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New Japan leader to create economic recovery post

Japan Politics Elections

New Japan leader to create economic recovery post

TOKYO – Japan‘s likely next prime minister met with senior party leaders Tuesday to discuss a new Cabinet, expected to include a new post to oversee strategy to bring the country out of its worst economic downturn since World War II.

Diplomacy, particularly relations with top ally Washington, also was expected to be one of Yukio Hatoyama‘s top priorities.

Hatoyama’s Democratic Party of Japan won a landslide victory in parliamentary elections over the weekend, and he has moved quickly to prepare a coalition with smaller allies and meet with top leaders of his own party to assure a smooth transition.

Hatoyama is to be formally installed as prime minister, replacing the Liberal DemocratsTaro Aso, in a special session of parliament sometime in the next few weeks.

His Democrats soundly defeated the Liberal Democratic Party, which has been in power for virtually all of the past 54 years, and now face severe problems centered on rebuilding the world’s second-largest economy and dealing with record-high unemployment.

One of Hatoyama’s first moves will be to create a Cabinet post to oversee fiscal policy and other top national strategy issues, the daily Yomiuri and other media reported. He is also expected to name one of the party’s most senior members to take the finance minister portfolio. Hatoyama did not speak with reporters Tuesday, and party officials had no immediate comment.

After being elected, Hatoyama is expected to travel to New York to attend a session of the United Nations, and U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates is scheduled to visit Tokyo in October to discuss the U.S.-Japan military alliance.

Hatoyama’s Democrats have said they want to bring a more independent stance to Japan that places more emphasis on relations with its Asian neighbors, while keeping U.S. relations as a cornerstone of their global policy.

The United States has about 50,000 troops deployed across Japan under a mutual security pact. The governments are negotiating an arrangement to move some 8,000 Marines from the southern Japan island of Okinawa to the tiny U.S. territory of Guam in the Pacific Ocean.

The move has been complicated by the related issue of moving an air station now located in the crowded Okinawan city of Futenma. Washington wants the facility to be replaced with another airfield on Okinawa, but that plan has met with tough local opposition.

Hatoyama’s party has been vague on what it intends to do about the base, but Washington has insisted it must be replaced soon under existing plans.

“The United States has no intention to renegotiate the Futenma replacement facility plan or Guam relocation with the government of Japan,” State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said Monday.

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Seven foreigners were killed in Jakarta hotel bombs – media

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Seven foreigners were killed in Jakarta hotel bombs – media

JAKARTA – july 18  – Seven foreigners were among those killed in the bomb attacks on two luxury hotels in Indonesia’s capital, the Jakarta Post newspaper reported on Saturday, citing a police official.

Suicide bombers struck the JW Marriott hotel and close-by Ritz-Carlton, two luxury hotels popular with businessmen and diplomats, in Jakarta’s main business district during breakfast.

Police on Friday said eight people died, revising down an earlier count of nine, and over 60 were injured. On Saturday it seemed the toll had been raised again to nine, including two suicide bombers.

The blasts are a severe blow for Southeast Asia’s biggest economy and for President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono who was re-elected earlier this month in a landslide victory on the back of restoring peace and strong growth to a country with the world’s largest Muslim population.

Police won’t be drawn on who may be responsible for the blasts, but suspicion has fallen on remnants of Jemaah Islamiah, the militant Islamist group responsible for a string of attacks in Indonesia in the first half of the decade.

East Jakarta Police Chief Hasanudin told the English language Jakarta Post that forensic experts were identifying the bodies of seven foreign nationals.

“All were foreigners,” Hasanudin told the Post, adding that all were male.

Police have not released the names of any of the victims yet.

Tim Mackay, chief executive of cement maker Holcim Indonesia and a New Zealand national, was one of several executives attending a CastleAsia Group breakfast at one of the hotels, and was killed in the blast, Holcim said on Friday.

Kompas newspaper reported that two Australians died in the blasts.

Police said on Friday the bombers had checked in to the Marriott as paying guests on Wednesday and had assembled the bombs in their room. A third bomb was found and defused in a laptop computer bag on the 18th floor.

International reaction to the bombings was swift.

U.S. President Barack Obama, who spent four years living in Jakarta as a child after his mother married an Indonesian, called the attacks “outrageous”.

“These attacks make it clear that extremists remain committed to murdering innocent men, women and children of any faith in all countries,” the White House said in a statement.

Jemaah Islamiah or a splinter, blamed for a previous Marriott attack as well as bombings on the island of Bali in 2002 that killed 202 people, are widely suspected to be responsible for Friday’s blasts as the attacks bear the group’s hallmarks — the choice of high-profile Western targets where the victims are likely to be foreigners.

The group, which wants to create an Islamic super-state across parts of Southeast Asia, was blamed for a string of attacks until 2005, but many militants have since been arrested.

According to police, the casualties included citizens of Indonesia, the United States, Australia, South Korea, the Netherlands, Italy, Britain, Canada, Norway, Japan and India.

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Kyrgyzstan – ‘At least 142 arrested’ in Kyrgyzstan protests

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Kyrgyzstan – ‘At least 142 arrested’ in Kyrgyzstan protests

Kyrgyzstan‘s opposition said at least 142 demonstrators were arrested on Wednesday at protests in and around Bishkek, the capital of the volatile Central Asian country.

An opposition spokesman said that 80 people were arrested at a march from a Bishkek automobile market to the presidential palace, while 42 people were arrested at a separate march on the palace from a livestock market.

In addition, 20 opposition supporters were arrested in the village of Besh-Kungei outside Bishek, said the spokesman, Ulan Manayev. The protestors had organised various protests in and around the capital in a bid to thwart a police crackdown.

They had hoped to march on the presidential palace to protest alleged fraud in last week’s presidential election, which ended in a landslide victory by incumbent Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev.

Meanwhile the opposition said other protests were taking place throughout the country: “They are also arresting our people in the regions,” Manayev said. Initial reports said that 200 people were arrested in the march from the automobile market to the presidential palace, but the opposition later said that the number was much lower.

Many people in the 200-strong crowd turned out to be plainclothes police masquerading as demonstrators, while some of the protestors there managed to flee, Manayev said.

Manayev initially said 42 people were arrested in the march leaving from the automobile market, but then clarified that 80 were arrested there and that the figure of 42 applied to the march from the livestock market.

The protestors were supporters of main opposition candidate Almazbek Atambayev, who has denounced last Thursday’s election as illegitimate.

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