Tag Archives: parliamentary elections

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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Jakarta hotel bombs kill 9, wound 42 – police

in.reuters.com

Jakarta hotel bombs kill 9, wound 42 – police

JAKARTA –  july 17  – Near-simultaneous bomb blasts ripped through the JW Marriott and the Ritz-Carlton hotels in Jakarta’s business district on Friday, killing nine people and wounding 42 others including foreign businessmen, police said.

A car bomb had also exploded along a toll road in North Jakarta, police said. Indonesia’s Metro TV said two people had been killed. No further details on that blast were available.

The bomb attacks, the first in several years, could badly dent investor confidence in Southeast Asia’s biggest economy. The Indonesian government has made considerable progress in tackling security threats from militant Islamic groups in recent years, bringing a sense of greater political stability to the country.

Indonesia’s parliamentary elections in April and presidential elections earlier this month both passed peacefully, underscoring the progress made by the world’s most populous Muslim nation since the chaos and violence that surrounded the downfall of ex-autocrat Suharto in the late 1990s.

“After the elections going off so peacefully, the bomb blasts have come as a shock. Investors will be keeping a close eye on this one,” said Singapore-based HSBC economist Prakriti Sofat.

Windows were shattered at both hotels, which are close to each other in the Kuningan business area which is popular with foreigners and Indonesians, with many bars, offices and embassies.

Hundreds of police, some soldiers and ambulances were at the scene of the hotel attacks. A Reuters witness said about 100 foreign and Indonesian hotel guests and office workers were gathered outside, some still wearing bathrobes.

The windows in the first floor of the Ritz-Carlton were blown out, indicating the blast may have been in the restaurant, which would have been busy at that time of the morning.

The Marriott was badly damaged by a car bomb attack in 2003 that killed 12 people.

Police said foreigners were among the dead on Friday. Tim Mackay, president director of cement maker PT Holcim Indonesia, was killed in the attacks, the company said.

Indonesian financial markets fell after the blasts, with the rupiah down 0.7 percent at 10,200 per dollar, prompting state banks to sell dollars to support the currency, traders said. Indonesian stocks were down around 2 percent.

“I fell because of an explosion, I did not know where it came from, but after I saw clearly it came from the left side of the JW Marriott Hotel,” said Yanuar, an employee at the Marriott.

TV footage showed a wounded man being carried out on a stretcher with an oxygen mask attached to his face.

MANCHESTER UNITED WAS TO STAY AT RITZ

Lydia Ruddy, a witness who lives in the area, said she heard an explosion and saw smoke coming from the Marriott, followed five minutes later by another explosion at the Ritz-Carlton.

A Ritz Carlton employee said the Manchester United soccer team had been due to stay at the hotel ahead of an exhibition game in Indonesia early next week.

Islamist militants from the regional Jemaah Islamiah organisation were blamed for numerous attacks between 2002-2005 in Indonesia, including bombings on the island of Bali in 2002 that killed 202 people.

Many militants have since been arrested. But an Australian security report on Thursday said Jemaah Islamiah could be poised to strike again.

Leadership tensions in JI and recent prison releases of JI members raised the possibility that splinter groups might now seek to re-energise the movement through violent attacks, said the report by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.

The report said JI was now a splintered group which may not be capable of replicating mass casualty attacks, but warned there was evidence that JI members released from prison “are gravitating towards hardline groups who continue to advocate al Qaeda-style attacks against Western targets”.

“These hardline groups continue to believe that the use of violence against the “enemies of Islam” is justified under any circumstances,” said the report.

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