Abe considering snap election as early as October

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By Linda Sieg

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is considering calling a snap election as early as next month to take advantage of an uptick in approval ratings and disarray in the main opposition party, domestic media reported on Sunday.

Abe’s ratings have recovered to the 50% level in some polls, helped by public jitters over North Korea’s missile and nuclear tests and chaos in the opposition Democratic Party, struggling with single-digit support and defections.

Abe told the head of his Liberal Democratic Party’s junior coalition partner, the Komeito party, that he could not rule out dissolving parliament’s lower house for a snap poll after the legislature convenes for an extra session from Sept 28, public broadcaster NHK reported, citing unidentified informed sources.

“Until now, it appeared the election would be next autumn, but … we must always be ready for battle,” media quoted Komeito party chief Natsuo Yamaguchi as telling reporters on Saturday during a visit to Russia.

Speculation has mounted over a snap election on Oct 22, when three by-elections are scheduled, although other possibilities are later in October or after U.S. President Donald Trump makes a likely visit in early November, media said.

Abe’s ratings had sunk below 30% in some surveys in July, battered by suspected cronyism scandals and a perception that he had grown arrogant after more than four years in office.

His popularity rebounded a bit after an early August cabinet reshuffle and has since been helped by worries over a volatile North Korea, which on Friday fired a ballistic missile over Japan, its second such move in less than a month.

“If we have a snap election now, we need to explain it to the public, including how we will cope with the threat from North Korea,” said Koichi Hagiuda, a senior LDP executive, according to NHK.

As Japan faces its first impending major security crisis since World War II, it is vital to secure public understanding, he said.

No general election need be held until late 2018, and calling a snap poll could spark criticism that he was creating a political vacuum amid rising regional security tensions.

But an early vote would not only take advantage of Democratic Party disarray but also dilute a challenge from an embryonic party that allies of popular Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, an ex-LDP lawmaker, are trying to form.

Abe’s coalition would likely lose its two-thirds “super” majority” in the lower house, but keep a simple majority, political sources have said.

Loss of the two-thirds grip would dim prospects Abe can achieve his controversial goal of revising Japan’s pacifist constitution to clarify the military’s role. Any constitutional amendment requires approval by two-thirds of both chambers and a majority in a public referendum.

That risk could make Abe hesitate.

“I am skeptical about the consensus that Abe will call a snap election because doing so poses a risk, albeit small, to his agenda of constitutional revision,” said Jeffrey Kingston, director of Asian studies at Temple University Japan.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2017.

Source  :  Japan Today

Weakening typhoon slams southern Japan

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A weakening typhoon ripped into southern Japan on Sunday, dumping torrential rain, grounding hundreds of domestic flights and halting train services.

Typhoon Talim made a landfall in Kyushu, the southernmost of Japan’s four main islands, packing winds of up to 162 kilometers per hour, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

At least 644 domestic flights have been cancelled because of strong winds, according to public broadcaster NHK, while all major regional train services have been suspended, operator JR Kyushu Railway said.

Authorities have issued warnings of rainstorms, high seas, possible landslides and flooding across the southern half of the Japanese archipelago.

The meteorological agency said the typhoon was expected to become a tropical storm and head northwards, dumping heavy rain across a large area, including on Tokyo.

The typhoon had earlier battered the southern Okinawan island chain, dumping the most rain seen over a 24-hour period in 50 years on the city of Miyako, before it hit Kyushu.

The Kyushu region was hit by downpours from the early hours of Sunday, with up to 120 millimeters in an hour measured in Saiki, Oita Prefecture. Kochi Prefecture in the Shikoku region saw hourly rainfall of over 80 mm, Kyodo reported. Evacuation orders were issued for residents in parts of Oita, including the cities of Saiki and Usuki, covering nearly 60,000 people, according to the prefectural government.

Big storms regularly strike Japan, with 22 people killed when Typhoon Lionrock pounded the country last September.

Last month, Typhoon Noru killed two and injured 51.

© 2017 AFP

Source  :  Japan Today

Ministry of Economy spots 119 violations in August

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 17 Sep 2017 – 15:28

Ministry of Economy spots 119 violations in August

QNA

Doha, Qatar: The inspection campaign held by representatives from the Ministry of Economy and Commerce in August resulted in the seizure and issuance of 119 violations, which include the non-compliance with prices of vegetables and fruits bulletin, non-display of product and service prices, non-display in Arabic and non-issuance of receipts in Arabic.

The violations also included failure to display the original prices alongside the discounted prices approved by the concerned management, not complying to recording all explanatory statements relating to the offered commodity, not describing, advertising or displaying the item in a manner that contains false or deceptive data, non existence of receipts and failure to add cards on discounted products.

The intensive inspections are part of the Ministry’s keenness to regulate and monitor the markets and commercial activities in the country with the aim of controlling prices and detecting violations to protect consumer rights to monitor if suppliers were abiding by the obligations stipulated by Law No. (8) of 2008 on consumer protection.

The penalties included administrative closure and financial fines which vary between QR 5,000 and QR 30,000 according to the laws and decisions governing the work of consumer protection departments.

The Ministry confirmed it will be firm against all those negligent to those not complying to the consumer protection law and its executive regulations. It also confirmed it will intensify its inspection campaigns to control such practiced and refer all violators to the concerned entities to take the appropriate measures against them.

The Ministry called on all consumers to report any violations to the Ministry through its difference communication channels such as phone, emails, social media or application available on smartphones.

 

Source  :  The Peninsula

Qatar urges application of IAEA comprehensive safeguards to all nuclear activities in Middle East

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17 Sep 2017 – 15:38

Qatar urges application of IAEA comprehensive safeguards to all nuclear activities in Middle East

(file Photo) The flag of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) flies in front of its headquarters in Vienna, Austria, May 28, 2015. REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader

QNA

Vienna: Qatar called for supporting the efforts of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on the early application of the Agency’s comprehensive safeguards agreements (CSAs) to all nuclear activities in the Middle East as a fundamental step towards the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone.

Addressing the IAEA Governing Council meeting, Qatar’s Ambassador to Austria and Permanent Representative to the United Nations and International Organization in Vienna Sheikh Ali bin Jassim Al Thani said that Qatar believed that the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East that would accelerate international efforts to achieve a peaceful and lasting solution in the region and to rid the world of nuclear weapons.

Qatar expressed regret over the lack of implementation of the international resolutions on the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, stressing the importance of implementing these resolutions, especially in the current circumstances which are witnessing a serious escalation as North Korea continues its nuclear weapons program in the absence of international supervision.

 

Source  :  The Peninsula