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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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Pakistan minister says Taliban leader Mehsud dead

2Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud speaks to reporters in Pakistan’s South Waziristan tribal region in this May 24, 2008 file photo.

Pakistan minister says Taliban leader Mehsud dead

LONDON (Reuters) – Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on Friday it was “pretty certain” Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud was killed in a missile attack two days ago.

“It is pretty certain now that he is dead. Various government agencies have reported so, his own followers have said so, there are people who have been to the funeral and are witness to the burial,” Qureshi told BBC radio.

“It is a significant development. He was the principal personality leading the Taliban movement in Pakistan,” Qureshi said, predicting an internal power struggle for his succession.

“It will be difficult to replace him in the short run because he had a lot of command, he had popularity which no other Taliban leader enjoys. He had quite a firm grip on various factions and there is no other personality who could replace him.”

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Suu Kyi trial resumes in Myanmar

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Suu Kyi trial resumes in Myanmar

The trial of Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s opposition leader, has resumed after a break of more than a month, a government official has said.

The trial is taking place inside Yangon’s Insein prison where she is being held.

The Nobel peace laureate and leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD) is charged with violating the terms of her house arrest by harbouring an American man who swam secretly to her lakeside home and stayed for two days.

Security around the jail was tight as the trial resumed on Friday with access roads blocked with barb-wire barricades manned by police.

Truck loads of riot police were also deployed around the prison facility.

About 100 supporters of Aung San Suu Kyi gathered, as they have during earlier court sessions, sitting and standing as close as they could to the prison gates.

Khin Moe Moe, a lawyer and a member of the NLD party, was to appear as a defence witness during Friday’s trial, held mostly behind closed doors since May 18.

Defence case

The defence has not contested the basic facts of the case but argues the relevant law has been misapplied by the authorities.They also assert that the American visitor, John Yettaw, was not invited and any intrusion was the responsibility of the security forces guarding the house.

Aung San Suu Kyi faces up to five years in prison if found guilty of the charges.

She has already been in detention for nearly 14 of the last 20 years, mostly confined to her Yangon residence.

Also being tried on the same charges as Aung San Suu Kyi are two women members of her party who have been her sole companions while under house arrest.

Yettaw, 53, of the US state of Missouri, is also on trial charged with trespassing.

He has pleaded not guilty and explained in court that had gone to warn Aung San Suu Kyi after he had a dream that she would be assassinated.

His family and friends have said he was working on a book and wished to interview her.

Criticism

The trial has drawn international condemnation while opposition supporters have said it is a trumped up charge by the ruling generals to keep Aung San Suu Kyi out of elections to be held next year.

A UN mission to Myanmar last Sunday ended in disappointment after the country’s military rulers refused to allow Ban Ki-moon, the secretary-general, to meet the jailed opposition leader.

Ban said Than Shwe, Myanmar’s military chief, told him repeatedly that “he really wanted to agree to my request” but because she was on trial he did not want to be seen as interfering with the judicial process, or as being pressured by the outside world.

“I am deeply disappointed that they have missed a very important opportunity,” ban was quoted as saying.

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