Abe to tap Toshihiro Nikai as LDP secretary-general to replace ailing Sadakazu Tanigaki


Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to replace Sadakazu Tanigaki as secretary-general of the Liberal Democratic Party with Toshihiro Nikai, now chairman of the party’s General Council, while retaining Fumio Kishida as foreign minister, administration sources said Monday.

Tanigaki has been hospitalized due to a neck injury suffered while he was riding a bicycle, and whether to keep him in the key post has been the focus of the reshuffle that Abe is engineering for his Cabinet and party leadership on Wednesday.

Abe had asked Tanigaki to stay on, but he did not respond positively to the request due to his injury.

Abe then turned to Nikai, who accepted the offer when the two met at the Prime Minister’s Office on Monday morning, sources said.

Facing reporters after the meeting, Nikai did not say directly whether Abe asked him about the post. But he did say the new LDP executive team will work closely with the Cabinet.

Nikai is serving his 11th term in the Lower House, representing a single-seat district in Wakayama Prefecture. He has previously been transport minister, trade and industry minister, and chairman of the LDP Diet Affairs Committee.

Nikai also heads his own faction within the LDP. As chairman of the LDP’s decision-making General Council, he contributed to hammering out agreements among party members on the controversial national security laws that were enforced in March.

He also supported Abe in the LDP leadership election in September 2015 and has made tolerant remarks about him extending his term as LDP president.

Hiroyuki Hosoda, a former LDP secretary-general, will be taking Nikai’s current position as chairman of the party’s General Council.

As for the Cabinet reshuffle, Kishida will retain his job as foreign minister, a post he has held since the launch of the Abe government in December 2012, at a time when the country faces a host of diplomatic issues requiring careful responses, the sources said.

Among the issues Kishida faces are Russian President Vladimir Putin’s envisioned visit to Japan later this year, talks on a peace treaty to formally conclude World War II with Russia, the landmark deal with South Korea over Korean “comfort women” forced into wartime brothels for the Japanese military, and China’s increasing maritime assertiveness.

Abe has already decided to retain Finance Minister Taro Aso and Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, who like Kishida have been in the Cabinet since the launch of his government, as he craves stability in his administration.

Meanwhile, informed sources have said Abe is considering appointing Tomomi Inada, the party’s policy chief, to a major post in the new Cabinet, while retaining Masahiko Komura as LDP vice president.

Inada said Sunday on a Fuji TV political talk show that although she has not received any request so far, she will work hard to push Abe’s reforms regardless of the post to which she is assigned.

Land minister Keiichi Ishii, a member of the LDP’s coalition partner, Komeito, is expected to retain his post at Komeito’s request.

Bangladeshi-Canadian named as Dhaka cafe attack mastermind


DHAKA: A Bangladeshi-Canadian was on Saturday identified as the mastermind of Bangladesh’s worst terror

attack at a cafe

in Dhaka’s high-security diplomatic zone that killed 22 people mostly foreigners, police said following new information from a raid on a militant hideout.

An overnight security raid at Kalyanpur area in Dhaka four days ago provided police the clue to identify Tamim Chowdhury as the architect of the recent Islamist assaults, a police officer familiar with the investigations told PTI on anonymity.

“We found Tamim Chowdhury to be the mastermind of the two (back-to-back terrorist) attacks… a manhunt was launched to track him down as we think, he now lives in Bangladesh since his return (from Canada) three years ago,” he said.

The officer added that evidence gathered from the scene of the July 26 raid at Kalyanpur, in which

nine militants

were killed, led police to identify Chowdhury, believed to be in his mid 30s, as the mastermind of the July 1 attack on the Holey Artisan restaurant and the assault on an Eid congregation at northern Sholakia six days later.

A Bangladeshi newspaper earlier reported that Chowdhury appeared as the leader and main financer of a reorganised

Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh

(JMB). Bangladesh earlier attributed the two attacks to the clandestine outfit.

The report suggested that Chowdhury was working as the link between the reorganised JMB and the ISIS, which claimed the responsibility for the July 1 attack when the terrorists killed 22 people, among them 17 foreigners including an Indian and two police officers.

The attack on the Eid prayers left two policemen and a woman dead while the officials said a total of seven terrorists were gunned down immediately after the assaults.

Police’s counter-terrorism unit’s chief Monirul Islam had said investigators got names of several suspected masterminds behind the two “interlinked attacks” but efforts were underway to confirm their true identities.

Bangladesh earlier said they found no proof of ISIS link to the country’s terrorist attacks.

Special Diet session convenes after upper house election



An extraordinary parliamentary session was convened Monday in response to last month’s upper house poll with the newly elected entering the Diet.

Chuichi Date, former secretary general of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party for the House of Councillors lawmakers, was elected as the upper house chairman in the morning plenary session, while Akira Gunji, former head of the upper house caucus of the major opposition Democratic Party, was chosen as the deputy chair.

The three-day session is tasked with procedural matters following the July 10 election and full-fledged legislative debate will not take place until a separate extraordinary session to be convened in September.

Rookie lawmaker Eriko Imai, a vocalist of the four-member female group SPEED that became popular in the 1990s, told reporters she hopes to help realize the “dreams and hopes of each and every citizen.”

Imai, whose 11-year-old son has impaired hearing, won a seat on the proportional representation list after pledging to work on children’s welfare.

Another rookie, Kentaro Asahi, a former Olympic beach volleyball player who won a seat in the Tokyo constituency, said he would work hard on sports-related policies.

“I believe people are expecting my efforts for (successful hosting of) the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics,” he said.

Yoichi Iha, who defeated Aiko Shimajiri, the state minister in charge of issues related to Okinawa, in the Okinawa Prefecture constituency, reiterated his opposition to the relocation of a U.S. base in the southern island prefecture.

“I cannot tolerate forcible construction of a military facility against people’s will,” said Iha, who is also entering the Diet for the first time as a parliamentarian. “I will convey Okinawa’s reality to the Diet.”


Halifax cops warn of sex assaults by cab drivers with “dark hair…spoke with an accent and many had moustaches”

Hmmm. Dark hair, accent, moustache — what could they possibly have in common? Why would they have such an interest in sexually assaulting their attractive female passengers? It’s a complete mystery!

“Sexual assault allegations in Halifax taxis spark warnings,” CBC News, July 25, 2016:

A spate of taxi drivers accused of sexually assaulting women in Halifax has police investigating the perpetrators and offering safety tips to the public.

There have been 14 sexual assault complaints in the Halifax area against taxi drivers over the last five years.

“It’s horrible and it shouldn’t happen, but we have a great number of cab drivers that are out there doing their job day in and day out, getting people to their destinations,” said Insp. Lindsay Herndon of the Halifax Regional Police.

“For many of them, it’s incredibly concerning to have these incidents going on by a handful of individuals that are tarnishing their entire industry.”

Police earlier said there had been 12 sexual assault complaints against taxi drivers in the last five years, but provided updated numbers on Thursday.
What police know about the people involved

In seven of the 14 cases, police have identified suspects. Police have identified six suspects, meaning they believe one of them is connected to two of the attacks — but they would not give any other details.

Police say the attackers are men, mostly with dark hair and aged between 30 and 50. Most spoke with an accent and many had moustaches.

In 11 of the 14 cases reported in the last five years, the victims were women aged 19 to 25. In most cases, the passenger sat in the front seat. In each case, the passenger was alone in the taxi or the driver waited until other passengers had left.

“In many of the incidents, the offenders insisted on no payment for the drive either before or after committing the sexual assault,” Halifax Regional Police said.

“The offenders often asked personal questions and attempted to flatter the victim.”

In 10 of the 14 cases, the assaults involved the taxi driver touching the woman in a sexual manner or forcibly kissing her, both during the ride and at the destination.

Some of the men asked for a kiss or pulled the victim in closer….