Japan’s Abe to pledge something for all generations in snap election-source

Passersby look at a TV screen reporting news on Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks to media about North Korea's missile launch in Tokyo, Japan. (Reuters)
Updated 19 September 2017
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Japan’s Abe to pledge something for all generations in snap election-source

TOKYO: Pledges to spend on education and child care, stay tough on North Korea and revise the pacifist constitution are likely to be pillars of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s campaign in a snap election next month, government sources said on Tuesday.
Abe is considering calling the lower house poll when the legislature convenes on Sept. 28 to take advantage of his improved ratings and disarray in the opposition, ruling party and government sources have said.
The prime minister, whose ratings have recovered from below 30 percent in July, is betting his ruling bloc can at a minimum retain a simple majority in the chamber and at best keep the two-thirds super-majority needed to achieve his long-held goal of revising the constitution to clarify the military’s role.
Abe wants to go ahead with a planned rise in the nation’s sales tax to 10 percent from 8 percent and use some of the revenue to create a “social security system for all generations,” which would invest in education while decreasing the proportion of sales tax revenue used to pay down government debt, the sources said.
Japan’s social welfare system is weighted toward spending on the elderly, with people aged 65 and over accounting for a whopping 27.7 percent of the population according to the latest government data.
“You can promise anything you want — make a nod toward a more equitable society, empowering women, work-life balance, welfare for all generations,” said Jeffrey Kingston, director of Asian studies at Temple University Japan.
“He’s got a strategy that is going to win.”
Using less tax revenue to pay down debt, however, would make it more difficult to achieve the government’s target of returning to a primary budget surplus in fiscal 2020, which could in turn raise concerns about less rigid fiscal discipline.
“We have to maintain fiscal discipline, regardless,” Finance Minister Taro Aso told reporters when asked about the reports.
Abe has told reporters he will make a decision on the snap election after he returns from the United States on Sept. 22.
Japan’s opposition Democratic Party is struggling with single-digit support and a succession of defections. And while the nascent “Japan First” party, which boasts ties to popular Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, could be a viable challenger to Abe’s government, it has yet to draft a platform, pick candidates or formally register as a party.
That means Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party and its junior partner, the Komeito, have a shot at retaining their two-thirds majority in the lower house, political analysts said.
However, some analysts believe Abe’s electoral base could be undermined by voter distaste over suspected cronyism scandals and concerns about a political vacuum forming amid heightened tensions over North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.
“I don’t dismiss the possibility of the voters giving Abe a nasty surprise,” said Gerry Curtis, professor emeritus at Columbia University in New York.


Rao Anwar found ‘responsible’ of Naqeeb Mehsud’s murder

Updated 22 April 2018
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Rao Anwar found ‘responsible’ of Naqeeb Mehsud’s murder

  • Suspended police superintendent responsible for death of Naqeeb Mehsud, an aspiring Pashtun model, in fake police encounter in Karachi
  • The suspended officer has challenged the constitution of JIT sans representatives of intelligence agencies, armed forces

KARACHI: Rao Anwar, who was remanded in custody on Saturday, has been found responsible for the murder of Naqeebullah Mehsud, an aspiring Pashtun model from the country’s tribal region.

Mehsud was killed in a fake police encounter on Jan. 12 this year.

“Rao Anwar has been found guilty,” a senior official who is part of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) probing Anwar, told Arab News.

The apex court on March 24 had formed a JIT headed by Aftab Ahmed Pathan, Additional IG Sindh, to probe the incident. The JIT comprised  Waliullah Dal, Additional IG Special Branch; Azad Ahmed Khan, DIG South; Zulfiqar Larik, DIG East; and Dr. Rizwan Ahmed, SSP Central Karachi.

The official, who requested anonymity, told Arab News that the JIT report will be produced in the court once signed by all of its members.
Anwar was presented today before the Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) in Karachi on Saturday which sent him on judicial remand to prison till May 2, prosecutor Zafar Solangi told Arab News.

When asked for a comment upon his appearance at the ATC, Anwar said: “I have challenged the JIT and I don’t accept its findings.”
He further claimed: “I have not recorded any statement before this JIT.”

On April 5, Anwar filed a petition praying for the inclusion of representatives of “the intelligence agencies, armed forces and civil armed forces.”

Anwar claimed that the inclusion of the members from intelligence agencies and armed forces was required by law.

The police officer was brought to the court amid tight security arrangements, where he was produced along with 11 other accused.

Investigation officer, SSP Dr. Rizwan Ahmed, who is also part of the JIT probing the incident, told the court that investigations are underway and the JIT’s report will be presented before the court once it was finalized. He sought a week for the submission of the report.
Anwar was given into 30-day police custody upon the last court hearing.

Anwar, who is accused of killing Mehsud in a fake police encounter, claims that the slain Pashtun model was an active member of banned terrorist outfits Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Al Qaeda, and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ). However, the evident subsequently began to pile up against the police team involved in his killing.

Following the incident, a formal inquiry was launched against Anwar. As pressure mounted on him, he decided to go underground and even made a botched attempt to fly out of Pakistan.

He also wrote a few letters to the Supreme Court after the top court began a suo motu hearing of Naqeebullah’s murder, telling the judges that the system was heavily stacked against him and he was not hopeful of getting any justice in the case.

In response, the country’s top court decided to grant him some relief, asking him to surrender himself and let the law take its course.
The court was also willing to reconstitute a joint investigation team to look into Naqeebullah’s killing since the absconding police officer had voiced concern over its composition.

Authorities froze Anwar’s accounts after his repeated non-appearance before the court.

In a surprise move last month, the absconding police officer came to the court in a white car. He was clad in a black dress and wore a medical mask to cover his face.

Anwar’s lawyer told the chief justice that his client had “surrendered” and wanted protective bail. However, the Supreme Court turned down the request and ordered the law enforcement authorities to lock up the former SSP.