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Posts tagged ‘Shinzō Abe’

US, France Warn Russia of ‘New Measures’ Over Ukraine.


President Barack Obama and French President Francois Hollande warned Saturday of “new measures” against Russia if it fails to work toward defusing the crisis in Ukraine, the French presidency said.

In a phone call on Saturday, Obama and Hollande insisted on the “need for Russia to withdraw forces sent to Crimea since the end of February and to do everything to allow the deployment of international observers,” it said.
Obama’s conversation with Hollande was one of a half dozen telephone conversations he had with world leaders Saturday about Ukraine, the White House says.

He  also spoke with British Prime Minister David Cameron and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, and held a conference call with the presidents of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia.

The new warnings come in the wake of Russia’s insistence that any U.S. sanctions will have a boomerang effect on the United States and that Crimea has the right to self-determination as armed men tried to seize another Ukrainian military base on the peninsula.

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In a telephone conversation with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned against “hasty and reckless steps” that could harm Russian-American relations, the foreign ministry said on Friday.

“Sanctions…would inevitably hit the United States like a boomerang,” it added.

It was the second tense, high-level exchange between the former Cold War foes in 24 hours over the pro-Russian takeover of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said after an hour-long call with U.S. President Barack Obama that their positions on the former Soviet republic were still far apart. Obama announced the first sanctions against Russia on Thursday.

Putin, who later opened the Paralympic Games in Sochi which have been boycotted by a string of Western dignitaries, said Ukraine’s new, pro-Western authorities had acted illegitimately over the eastern, southeastern and Crimea regions.

“Russia cannot ignore calls for help and it acts accordingly, in full compliance with international law,” he said.

Serhiy Astakhov, an aide to the Ukrainian border guards’ commander, said 30,000 Russian soldiers were now in Crimea, compared to the 11,000 permanently based with the Russian Black Sea fleet in the port of Sevastopol before the crisis.

On Friday evening armed men drove a truck into a Ukrainian missile defence post in Sevastopol, according to a Reuters reporter at the scene. But no shots were fired and Crimea’s pro-Russian premier said later the standoff was over.

Putin denies the forces with no national insignia that are surrounding Ukrainian troops in their bases are under Moscow’s command, although their vehicles have Russian military plates. The West has ridiculed his assertion.

The most serious East-West confrontation since the end of the Cold War – resulting from the overthrow last month of President Viktor Yanukovich after protests in Kiev that led to violence – escalated on Thursday when Crimea’s parliament, dominated by ethnic Russians, voted to join Russia.

The region’s government set a referendum for March 16 – in just nine days’ time.

JETS, DESTROYER

Turkey scrambled jets after a Russian surveillance plane flew along its Black Sea coast and a U.S. warship passed through Turkey’s Bosphorus straits on its way to the Black Sea, although the U.S. military said it was a routine deployment.

European Union leaders and Obama said the referendum plan was illegitimate and would violate Ukraine’s constitution.

The head of Russia’s upper house of parliament said after meeting visiting Crimean lawmakers on Friday that Crimea had a right to self-determination, and ruled out any risk of war between “the two brotherly nations”.

Obama ordered visa bans and asset freezes on Thursday against so far unidentified people deemed responsible for threatening European Union leaders Ukraine’s sovereignty. Earlier in the week, a Kremlin aide said Moscow might refuse to pay off any loans to U.S. banks, the top four of which have around $24 billion in exposure to Russia.

Japan endorsed the Western position that the actions of Russia constitute “a threat to international peace and security”, after Obama spoke to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

China, often a Russian ally in blocking Western moves in the U.N. Security Council, was more cautious, saying economic sanctions were not the best way to solve the crisis and avoiding comment on the Crimean referendum.

The EU, Russia’s biggest economic partner and energy customer, adopted a three-stage plan to try to force a negotiated solution but stopped short of immediate sanctions.

The Russian Foreign Ministry responded angrily on Friday, calling the EU decision to freeze talks on visa-free travel and on a broad new pact governing Russia-EU ties “extremely unconstructive”. It pledged to retaliate.

“GUERRILLA WAR?”

Senior Ukrainian opposition politician Yulia Tymoshenko, freed from prison after Yanukovich’s overthrow, met German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Dublin and appealed for immediate EU sanctions against Russia, warning that Crimea might otherwise slide into a guerrilla war.

Brussels and Washington rushed to strengthen the new authorities in economically shattered Ukraine, announcing both political and financial assistance. The regional director of the International Monetary Fund said talks with Kiev on a loan agreement were going well and praised the new government’s openness to economic reform and transparency.

The European Commission has said Ukraine could receive up to 11 billion euros ($15 billion) in the next couple of years provided it reaches agreement with the IMF, which requires painful economic reforms like ending gas subsidies.

Promises of billions of dollars in Western aid for the Kiev government, and the perception that Russian troops are not likely to go beyond Crimea into other parts of Ukraine, have helped reverse a rout in the local hryvnia currency.

In the past two days it has traded above 9.0 to the dollar for the first time since the Crimea crisis began last week. Local dealers said emergency currency restrictions imposed last week were also supporting the hryvnia.

Russian gas monopoly Gazprom said Ukraine had not paid its $440 million gas bill for February, bringing its arrears to $1.89 billion and hinted it could turn off the taps as it did in 2009, when a halt in Russian deliveries to Ukraine reduced supplies to Europe during a cold snap.

In Moscow, a huge crowd gathered near the Kremlin at a government-sanctioned rally and concert billed as being “in support of the Crimean people”. Pop stars took to the stage and demonstrators held signs with slogans such as “Crimea is Russian land”, and “We believe in Putin”.

IMPORTANT DIFFERENCES

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk said no one in the civilised world would recognise the result of the “so-called referendum” in Crimea.

He repeated Kiev’s willingness to negotiate with Russia if Moscow pulls its additional troops out of Crimea and said he had requested a telephone call with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

But Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov ridiculed calls for Russia to join an international “contact group” with Ukraine proposed by the West, saying they “make us smile”.

Demonstrators encamped in Kiev’s central Independence Square to defend the revolution that ousted Yanukovich said they did not believe Crimea would be allowed to secede.

Alexander Zaporozhets, 40, from central Ukraine’s Kirovograd region, put his faith in international pressure.

“I don’t think the Russians will be allowed to take Crimea from us: you can’t behave like that to an independent state. We have the support of the whole world. But I think we are losing time. While the Russians are preparing, we are just talking.”

Unarmed military observers from the pan-European Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe were blocked from entering Crimea for a second day in a row on Friday, the OSCE said on Twitter.

The United Nations said it had sent its assistant secretary-general for human rights, Ivan Simonovic, to Kiev to conduct a preliminary humans rights assessment.

Ukrainian television has been replaced with Russian state channels in Crimea and the streets largely belong to people who support Moscow’s rule, some of whom have harassed journalists and occasional pro-Kiev protesters.

Part of the Crimea’s 2 million population opposes Moscow’s rule, including members of the region’s ethnic Russian majority. The last time Crimeans were asked, in 1991, they voted narrowly for independence along with the rest of Ukraine.

“With all these soldiers here, it is like we are living in a zoo,” Tatyana, 41, an ethnic Russian. “Everyone fully understands this is an occupation.”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Newsmax Wires

Japan Lied! US Navy Soldiers Dying Of Radiation Poisoning After Fukushima Nuclear Disaster.


 

Some call it political spin, but others just say the world is being told lies. The epitome of the falsehoods being told about Fukushima comes from no less than the Japanese prime minister himself.

At the final International Olympic Committee meeting in Buenos Aires, the one deciding who would host the 2020 Summer Olympics, Shinzo Abe assured the IOC the “situation is under control.” Abe said there never was nor ever will be any damage to Tokyo as a result of the Fukushima disaster.

When pressed on the issue by Norwegian IOC Member Gerhard Heiberg, Abe doubled down and told the members, “It poses no problem whatsoever.” Abe went on to say that the contamination was limited to a small area and had been “completely blocked.”

The prime minister also stated, “There are no health-related problems until now, nor will there be in the future, I make the statement to you in the most emphatic and unequivocal way.” source – WND

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A historic earthquake and tsunami struck Japan, causing a nuclear power meltdown. The US Navy rushed in to help—but are those sailors now paying the price? Nearly 100 believe that mission ruined their health.

Vic Carter reports a Navy lieutenant from Maryland who can no longer walk is demanding someone take responsibility for what’s happened. On March 11, 2011, one of the largest earthquakes ever shook Japan. It triggered a tsunami. Waves more than 100 feet high slammed into the coast, killing thousands.

us-navy-responders-to-japan-fukushima-disaster-dying-from-radiation-sickness-nuclear-fallout

When the wall of water smashed into the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant, an explosion spewed radiation into the air and water, creating yet another tragedy. The United States military sped into the disaster zone to help, not knowing it was headed into the path of a radiation plume.

Now, three years after that exposure, at least 100 of those first responders are suffering from unexplained illnesses like cancer, leukemia, bleeding and hair loss—and they’re blaming it on radiation poisoning from Fukushima.

“When you’ve got a nuclear power plant that’s melting down, how can you not expect health risks to come from that?” said Lt. Steve Simmons. Lt. Steve Simmons was on board the USS Ronald Reagan, the first ship to arrive for Operation Tomodachi—the Japanese word for friends.

“I don’t think anybody on board really knew the full scope of what was going on,” Simmons said.

Seven months after arriving home to his family in Maryland from his deployment, Simmons’ health started to deteriorate. “One day, I was coming out of the bathroom and my legs just buckled on me and that was pretty much it,” he said.

Simmons and more than 100 others from the Ronald Reagan are fighting back. They’re suing the Tokyo Electric power company, claiming it hid the truth about radiation leaks at Fukushima.

“The TEPCO people who ran the power plant never warned their government. Their government never warned the world. The command never got the order, `Don’t go ’cause you’re going to get cooked,’” said attorney Paul Garner.

WJZ contacted TEPCO at its offices here in Washington and in Tokyo and got a “No comment.” Clearly, Simmons’ health has taken a drastic turn for the worse, but the problem is linking the sailors’ many medical problems to the Fukushima leak.

At the Pentagon, the Department of Defense has been answering numerous questions from sick sailors about what happened at Fukushima, but government reports indicate that radiation levels on board the USS Ronald Reagan were well below what’s considered dangerous.

“Drawing a cause and effect for individuals is exceedingly difficult,” said Johns Hopkins University Prof. Wayne Biddle. Radiation exposure experts say even if there is a connection, it’s hard to prove.

“They’re suffering. Clearly these individuals are suffering but they have no way of showing necessarily that their symptoms are related to that instance of radiation exposure,” Biddle said. “The hardest part is the family because we have three children,” Simmons said. “Our oldest daughter struggles with `Dad’s going to die’ kind of thing.”

Congress is now asking the Department of Defense for information about the medical conditions of crew members who were aboard the Ronald Reagan and what’s being done to treat them. source – CBS News.

by NTEB News Desk

Japan Gets Okinawa Approval for Controversial US Marine Base Move.


Image: Japan Gets Okinawa Approval for Controversial US Marine Base MoveJapanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Okinawa governor Hirokazu Nakaima gesture during their meeting at Abe’s official residence in Tokyo on Dec. 25.

TOKYO — The governor of Japan’s Okinawa on Friday approved a controversial plan to relocate a U.S. air base to a less populous part of the southern island, but said he would keep pressing to move the base off the island altogether.

The nod from Okinawa, long a reluctant host to the bulk of U.S. military forces in Japan, is an achievement for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has promised a more robust military and tighter security ties with the United States amid escalating tension with China.

Skeptics, however, said it remained far from clear whether the relocation – stalled since the move was first agreed upon by Washington and Tokyo in 1996 – would actually take place given persistent opposition from Okinawa residents, many of whom associate the U.S. bases with crime, pollution and noise.

The approval came a day after Abe visited Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine, seen in parts of Asia as a symbol of Japan’s past militarism, infuriating China and South Korea, and prompting concern from the United States about deteriorating ties between the Asian neighbors.

Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima told a news conference he had approved a central government request for a landfill project at the new site, on the Henoko coast near the town of Nago. His approval for that project, required by law and a first step to building the replacement facility, was the last procedural barrier to eventually replacing the U.S. Marines Futenma air base in the crowded town of Ginowan.

“The government has recently met our requests in compiling a plan to reinvigorate Okinawa. We felt that the Abe government’s regard for Okinawa is higher than any previous governments’,” Nakaima told a news conference.

The governor, however, added that he still believed that the quickest way to relocate the Futenma air base would be to move it to an existing facility with runways outside Okinawa.

About 2,000 people gathered in front of the Okinawa government building to protest against Nakaima’s decision, with a few hundred of them staging a sit-in at the lobby of the office building, Jiji news agency said.

The United States and Japan agreed in 1996 to close the Futenma base but plans for a replacement stalled in the face of opposition in Okinawa, which hosts more than half of the U.S. forces in Japan. Okinawa was occupied by the United States after Japan’s defeat in World War II until 1972.

“WILD CARDS”

Japan’s ties with the United States were strained when then-Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, who took office in 2009, sought to keep a campaign promise to move the U.S. base off Okinawa.

The Futenma base has been a lightning rod for criticism because of its location in a densely populated area.

Activists living in tents have been staging a protest near the site of the proposed Henoko base for almost 10 years and have promised demonstrations if Nakaima approves construction.

An election for the mayor of Nago next month could prove problematic if incumbent Susumu Inamine — who opposes the plan — is re-elected, while the central government could face a dilemma if demonstrators try to block construction.

“There are so many potential wild cards, so much that has to be done, that every small decision moves the process forward but by no means guarantees a final conclusion,” said Brad Glosserman, executive director of Pacific Forum CSIS, a Honolulu-based think-tank.

In April, the United States and Japan announced a plan to close Futenma as early as 2022.

Abe said the government would study whether that plan could be accelerated and would begin negotiating an agreement with the United States that could allow for more local oversight of environmental issues at U.S. bases.

That would address Nakaima’s call to revise the bilateral Status of Forces agreement that has applied to U.S. military in Japan since 1960 but has never been officially revised.

Abe’s government has also earmarked 348 billion yen for Okinawa’s economic development in the draft budget for the year from April, a 15.3 percent increase from this year.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Source: Newsmax.com

US, China Criticize Japan’s Abe for Visiting War Dead Shrine.


Image: US, China Criticize Japan's Abe for Visiting War Dead ShrineA Shinto priest leads Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as he visits the Yasukuni war shrine in Tokyo on Dec. 26.

By Drew MacKenzie

The United States and China are lashing out at Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for visiting a controversial shrine to pay his respects to soldiers who died in World War II.

Abe visited the Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo, which honors 2.5 million war dead, including many considered to be war criminals, according to The Hill.

The U.S. Embassy in Tokyo said, “Japan is a valued ally and friend. Nevertheless, the United States is disappointed that Japan’s leadership has taken an action that will exacerbate tensions with Japan’s neighbors.”

China warned that the country’s historically poor relationship with Japan could deteriorate even further following the first visit to the shrine by a Japanese prime minister in seven years.

“The Chinese government expresses its strong indignation over the behavior of the Japanese leader, which grossly tramples on the sentiment of the Chinese people and other Asian peoples victimized in the war,” said Qin Gang, China’s foreign ministry spokesman.

National Public Radio also quoted Qin Gang as saying, “Japanese leaders are not only showing no moderation but have doubled their efforts and created a serious incident on historical issues. This poses a major political obstacle in the improvement of bilateral relations. Japan must take responsibility for all the consequences that this creates.”

The tensions between China and Japan have been greatly enhanced in recent weeks over China’s new air defense zones which incorporate air space that Japan also claims.

The visits by Japanese officials to the shrine have long been a contention with China, as well as with South Korea, due to Japan’s brutal aggression in those countries during World War II.

Abe said after his Thursday visit,” I prayed to pay respect for the war dead who sacrificed their precious lives and hoped that they rest in peace.

“Unfortunately, a Yasukuni visit has largely turned into a political and diplomatic issue. I have no intention to neglect the feelings of the people in China and South Korea.”

The U.S. statement expressed hope that Japan and its neighbors would be able to put “sensitive issues” behind them “to promote cooperation in advancing our shared goals of regional peace and stability.”

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Biden to Japanese Women: ‘Do Your Husbands Like You Working?’.


During a tour of an Internet company in Japan Tuesday, Vice President Joe Biden asked a group of women, “Do your husbands like you working full-time?”

Biden asked the question of five women while sitting with them in the cafeteria of Tokyo-based DeNa, a company founded by a woman and known for encouraging women to continue working through motherhood, according to The Wall Street Journal.

He also asked whether they could work from home. It wasn’t clear if any of the women replied at the time.

The visit was intended to promote the role of women in the workforce, an initiative by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe who is looking to increase the participation of women in the workforce as part of his broader strategy to boost the ailing Japanese economy. In Japan, 60 percent of women never return to the workforce after giving birth, the Journal reported.

“I, too, compliment Prime Minister Abe on his initiatives to bring more women into the workforce, stay in the workforce and give them more opportunities,” Biden said, according to the Journal.

Biden was accompanied during his visit by Caroline Kennedy, the U.S. ambassador to Japan, who last week said she was impressed with Abe’s workforce policy initiative centered on women.

“I believe the prime minister understands that this is not just a women’s issue. It’s a men’s issue. It’s a family issue, an economic and a national security issue, and it’s a moral issue,” Kennedy said, according to the Journal.

Related stories:

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Melanie Batley

Biden Urges Japan, China to Lower Tensions Over Air Defense Zone.


Image: Biden Urges Japan, China to Lower Tensions Over Air Defense Zone

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden meets with Japanese Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso in Tokyo on Dec. 2.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden urged Japan and China to lower tensions that have spiked since Beijing announced an air defense zone over disputed islands in the East China Sea, while repeating that Washington was “deeply concerned” by the move.The United States has made clear it would stand by treaty obligations that would require it to defend the Japanese-controlled islands, but is also reluctant to get dragged into any military clash between the Asian rivals.

Biden will meet Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday before flying to China the next day as part of an Asian trip in which he will seek a delicate balance between calming tensions over the zone while backing key ally Japan.

“We remain deeply concerned by the announcement of a new Air Defense Identification Zone,” Biden said in written answers to the Asahi daily newspaper.

“This latest incident underscores the need for agreement between China and Japan to establish crisis management and confidence building measures to lower tensions.”

Influential Chinese tabloid the Global Times, published by the Communist Party’s official People’s Daily, said Biden should not cosy up to Abe or offer effusive support to Japan.

“The only choice he has if he wants a successful trip (to China) is not to go too far in his words over there,” it wrote in an editorial. “If he openly supports Tokyo and wants to ‘send an expedition to punish’ Beijing, the Chinese people won’t accept it.”

Japan reiterated on Tuesday that Tokyo and Washington had both rejected Beijing’s move to set up the zone – despite the fact that three U.S. airlines, acting on government advice, are notifying China of plans to transit the area.

“We and the United States have the same stance of not recognising this ADIZ,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference. “We firmly confirm this.”

Washington said over the weekend that the advice to U.S. airlines did not mean U.S. acceptance of the zone, and last week sent two B-52 bombers into the area without informing China.

The Japanese and South Korean governments have advised their airlines not to submit flight plans in advance, which China has demanded from all aircraft since it announced the creation of the zone on Nov. 23.

ANGST AT JAPANESE AIRLINES

Japan Airlines and ANA Holdings, while complying with the government directive, are uneasy about flying through the zone without giving notice to China, especially after Washington advised U.S. carriers to comply, two sources familiar with the Japanese carriers’ thinking told Reuters.

White House spokesman Jay Carney told a briefing that for safety reasons, U.S. carriers operated in accordance with notices issued by foreign countries.

“However – and let me be clear – this in no way indicates U.S. government acceptance of China’s requirement in the newly declared ADIZ, and has absolutely no bearing on the firm and consistent U.S. government position that we do not accept the legitimacy of China’s requirements,” Carney said.

Washington takes no position on the sovereignty of the disputed islands, known as the Senkaku in Japan and the Diaoyu in China. However, it recognises Tokyo’s administrative control and says the U.S.-Japan security pact applies to them.

U.S., Japanese and South Korean military aircraft all breached the zone last week without informing Beijing and China later scrambled fighters into the area.

Biden dismissed doubts in Japan and elsewhere in the region over whether the United States has the resources to carry out a strategic “rebalance” that Washington says is a cornerstone of its foreign policy in Asia, given U.S. fiscal woes, its attention on the Middle East, and partisan battles at home.

Some experts said those doubts may have encouraged China to think the United States would not react strongly to its announcement of the air defence zone.

“Japan knows that we have stayed for more than 60 years, providing the security that made possible the region’s economic miracle,” he said.

“Economically, diplomatically, militarily, we have been, we are, and we will remain a resident Pacific power.”

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Source: Newsmax.com

China calls on Japan, US, EU to avoid devaluation.


BEIJING (AP)China’s commerce minister appealed Friday to other major governments to avoid suppressing the value of their currencies to boost exports, warning that could hurt global growth.

Chen Deming was responding to a question at a news conference about the Japanese yen‘s weakness but said his appeal also was directed at the United States and Europe.

The yen has fallen by about 20 percent against the dollar since the middle of last year, prompting concern other governments might respond by driving down their currencies to keep exports competitive.

“I’m worried that ‘competitive devaluation’ will lead to oversupply of money and it will have a negative effect on global economic growth,” Chen said.

The new Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, has called publicly for a weaker yen to help exporters compete. His government has not directly intervened in currency markets but its policies have convinced traders it will create new money, eroding the Japanese currency‘s value.

Several developing economies also have criticized the U.S. Federal Reserve‘s program of bond-buying, dubbed quantitative easing, for pushing up the value of their currencies relative to the dollar.

Finance officials of the 20 biggest industrialized and developing countries issued a joint pledge Feb. 17 in Moscow to “refrain from competitive devaluation.” They promised to “resist all forms of protectionism and keep our markets open.”

Chen appealed to other governments to stick to their anti-devaluation pledge.

“If there were a huge devaluation of those major currencies, it would deliver a huge shock to developing countries by depressing our exports,” he said.

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

Associated Press

BOJ holds fire as Shirakawa era ends, action eyed under new boss.


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TOKYO (Reuters) – The Bank of Japan board kept its policy unchanged on Thursday and voted down a proposal to step up monetary stimulus, saving ammunition for new leaders who are expected to take bolder action to try to end nearly two decades ofdeflation.

Investors say action is likely to come at the BOJ’s next meeting on April 3-4, when Asian Development Bank President Haruhiko Kuroda, a vocal advocate of aggressive easing, is expected to have taken over as governor.

At this week’s meeting, BOJ board member Sayuri Shirai proposed bringing forward open-ended government debt purchases planned for next year. While she was voted down 8-1, her proposal was seen as a harbinger of the changes coming to monetary policy.

“Today’s decision came as no surprise, but the fact that Shirai proposed bringing forward open-ended JGB purchases has laid the groundwork for further monetary easing at the bank’s next policy review under the new leadership,” said Junko Nishioka, chief Japan economist at RBS Securities.

“Even though the proposal was rejected today, it could be put forward again at the next policy meeting in April and adopted given that BOJ governor nominee Kuroda has floated a similar idea in parliament.”

The BOJ revised up its assessment of the economy, saying it was bottoming out, which was slightly more positive than last month’s view that the economy appeared “to have hit bottom.”

REBUTTAL

The policy meeting was the last for Governor Masaaki Shirakawa and his two deputies. They leave on March 19 after a five-year term spent battling crises including the aftermath of Lehman Brothers‘ collapse in 2008 and the devastating March 2011 earthquake in Japan.

Shirakawa challenged Kuroda’s argument that the central bank needed to focus more on fostering inflation expectations to end deflation, saying the best way to achieve inflation was for rising wages to accompany increased growth expectations.

“In the case where we rely mostly on inflation expectation, this would prompt a rise in government bond yields, reducing the price of JGBs held by financial institutions and thereby hurting the financial system,” Shirakawa told a media conference.

“If wage hikes come first, this would squeeze corporate profits and therefore unlikely lead to sustained recovery in real economy.”

SPLIT VOTES

At the meeting, board member Ryuzo Miyao proposed continuing the BOJ’s policy of keeping interest rates virtually at zero until the central bank’s target of 2 percent inflation is in sight. His proposal was also voted down 8-1.

“We may see more meeting results of split votes under the new BOJ governor,” said Yuichi Kodama, chief economist at Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance.

“Current board members have not necessarily been aggressive towards easing, and it is hard to consider all of them will suddenly change their stance. But given the new BOJ leadership will have a more reflationary stance, the pace of monetary easing will likely speed up.”

The revision to the economic assessment is unlikely to relieve pressure on the BOJ’s new management to come up with more innovative ways to end deflation.

Facing relentless pressure from new Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for bolder efforts to revive the economy, the BOJ doubled its inflation target to 2 percent in January and made an open-ended pledge to buy assets from next year.

Under Shirakawa, the BOJ agreed to buy assets or make loans totaling 101 trillion yen ($1.08 trillion) by the end of this year, part of which includes buying government bonds with a maturity of up to three years.

Abe nominated Kuroda to shake up the BOJ, and parliament is expect to confirm his appointment later this month. In a confirmation hearing this week, Kuroda advocated buying longer-dated Japanese government bonds to help end deflation.

Kuroda said buying longer-dated bonds would better foster inflation expectations and encourage an escape from deflation.

Abe’s push for bolder monetary stimulus has helped weaken the yen to a near three-year low against the dollar, giving the export-reliant economy some relief and the BOJ some breathing space.

(Editing by Tomasz Janowski and John Mair)

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

By Stanley White and Tetsushi Kajimoto | Reuters

Lessons Nigerian Voters Can Learn From the Japanese By Jerry Olasakinju.


By Jerry Olasakinju

Japanese voters are brutally impatient, in a good way, and can sack any non-performing government with little or no remorse. It is on record that seven different prime ministers, from two prominent political parties, have governed the island nation (Japan) in the past twelve years, beginning with Junichiro Koizumi, who managed to clinch on power the longest (for about six years) to Shinzo Abe (1 year in office but now re-elected for another term in last year general elections), Yasuo Fukuda (1 year in office), Taro Aso (1 year), Yukio Hatoyama (8 months), Naoto Kan (1 year, 3 months) and Yoshiko Noda (1 year, 3 months).

It is interesting to notice that all these prime ministers were democratically elected and removed from office through national elections. Their offences for being voted out of office are similar to those condoned and, in some annoying circumstances, encouraged by Nigerian electorates in their leaders. But whenever there are allegations of mismanagement, corruption, cluelessness or ineptitude, Japanese voters would strike like Shango—the god of thunder—sending the non-performing leaders back to their personal homes.

It is possible to postulate one or two theories while trying to interpret this trend of behavior in Japanese voters. It can be readily assumed that living in an advanced country, Japanese are likely to be more politically aware than average Nigerians and there may be minimal or no election auctioneering, where people  thoughtlessly sold their votes for money or personal aggrandizement. The truth is that only a few Japanese, due mainly to their workaholic lifestyle, pay attention to politics and governance. You hardly can see thousands of Japanese attending political rallies, even when it is the incumbent mayor or governor or prime minister campaigning. Most Japanese do not know or care to familiarize themselves with the manifestoes of political parties.

Their political choices are practically based on what they could feel in the air: How is the economy doing? Is the incumbent government dangerously bent on increasing the sales tax from 5 to 10%? How will such an action affect the price of goods and services? Does the government in power have good educational and health programs? What are they doing about our children? Are the current leaders leading us in the right direction, not creating political and territorial tension with China and other Asian neighbors? Are they making less dehumanizing political and oratorical gaffes? And when any Japanese government is found wanting in some of the issues highlighted above and the others, such a government is doomed to get axed within months!

The political machinery of Japan is ordered in the sense that opposition parties can call for snap elections, mainly at the Lower House. And when the incumbent loses some seats, the geometry of power is dramatically rearranged and a new prime minister will be immediately installed. Incidentally, the uncertainty in the outcomes of past elections always put Japanese rulers on the edge of their seats. Sometimes they pretend to appear populist, addressing their citizens’ needs directly and interacting with commoners in order to shore up supports for future elections. But this approach has not been working in the past decade, leaders are basically chosen on their merit and the power to transform Japan’s slow-growing economy. So, Japanese voters have got no time to be emotional or sympathetic to the concerns of any inactive leader; they understood that more are at stake than tolerating a do-nothing type of leadership.

Nigerians should truly understand that the only power they have to change things from what they are at the moment to what they want them to be is their suffrage—the right to vote. But if you misuse your voting privilege by selling your votes or being sentimental in voting for “hometown buddies” instead of qualified and trusted candidates, there will always be grave consequences: from now, do not cry over the potholes that destroyed the car you bought from political bribes; be happy with your children attending schools with poor infrastructures and teachers who had lost interest in delivering quality education; be contented with your hospitals that looked like “death caves” and the expired medicine you are given by quack health dispensers; be happy about your unemployed kids, maybe two or three of them who will continue to live under your roof despite spending fortune to train them at the universities.

Here is the remedy to all these problems you see around you: vote responsibly. The future of Nigeria is in your hands!

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

Japan Aso: watching FX moves, signs economy brightening.


TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso said on Thursday that he will keep close watch on currency market moves, and that the economy was showing bright signs, including recent gains in share prices, after a slump last year.

“We will continue to monitor currency moves and make sure the economy recovers by encouraging private investment, jobs growth and an expansion in wages,” Aso said in a speech to parliament.

The yen had weakened sharply since mid-November, boosting sentiment in the export-oriented economy, but its gains this week on worries about political deadlock in Italy served as a reminder that the Japanese currency is still perceived as a safe-haven currency in times of uncertainty.

At a separate event earlier, Aso told the lower house budget committee that he was cautious about adopting proposals for the Bank of Japan to be allowed to buy foreign bonds, as it could be viewed ascurrency intervention, which would run contrary to agreements with governments of other major economies.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took office in December, after his party’s big election win, promising to revive the world’s third-largest economy with his “Abenomics” policy mix of monetary and fiscal stimulus, and the resulting weakness in the yen has begun to help exporters.

Aso told parliament that the economy, which entered a shallow recession last year, was beginning to show optimistic signs.

“From the middle of last year the global economy slowed, which led to weakness… and worries that the bottom would fall out of Japan’s economy,” he said. “However, recently, the stock market has started to recover and we’ve started to see some bright signs.”

Aso also stressed the need for Japan to fix its finances, with public debt twice the size of its economy, and said policies would aim to achieve both fiscal reform and economic revitalization.

“We cannot keep resorting to fiscal spending forever. It is vital to secure trust in Japan’s public finances in view of its very severe fiscal situation,” he added.

The government planned to draw up an ambitious growth strategy, including bold regulatory and structural reforms, by around the middle of this year, Aso said.

He reiterated Japan’s pledge to halve its primary fiscal deficit by the year ending in March 2016 and realize a surplus by the year ending in March 2021. To achieve this end, Aso said the government will continue with tax and welfare reforms.

Economics Minister Akira Amari said in a separate speech to parliament that the central bank must pursue powerful monetary steps to bring the economy out of nagging deflation.

“I strongly expect the Bank of Japan to proceed with bold monetary easing to erase deflationary expectation and achieve 2 percent inflation goal as soon as possible,” he said, referring to the central bank’s new price target.

(Reporting by Tetsushi Kajimoto and Kaori Kaneko; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

Reuters

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