort women, effectively insulting those countries where comfort women were abducted – again.

On Monday, the former lawyer, until recently a rising star of Japanese politics , claimed his comments about US troops on Okinawa had been misreported.

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“My real intention was to prevent a mere handful of US soldiers from committing crimes and strengthen the Japan-US alliance and the relations of trust between the two nations,” Hashimoto told a packed press conference in Tokyo.

He said he had suggested that troops use the “legally accepted adult entertainment industry” out of a “sense of crisis” over sexual assaults by US servicemen.

“I understand that my remark could be construed as an insult to the US forces and to the American people and was inappropriate. I retract this remark and express an apology.”

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Abe’s Threat To Japan’s Democracy

22 May

Shinzo Abe of JapanInternational resistance to the constitutional reforms envisioned by its Liberal Democratic (LDP) prime minister, Shinzo Abe, rightly focus on the proposed changes to Article 9. According to Aurelia George Mulgan, though, there are three other sections under attack, Articles 12, 21, and 96. Where China and South Korea legitimately fear the implications of a Japanese National Defense Force unfettered by the constitutional restrictions of a peace regime, the greatest threats are directed at democratic procedure and human rights.

First, Abe has taken aim at Article 96, which sets the legal requirements for amending the Constitution: a minimum two-thirds majority in both houses of the Diet and approval by a simple majority in a national referendum. These represent a high political hurdle — but no higher, relatively speaking, than in most other democracies with written constitutions — and may help to explain why the Japanese Constitution remains unamended since its 1947 enactment, although equally, it may indicate insufficient support for change. Abe wants to make amendment easier by lowering the bar to a simple majority of Diet members in both houses. The referendum stage would remain.

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Third, other proposed changes in the LDP’s draft pose dangers to the liberal democracy the Constitution guarantees. Two particular changes stand out. The LDP’s draft adds a provision that prioritises ‘order’ and ‘the public good’ over ‘fundamental human rights’. For example, with respect to ‘freedom and rights’ (Article 12), the draft has added the provision, ‘[The people] must be aware that [freedom and rights] are accompanied by responsibility and obligations, and must not go against the public interest or public order at any time’. With respect to ‘freedom of assembly, association, speech, press and all other forms of expression’ (Article 21), the draft has added, ‘The conduct of activities aimed at harming the public interest or public order and associating with others for the same purpose are unacceptable’.

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