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Japan’s Abe leaves office with legacy of longevity, security | Japan News



Shinzo Abe, the man who promised to restore Japan’s dignity and revive its economy with his signature policy of “Abenomics”, has resigned after nearly eight years as prime minister, blaming his health.

Abe, who will turn 66 next month, has suffered from ulcerative colitis since he was a teenager. The chronic condition is thought to be aggravated by stress.

“I cannot be prime minister if I cannot make the best decisions for the people,” he told the media in Tokyo on Friday, following weeks of speculation about the state of his health, and two hospital visits within a week.

“I have decided to step down from my post.”

Abe’s departure is an echo of his resignation in 2007 when, after less than a year in the job and struggling with the economy, a pensions disaster and political scandal, he suddenly quit, blaming his illness. This time around, he has been under fire over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, which has further undermined his already fading popularity.

Abe was born in 1954 in Tokyo, according to his official biography, to a family of formidable political pedigree – his father was foreign minister, his grandfather and a great uncle both prime ministers. It was to his father’s old seat that Abe was first elected to Parliament in 1993, quickly rising up the ranks of the governing Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and becoming the country’s youngest-ever leader in 2006.

He returned to office, for an unprecedented second term, in 2012.

In a magazine article, Abe argued that his initial failure motivated him to “give everything for Japan”.

Assertive diplomacy

He offered voters, worn down through decades of deflation and the devastation of the previous year’s earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster, a plan to kick-start the moribund economy and help Japan stand tall on the global stage, influenced by his conservative roots and the experience of his grandfather. 

Nobusuke Kishi was a cabinet minister during the second world war and was jailed as a war criminal, but he went on to become prime minister for three years from 1957. Among his key goals was to revise Japan’s US-drafted pacifist constitution.

A political science graduate, Abe also wanted to reform the constitution and adopt a more assertive diplomatic policy. He centralised foreign policy in the prime minister’s office and sought to create a national security architecture in the mould of Western democracies such as the United States and Australia.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe joined then-US President Barack Obama in 2016 to lay a wreath at Pearl Harbour and expressed his condolences for the victims of Japan’s surprise attack on the US base in 1941 [Nicholas Kamm/AFP]

“Abe has made his mark in transforming the policy environment surrounding security,” said Professor Rikki Kersten, an expert in Japanese politics at Murdoch University in Australia. “He’s actually institutionalised change. In times of crisis or threat, security policy is now the policy area where Japan is able to respond rapidly and effectively because it has overcome the bureaucratic hurdles that bedevil every other area. That will not be undone.”

With China also becoming more assertive, Abe also cultivated closer ties with the US, boosted defence spending and reached out to neighbours in the Asian region.

It was under his watch that then-President Barack Obama in 2016 became the first US leader to visit Hiroshima, laying a wreath at the memorial to the atomic bombing. The same year, Abe himself made an historic trip to Pearl Harbor where he offered “sincere and everlasting condolences” for the victims of the Japanese attack on the base. He also signed up to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

With Trump, who immediately pulled out of the TPP and expressed discontent over the cost of the 50,000 American troops in Japan and the two countries’ economic relationship, Abe opted to develop a more personal connection; through golf games, dinner at Mar-a-Lago in Florida and regular phone calls.

Japan Abe Trump

Shinzo Abe quickly established a personal rapport with US President Donald Trump [File: Jim Bourg/Reuters]

In 2019, Sheila Smith, senior fellow at the Council for Foreign Relations in Washington, DC, noted an “unprecedented level of communication” between the leaders of Japan and the US. That same year, Trump became the first world leader to meet Japan’s new Emperor Naruhito. 

Abe’s diplomacy also extended to Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a bid to resolve the long-standing dispute over the islands known as the Northern Territories – just north of Hokkaido – that were absorbed into the Kuril Islands as part of the Soviet Union at the end of World War II. 

“He wanted to be the guy who resolved that dispute and enabled a peace treaty between Russia and Japan,” Karsten said. “He tried everything. Nothing worked. Putin just doesn’t need Abe.”

Sometimes, Abe’s efforts were undermined by his own conservative instincts on history.

A 2013 visit to Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine, which honours the war dead including a number of Class A war criminals, upset not only China, but South Korea as well.

And even as Abe eschewed future visits – choosing to send offerings instead – ties with Seoul were further damaged late last year by a dispute over forced labour during Japan’s 35-year occupation of the Korean Peninsula.

His plan to rewrite the constitution, however, made no headway despite his professed commitment.

“There’s no popular support for it,” said Jeff Kingston, a professor and expert in Japanese politics at Temple University in Tokyo. “Revising the constitution is in single digits on the list of things that people say are important to them.”

More economic bad news

“Abenomics” – a signature strategy of monetary easing, fiscal stimulus and structural reform designed to kick-start the country’s long-floundering economy – also appears to have made little impact despite early breakthroughs.

“GDP growth now is lower than when he came into office,” Kingston said.

Growth was flat last year, compared with 1 percent when Abe took power, and the structural reforms to immigration and work-life balance that were supposed to help address the challenges of an ageing population have made little progress. 

Japan was in recession even before COVID-19 hit, and now people are staying home and spending even less – the economy shrank by a record in the second quarter. Nor can Japan look forward to a surge in tourists from the Summer Olympic Games, which has been postponed until 2021 because of the pandemic.

“There’s a lot more bad news coming down the pipe,” Kingston added.

Like so much else, the challenge of reviving the economy will fall to whoever follows Abe.

But experts say Abe’s period in office should not be written off as a failure.

The changes to policy-making, while not the kind of initiative that grabs headlines, will have a lasting effect,

“That machinery is going to be there after he’s gone,” said Tobias Harris, author of The Iconoclast: Shinzo Abe and the New Japan, a biography on Abe that will be published later this year. 

“That pattern of wielding power is going to be there; that’s a real legacy.”

And longevity itself, in a country where prime ministers in the post-war era have often lasted only a year or two, has also been a benefit.

“Abe provided the kind of continuity and predictability that Japan had not seen in a long time,” Harris added.

As Japan faces geopolitical uncertainty and mounting domestic challenges, his successors might not be so fortunate.

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Charles Mbire gains $1.2 million as stake in MTN Uganda rises above $51 million



Ugandan businessman and MTN Uganda Chairman Charles Mbire has seen the market value of his stake in MTN Uganda surge above $51 million in just two days, as the share price in the leading teleco company increased by a single digit.

The single-digit bump in the share price caused the market value of Mbire’s stake to gain UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million) in less than two days.

The million-dollar increase in the value of his stake came after Uganda’s largest telecom company delivered the country’s largest-ever IPO through the listing of 22.4 billion ordinary shares on the Uganda Securities Exchange (USE).

Upon completing the largest IPO in Uganda’s history, MTN Uganda raised a record UGX535 billion ($150.4 million) from the applications that it received for a total of 2.9 billion shares, including incentive shares.

As of press time, Dec. 7, shares in the company were trading at UGX204.95 ($0.0574), down six basis points from their opening price this morning.

Data gathered by Billionaires.Africa revealed that since the telecom company registered its shares on the Ugandan bourse on Mon., Dec. 6, its share price has increased by 2.5 percent from UGX200 ($0.056) to UGX204.95 ($0.0574) as of the time of writing, as retail investors sustained buying interest long after the public offering.

The increase in the company’s share price caused the market value of Mbire’s 3.98-percent stake to rise from UGX178.45 billion ($49.96 million) to UGX182.86 billion ($51.2 million).

In less than two days, his stake gained more than UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million).

In a statement after the successful listing of MTN Uganda’s shares, Mbire said the IPO shows the confidence that Ugandans and other investors have in the company, its brand and strategic intent.

“We commend all the regulators for their support in our work to become a USE-listed company and to comply in a timely manner with the listing provisions of the national telecommunications operators’ license,” he said.

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350 million (debt free).

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350. ( debt free).

He is into communications-revenue assurance-cement-distribution-oil services-real estate-oil exploration and logistics.

Source: Billionaires Africa

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2-year-old dies at Arua hospital as nurse demands Shs 210,000 bribe




A two-year-old child died at Arua Regional Referral hospital after a nurse, Paul Wamala demanded a bribe amounting to Shs 210,000 before carrying out an operation. 

The incident happened on Saturday, after Aron Nabil, a two-year-old child was referred to the hospital for an operation after he was diagnosed with intestinal obstruction, a medical emergency caused by a blockage that keeps food or liquid from passing through the small intestine or large intestine.

According to the relatives of the child, Wamala allegedly asked them to initially give him Shs 30,000 to buy medicines to commence the procedure. He however returned shortly asking for an additional Shs 180,000 from the relatives.

Emily Adiru, a resident of Osu cell, in Bazar Ward, Central Division, and a relative of the child says although they paid money to Wamala, he abandoned the child without carrying out the operation. According to Adiru, Wamala later refunded Shs 200,000 through mobile money, after she threatened to report him to the police.

“They told us this boy needs an operation which was supposed to be done in the morning on Sunday at around 7 am. They took him inside there, some doctor came from the theatre, he called one of us and said, we should pay Shs 70,000 for buying medicine to start the operation. We paid the Shs 30,000 [but] after paying the Shs 30,000, after some minutes, the same man came and opened the door and called us again, and told us we should pay another Shs 100,000. We also paid the Shs 100,000 and we thought it is finished. We were outside there waiting for our patient to come out [but] then this man came back again and said we should pay another Shs 80,000,” said Adiru.

Although the operation was later carried out after a 7-hour delay, the child didn’t make it, and relatives attribute the death to negligence. Miria Ahmed, a concerned resident wonders why such incidents have persisted at the facility which is supposed to service the citizens.

“Is the problem the hospital, is it the management or it is the human resource that is the problem in the hospital? A small child like this you demand Shs 210,000 for the operation? Well, if the money was taken and the operation is done, I would say anything bad but this money was taken and the small boy was abandoned in the theatre,” she said. 

When contacted Wamala refused to comment on the allegations. Dr Gilbert Aniku, the acting hospital director says that the hospital will issue an official statement later since consultations about the matter are ongoing.

Arua City resident district commissioner, Alice Akello has condemned the actions of the nurse saying she has ordered his arrest so as to set an example to the rest. The case has been reported to Arua regional referral hospital police post under SD reference No:05/30/05/2022.

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Mexican president’s Mayan Train dealt new legal setback | Tourism News




Activists say the planned tourist train will harm the wildlife and natural features of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has been dealt the latest setback to an ambitious plan to create a tourist train to connect the country’s southern Yucatan Peninsula.

On Monday, a judge indefinitely suspended construction on a portion of the project, known as the Mayan Train, saying the plans currently do not comply “with the proceedings of the environmental impact evaluation”.

The ruling follows a legal challenge by activists who said they were concerned the 60km (37 mile) portion of the train that would connect the resorts of Playa del Carmen and Tulum would adversely affect the area’s wildlife, as well as its caves and water-filled sinkholes known as cenotes.

The original plan for the disputed section was for an overpass over a highway, but the route was modified early this year to go through jungle at ground level.

The federal judge cited the “imminent danger” of causing “irreversible damage” to ecosystems, according to one of the plaintiffs, the non-governmental group Defending the Right to a Healthy Environment. In a statement, the group said that authorities had failed to carry out the necessary environmental impact studies before starting construction of the section.

Lopez Obrador had announced the ambitious project in 2018, with construction beginning in 2020. The roughly 1,500km (930 mile) cargo and passenger rail loop was presented as a cornerstone of a wider plan to develop the poorer states and remote towns throughout the about 181,000sq km (70,000sq mile) Yucatan Peninsula.

The railway is set to connect Caribbean beach resorts with Mayan archaeological ruins, with authorities aiming to complete the project by the end of 2023. The plan is estimated to cost about $16bn.

The project has split communities across the region, with some welcoming the economic development and connectivity it would bring. Others, including some local Indigenous communities, have challenged the project, saying it could not only disrupt the migratory routes of endangered species, including jaguars, tapirs and ocelots, but could also potentially damage centuries-old Mayan archaeological sites.

The National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism, the government agency overseeing the project, has said that it expects to “overcome” the latest challenge and that work should continue after an environmental impact statement is finalised. It said the Environment Ministry was currently reviewing its environmental application for the project.

For his part, Lopez Obrador has insisted the railway will not have a significant environmental effect and has accused activists of being infiltrated by “impostors”.

Source –

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