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Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida-the man who steered LDP to yet another victory



The Japanese ruling party Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and its allies have come back to power with a comfortable win. This allows Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to work on his election pledges of making Japan militarily strong, revive the coronavirus-affected economy and restrengthen measures against Covid-19.

Kishida was elected as the prime minister by the LDP after Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga decided to step down a couple of months back. Suga had lost the confidence of voters over his management of the coronavirus pandemic and organising the Olympics despite opposition.

Despite a comfortable win, LDP’s tally has come down from 276 to 259–a loss of 17 seats. Diet–the Japanese parliament has a Lower House with 465 seats.

Japan went to elections after four years on October 31 and the results were declared overnight. Exit polls by Japanese news agency Koyodo which had predicted that the ruling party would be voted back to power have come true.

Some of the important issues before the electorate were the handling of the Covid-19 infection, rising income inequality, kick-starting the pandemic-wrecked economy as well as geo-political tensions in the region.

Kishida as the new Prime Minister has heavily stressed upon building a stronger military for Japan due to threats from China and North Korea. He had said in the election campaign that his party may even double Japan’s defence spending.

On the other hand, the opposition parties have highlighted growing economic disparity between the rich and the poor as well as a poor economy due to the pandemic, says The Asahi Shimbun.

The main opposition party, the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDPJ), alleged that the government has mismanaged the Covid-19 response as well as supported the rich classes. It’s campaign issues included gender equality and separate surnames for married couples. The opposition promised lower taxes for the low and middle class and abandoning nuclear energy.

For Kishida, this win restores the party’s confidence in him as well as in his leadership. For the party it means that the LDP completes nine years of uninterrupted rule.

The soft-spoken 64-year-old Kishida comes from a family of politicians from Hiroshima. He followed his father and grandfather into politics and had been eyeing the position of the Prime Minister for a while.

Kishida is well aware of the national and regional challenges that lie before him–which he repeatedly discussed during the election campaign.

Kishida was earlier the LDP’s policy chief and the country’s foreign minister between 2012-17. During his tenure, he negotiated accords with Russia and South Korea, both nations with which Japan has continuing tussles in the region.

On the foreign policy front, he is known for his public stand over abolishing nuclear weapons. He was lauded for bringing the then-US President Barack Obama to Hiroshima on a historic visit.

In his personal life, Kishida enjoys baseball as well as drinks. A keen baseball player, he is known to be a big fan of the Hiroshima Carp baseball team. The Tokyo Weekender quotes Kishida as saying: “I love Hiroshima Carp. I love Hiroshima and sake (laughs). Other than that, I have some hobbies, but it’s not a big deal.”

Kishida is known to be a strong drinker. As the foreign minister, he particularly enjoyed holding a competition of vodka and sake with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov over diplomatic conversations.

His wife comes from a wealthy business family known for its sake-brewing business.

International News

Clash at Afghanistan-Iran border a misunderstanding: Taliban




Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid has confirmed a clash between the border forces of Iran and Afghanistan and described the incident as a “misunderstanding.”

According to media reports, a clash broke out between the forces of the two countries at a border point between Iran and Afghanistan’s western Nimroz province.

“The clash in border area of Kang district in Nimroz province between border forces of Afghan and Iran was a misunderstanding at local level and has been solved,” Mujahid tweeted on Wednesday, Xinhua news agency reported.

“To prevent such incidents in future, the leadership of the Islamic Emirate has issued necessary directives,” Mujahid said.

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Global campaign under Xi Jinping to exploit extradition treaties




A new report documents hundreds of cases of the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC’s) international harassment campaign against Taiwanese nationals via deportations and extraditions.

The report by Safeguard Defenders presents the fullest picture to date of this alarming trend. “This international persecution of Taiwan nationals amounts to an assault on Taiwanese sovereignty, and is part of the larger global campaign under Xi Jinping to exploit extradition treaties, mutual law enforcement agreements, and other multilateral institutions for the Chinese Communist Party’s political objectives,” it said.

China has increasingly shown that it has no regard for the rule of law, and will violate international norms without hesitation in pursuit of its opponents around the world. Through transnational repression and formal extraditions, China is pursuing economic fugitives, Uyghur refugees, human rights defenders, and fleeing Hong Kongers. But one group that has received far less attention to date: hundreds of Taiwanese nationals have been detained and forcibly extradited to mainland China from around the world, the report said.

International extradition and human rights norms set out clear conditions on acceptable extraditions and grounds for automatic rejections. At the core of these international norms is the principle of non-refoulement, which simply dictates that no country is to send anyone to another country where they are at risk of persecution or gross human rights abuses.

Conditions in China are such that fundamental human rights are wantonly denied, with impunity. These human rights abuses are both widespread and systematic as Safeguard Defenders has reported elsewhere.

The extradition of Taiwanese nationals to the PRC under pressure from Beijing should very much be seen as a violation of their human right to a fair trial, and their right to be free from torture, the report said.

Safeguard Defenders has documented over 600 cases between 2016 and 2019 of Taiwan nationals abroad who have been extradited or deported from countries across Asia, Africa, and Europe. However, they have not been returned to Taiwan.

Under increasing pressure from Beijing, foreign governments are instead forcibly sending them to China where they have no roots and no families. These forcible transfers are also often taking place following the denial of access to Taiwanese consular support or communication in the sending country, and sometimes followed by ongoing denial of contact with Taiwanese officials or family members once they are in China.

These forced transfers put Taiwanese nationals at risk of severe human rights abuses. This pressure from Beijing is furthermore a direct refutation of China’s obligations under the Cross-Strait Agreement on Joint Crime-Fighting and Judicial Mutual Assistance Agreement. Just as much as it is being used to bolster Beijing’s influence abroad, it is being used as a tool to undermine Taiwan’s sovereignty.

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Why is India not banning int’l flights, Kejriwal asks PM





In the wake of emergence of a new Covid-19 variant — Omicron, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ban international flights as most of them land in the national capital.

“Many countries have stopped incoming flights from Omicron-affected countries. Why are we not following their suit? In the first wave also, we had taken time to stop foreign flights,” Kejriwal said in a tweet, adding that most of the foreign flights come to Delhi, which is the most affected state.

He requested the prime minister to “kindly stop flights immediately.” The AAP leader had quoted a media report: “A South Africa returnee has tested positive for COVID-19 in Chandigarh. One of his family members and domestic help are also positive for the disease. The samples of positive cases will be sent for whole-genome sequencing to NCDC, Delhi to ascertain a variant of coronavirus”.

With the news of Omicron, being detected in South Africa, scientists and health experts in India have said that new waves of infection are anticipated and unless we act quickly and efficiently, the country will possibly see repeat waves. The variant has also been declared as a variant of concern by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

On Sunday, Kejriwal wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, requesting him to stop international flights from regions witnessing a rise in Covid-19 cases. Meanwhile,

Meanwhile, Delhi government-run Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Hospital has been designated to treat patients testing positive for the new Covid-19 variant Omicron.

The hospital has been asked to earmark wards for isolating and treating such patients.In order, the Health Department has directed the hospital not to deny admission to patients infected with the new variant on any ground.

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