Ahad, 24 April 2011

The Malaysian Insider :: World

The Malaysian Insider :: World

Japan PM under pressure after party falters in local polls

Posted: 24 Apr 2011 06:07 PM PDT

TOKYO, April 25 — Unpopular Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan is likely to face fresh pressure to quit after his ruling party's poor performance in local elections on Sunday, weakening his clout as he struggles to contain a nuclear crisis and find ways to finance rebuilding from a massive earthquake and tsunami.

Kan is unlikely to step down easily, but the outcome of the polls will likely make it harder to get opposition cooperation in figuring out how to fund rebuilding from disasters that caused up to US$300 billion (RM903.03 billion) in damage, a tough task given a public debt twice the US$5 trillion economy.

Such cooperation is vital given a divided parliament.

"I don't think the results of the elections will lead to any quick resolution, but it is true that the opposition parties will feel emboldened to be obstructionist," said Sophia University professor Koichi Nakano.

Japan's Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) lost six out of nine mayoral races in which it faced off directly against its main opposition, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), and lagged behind in a spate of city assembly elections across the country, Japanese media reported, although the LDP itself lost seats.

An LDP candidate also romped to victory in a lower house by-election in the former Democratic Party stronghold of Aichi, central Japan, after the DPJ failed even to field a contender.

"The election results show that (voters) have filed a huge complaint against the Kan cabinet over its handling of the disasters," LDP President Sadakazu Tanigaki told a late night news conference. "This shows that many voters are worried whether he is really capable."


Kan brushed aside criticism of his handling of the disasters.

"We must accept the results (of the election) sincerely, but as for disaster response, the government as a whole is doing what needs to be done," he told a parliamentary panel.

Kan's critics in the DPJ were also expected to step up their attacks, but the party has no obvious successor in sight. Japanese media said the LDP was considering submitting a no-confidence motion against Kan in coming months — but more than 70 DPJ lawmakers would have to back the motion for it to pass.

"It is certain that Kan's clout has declined. It has become clear to the DPJ that they cannot fight the next general election under Kan," said independent analyst Minoru Morita.

No general election is mandated until 2013, and the crisis has muted opposition calls for an early vote for parliament's powerful lower house.

"But while there are those (in the DPJ) who speak about a no-confidence vote, that would be very difficult," Morita added. "Unless Kan makes a fresh gaffe or a cabinet member quits ... it would be hard to move to that stage. So unless Kan resigns on his own, the situation will remain deadlocked."

Public opinion polls have shown that most Japanese want a new prime minister, but many would prefer Kan to stay until the crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Co's quake-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is resolved. When that will be is uncertain but it is likely to take many more months at least. — Reuters 

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Israeli shot by police in West Bank, army says

Posted: 24 Apr 2011 05:17 PM PDT

Jewish worshippers react after arriving outside a military camp following a shooting in the West Bank city of Nablus April 24, 2011. — Reuters pic

NABLUS, West Bank, April 25 — A Palestinian policeman shot dead an Israeli and wounded four others after they entered a holy site in a West Bank city without permission yesterday, the Israeli military said.

The group of ultra-Orthodox Jewish worshippers were shot at Joseph's Tomb, which some Jews believe to be the burial place of the biblical patriarch, in the Palestinian city of Nablus.

The man killed, Ben-Yosef Livnat, was in his mid-twenties and a nephew of Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party.

"An Israeli civilian was killed and four others injured after entering Joseph's Tomb in Nablus un-permitted," the military said in a statement in English.

The military said it had been notified by Palestinian officials that "the civilians were shot by a Palestinian policeman who, after identifying suspicious movements, fired in their direction."

Israeli and Palestinian security officials will meet to investigate the shooting, the statement said.

The governor of Nablus, Jibreen al-Bakri, said the group of Israelis had "entered the area without coordinating it with the Palestinian Authority, as is the understanding with Israel."

"We have detained the forces responsible for securing the area and are investigating what happened," Bakri told Reuters.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement condemning the killing and demanded that "the Palestinian Authority take harsh steps against the perpetrators who carried out the criminal act against Jewish worshippers."

Defense Minister Ehud Barak said a lack of coordination did not justify the shooting and called on the Palestinian Authority to "take all necessary measures" against those responsible.

A tearful Livnat said at her nephew's funeral in Jerusalem that he was "an innocent victim murdered by a terrorist in the guise of a Palestinian policeman while on his way to prayers during the Passover holiday."

It was the first reported fatal attack on Israelis in the West Bank since the killing of five family members last month in the settlement of Itamar in a nearby area in the central West Bank.

After yesterday's incident, some settlers threw stones at Palestinian vehicles near the Hawara checkpoint close to Nablus, Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.

Violence in the West Bank has fallen significantly since its peak during a Palestinian uprising a decade ago.

Some 500,000 settlers live among 2.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Palestinians say the presence of the enclaves will deny them a viable state on land Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war. — Reuters 

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