August 11, 2009 |
Every Aug. 15, the normally serene Yasukuni shrine in the center of Tokyo becomes the setting for a stakeout. The watchers are Japan's media. And they're watching for politicians, keeping count of who does and who does not show at this shrine to the war dead on the emotionally charged anniversary of Imperial Japan's surrender in World War II. With its soothing lanterns and elegant rice-paper walls, the 140-year-old Yasukuni is a place of contemplation and contention. The Shinto shrine is the repository for the souls of the roughly 2.5 million soldiers who died in the emperor's wars, and supporters say it serves the same purpose as Arlington in a country that has no national war cemetery.
July 29, 2007 |
One of Japan's most heated elections in years got underway today, with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's long-ruling Liberal Democratic Party in the unusual position of playing underdog amid a surge of support for a conservative opposition group. No clear successor was waiting in the wings, although Foreign Minister Taro Aso was seen as the most likely to step forward should Abe find his hold on power untenable.
September 28, 2008 |
Japan's transport minister has resigned over a string of gaffes, according to Kyodo News agency. Nariaki Nakayama's resignation will be a major blow to Prime Minister Taro Aso, who took office Wednesday. Nakayama handed in his resignation before a Cabinet meeting today. He had called Japan's largest teachers union "a cancer" and described people who opposed the construction of Narita international airport as "more or less squeaky wheels," according to local reports.
September 25, 2008 |
Outspoken conservative Taro Aso took office as Japan's prime minister, promising "emergency measures" to revive the economy and vowing to keep Tokyo in the fight against global terrorism. Lawmakers elected Aso, 68, after quelling an attempt by the upper house to install a rival as premier. He stacked his Cabinet with fellow right-leaning veterans. The former foreign minister replaced Yasuo Fukuda, who struggled during his year in office with a politically divided parliament and chronically low public support ratings.
February 19, 2006 |
A Japanese consular official who committed suicide in Shanghai in May 2004 was blackmailed by Chinese intelligence agents who set him up with a woman in an attempt to obtain classified information, Japan's foreign minister said. The Foreign Ministry had previously said only that the official's death could be attributed an unspecified diplomatic incident with a Chinese intelligence official.
May 12, 2009 |
Japan's top opposition leader announced that he would resign to keep a political funding scandal from pulling down his party in upcoming parliamentary elections. Ichiro Ozawa, head of the Democratic Party of Japan, said at a news conference that he had decided to resign because he did not want the scandal involving one of his aides to cloud the vote, which must be held by Sept. 10. "I deeply apologize," he said. "I must do this for myself, for the people and for my party." The announcement was a major embarrassment for the Democrats, who surged ahead of Prime Minister Taro Aso's ruling party in recent polls and had been pegged by some analysts as being in good position to win -- and possibly take over power -- if parliamentary elections are called soon.