Thursday, November 15, 2012
Friday, November 2, 2012
The Liberal Democratic Party is ready to accept Diet talks on a crucial deficit-covering bond bill, Shinzo Abe, president of the main opposition party, said Thursday.
Abe thus signaled an effective change in the stance of the LDP, which has been demanding the Diet first hold budget committee meetings before discussing the deficit bond bill.
The bill is designed to allow the government to issue deficit-covering bonds to finance the budget for fiscal 2012.
"I don't mind if talks [on the bond bill] begin while the prime minister is away," Abe said in a street speech in Tokyo. "I don't mind discussing details of the bill."
Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda is scheduled to visit Laos for four days from Sunday to attend a summit of the Asia-Europe Meeting, or ASEM.
Abe said the LDP also hopes members of a planned national council on social security reforms will be selected soon. The LDP will actively tackle issues Noda has specified as conditions for calling a general election for the House of Representatives, he said.
The LDP and the other major opposition party, New Komeito, have been pressing Noda to dissolve the lower house for a snap election by the end of this year.
Noda looks for extra budget in January
Meanwhile, Noda indicated his intention Thursday to give up submitting a fiscal 2012 supplementary budget during the ongoing extraordinary Diet session, instead aiming for its enactment at the beginning of an ordinary session starting in January.
The government "will consider the timing and content of the extra budget based on progress in deliberations on a deficit-covering bond bill and the content of new economic stimulus measures," Noda said at a lower house plenary meeting, replying to a question from a senior member of New Komeito.
The remark by Noda appeared certain to provoke a backlash from opposition parties urging the prime minister to dissolve the lower house of the Diet for an election by the end of December.
After adopting additional economic measures in late November, the government is expected to draw up the extra budget in December. In mid-December, it will begin compiling the fiscal 2013 budget.
Such schedules make it difficult for the Diet to handle the extra budget during the current session even if it is extended beyond its scheduled Nov. 30 end.
At the lower house meeting, Noda called on the LDP and New Komeito to cooperate to enact the extra budget. "For an early exit from deflation as well as to boost the economy, I hope that the ruling and opposition parties will not hesitate to discuss the challenges our country faces, including the deficit-covering bond bill for fiscal 2012," he said.
The bill is needed to fully implement the budget for the year ending in March.
Saturday, October 27, 2012
Tuesday, September 4, 2012
Friday, August 24, 2012
There were no smiles. There were no handshakes.
Yoshihiko Noda conceded nothing and angry protesters stormed out of the room on Aug. 22 after a 30-minute face-to-face confab between the prime minister and representatives of the Metropolitan Coalition Against Nukes.
The meeting at the Prime Minister's Official Residence in Tokyo came after months of weekly anti-nuclear protests outside Noda's office that have swollen from hundreds of people to thousands of irate citizens upset over Noda's decision in June to restart two reactors at the Oi nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture.
"I don't think our demands meant anything to him," said a coalition member who attended the meeting.
Undaunted, the Metropolitan Coalition Against Nukes said after the meeting that the weekly protests will continue.
It all came about on July 31, when representatives of the group consulted with lawmakers who favor a gradual phaseout of nuclear energy. During that meeting, former Prime Minister Naoto Kan said he would act as an intermediary to try and set up a meeting with Noda.
The prime minister's office initially said the gathering would take place only if initial parts of the meeting would be disclosed and that there would no live television coverage. However, the prime minister's office eventually gave the OK for media coverage and a live broadcast of the entire meeting, coalition members said.
Both sides agreed to meet for just 20 minutes. The protesters agreed beforehand among themselves to avoid any conversations that could allow Noda to make long remarks.
"There will be no petition or negotiation," a group member said. "This will be a protest inside the prime minister's office."
The meeting got under way at 2 p.m. After Noda's opening remarks, the 10 members of the protest group demanded the shutdown of the restarted nuclear reactors and stressed the "change" their weekly protests have generated.
"There has long been an aversion to social movements and demonstrations in Japan," one of them said. "But that is undergoing a major shift now."
"Demonstrations are venues where people express their anger," another said. "The protesters are maintaining their strength because you (Noda) keep throwing fuel into the fire."
But Noda gave no nod of approval or recognition of their demands. Instead, he reiterated his government's policy of deciding on a mid- to long-term energy policy after listening to various opinions. He talked for three minutes in total.
When the allotted 20 minutes were up, the protesters demanded more time. They were given 10 minutes, after which they angrily left the room.
"There is almost nothing we can approve of," one of them said.
"Representative democracy is not functioning in Japan," illustrator Misao Redwolf, a key member of the protest group, said at a news conference after the meeting. "Nuclear reactors were restarted, although more than 80 percent of the people prefer a departure from nuclear energy."
"It was the dormant democracy of Japan that has been restarted," another group member said.
The weekly protests outside the prime minister's office in Tokyo have spawned similar protests in dozens of other cities across Japan.
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Thursday, May 17, 2012
By Daniel Rea
Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura acknowledged Tuesday that the policy of former Prime Minister Yukio Hatomaya's administration concerning the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station in Okinawa Prefecture was inconsistent.
Hartoyama's administration found no consistent policy during his 9 month tenure as Japanese Prime Minister from September 2009 to May 2010.
Hatoyama first hinted that the 2000 Forces Agreement between the US and Japan would have to be totally scrapped. Then in November 2009 after US Sec of State Hillary Clinton talked to he Japanese counterpart Hatoyama then insisted that the US Marines in Okinawa would be allowed a four year transition period. After February 2010, Hatoyama again vacillated saying that US Marines would be allowed to half their forces with an expansion at Camps Schwab and Courtney.
"It's a fact that there were discussions at one point within the Cabinet on whether the U.S. base should be relocated within or outside the prefecture," Fujimura said at a press conference.
He said the government confused residents in the prefecture.
Fujimura stressed that Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's administration has been consistent in its relocation policy and is following proper procedures on the issue.
Hatoyama resigned as PM in May 2010 due in large part to his DPJ losing confidence in his leadership, with Okinawa being a large reason for their loss of trust in Hatoyama and his cabinet advisors. Japan has had 7 PMs in the last 6 years.
Tuesday, May 8, 2012
The FBI is investigating an explosive device that could have been used by a suicide bomber on an airliner, and which was seized when the United States and its partners thwarted a plot believed linked to al Qaeda, U.S. officials said on Monday.
They said no plane was actually at risk.
They said the device was a redesigned model of the bomb used by the so-called "underwear bomber", who failed to blow up an airliner bound for Detroit on Christmas Day in 2009. That plot originated in Yemen.
President Barack Obama was first informed about the latest plot in April and has received regular updates, Caitlin Hayden, deputy National Security Council spokeswoman, said. "This device has the hallmarks of previous AQAP bombing attempts," a counter-terrorism official said on condition of anonymity, referring to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
"The plot was disrupted well before it threatened American or U.S. allies, the official said, adding that no airliner had been at risk from this device.
The FBI said it was in possession of the device and was conducting technical and forensic analysis on it.