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Timeline for November 2014

Prime Minister Abe Shinzō calls a general election, the first meeting between Japanese and Chinese leaders for over two years takes place, and film star Takakura Ken passes away. These are the top news stories for November 2014.
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APEC Summit in Beijing Brings Minor Thaw to Japan-China Relations

The first formal talks between Japanese and Chinese leaders in two and a half years took place on the sidelines of this month’s APEC summit in Beijing. Prime Minister Abe Shinzō and President Xi Jinping spoke for the first time since assuming leadership, marking an upturn for frosty bilateral relations. This article summarizes the key points of the latest summit and the 25-year history of APEC.
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Kuroda Launches Fresh Salvo in Effort to Stimulate Economy

The Bank of Japan’s October 31 surprise announcement of a fresh round of quantitative easing comes at a crucial time in Prime Minister Abe Shinzō’s bid to revive the Japanese economy through his Abenomics policies. Japan’s economic growth has stagnated since the government moved in April 2014 to increase the consumption tax by three points to 8%. Allowing the economy to remain flat would seriously…
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Japan’s Foreign Policy Options Following Asahi’s “Comfort Women” RetractionTōgō Kazuhiko

What can the Japanese government do to resolve the comfort women issue? Blaming fabricated media reports will do little to change international opinion. Its only choice is to achieve reconciliation with former comfort women while they are still alive.
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Abe’s Enforcer: Suga Yoshihide’s Stabilizing Influence on the CabinetMakihara Izuru

Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga Yoshihide has played a key role in the second Abe Shinzō administration, picking the right senior bureaucrats to support the administration’s policies, keeping cabinet members in line, and preventing gaffes from escalating into PR fiascos. As a self-made man—quite rare in national politics today—Suga has managed to work his way up, but challenges remain.
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Abe Shores Up Power with Cabinet ReshuffleKakizaki Meiji

On September 3, Prime Minister Abe Shinzō reshuffled his cabinet and leadership of the Liberal Democratic Party for the first time since assuming office in 2012. Political journalist Kakizaki Meiji considers the motivations behind Abe’s choices and the effects they will have on the balance of the administration and his party.
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Yasukuni Shrine: the Basics

Prime Minister Abe Shinzō’s visit to Yasukuni Shrine on December 26, 2013, was the first by a Japanese leader for seven years and drew fierce criticism from China and South Korea. What started as a place to honor those who fell while fighting the Tokugawa shogunate has become a center of controversy in East Asian relations. This article presents the key historical, religious, and political information regarding the shrine.
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Reforming Corporate Tax by Expanding the Tax BaseMorinobu Shigeki

One pillar of Prime Minister Abe’s growth strategy is lowering the corporate tax rate. Tax expert and former Ministry of Finance official Morinobu Shigeki contends that a shortfall in corporate tax revenue can be offset by expanding the tax base and calls for further reforms in Japan’s corporate taxes.
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Timeline for July 2014

The government reinterprets the Constitution, sanctions on North Korea are eased, and Typhoon Neoguri causes three deaths. Here are the key Japanese news stories for July 2014.
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Methinks the Nation Doth Protest . . . How Much?David McMahon

Japan, the popular consensus goes, is a country in which congruence and harmony are valued above all else. For many years I accepted this wisdom at face value and assumed that this tendency lay behind the seeming absence from Japanese society of any sort of large-scale civil disobedience, the strikes and demonstrations that are a periodic occurrence elsewhere in the world. Gradually, though, I fo…
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