Japan premier dissolves Parliament for elections

Updated 17 November 2012
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Japan premier dissolves Parliament for elections

TOKYO: Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda dissolved the lower house of Parliament yesterday, paving the way for elections.
Elections are set for Dec. 16. If Noda’s center-left party loses, the economically sputtering country will get its seventh prime minister in six and a half years.
The opposition Liberal Democratic Party, which led Japan for most of the post-World War II era, is in the best position to take over. The timing of the election likely pre-empts moves by more conservative challengers, including former Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara, to build electoral support.
Campaigning is set to begin Dec. 4, but leaders were already switching into campaign mode.
“What’s at stake in the upcoming elections is whether Japan’s future is going to move forward or backward,” Noda declared to fellow leaders of the Democratic Party of Japan. “It is going to be a crucial election to determine the fate of Japan.”
The DPJ, in power for three years, has grown unpopular largely because of its handling of the Fukushima nuclear crisis and its recent doubling of the sales tax.
Noda’s most likely successor is LDP head and former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. He resigned as Japan’s leader in 2007 after a year in office, citing health problems he says are no longer an issue.
“I will do my utmost to end the political chaos and stalled economy,” Abe told reporters. “I will take the lead to make that happen.”
The path to elections was laid suddenly Wednesday during a debate between Abe and Noda. Noda abruptly said he would dissolve Parliament if the opposition would agree to key reforms, including a deficit financing bill and electoral reforms, and Abe jumped at the chance.
Polls indicate that the conservative, business-friendly LDP will win the most seats in the 480-seat lower house but will fall far short of a majority. That would force it to cobble together a coalition of parties with differing policies and priorities.
“It’s unlikely that the election will result in a clear mandate for anybody,” said Koichi Nakano, a political science professor at Sophia University. “So in that sense, there’s still going to be a lot of muddling through.”
The election, and the divided government that is likely to follow, complicate efforts to extricate Japan from its two-decade economic slump and effectively handle the cleanup from its 2011 nuclear disaster.
Japan is facing territorial dispute with China, which has hammered Japanese exports to its biggest trading partner.
A staunch nationalist, Abe has railed against China in the dispute over a cluster of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea controlled by Japan but also claimed by China and Taiwan.


80 nations attend terror financing conference in Paris

Updated 5 min 27 sec ago
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80 nations attend terror financing conference in Paris

  • Terror attacks have become increasingly low-cost since the 9/11 atrocities in the United States in 2001
  • While the Daesh group faces imminent defeat on the battlefield in Syria where the last pockets of its fighters are holding out, experts warn that its ideology will live on

PARIS: Ministers from 80 countries and nearly 500 experts gather in Paris from Wednesday for a conference on combating the financing of terror groups such as Daesh and Al-Qaeda, French officials said.
Attacks have become increasingly low-cost since the 9/11 atrocities in the United States in 2001, particularly in recent years when followers of Daesh have used vehicles and guns as their main weapon of choice.
But French authorities remain concerned about a huge war-chest amassed by Daesh between 2014 and 2016 when it ruled over large swathes of oil-rich territory in Iraq and Syria.
A French presidential official briefing journalists on Tuesday said that Daesh income was estimated at about $1 billion (820 million euros) a year.
“It has been moved since, at least in part. It’s probably somewhere,” the official said on condition of anonymity. “These groups are very skilful in using sophisticated techniques to move financial resources around.”
The idea of the two-day conference, which will close with a speech by French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday afternoon, is to share expertise and good practice that can be implemented internationally.
The Daesh group faces imminent defeat on the battlefield in Syria where the last pockets of its fighters are holding out, but experts warn that its ideology will live on.
Some terror experts, including Peter Neumann from King’s College in London, have argued recently that the fight against the financing of terror groups has been ineffective since 2001.
In a report last year entitled “Don’t follow the money,” he argued that low-cost terror attacks were easy to mount and jihadist groups could transfer money easily without using the international banking system.
He will make a speech at the start of the second day of the conference on Thursday which will take place at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development in Paris.