Keiji Furuya, the Cabinet Minister in charge of the North Korea abduction issue, said that the Japanese government will not provide any form of economic aid to Pyongyang unless they safely return all the Japanese abductees that are still alive and in their country. The statement was released after fears that Japan is compromising on the issue, after a visit to North Korea by a top cabinet advisor.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga confirmed that they are extending an invitation to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for a four-day visit to Tokyo this May. This is part of Japan's goal to improve relations with the South Asian nation, which is strategically located on sea lanes from the Middle East, where Japan gets its oil imports.
A new book by Richard Samuels, director of the Center for International Studies at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an expert on Japanese politics, says that the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disasters of 2011 had little effect on the key policies and government of Japan. The shake-up that observers were expecting never materialized, according to his observations.
Yume, the Akita puppy that former Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda gave in behalf of Akita Prefecture to Russian president Vladimir Putin a year ago, made her first "public appearance" as her pictures were posted on the president's official website. The puppy was a thank you gift for Russia's help to the prefecture during the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011.
On Tuesday the Nagoya District Court sentenced 32 year old Koji Nagakubo to nine years in prison for taking several people hostage inside a bank for more than 12 hours in Aichi Prefecture last year. Taking place on November 22nd, the incident was especially odd because the man was demanding former Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda resign, something that was widely expected to take place a month later following general elections.
In a report from the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper on Thursday, Yoshihiko Noda, Japan's previous prime minister, was said to have revealed to his fellow lawmakers that nights of heavy drinking were a common occurrence during visits from foreign dignitaries while he was in power. As a well-known aficionado of sake, the iconic rice wine of Japan, Noda shared that he had "chugged" down cups of the drink with British Prime Minister David Cameron, among others.
He may be enjoying record popularity due to his economic reforms, but Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is facing a potentially big problem before the upper house election in July: electoral reform. Several Japanese court rulings have invalidated votes from the December election and this will force the government to look at voter disparity.
A poll from the Yomiuri Shimbun shows that public support for returning Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, his Liberal Democratic Party-led cabinet and the policies they have been trying to implement has been steadily growing while the disapproval rating is also dropping.
Shinzo Abe was officially sworn in as Japan's new Prime Minister and has named his cabinet line-up which includes ultra-conservative right-wing politicians. Observers are worried that this will lead to a tougher stance in current territorial disputes with China and South Korea.
After the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) achieved a sweeping win in the December 16th general elections, party leader Shinzo Abe will be officially named prime minister later on Wednesday afternoon. This will be the second term as Japan's premier for the 58 year old, having already served as prime minister for one year starting in 2006. In becoming the country's seventh leader in a little over six years, Abe will be replacing Yoshihiko Noda, of the now unpopular Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), whose cabinet resigned early Wednesday morning.