Japan PM points to beefed-up military in speech

Updated 28 January 2013
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Japan PM points to beefed-up military in speech

TOKYO: Japan faces a “diplomatic and security crisis,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Monday, a day after his defense minister announced plans to strengthen the military amid a bitter dispute with China.
The proposal to raise the defense budget by 40 billion yen ($441 million) or about 0.8 percent in the year starting from April sparked criticism from Beijing.
The plan also calls for a small increase in personnel for the 228,000-strong military, the first such rise in about 20 years.
Abe, in his first speech to parliament since taking office last month, spoke of “continuous provocations” faced by his country, “causing us to face a diplomatic and security crisis.”
“By taking full measures to develop, manage and safeguard remote islands near our borders, I declare now that, under this cabinet, we will firmly defend the lives and property of Japanese people as well as our territories, territorial waters and territorial airspace,” he added.
Tokyo’s plans sparked criticism from Beijing amid the sovereignty dispute over an East China Sea island chain.
“Japan’s moves in the military and security field will always be a high concern for its Asian neighbors,” foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters in Beijing.
“We hope the Japanese side can be committed to peaceful development, respect the concerns of the regional countries, take history as a mirror and do more for regional peace and stability.”
Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera announced the proposed spending rise on Sunday.
He also said the military would add nearly 300 personnel to help defend the disputed islands which Tokyo calls the Senkakus but are known as the Diaoyus in China.
“With this budget, our existing aircraft can become fully activated. We will be able to build a stronger system” to monitor our territory, Onodera said.


Trump’s travel ban faces US Supreme Court showdown

Updated 22 April 2018
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Trump’s travel ban faces US Supreme Court showdown

  • The high court has never decided the legal merits of the travel ban.
  • The challengers have argued the policy was motivated by Trump’s enmity toward Muslims.

WASHINGTON: The first big showdown at the US Supreme Court over President Donald Trump’s immigration policies is set for Wednesday when the justices hear a challenge to the lawfulness of his travel ban targeting people from several Muslim-majority countries.
The case represents a test of the limits of presidential power. Trump’s policy, announced in September, blocks entry into the US of most people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. Chad previously was on the list but Trump lifted those restrictions on April 10.
The high court has never decided the legal merits of the travel ban or any other major Trump immigration policy, including his move to rescind protections for young immigrants sometimes called Dreamers brought into the US illegally as children. It has previously acted on Trump requests to undo lower court orders blocking those two policies, siding with him on the travel ban and opposing him on the Dreamers. Trump’s immigration policies — also including actions taken against states and cities that protect illegal immigrants, intensified deportation efforts and limits on legal immigration — have been among his most contentious. 
The conservative-majority Supreme Court is due to hear arguments on Wednesday on the third version of a travel ban policy Trump first sought to implement a week after taking office in January 2017, and issue a ruling by the end of June. 
The lead challenger is the state of Hawaii, which argues the ban violates federal immigration law and the US Constitution’s prohibition on the government favoring one religion over another.
“Right now, the travel ban is keeping families apart. It is degrading our values by subjecting a specific set of people to be denigrated and marginalized,” Hawaii Lt. Governor Doug Chin said in an interview.
The Supreme Court on Dec. 4 signaled it may lean toward backing Trump when it granted the administration’s request to let the ban go into full effect while legal challenges played out.
In another immigration-related case, the justices on April 17 invalidated a provision in a US law requiring deportation of immigrants convicted of certain crimes of violence. Trump’s administration and the prior Obama administration had defended the provision.
'Politically correct'
Trump has said the travel ban is needed to protect the US from terrorism by militants. Just before the latest ban was announced, Trump wrote on Twitter that the restrictions “should be far larger, tougher and more specific — but stupidly that would not be politically correct!“
The challengers have argued the policy was motivated by Trump’s enmity toward Muslims, pressing that point in lower courts with some success by citing statements he made as a candidate and as president. As a candidate, Trump promised “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”
The Justice Department argues Trump’s statements as a candidate carry no weight because he was not yet president. The policy’s challengers also point to views he has expressed as president, including his retweets in November of anti-Muslim videos posted by a far-right British political figure.
In a court filing last week, US Solicitor General Noel Francisco, representing Trump in court, said those retweets “do not address the meaning” of the travel ban policy.
Francisco cited Trump statements complimentary toward Muslims and Islam, including in a May 2017 speech in Saudi Arabia.
In defending the ban, the administration has pointed to a waiver provision allowing people from targeted countries to seek entry if they meet certain criteria. The State Department said that as of last month 375 waivers to the travel ban had been granted since the policy went into effect on Dec 8.