PN's Voice 157
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PN's Voice No. 157 01. 09. 2020
Small steps, Road to peace
Japan’s Abe to Step Down
Japan's longest-serving prime minister, Shinzo Abe, announced last Thursday that he is stepping down because of poor health. Abe, 65, has been in office since 2012. He also previously served as prime minister for just a year back in 2006-2007, but cut his tenure short also due to health reasons. Abe has suffered bouts of ulcerative colitis, a debilitating inflammatory bowel disease, for years. Abe's lengthy stay at the top is noteworthy as Japan commonly sees frequent turnover in its leadership.
Abe leaves with a mixed legacy; to some he will be remembered as a firm hand on the tiller who brought stability, firm alliances with overseas partner nations – most notably the U.S. – while for others he will be remembered as fervent nationalist; something which made him deeply unpopular here in South Korea.
Abe’s biggest disappointment will be that he failed to achieve his most cherished political goal, and that of his ruling Liberal Democratic Party: to revise Japan's pacifist, post-World War II constitution. This aim in particular has made him an unpopular figure on the Korean peninsula as relations have soured over the deemed lack of proper apology for Japan’s historical crimes against Koreans such as the “Comfort Women” and other Korean citizens who were pushed into forced labour. Abe so strongly pushed for a constitution revision as he felt the political values imposed by the U.S.-imposed constitution were alien to some of Japan's traditions, such as reverence for the emperor. His proposed revisions would have strengthened the government's emergency powers, while downplaying the role of human rights.
His tenure ends on a far from salubrious note as Most Japanese were dissatisfied with Abe's handling of the Corona virus pandemic, which saw his approval rating fall to under 30%.
Source : Washington Post, NPR
South Korean FM Cautious on Post- Abe Seoul-Tokyo Relations
Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha expressed caution on Monday about predicting future relations with Tokyo after current Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced he would step down. Kang’s comments came amid rising hope of significant improvement in the strained bilateral ties after the imminent departure of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
“We have to take a cautious stance on casting a hopeful outlook, as the matter itself is difficult,” Kang said. Kang added that Korea needs to take a realistic outlook, as the strained bilateral relations result from the two countries’ differences in perceptions of historical events. “It is due to Japan’s acknowledgment of the past falling short from what we hope for,” she said, mentioning the soured ties result from the Supreme Court’s ruling on a Japanese firm to compensate Korean victims of wartime forced labor during the colonial era, and Japan’s subsequent trade restrictions on South Korea. She added the government is seeking to take a two-track approach of considering historic disputes separately while continuing to enhance exchanges in the economy, culture and tourism, as well as people to people.
Source : The Korea Herald
Ex-US Commander Casts Doubt on Kim’s Delegation of Power
Retired U.S. General Vincent Brooks this week announced his scepticism about recent South Korean intelligence analysis which revealed North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had delegated some of his power to a handful of his advisors, most notably his sister Kim Yeo-jung. General Brooks was the commander of the 28,500-strong United States Forces Korea from 2016-2018. Last week the South Korea National Intelligence Service told lawmakers that while Kim holds absolute power his sister is now the de facto No. 2. Brooks told Voice of America that the North has seen changes in leadership roles -- for example, Kim Yo-jong’s elevated status. But rather than a sign of power sharing, he argued that the shakeup instead signals aides loyal to the 36-year-old leader are taking on senior-level responsibilities. The former commander added that Kim Jong-un trusts no one completely, and he names aides to positions based on their loyalty..
Source : The Korea Herald
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