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Japan Focus / Politics

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Mar 02 Maehara to be disciplined over disclosure on public works budget (AP)
 Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama expressed intention Monday to discipline land minister Seiji Maehara over the ruling Democratic Party of Japan's disclosure of information to local governments on planned public works allocations in the fiscal 2010 budget before the passage of the budget through parliament. "The problem lies in the fact that the precious information that should be determined through budget deliberations was relayed to local governments through a political party," Hatoyama said during a session of the House of Representatives Budget Committee.
Mar 01 New Chinese Ambassador Cheng arrives in Tokyo (AP)
 China's new ambassador to Japan, Cheng Yonghua, arrived at Narita airport near Tokyo on Sunday evening and took up his official duties the same day. Cheng, who previously did four stints at the Chinese Embassy in Tokyo including an assignment as deputy chief of mission, is expected to try to cement Beijing's ties with the government of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama in support of Tokyo's vision for an East Asian community.
Mar 01 Why Japan is ready for anything Pyongyang might want to throw at it (guardian.co.uk)
 At Iruma military base in Saitama prefecture, north of Tokyo, air force major Hiroshi Taniguchi is ready for anything. As commander of the 4th air defence missile unit, Taniguchi is on the frontline of Japan's much downplayed but scarily real stand-off with North Korea, one of several potential conflicts in a rough neighbourhood. Japanese politicians and their US military allies tend to soft-pedal problems with Pyongyang, stressing the need to resume the diplomatic process broken off last year. But no one at Iruma has forgotten the moment last April when North Korea lofted a TaepoDong-2 long-range ballistic missile over Japan, sending it crashing into the Pacific - or the North's second nuclear test explosion the following month.
Feb 28 Bill stipulates 25% CO2 cuts (Yomiuri)
 The government will set a midterm target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent from 1990 levels by 2020 if all major emitters agree with a fair, effective framework, according to the outline of the bill to tackle global warming. The outline, announced by the Environment Ministry on Friday, also stipulates that until such an agreement is reached, the government will instead focus on its long-term target to slash greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050.
Feb 28 Hatoyama, Obama 'to meet in April' (Yomiuri)
 Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and U.S. President Barack Obama will hold a summit meeting in April when the Japanese leader visits Washington, it has been learned. The two governments are close to finalizing the meeting, sources said Saturday. The talks between Hatoyama and Obama likely will be held on the sidelines of an international summit on nuclear security scheduled to take place in Washington on April 12 and 13.
Feb 26 Hatoyama denies abductions linked to excluding pro-Pyongyang schools (AP)
 Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama said Friday his government will decide whether to exclude pro-Pyongyang senior high schools for Korean residents in Japan from a proposed tuition waiver program depending on their curricula, stressing that North Korea's abductions of Japanese nationals will not play a part in the decision. "For the program, school curricula will be definitely one thing to be considered," he told reporters Friday morning. "But the problem is whether we can examine the curricula of a country that does not have any diplomatic ties (with Japan)."
Feb 26 Australia warns Japan over whaling (AFP)
 Australia Friday warned Japan that "diplomacy comes to an end this year" on whaling, after presenting a bold plan to phase out the controversial hunts in the Southern Ocean. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, repeating his threat to sue Japan, said time was running out on its practice of killing hundreds of minke whales near Antarctica each year in the name of scientific research. "We are saying loud and clear to our friends in Japan that Australia does not support the continuation of commercial or scientific whaling in the Southern Ocean, we have a very basic position," Rudd told reporters.
Feb 26 Japan disputes racism allegations at U.N. panel (AP)
 Japan does not need laws to combat racial discrimination, a Japanese official said Thursday as Japan's racism record was examined by the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. "Punitive legislation on racial discrimination may hamper legitimate discourse," Mitsuko Shino of the Japanese Foreign Ministry told a session in Geneva. "And I don't think the situation in Japan is one of rampant discrimination, so we will not be examining this now."
Feb 26 Floundering in the foggy fortress (The Economist)
 The DPJ came to power in September promising to break the disreputable triangle linking the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), the bureaucracy and big business. This triangle helped keep the LDP in power for almost 55 years. In its crassest form, in the booming 1980s, the model plumbed the depths of corruption and bad governance. Business lobbied for contracts and support by pouring money into the party's coffers and the mandarins' pockets. The cash won the party elections and feathered the bureaucrats' nests. With the LDP's blessing, the mandarins made policy, to be rubber-stamped by the cabinet.
Feb 26 Japan says willing to sign treaty on child abduction (AFP)
 Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama said Thursday he is willing to sign a treaty against international parental child abductions, but warned Tokyo may need at least another year before signing it. Activists say that thousands of foreign parents have lost access to children in Japan, where the courts virtually never award child custody to a divorced foreign parent.
Feb 25 'Not realistic' to set rules on emperor's acts: gov't report (AP)
 The government has determined that it is "not realistic" to establish unified rules for acts performed by the emperor in his official capacity outside the affairs of state because such acts vary in nature, according to a report released Thursday. Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirofumi Hirano told a press conference Thursday morning that he submitted the report to the executive board of the House of Representatives' Budget Committee. He later released the report to the media following another press conference in the afternoon.
Feb 25 Japan says Australian proposal to end whaling 'regrettable' (AP)
 A senior Japanese Foreign Ministry official on Thursday described as 'regrettable' Australia's move to submit a proposal to the International Whaling Commission seeking to end whaling in the Antarctic Ocean within five years. "It is regrettable that such a proposal was made," State Secretary for Foreign Affairs Koichi Takemasa told a press conference following Australia's announcement of the proposal the same day.
Feb 25 Politically connect: Twitter use is up (Japan Times)
 Presumably exhausted from all the heat over his political money scandals, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama recently limited the number of questions he takes from reporters every morning as he leaves his official residence. But in the safe, cozy world of Twitter, Hatoyama - like many other politicians waking up and joining the 21st century - seems to have found the joy of posting comments without facing an inquiring press.
Feb 24 Japan offers to enrich uranium for Iran (AFP)
 Japan has offered to enrich uranium for Iran to allow it access to nuclear power while allaying international fears it might be seeking an atomic weapon, the Nikkei business daily reported Wednesday. Tehran had not yet given a concrete response, but the issue was expected to be discussed Wednesday in Tokyo by Iran's parliament speaker Ali Larijani and Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada, the daily said in an online report.
Feb 24 Court rules last general election close to being unconstitutional (AP)
 The Tokyo High Court ruled Wednesday that the Aug. 30 general election that brought the Democratic Party of Japan to power went against the spirit of the Constitution that calls for an equal vote, given a disparity in vote value of as much as 2.3 to 1. The court, however, rejected the demand by lawyers who filed the suit to nullify election returns in nine constituencies in Tokyo and Kanagawa Prefecture, where the value of one vote was considerably lower than in rural areas.

By J.S. on Mar 3, 2010



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