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Your Party leader quits over unreported loans for election

Your Party leader Yoshimi Watanabe said Monday he will quit as head of the small opposition party amid a scandal over unreported loans from a corporate executive, possibly dealing a blow to the party's survival. Watanabe, a sixth-term House of Representative lawmaker who formed Your Party in August 2009, is under fire for receiving two loans totaling 800 million yen from Yoshiaki Yoshida, chairman of cosmetics firm DHC Corp., in recent years.

Australia kicks off Indo-Pacific "New Colombo" program in Japan

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott launched his government's "New Colombo Plan" at a ceremony Monday in Tokyo, welcoming Australian undergraduates studying and working as interns in Japan under the Indo-Pacific regional program. Abbott, in Japan for talks with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, joined the students who are among the first batches of participants in the pilot program also running in Indonesia, Singapore and Hong Kong.

Your Party leader quits over unreported loans for election

Your Party leader Yoshimi Watanabe said Monday he will quit as head of the small opposition party following a scandal about his unreported loans from a corporate executive. Watanabe, a sixth-term House of Representative lawmaker, is under fire for receiving two loans totaling 800 million yen from Yoshiaki Yoshida, chairman of cosmetics firm DHC Corp., in recent years. Watanabe has said he borrowed the money as a personal loan and denied it was used as election or political funds.

Son of ex-Chinese leader visits Japan in hopes of mending ties

The eldest son of the late reform-minded Chinese leader Hu Yaobang arrived in Japan on Sunday for consultations with former Japanese leaders, a source familiar with Japan-China relations said Monday. Hu Deping, a 71-year-old former member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, will meet with former prime ministers Yasuo Fukuda and Yukio Hatoyama in the hopes of finding a way to smooth over recent frictions between Tokyo and Beijing.

Football: Kashima stay top of J-League

Kashima Antlers beat Gamba Osaka 2-0 on Sunday to stay two points clear at the top of the J-League table as Diego Forlan's Cerezo Osaka suffered their second defeat of the season. Goals in either half for Brazilians Davi and Caio were enough to keep Antlers on top after six games of the new campaign, with defending champions Sanfrecce Hiroshima second after coming from behind to beat Nagoya Grampus 5-2. "We didn't give them any space to play in," said Antlers manager Toninho Cerezo. "This was more than just a win, it was a win for our tactics."

Japan, U.S. defense chiefs meet in Tokyo as N. Korea eyed

Japan's Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera and U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel met Sunday in Tokyo for talks aimed at strengthening bilateral cooperation amid mounting concern about missile launches by North Korea. Onodera and Hagel were likely to have agreed to step up work toward revising U.S.-Japan defense cooperation guidelines for the first time in 17 years, and discuss a variety of issues, ranging from Japan's potential exercising of the right to collective self-defense and the recent easing of its arms embargo, Japanese officials said.

Robust Japan-U.S. alliance remains unchanged: Abe tells Hagel

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said at the start of talks Saturday with U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel that he will send a strong message that the robust Japan-U.S. alliance remains unchanged. Abe and Hagel held talks in Tokyo amid growing security challenges in East Asia, including China's military assertiveness and North Korea's nuclear and missile development programs.

Japan may exercise collective self-defense "on other side of globe"

The second-highest ranking official of the ruling party said Saturday there is a possibility that Japan could exercise the right of collective self-defense "on the other side of the globe" if Japan security required it. Shigeru Ishiba, secretary general of the Liberal Democratic Party, told a television program, "Basically we don't expect we will go to the other side of the globe. But if we face a situation that has a great impact on Japan, we do not completely rule out" the possibility of sending Self-Defense Forces to a distant region.

Japan, U.S. trade chiefs arranging to meet over TPP next week

Akira Amari, Japan's minister in charge of the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade talks, said Friday he may meet with U.S. trade representative Michael Froman if the two countries can make progress on settling their differences over tariff issues during working-level negotiations next week. While Amari did not elaborate, government sources said the meeting may take place in the middle of next week following the working-level talks in Tokyo from Monday aimed at breaking an impasse over the TPP talks.

BOJ's drastic monetary easing "should be highly evaluated": Aso

Finance Minister Taro Aso praised the Bank of Japan's aggressive monetary easing policy Friday, saying the nation's economy has been steadily recuperating since the central bank launched the strategy exactly a year ago. "As (the BOJ) boosted the amount of money in circulation drastically...prices have risen and the gross domestic product has expanded for the fifth straight quarter. This should be definitely highly evaluated," Aso said at a press conference.
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